Exploring the Miradouros of Porto

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Porto – with its well worn buildings, colorful facades, and red rooftops that dot the hillside along the river Douro; is extremely photogenic whether you’re wandering through the streets or taking in the views from above.  There are many lookouts with different vantage points over Porto. These places are called miradouros in Portuguese and are usually high points with clear sights of popular landmarks amongst the sea of rooftops. These hilltop terraces are popular with locals and visitors for their panoramic views.  Here are a few of our favorite places for the perfect sweeping vista of the city:

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Miradouro da Vitória

This lookout point is off the beaten path, located in an abandoned lot beside a neglected building that has been boarded up and overgrown with weeds.  From this viewpoint, you can see the terracotta rooftops in the Ribeira neighborhood all the way down to the Douro river, across the Dom Luis I bridge, and up to the wine lodges on the other side.  Even though it was a bit remote, there were a few people that made the trek uphill to enjoy the scenic view under the late afternoon sun.  This place is not to be missed if you want a perfect shot of the city and its landmarks. It has been rumored that the lot is being built up into a high-end hotel, so it’s only a matter of time before this view is off-limits to casual visitors.

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Sé do Porto

The Se Cathedral is one of the oldest buildings  in Porto, dating back to the 12th century.  The fortress-like Romanesque church, flanked by twin towers, can be seen high up on the hills right in the historic center of the city.

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The church was closed, but the view from the north and west terraces is well worth the visit as there are many stunning photo opportunities from this vantage point. Looking straight ahead, you can see the battered houses of the Ribeira district and the Clérigos Tower in the distance. Look down onto the street, you might catch a glimpse of a local woman hanging clothes out on her balcony. 

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Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar

Strolling along the river, you can see the white circular cloisters perched high up the hilltop of Vila Nova de Gaia on the other side of the Dom Luis I bridge. This former 17th century monastery is now a military barracks. On the water, you’ll see rabelo boats – traditional Portuguese cargo boats used to transport people and goods along the Douro River – docked in front of the Port lodges. On the opposite bank, the colorful city of Porto rises from the river with many notable landmarks like the city wall and the Se cathedral clearly visible. As the sun sets, gaze out towards the sea for the most romantic backdrop of the city.

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Two  other lookout points worth mentioning are the Torre dos Clérigos and Jardim do Palácio de Cristal, which was covered in our previous post of things to do in Porto here and here.

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