Portugal’s second city offers much more than just sunshine, history and great food. For art lovers, Porto is fast gaining a reputation as one of the best places to visit in the world. From world-class galleries to iconic street art, the city has something for everyone. Even the buildings have an artistic feel to them.
Galleries of delight
The most obvious attraction is the plethora of art galleries sprinkled throughout the city.
The Serralves museum is one of the city’s star attractions. With beautifully manicured gardens, the museum represents a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Indeed, the building in itself feels like a work of art. Inside you can find some of the best contemporary art from across the continent. If you want to see what’s making waves in the European art world at the moment, the Serralves museum is the place to go.
For a change of pace, you can venture to the Escpaco Mira. Located in an old converted warehouse, this has become one of the top places to see the best offerings from up-and-coming Portuguese artists.
Other must-visits include the Galeria Fernando Santos, which promotes rising artists from Portugal and around the world, and the Galleria Presenca which is known for hosting some of the biggest names in the art world.
What makes Porto special, though, can only be found if you get out of the galleries and into the streets. Some of these quaint, cobbled alleyways often look like they’ve been lifted directly from an old masterpiece.
Some of the best can be seen in Rua de Miguel Bombarda, known as the art district, which has everything from murals to graffiti and mosaics. With work from some of the best-known street artists in the world, this is a great place to take a stroll and drink in the sights.
Alternatively, for a more detailed view, you can take one of the guided tours which will provide more detailed information about the history of the art and the artists who created it.
While Rua de Miguel is known as the centre of Porto’s street art, you can find hidden gems all over the city. It makes for a beautiful backdrop against which to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of Porto.
Finally, if galleries and street art aren’t enough, you can always take time to look at the buildings—many of which are works of art in their own right. Special mention is deserved for the Sao Bento Train station. Adorned with azulejo tiles from floor to ceiling, this makes for an unforgettable introduction to the city.
Meanwhile, if you can find a prettier bookshop than the Livraria Lello, then we’d love to hear about it. A stained glass ceiling, gothic architecture and a spectacular central staircase mean the bookshop itself is as much of a draw as the books.
Whether you’re looking for contemporary, classical, local or international art, Porto is a city that feels as if every brick has been constructed with its art scene in mind. Small wonder, then, that Porto is fast becoming one of the go-to cultural destinations in Europe.
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