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Exploring Porto: Things to Do

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

Porto is famous for stunning bridges and the sweet fortified wine that shares its name. It's the second-largest city in Portugal after Lisbon, built on the hills near where the Douro River empties into the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of Europe's oldest cities and the core has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The history of this area is fascinating. The earliest settlers appear to have been Celtic, but over the centuries it has also been part of the Roman Empire, conquered by Moors, and was important in expanding Christian views. Much of the architecture of the city reflects this history.

The climate is moderate. Summers are dry, comfortable, and clear. Expect fog to roll down the river from the Atlantic most summer afternoons. Winters are cold, wet, and mainly cloudy, similar to my home in the Vancouver, BC area.

Igreja de Santo Ildefonso (Chapel of Souls) Mady and I started an epic tour of Portugal, Spain, and Morrocco in the city of Porto. We stayed down the street from the famous Igreja de Santo Ildefonso (Chapel of Souls). The exterior features a façade of 11,000 azulejo tiles. This distinctive style of tile is seen all over Portugal. The tiles were used for ornamentation and for temperature regulation in buildings. These tiles show scenes of Saint Ildefonso's life and religious imagery from the Gospels.

The church holds daily masses and welcomes worshippers but welcomes tourists outside of services, with no admission fee. Remember to demonstrate respect by dressing modestly with shoulders and upper legs covered (or bring a scarf).

One of the activities I enjoy the most when I travel is to meander. It is not unusual to walk 10Km+ in a day when I'm exploring a new place. This is how I get a feel for a place and it al