Shopping and Food Tour (Self Guided), Porto

Renowned for its centuries-old culture and architecture, Porto also boasts a wealth of shopping and dining opportunities. With a mix of the modern and historical, the city represents a fertile ground for bargain hunters, foodies and luxury-seekers alike.

Those on the look-out for trendy clothing and accessories, or wanting to sample some delicious local cuisine, will certainly not be disappointed with a wide range of dedicated outlets where you can find everything to your heart's content: from prestigious brand name fashions to artisanal cheeses and other culinary delights, as well as books, perfumes, porcelain, traditional handicrafts and more.

If you crave designer labels, start your journey at Rua da Santa Catarina, the main shopping street and the first port of call for serious shoppers visiting the city.

The beating heart of this thoroughfare, occupying an entire block, is the Via Catarina Shopping Centre, with nearly 100 shops spread over four floors, crowned with a food court. The concentration of sold merchandise here is matched by the motley crowd of usual shopping suspects expected in any modern mall.

Another key destination on the serious Porto-based shopping spree itinerary is Mercado do Bolhao. This historic, bi-level market, set in a Neoclassical building, is buzzing with vendors selling produce & prepared foods, and offers a unique immersion experience of real Porto – fully justifying a visit.

The 1921 Art Nouveau Cafe Majestic, once a haunt for students and teachers from the Porto School of Fine Arts, also made mark in recent years when the author J.K. Rowling spent some afternoons here writing Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

And, of course, one shouldn't forget to visit the Ribeira Waterfront – a captivating district of medieval alleys – to buy a souvenir for family and friends back home, or to treat yourself to some local snacks.

To find your way to these and other shopping locations in Porto, take this self-guided walking tour.
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Shopping and Food Tour Map

Guide Name: Shopping and Food Tour
Guide Location: Portugal » Porto (See other walking tours in Porto)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles
Author: ChristineS
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Rua Santa Catarina (St. Catherine Street)
  • Via Catarina Shopping Centre
  • Mercado do Bolhao (Bolhao Market)
  • Café Majestic
  • Cais da Ribeira (Ribeira Waterfront)
1
Rua Santa Catarina (St. Catherine Street)

1) Rua Santa Catarina (St. Catherine Street) (must see)

St Catherine Street is Porto's main shopping thoroughfare. It is totally pedestrianized and it extends from Marques de Pombal Park in the north to Batalha Park in the south. It runs between buildings with Art Deco facades. It is named for the Chapel of Souls and St Catherine of Alexandria.

Shop on Marques de Pombal for clothing, haberdashery goods, and shoes. The Via Catarina shopping center, many street vendors, and cafes make for a busy day for visitors.

Landmarks encountered are the Latina New Art Bookstore at Batalha Park and Palladium Gallery at the intersection of Passos Manuel Street. The Cafe Majestic, since 1921 a watering hole for Porto's intelligencia, is next to the Imperiel Tea Room, also a historic landmark.

The prestigious Porto Grand Hotel is next, since 1880 a haven for the famous. It was a place to die in 1889 for Teresa Cristina, Empress of Brazil. Prime Minister Afonso Costa was held prisoner here in 1917 during a coup d'etat.

At last, there is the Chapel of Santa Catarina also known as Chapel of Souls on the corner of Fernandes Tomas Street.
2
Via Catarina Shopping Centre

2) Via Catarina Shopping Centre

Come rain or sun, early in the day or late at night, ViaCatarina is the beating heart of Rua de Santa Catarina, Porto's main thoroughfare, all the same. If you are a passionate fashionista, or very much into interior decoration, or, perhaps, looking to update your wardrobe at affordable prices – ViaCatarina Shopping Mall is the place! Same is true if you're keen on healthy food, or perhaps not so healthy, or traditional, or whatever.

This mall sits in a modern building that takes up an entire block, with different accesses from the streets of Santa Catarina, Fernandes Thomas, and Formosa. It has nearly 100 outlets spread over four floors, plus a spacious underground parking space – particularly useful, considering that the surrounding area is fully pedestrianized.

