This is a well presented spacious apartment in a sympathetically refurbished 16th century historical building. It has all of the usual modern conveniences, and yet externally retains all of the original classic and romantic character. The apartment is fitted out with quality furniture and fittings, and is professionally cleaned and managed by local agent and cleaners who live nearby, and who are on hand for additional assistance if needed. Fresh towels and linen are included in the price for every booking, renewed weekly for longer bookings.
The apartment is truly situated in the old-town "Se", neighborhood of the city, within the UNESCO World Heritage Classified Zone, (Inside the 14th-century Romanesque wall), on the street most famous for the Tea-trade that existed in Oporto when it was known as the "Gateway to the East". This was in the days when tea in Europe was kept under lock and key, fought over, and died for on the high seas, and ownership of which was the domain of only the very rich and opulent.
Overlooking the 12th century Se (Cathedral), the apartment is within in easy walking distance of the Port Wine Cellars, and the Ribeira Restaurants, Bars, and Nightclubs via the Stunning Tourist attractions of the Eiffel Inspired Dom Luis Bridge, and the ultra modern Funicular respectively. Each of these are within two minutes walk of the apartment. Yet the area of the apartment is quieter at night. Additionally, the main Porto shopping malls and City Commercial Centre are 5 minutes walk in the opposite direction. With the Metro literally 30m from the doorstep, this is a winning location on all counts.
Porto City Centre and Waterfront area is unique in the world, worthy of UNESCO world heritage status, because due to a lack of historical development funding, it is one of the few places left in the world with large areas of ancient period city buildings which have been left untouched and undeveloped for many hundreds of years. The intention of UNESCO funding is to return the area to its former glory by sympathetic refurbishment of these picturesque character heritage buildings, and appropriately upgrading the City infrastructure without impacting the period character of downtown Oporto. Hence the refurbishment of our own apartment building in 2005-2006. Though the the area of the apartment is heavily frequented by tourists, it is mainly populated by Porto City residents carrying out their daily business, as they have done for centuries. Thus this apartment is ideal for guests who seek the opportunity to sample life living as the Portuguese do in Porto. The local people are the most honest, friendly, hardworking, and family oriented folks we have ever had the pleasure to meet anywhere in the world. Smile! You are in safe hands! However, the area is not a holiday camp specifically manufactured for tourists. We would respectfully advise future guests who are likely to be intimidated by living in the ancient cultural ambience of the centre of the oldest city in one of the oldest countries in Europe to seek accommodation elsewhere.
The apartment building itself has security glass door and CCTV door entry system.
There is some parking provision outside the apartment, though no car is needed. A Metro trip from the new state of the art Aeroporto Francisco Sá Carneiro airport to the apartment costs less than 2 Euros per person. Metros run at least every 20 minutes from dawn into the small hours of the morning. The Airport Metro terminal is integrated within the airport terminal, and the Porto Metro system itself is new and state of the art. Those Metro terminals which are within the historical parts of Porto city are hidden underground so as to preserve the historical ambience of old Oporto. In the view of the Se Cathedral from the apartment balconies (See photos), there is actually a silent hidden metro line running underground, between the apartment and the Se Cathedral, linking North and South Porto, across the Douro via the top level of the Dom Luis Bridge, shared only by pedestrians. The nearest escalator exit from this line is near the top of Avenida de Dom Henriques, almost on the apartment doorstep. You can see this by following the map link provided, select satellite view, and zoom in...
The Metro Violet line runs from Porto City Centre to the international airport, Aeroporto Francisco Sá Carneiro.
For travellers with lots of luggage, a taxi is recommended. This takes 20-30 minutes to make the 13km trip to or from the airport, and costs 25-30 Euros.
Also, the apartment is within easy walking distance of Sao Bento Railway station.
For travelling within Porto City, Walking, the Metro, Buses, and Trams are strongly recommended where possible, in preference to driving. Parking spaces are scarce, and many roads are inaccessible by car.
For travelling further afield outside Porto old-town, the Metro provides a convenient link to most areas in Grande Porto. The Railway similarly provides links to areas all over Portugal.
