If, like me, you are a budget traveller then you will love this post. I have been out and about finding free stuff for you to do in Porto. This first selection is in the Boavista district, home of the Casa da Música concert hall. It is a mainly residential area, with a pleasing assortment of shops, cafe/bars and restaurants.
I have selected 7 very different places for you to visit with a total walking distance of approx 2.5km on mostly flat terrain. If you are feeling energetic you can add on a couple of extras, although one does have a charge, and extend the walk to 3.7km or 5km in total.
To the best of my knowledge everything is correct at the time of writing but may be subject to change. I accept no responsibility for any changes that may occur or any links to external websites that malfunction.
Included in this self-guided tour:
The 2 places shown in italics are the 2 extras but if you are walking the route they fall into place in the order shown in the list.
- Casa-Museu Marta Ortigão Sampaio
- Rotunda da Boavista
- Peninsula Boutique Center
- Mercado Bom Sucesso
- Agramonte Cemetery
- Synagogue Kadoorie Mekor Haim – there is a charge to have a tour.
- Jardim Botânico do Porto
- Boutique Nespresso
- Casa da Música
This is the map plotted out for you on Google maps
So, what are you going to see?
I travelled by metro and started the tour at the Casa da Musica Metro Station. However, if you travel by bus you will arrive at the Terminal Bom Sucesso which is directly behind the Mercado Bom Sucesso so just start there.
There are steps at the exit from the metro so if you have mobility issues the bus is the better option.
Casa da Musica Metro Station.
As you exit from the station, take note of the building on your left, it is the Oporto Music Hostel. I stayed there earlier in the year for one night and if you are looking for a budget place to stay in the area I can recommend it.
Casa-Museu Marta Ortigão Sampaio
You will find lots of information on this website but briefly, you will find a collection of paintings, furniture and jewellery, mostly once owned by Marta Ortigão Sampaio (1897 – 1978).
The naturalistic painting collection includes the work of Aurélia de Souza and Sofia de Souza. The furniture is a mix of European, Oriental and Portuguese pieces dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries. There is also a jewellery collection from the same period and a garden that can be enjoyed.
Open Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5:30pm
Rotunda da Boavista
A delightful park in the middle of a very busy roundabout. There is a war memorial honouring the heroes of the Peninsular War, read about it here. When I visited there was Christmas Fair including an ice skating rink. There are lots of parks benches if you need a sit down, or in my case, a lie down.
Peninsula Boutique Center
On the way to the Mercado Bom Sucesso, on the right hand side of the road, there is a small shopping complex, the Peninsula Boutique Center, with some ‘posh’ shops and a Starbucks. There are great work stations in the Starbucks with outlets for charging your phone/laptop and of course free WiFi.
Mercado Bom Sucesso
Similar in many ways, although smaller, to The Timeout Marketplace in Lisbon this venue hosts a variety of gastronomic stalls mixed with assorted shops and fresh produce stalls. You will also find cookery workshops and demonstrations as well as cultural events. This is the link to the official website. A great place to stop off if you are peckish, unfortunately you will have to pay for your food, I can’t suggest anywhere to get that for free. Prices are reasonable though.
Please note, on the map it shows that you need to go round the side of the building but this is the main entrance.
Agramonte Cemetery (Cemitério de Agramonte)
This is my favourite
Be careful you don’t miss the turning for this, as I approached it I thought it was the entrance to a car park. It is, in fact a narrow street, with some great artwork on the walls and it leads you to the cemetery.
Another view of the turning you are looking for
Interesting wall art
I don’t know about you but I find cemeteries fascinating places, you can glean so much about the history of the locality you are in. But this particular cemetery also, according to the sign at the entrance, ‘contains one of the country’s most important sculpture collections’.
It is also home to public toilets, which might be a handy thing to know.
Synagogue Kadoorie Mekor Haim
This is one of the additional places and will extend your walk to 3.7km
This is the largest Synagogue in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the largest in Europe. The walk through the wide residential street is pleasant and gives you an opportunity to see various styles of architecture. To see inside you can contact the Synagogue’s Office of Tourism at firstname.lastname@example.org. From looking at the website, I think it would be well worth a visit if you have the time, I just looked at the outside. It is open Monday – Thursday 14:30 – 17:00 and on Fridays 10:30 – 12:30 and 14:30 – 17:00. There is a charge of €5 for an individual or €2 for 12 – 18 year olds. Groups are also accommodated.
Jardim Botânico do Porto
This is one of the additional places and will extend your walk to 5km
I didn’t manage to walk the extra distance to these gardens but I may go back another day, if I do I’ll amend this post. As well as the gardens there is the University of Porto Museum of Natural History and Science. The gardens are free, the museum has a variety of entrances fees, depending on age and group size. You can find all the information on their official website.
The gardens are open 9am – 7pm Tuesday – Sunday
Boutique Nespresso – free coffee
You need to be a little cheeky for this one. This is a shop for all things Nespresso and although I am not a fan of these capsule coffee systems I couldn’t resist taking a look. It is an impressive sight! You can request to try any of their blends and from what I had read you could only try one but I was offered two to sample. I loved the Kazaar blend which is their strongest one. You won’t get milk though but it was so delicious I was perfectly happy to drink it as an espresso.
And to ease my conscience, I should point out that they do operate a capsule recycling scheme.
Casa da Música
The last stop is the Casa da Música, an impressive concert hall designed by architect Rem Koolhaas and opened to the public in April 2005. It is a very contemporary design and is surrounded by an area used by skateboarders. I am not sure if it was deliberately designed for skate boarding, I somehow doubt it, but it certainly makes it an entertaining place to stop for a while and watch the fun. There will be lots of people taking photographs from every angle possible, it’s quite difficult to get it all fitted into on photo with only a phone.
There is a cafe on the ground floor, open every day from 9am – midnight, and a restaurant at the top, with a roof terrace. The restaurant is closed between 3pm and 7.30pm, and on Sundays, so you are unable to access the top floor during that time. I spent quite some time in the elevator trying lots of buttons but the only place I could get to was the underground car park.
The cafe has a stage and hosts emerging musicians. Official tours of the building are available for €10. Obviously I didn’t do that!
There is so much happening in the Casa da Musica I couldn’t begin to tell you here so best to visit the official website here.
Please leave me some feedback
I am sure you can appreciate the amount of work it takes to put together a post of this sort. I would love some feedback. Is it something you have found helpful? Is it a route that you might choose to follow if you ever visit Porto? How might I improve on this when I do the next one?
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