Top 10 Things to do in Boavista
Designed by Eduardo Souto Moura – another Pritzker winner – the House of the Arts was built in the gardens of the Casa Allen, a private mansion in the Campo Alegre area, between 1988 and 1991. It has a cinema, an auditorium, exhibition rooms and a garden where you can recharge your batteries.
At the end of the working day, the Mercado Bom Sucesso is where many locals head to sip a glass of wine and snack on cheese and ham. But it’s a popular place for a full meal, too. You can try suckling pig sandwiches, pizzas, sushi, ceviche, vegetarian food, traditional Portuguese sweets and some excellent gin and wine. Pull up a high chair at one of the tables and enjoy.
Years of experience and high-quality ingredients make Petúlia one of the city’s best pastry shops. For special occasions, it’s hard to beat: its pão-de-ló sponge cake (a popular Easter treat) and bolo-rei fruit cake (for Christmas) are marvellous. So are the húngaros (chocolate- dipped biscuits), bolinhos de coco (coconut cookies) and savoury snacks such as pies and meat croquettes.
An icon of contemporary architecture, the House of Music was designed by Dutch star Rem Koolhaas and opened in 2005. It hosts an eclectic programme of shows and children’s workshops, and has a top-floor restaurant with a great panoramic view. Guided tours of the building can be booked in advance.
The recently modernised Porto Planetarium hosts regular stargazing sessions, exhibitions and activities for the little ones. This summer, until September 29, shows in English are screened at 4pm every weekday. At other times staff may be able to provide explanations in English – check the website, which will also have information for October onwards.
Each day this restaurant offers soup, toasted sandwiches, salads and wraps, but the combinations vary depending on the availability of the ingredients. What is guaranteed are good vegetables, good fruit and good photos. They also do fresh juices and you can buy organic biscuits to accompany your coffee.
Flat, flaky, moist and well-filled bolas de Lamego are a speciality of the city of the same name in the Viseu district but have been established in Porto for a few months now. Among the most popular here are ones with cooked or cured ham, codfish, sardine and chicken. They also do homemade biscuits that’ll go perfectly with your coffee.
Guided visits are available around the largest synagogue in the Iberian peninsula. Aside from the building’s history, visitors can learn more about Judaism, the Sephardis and the local Jewish community, whose leading founder was army captain and self-taught historian Artur Barros Basto.
This is the country’s largest city park, at 83 hectares. It has lakes with ducks to entertain the kids, space for picnics and circuits for various sporting activities. If you enter via the Avenida da Boavista (though the park does have other entrances), you’ll find these straight away. On Saturdays the park hosts an organic produce market.
With a historic garden (filled with camellias), another with succulents, an area of greenhouses with tropical plants, lakes and several century-old trees, the Porto Botanical Garden should be visited at a slow pace. It’ll let you appreciate the surrounding nature and provide a chance to relax in the centre of town.