The top level of the Eiffel inspired Dom Luis Bridge, "Ponte de Luís I", extends some 100m or so inland on either side of the Douro (to within one minutes walk from the apartment), and has stunning panoramic views over Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia, and up/down the Douro. This is a tranquil and ideal vantage point from which to plan tours.
Since the bridge was renovated and converted during 2005, the upper level now carries only Metro trains and pedestrians.
For folks travelling with infants, rugged large-wheeled buggies are advisable. Many of The older and more interesting streets and walkways of Porto are not accessible by car, and are cobbled with large irregular stones and steps, not easily negotiated with smaller wheeled buggies (We know this from experience!).
For small children in buggies, the wheelchair-bound, or folks with walking disabilities, the apartment has some conveniences, with the closeness of the Metro and Funicular Entrances. The building elevator provides easy access to the apartment. However there are 4 initial steps from the foyer to the elevator, hence the reason we have not marked the apartment as being entirely suitable for disabled folks.
6 days stay is minimum preferred booking during months April through to September. Long weekend enquiries are welcome outside these months. Also, last minute short break requests for any vacant period (See discounts for late bookings) will be considered.
Breakage deposits are sometimes negotiable, depending on your party. If you think it is too high, let us know...
Places to go
São João Festival (St John Festival) -
"This is the biggest festival on the Porto calendar, and one of Europes liveliest street parties. There is a religious element to the festival, but it is first and foremost a huge party that attracts people from all over the country to Porto’s old town centre - a UNESCO World Heritage Site that makes a stunning background for the revelries. Loud music pumps up from huge amplifiers set up on the main square, the smell of sardines being grilled on makeshift barbecues fills the streets, lit up balloons eerily go up in the summer evening sky, and boats ply the river with their loads of merry locals and tourists keen to get the best spot for the main event - the spectacular firework display. Afterwards revellers take to the narrow streets of the old town armed with plastic hammers and wild garlic stalks, banging each other on the head - a tradition whose origins nobody seems to remember, but which is fervently continued every year. The centre of the action then shifts to the beaches on the Douro estuary for a beach party that usually lasts well into the early hours".
Party gets going at around 20:00. Fireworks start at 00:00.
"The old cliché that Porto works while Lisbon plays is redundant on June 24, when Portugal’s second city teaches the capital a thing or two about having fun. The Festa do São João is a magnificent display of midsummer madness – one giant street party, with every available outdoor space in Porto given over to a full night of eating, drinking and dancing to welcome in the city’s saint’s day. Fireworks, bonfires and roaming bands of plastic hammer- and leek-wielding lunatics keep the crowds entertained all night – traditionally, you’re meant to witness the first majestic rays of dawn down on the beaches of Foz do Douro, with the day of São João itself spent recovering, a regatta of traditional boats down the Rio Douro providing a gentle antidote to the night before. "
Ribeira Waterfront Bars and Cafes - walk South Westwards, downhill for 10 minutes. Alternatively, head South Eastwards for 3 minutes or so to the Batalha (Rua de Augusto Rosa), and take the "Funicular dos Guindais". This is a hillside rail-car which travels only between two stops, up and down the steep hillside, between the Batalha, and the Ribeira, offering panoramic views over the Douro and Dom Luis Bridge, alighting at the foot of the Bridge, which is the start of the Ribeira. Again, specially useful for folks with walking disabilities, or small children.
Shopping Malls - Walk North Eastwards up Rua Cha, for 3 to 4 minutes, towards the Praca da Batalha square, and continue around the edge of the square for a further minute or so, onto Rua de Coelho Neto. This is the start of the main shopping run, extending 200m or to the start of Rua de Santos Pousada, which then goes on for over a kilometre North Eastwards, non-stop shops, malls, and markets. Watch out also for the Majestic Cafe on this road, this is a great place to stop for a break from shopping.
Praca da Liberdade - Walk for 3 minutes or so North Westwards, past Sao Bento Railway station, into this grand square, check out the statues, and have a look at the surrounding buildings, headed by the monumental Council Buildings, the "Antiga Casa Pia". This square is a popular place to stop for a break, or picnic. Also, hidden within an excavation beneath this square is the newly constructed Praca da Liberdade Metro train station.
