Every city has its share of urban myths and misconceptions, and Porto is no exception. Here are some tourist traps in Porto that you should be aware of – can you separate fact from fiction?
1. Livraria Lello was a direct inspiration for J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter books
The stunning central staircase of Livraria Lello may give you the feeling of being teleported directly to Hogwarts. Founded in 1906, the Lello Bookshop is considered one of the most beautiful in the world (we cannot agree more!).
It is also true that J. K. Rowling lived in Porto from 1991 to 1993. But the claim that J.K. Rowling frequented this bookshop while living in Porto is, in fact, a myth.
One thing is for certain: getting a flight ticket to Porto is the closest any human being can get to the feeling of receiving a letter from Dumbledore. Seriously!
For instance, I never visited this bookshop in Oporto. Never even knew of its existence! It’s beautiful and I wish I *had* visited it, but it has nothing to do with Hogwarts! pic.twitter.com/f83rxBeeyY— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 21, 2020
2. The Portuguese Custard Tart is a Typical Northern Portuguese dessert
While these delectable pastries are beloved in Portugal, they are not originally from the northern region of Porto. The “Pastel de Belém” is its proper name, and it hails from Lisbon’s Belém district. In Porto, you’ll find them known as “Nata.” These custard tarts are absolutely delicious and can be enjoyed throughout the north of the country.
One thing is for certain: on our Food Tour, we seek authentic Porto flavors. That’s why we don’t present the most widely known and popular Portuguese pastry: the Portuguese Custard Tart. Instead, we encourage you to try something new and sweet! Join our Porto Food Tours and taste the real Porto!
3. Port wine cellars are located in Downtown Porto
Port Wine was born in the Douro Valley, but it is the city of Porto that gives the name to the wine. Why? Because that’s where the wine ages and is shipped from to all over the world. Therefore, a visit to the Port wine cellars is a mandatory activity during any trip to Porto.
But where are these Port wine cellars located? You got it: not in Downtown Porto. These Port wine cellars are all located across the river from the old city center of Porto and to get there you only need to cross the emblematic Dom Luís I bridge. It will take you about 10 minutes and you can easily walk from one side to the other.
One thing is for certain: Nearly all Port wine cellars provide guided tours and tastings. Not only will you receive a tasting of different Port wine varieties, but you will also learn about the history of the house you are visiting and a broader history of Port wine. There are dozens of Port wine cellars and we know one can feel a bit uncertain. That’s why we’ve decided to make your life a bit easier and selected 5 Port wine cellars that we love and where you can’t go wrong.
4. Drinking Port wine with a meal is the best way to truly enjoy it
Fruity red Ports, Mellow Tawny Ports, Vintage Ports, White Ports… One can say that there are as many Port wine profiles as Portuguese profiles. But all have one thing in common: they are often served as a dessert wine. Port wine pairs wonderfully with a variety of sweets and can be enjoyed at any time of day.
One thing is for certain: It’s perfectly acceptable to savor a glass of port wine as early as 10 AM. Join our Vintage & Port Wine Food Tour and we’ll tell you all about it!
5. Majestic is the oldest cafe in Porto
Majestic is considered one of the most beautiful cafes in the world. The locals call it Porto’s crown jewel. Located in the Rua de Santa Catarina, one of the busiest streets in the city, Café Majestic opened its doors in 1921, with a belle époque architecture, it was the place where artists met up. If you’re a fan of architecture, you’ll enjoy a visit to Café Majestic. It is also called the oldest cafe in Porto, but that’s not accurate.
One thing is for certain: in Portugal, coffee plays a big part in our social life.
6. Portuguese are more wine drinkers than beer drinkers
While Porto is famous for its wine, beer is the daily drink of choice for many in the city. Craft beer has gained popularity in Porto, and you can explore its brewing history and techniques on our Craft Beer & Food Tour.
7. Tripes was created by Porto locals
To this day many people still believe that the people of Porto are Tripeiros because they created a wonderful dish called “Tripas à Moda do Porto”. There are plenty of wonderful stories (that are not quite true) about this dish.
This is our favorite one: back in the 15th century, when Infante D. Henrique’s armada needed supplies for its Conquest of Ceuta (Portuguese first stronghold in Africa), the citizens of Porto provided them with every last bit of meat they had – only the tripes were left behind. From these leftovers, the people of Porto created a wonderful dish: Tripas à Moda do Porto (Tripes Porto Style).
One thing is for certain: the belief that the people of Porto are called “Tripeiros” because they created “Tripas à Moda do Porto” is a charming legend but not entirely accurate. The dish has a history that predates this tale and likely originated with Germanic tribes who had a tradition of eating tripe.
If you’re visiting Porto soon and don’t know what food and drinks you can’t skip during that trip, take a look at our Porto Food Tours and let’s explore the city together!
Warm Foodie Regards,
Taste Porto Team