Porto is a new favorite destination for savvy travelers who love food, wine, scenery, and old world architecture. Marta, a proud Porto native, is busy with our popular new Untour there! She is our Untours staff person and welcomes Untourists on this exciting new program in Portugal.
Guests enjoy her hospitality and appreciate the knowledge she shares about her beloved Porto. We recently spent some time catching up with her, discussing the area and our Porto Untour.
How did you get involved in tourism?
Tourism has always been my passion! My studies have been related to it since high school, and I have worked in the tourism industry since I was 17 years old. I used to work on the small river cruises that run on the Douro River during the weekend.
What is your favorite thing about Porto?
Porto is my hometown. I was born and raised here, so I can consider myself a true local.
Although it’s considered the 2nd largest city in the country, Porto is a small city compared with Lisbon or other European cities. Because of that, everything is close by and the city center is very walkable, if you don’t mind the hills! And if you want to go to the beach on a sunny day, the coastal area is just a 20-minute bus ride away from the city.
What are your favorite things to do in the city?
There is so much to see and do.
- Visit some of the highlights like the Lello Bookshop and the Stock Exchange Palace.
- Go shopping along Flores Street.
- Eat a traditional Francesinha sandwich.
- Watch the sunset in the park across the Luis 1st Bridge.
What are your favorite day trips and excursions?
Going to the Douro Valley is a must! Also, visit the Minho region, especially Guimarães, a town up north of Porto related to our country’s foundation. It’s a very emblematic place for the Portuguese and a must if you like history, castles, and medieval towns.
What makes Porto unique from other cities in Portugal?
Porto’s uniqueness is mostly in its people. Portuenses are very genuine and proud of their city, so they are always happy to welcome someone that might have an interest in Porto, and they do their best to leave a good impression.
Besides this, the beautiful view of the Ribeira District with its colorful houses and tile façades, its history that goes back to the Roman times, the mercantile activity that always existed here and influenced the city’s buildings and character, the port wine. All of these things make it a unique place, not only in Portugal, but in Europe!
How has Porto changed over the years?
Porto has changed a lot, especially in the last 10 years, mostly due to the growth of the tourism industry. In the past, the city center was almost abandoned. During the day it was a busy city, since most of the population worked there, but at night it was empty, with grey buildings, and even a little dangerous in some areas.
Nowadays, due to tourism, to a big investment in real estate, and the city hall’s ongoing efforts, Porto has become a vibrant city, with lots of monuments and activities, exciting restaurants opening and renovated neighborhoods!
Why should people visit Porto?
Porto has a lot to offer nowadays.
- Beautiful monuments
- Amazing history
- Traditional cuisine but also exciting new restaurants and even Michelin Star options!
- Colorful buildings
- Old and new
- The famous Port Wine
- Good weather
Why is Porto a good place for Untours’ type of travel?
Porto is a unique and vibrant city filled with history, monuments, restaurants, and cafés. It’s compact and safe and has welcoming people, most of whom speak English. (Even if it’s just a word or two, they are always willing to help.)
It’s a city that can easily be explored on your own after an orientation, which I think is what Untours travelers look for in a place.