Riverboat tours - Start at the Ribeira and go Eastwards up the Douro, offering views of the scenic Douro Valley and vineyards - a further UNESCO world heritage site.
Vila Nova de Gaia Hilltop and monastery - Walk 2 minutes or so Southwards onto the top level of Dom Luis Bridge, then a 5 further minutes across the bridge. For infants, there is a park here with activity playground. Great views over Porto for everyone.
Vila Nova de Gaia Wine houses and restuarants - 5 minutes or so via pedestrian walkways on the lower level of Dom Luis bridge from Ribeira, or 8 minutes walk down through the hillside streets from VN de Gaia hilltop. This is around 20 minutes walk from the apartment by either route. The waterfront here on the opposite side of the river from Porto Ribeira is lined with ultra-modern Restuarant complexes, in stark contrast to the historic sites of the Ribeira, but still stylish in a very different way. On this bank also are the many famous Port Wine houses, and another activity park for young children.
Espinho Beach - Take the Aveiro line train from Sao Bento railway station to Espinho station (32 minutes), and visit this famous beach situated on the atlantic coast at the bottom of Vila Nova de Gaia, South of the Douro.
Esplanada do Castelo - Take the No. 500 bus from Sao Bento Station, westwards along the North Bank of the Douro, (30 minutes or so), around to this esplanade, situated on a very scenic rugged part of the Atlantic coast North of the Douro. Many bars and restuarants. Great place to sit and watch the sunset.
By Emily Bridgewater; The Birmingham Post, July 2011:
"...We took a short break to Porto, the Portuguese second in command, often given the cold shoulder in favour of glamorous, commercial Lisbon. But ignore this city at your peril, for we found the true heartbeat of Portugal; a city of outstanding beauty and strong, traditional values... On our final day we ventured into the old town, which we had previously only visited at night. Built on the hillside either side of the estuary of the River Douro, it is astonishingly beautiful and a delight to explore, with every turn down the maze of cobbled streets offering a surprising window into Porto life. You’ll be hard pressed to find Starbucks or pair of golden arches here. This city seems to remain untouched by commercialism and is all the better for it. However, if shopping is on your agenda there are air-conditioned malls in the new town with popular chains such as Zara, Mango and United Colours of Benetton. The elegant Luis I iron bridge stretches the width of the Douro and provides easy access from the old town to the world-renowned port wine caves including Graham’s, Taylors and Croft’s. Of course, no visit to Porto would be complete without a tour of one of the cellars so we climbed the winding streets of Vila Nova da Gaia and popped into Taylor’s, which welcomed us with two complimentary samples of white, and ruby port. We were then whisked off on a fascinating tour of the site. Twenty minutes later we felt like port connoisseurs but, unusually, there was no pressure to buy afterwards. So, for a charming city break, Porto simply cannot be dismissed..."
From the Independent holiday supplement, P10, 9 Jan, 2007:
"...Have a guided tour of dramatically situated Oporto, clinging to the steep banks of the river Douro just before it embraces the sea. Historically Roman, coming to prominence during the Middle Ages, it prospered greatly from royal patronage, and knowledge of the sea-route to India.
The UNESCO protected old-town, a veritable tangle of 14th century lanes tumbles to the river and a beautifully restored waterfront. Tiny antiquated shops are everywhere, and, straddling the river itself, are six stunningly intricate bridges, one of which was designed by Gustav Eiffel.
Oporto is famous for its Port, visit one of Oportos most traditional establishments, for a tour and tasting. Oporto is so picturesque: with the old wine boats plying the river in front of you, and traditional port lodges behind, the medieval old-town clinging to the opposite bank and the skyline punctured by the Cathedral and numerous churches.
Head inland exploring the valley of the Douro, the river of gold, climbing the hills dominating inland Portugal. The countryside first becomes more arid and the colours give way from greens to browns and ochres, before you dro p into the valley itself, one of Europes most beautiful, with undulating hillsides covered with leafy port vineyards sloping to the blue river below. Take a very pleasant train journey along a most scenic route, following the river..."