Just as any other mall out there, ViaCatarina is full of shops of all stripes, and a food court at the top, serving both traditional Portuguese and international cuisine: pasta, pizzas, sandwiches, woks, ice cream, waffles, etc., by innovative franchises. Other than the food itself, this floor is also pleasing to an eye, being originally decorated to simulate the Ribeira neighborhood, featuring replicas of Portuguese houses.

ViaCatarina is a family-friendly venue, equally suitable for the young and old, from dawn to dusk.
3
Mercado do Bolhao (Bolhao Market)

3) Mercado do Bolhao (Bolhao Market)

The Temporary market of Bolhao (MTB) is taking the place of the centenary market (Bolhao Market), which is in the process of restoration and modernization. The temporary market is but two minutes away from the Mercado do Bolhao on the Rua de Fernandes Tomas. There is access from the street with escalators and a car park.

The temporary market has all the traditional food areas, restaurants and shops, using 16,250 square feet of space.

The market under renewal was founded in 1839. The town had bought the land for the market. There was a creek flowing through the square and a bubble of air forming. The word for bubble is "bolha." A handy name for the market.

The Bolhao Market was housed in a neoclassic building with two levels. There was an area in the center open to the air with cover for the stalls. Inside the building the market was divided into areas for fishmongers, butchers, greengrocers and florists. On the ground floor were small restaurants and cafes.

The temporary market has all the things available in the Bolhao Market and in addition there is private storage, loading docks, rest rooms and ATMs.
4
Café Majestic

4) Café Majestic

It was 1921. Aviator Gago Coutinho had just flown in from the island of Madeira. He dropped in for a drink at the new Art Nouveau Cafe "Elite." He found himself in a chic crowd of artists and celebrities. They were observing the grand opening of the cafe. He became enchanted at the lavish splendor of the decor.

Later, the name of the cafe was changed to "Majestic." Everyone approved. The Majestic became a haunt for students and teachers from the Porto School of Fine Arts. Gago was impressed by gatherings that included the sculptor Jose Rodrigues, the philosopher Leonardo Coimbra, the painters Armando Alves, Angelo de Sousa and Jorge Pinheiro.

More recently, the Majestic book of honor has been signed by others, among them Mario Soares, Jorge Sampaio, Jaques Chirac and Cavaco Silva. Today the cafe continues on with poetry readings, concerts, exhibitions and performances. It is said author J.K. Rowling spent afternoons at the Majestic writing Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Outside, the marble facade, decked out with twisting floral shapes and three graceful columns, invites travelers to enter. Inside, curved wooden frames and decorations capture attention. Stucco faces and nude figures emphasize sensuality.
5
Cais da Ribeira (Ribeira Waterfront)

5) Cais da Ribeira (Ribeira Waterfront) (must see)

The origins of the settlement along the Ribeira is not really known. A riverside settlement developed near the confluence of the Vila River and the Douro River. Some Roman mosaics from the fourth century have been found in the area. The Ribeira grew along with Porto in the 13th century. Especially by the river and Penaventosa hill.

Two settlements arose. One on the escarpment of Penaventosa by Porto Cathedral. The other appeared below in Ribiera on the banks of the Douro River. Until the last decade of the 14th century the settlements were connected by a web of narrow, constricting streets difficult to move around in. A new street was needed to pierce the labyrinth.

On the initiative of John I a new street was opened. In fact, it was called "New Street" (Rua Nova). It was a perfect contrast to the tangled web of passageways of Porto. It was straight, and wide for its time. It became a prestigious address for the bourgeoisie, clergy and business.

The Ribeira district lures the visitor on. It is a captivating place of medieval streets and alleys ending in a busy waterfront square, the Ribeira Square. The remains of the 14th century wall run next to the Ribeira Wharf. Beyond this point are the steep twisted ways of the Barredo.

In the evenings clubs on the Ribeira Wharf promise a stimulating nightlife to romantic strollers. In days gone by the district alongside the Douro River was a center of lively commerce and business.

The Ribeira Square has many shops and cafes. At the northern part of the square is a huge fountain. The Ribeira Wharf starts on the west side of the Luis I Bridge and it follows the riverside to Ribeira Square.

There is an upper walkway where there are more shops and cafes. The walkway is what is left of the old city walls, once patrolled by medieval soldiers on watch. Sit down, have a drink and watch the river with them. Time glides by like the river.

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