Destination Run: Porto, Portugal
Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, has become a popular tourist destination spot. People flock to Porto because of its mild, warm climate, beautiful beaches, colorful architecture, impressive history, friendly locals, amazing port wine and cuisine. Tourism has increased over the past 20 years all thanks to UNESCO and increased access to affordable flights with discount airlines. Porto should not be missed.
If you decide to make the venture, you should expect an incredible trip. And if you are a runner, you will have plenty of great weather, flat or hilly terrains to work with, and beautiful sights to take in on your runs.
If you do not feel like exploring on your own, you can check out the free Porto Walking Tour or book an individual or small group run with Porto Running Tour who will provide you with a local guide to help you discover this interesting and beautiful city. But if you are feeling adventurous, here are a few running routes to try out while vacationing in Porto, Portugal.
The Historic District
A nice and easy run (just under 4 km) will take you past the historical region of Porto. Passing famous cathedrals, artistically unique train stations and beautiful parks, you will come to get a feel for the land and center of the city. Starting and ending at Igreja da Santíssima Trindade or Holy Trinity Church you will take a straight path to the Camara Municipal do Porto or Town Hall. This slightly downhill straight street will pass several buildings that are actually French-inspired architecture. This will lead you to the São Bento Train Station. (Make sure to take a quick gander inside for the magnificent tiled history of Porto.)
From here is a quick uphill to Se do Porto or Porto Cathedral where you will make a loop around the back of the cathedral that will lead you back to the train station.
Taking a left onto the main street you will soon make your way to the famous Livraria Lello bookstore and its famous red staircase. (Insider tip: You will need to pay to see them.) Once you come out of bookstore take quick right then left and follow around Jardim da Cordoaria where you will take a right to go past Igreja do Carmo and its well-known tiled facade. Take a left past the church and you will head straight for Praça de Carlos Alberto and finish the loop by heading back towards the Holy Trinity Church.
Here is a link to this route.
Starting from the top at Igreja dos Grilos, you will eventually make your way down to the Douro River but first through the old town of the Ribeira District. Take advantage of passing many of the local neighborhoods which contain several intricate and narrowly, winding passageways, filled to the brim with colorful influence. Once you have had your fill, you will find yourself at Praca da Ribeira Porto, a bustling tourist section filled with restaurants with a great view of the river. But the trip is not over yet.
Taking a left facing the river, make your way to just before the Ponte Luís I bridge. You will take a left and find yourself climbing a couple hundred steps to reach the magnificent views from the bridge. Heading back towards the city you will stay on a relatively straight shot to another incredible tiled church called Igreja Paroquial de Santo Ildefonso. From here you will end your short, but hilly 2 km run and head into the shopping district with a famous cafe called Majestic Cafe. Stop by for an expensive coffee, but ignore the price as you take in the fabulous decor.
Here is the link to this route.
Flat River to Beach Run
If you are looking for a longer flatter run, try running alongside the Douro River towards the Lighthouse which is the meeting point of the Atlantic Ocean. Starting under the Ponte Luis I Bridge head away from it with the Douro River on your right side and just keep going.
Bring your bikini because the Praia (beaches) have plenty of cool beach club restaurants and bars. This route can be 5 to 10 km, depending if you want to run back or take the historic Tram line 1 back, which is highly suggested.
Here is the link to this route.
Besides your run, be sure to enjoy your stay with the art, food, and wine that are cultural gems to this city.
What you will see a lot of is street art. This is due to the fact that the city allows legal street art as long as you possess a permit. It brings bright colors to the already lively city. Antiques and Vintage collectibles can also be viewed and purchased at the warehouse-style Arazem Flea Market and bar. Make sure you pass by to grab a drink and enjoy some cute, artsy, and unique vintage pieces.
Also, do not forget your appetite. Portuguese cuisine is delicious, and with the close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, you will have your fair share of options of fresh seafood. One delicacy, in particular, is called Bacalhau, also known as salted Cod. However, do not expect the same recipe at each restaurant as there is claimed to be 365 to 1,001 different cooking variations in Portugal alone.
For small, local cuisine that is off the beaten track try a traditional dish at O Buraco. If you are leaning towards the more high end, modern flare, visit to Tapabento. If you are more of a morning person looking for a smoothie bowl and avocado toast definitely make your way over to Zenith.
Day cocktails are good at the outdoor bar called Base, while drinks with a view are best at 17th Restaurant & Bar and PortoBello Rooftop Restaurant and Bar. Late night shenanigans will give you entertainment until 6 am on the bustling bar street of Galerias de Paris.
Porto is also famously known for its sweet port wine. On the other side of the Douro River, known as Vila Nova de Gaia, are several port wineries. (What I do not recommend is making a running tour of the wine region because wine tasting is more fun when you are not sweating, but that is just a personal opinion.)
Besides experiencing the culture, the heritage, and the people, if you’re waiting for another reason to go to Porto, every year on the weekend near June 23rd there is a huge street party for Saint John (Sao Joao). Popular with locals and tourists alike everyone makes there way out to the streets with plastic hammers, and partake in drinking, dancing, and setting off fireworks. This is certainly a celebration that should not be missed and should seal the deal on your voyage here.