Oporto Destination Reviews
From The Sunday Times "Instant weekend: Oporto", article, July 16, 2006:
"...Leave the big cities to the hordes and have a pint-size Portuguese adventure instead, says Chris West
Why should I go? Because Oporto is the classic second city. Its beautiful, but the tourists all seem to have flocked somewhere else. And the touts and the tat and the inflated prices have gone with them. While theyre off battling around Florence, Prague and Barcelona, you can walk the quiet, cobbled streets of Oporto, feeling that youre wandering through a genuine city, rather than tourist make-believe. There are one or two stunning sites, but theres more joy in turning a corner and bumping into a beautiful, simple church or a shaded alfresco cafe...
...What do I do? You go for a stroll. Oporto is all about soaking up the ambience of crumbly buildings and Unesco World Heritage quarters, not ticking off a list of must-sees.
A leisurely half-day circuit starts amid the baroque buildings of Avenida dos Aliados. Head to Batalha Square, where theres a Salazar-era "peoples cafe" that now shows cult movies. Carry on upwards to the 12th-century cathedral in Se Square and the four-storey, plain-fronted palace next door, visible from most of the city. Head back downhill to Rua das Carmelitas to visit Lello, a famous bookshop with an art-nouveau interior, and a little further on, the grand Sao Bento Station, its immense atrium covered in tiles depicting early forms of transport.
If youre still going after all that, just wander. This is a place where getting hopelessly lost in the cobbled backstreets is to be recommended.
As is sampling the drink this city is built on. The port warehouses are across the River Douro in Gaia, where the sea breeze keeps the barrels (or, more pedantically, "pipes") of port cool throughout the summer. Most offer free tours and tastings, every half-hour from roughly 10am to 6pm
A relaxing Sunday-morning option is the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art (free on Sundays, 10am-2pm, otherwise £3.50 www.serralves.pt), but eat before you go - the food and service are a surrealist movement..."
"...Where do I eat? The essential Oporto belt-buster is the francesinha, a sandwich with fillet steak, Portuguese and German sausage, and a little bit of ham and cheese, served marooned in a sea of gravy. It is best sampled at the Guarany cafe-restaurant (Avenida dos Aliados 85 22 332 1272, www.cafeguarany.com).
For a more elegant dinner, head to D Tonho, on the riverside (22 200 4307, www.dtonho.com), with John Malkovich, Lou Reed and Bobby Robson just a few of the celebrities in its guest book. Traditional dishes include tripe and, during the midsummer festival of Sao Joao, cabbage soup.
Equally fantastic, but more relaxed, is Toupeirinho, a 15-minute cab ride away in the Matoshinhos district (Rua do Godinho 27 22 938 7016). Half a dozen tables are crammed in here, everyone chooses fish - the salted prago, or sea bream, is the best - and a plate of sweet pudding with a glass of port will leave you feeling giddy".
To avoid confusion, prospective guests should note that the Villarenters automatic booking facility here is (And always has been) the sole exclusive mechanism used to manage the bookings for this apartment. Bookings made here by credit card using the instant booking mechanism are 100% assured. If a vacancy exists on the booking calendar here, then it is truly available for booking. Booked slots are instantly marked as unavailable for further bookings. Don't be deceived by our low price; we are running at a loss to subsidise our mortgage. We are not in this as a business for the money. Also, when comparing with other Villarenters properties which may appear higher listed in order of appearance, bear in mind that the Villarenters list ranking criteria is sometimes based only on the customer review average star rating, regardless of the historical volume of bookings. This means that properties with only a few previous bookings, but with maybe one, two, or three 5* reviews (and no others), sometimes appear before our own, with TEN 5* bookings amongst our thirty two good reviews ranging from 3* to 5* to date (23/01/12). The apartment offered here is truly the one in Prime position at the front of the building, with quality tasteful business class furniture, fixtures and fittings throughout, on the first floor, with the two balconies to the right of the building emblem which can be seen on the front of the building (Often pointed out by guides conducting the "Se" tourist walking tours). Nothing has been spared in this apartment, in the interests of your comfort. Apartments elsewhere in the building are sometimes offered under business management, and are not connected with us in any way.
Traditional dual-balconied apartment, In a refurbished 16th Century Oporto Tea Merchant Building. 1st floor with elevator, situated within the UNESCO World Heritage Zone of Porto City.