7 must see parks in Porto

Published by: BouncePosted

Set on the mouth of the Douro River in Northern Portugal, Porto is a historic city blessed with sprawling greenery and patches of nature throughout its maze-like neighborhoods and along its hillside streets. It’s one of the major cities in Portugal, which continues to gain popularity due to its pleasant year-round weather, great food and wine, and historical landmarks. With so much going on in the city, the beautiful gardens and parks in Porto are becoming a favorite place to rest and escape from the growing crowds.

Every park in Porto offers something different, whether it’s the views, manicured grounds, art, running/walking trails, history, or playground, so your experience will vary, depending on where you go. Some offer vast lawns to lay out your picnic blanket to eat, read a book, or relax on a sunny afternoon, while others provide facilities for recreation, exercise, and romantic walks.

We’ve gathered some of the unmissable gardens and parks in Porto and the things you can do on your visit. Don’t let your shopping bags or belongings stop or slow you down on your next nature trip. Use one of our luggage storage locations in Porto, giving you a safe and convenient place to store your valuable items.

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Parque da Cidade do Porto

Parque da Cidade is Porto’s main city park, covering an area of 200 acres, making it the country’s largest urban park. It is linked by a network of paths, about ten kilometers long, ideal for running and walking. It has diverse and rich flora and fauna, including swans, wild ducks, frogs, geese, and different species of plants, shrubs, and trees. It’s right next to Sea Life Porto, the city’s best aquarium, home to over 3,000 marine creatures, from giant turtles and penguins to sharks and mantra rays.

Although Porto’s City Park was inaugurated in 1993, the plan to build a park started around 1916/1918. The first conceptual studies only began in 1982, and the construction started in 1991. It was conceived using traditional Portuguese rural construction techniques, featuring granite stones from demolished buildings, earth-supporting walls, and other elements that give it a countryside atmosphere.

The City Park has numerous attractions besides the jogging track, lush lawns, and vegetation. Throughout its rural landscape are benches for breaks, a lake, ponds with ducks and birds, a camellia garden, a play area, and spaces for sports and picnics. There are also plenty of shaded parts to hide from the heat, but one of its biggest plus points is its location near the beach. It’s a perfect destination to relax after a long, tiring day and stay cool during summer.

Jardins do Palácio de Cristal

Find peace in nature and recharge your inner batteries at Jardins do Palácio de Cristal or Crystal Palace Gardens. Sitting atop a bluff, these romantic 19th-century landscaped gardens offer a view of the Douro River and the city. It’s easily one of Porto’s best-loved urban escapes, with lawns dotted with sculptures, fountains, olive trees, cypress, camellias, and giant magnolias. It’s like a mosaic of small, beautiful gardens that form a natural wonder you shouldn’t miss when visiting Porto.

The Crystal Palace of Porto was modeled after the Crystal Palace of London, located in the famed Hyde Park. It was built by the English architect Thomas Dillen Jones in 1865 to host the International Exhibition of Porto. But don’t go looking for a palace because it no longer exists; it was demolished in 1951. Instead, you’ll find the Super Bock Arena (Pavilhão Rosa Mota), a domed cultural and sports arena that hosts concerts, festivals, fairs, and sports events.

The breathtaking views of the river and the surrounding areas make it a popular spot among tourists and Portuguese. But be sure to come in the afternoon, wait for the glorious sunset, and feel like you’re on top of the world. Children and animal lovers also love the fascinating creatures roaming the gardens freely, such as ducks, chickens, and peacocks. If you visit in spring, you’ll be enthralled by the colorful tulips, wildflowers, and other spring flowers that emit an enchanting aroma. It’s not far from the primary tourist part of the city, making it a pleasant park in Porto to get away from the crowd.

Jardim Botânico do Porto

Jardim Botânico do Porto (Porto Botanical Garden) is a paradise for nature lovers and historians, combining three crucial elements that numerous parks in Porto contain: history, recreation, and biodiversity. Its origin began with Pierre Salabert, a French hatmaker who bought the land in 1802. The estate was confiscated in 1820 after the French Invasions and then relinquished to Arnaldo Ribeiro Barbosa and João José da Costa. In 1836, Passos Manuel introduced an education reform, resulting in the creation of a Botanical Garden in the Polytechnic Academy of Porto’s vicinity.

The Botanical Garden of Porto has gone through so much since its establishment. It was founded as part of the University of Porto in 1951 and now covers an area of four hectares, shaped over various periods. It features 19th- and 20th-century layouts and displays different plant spaces and habitats, including an arboretum, formal gardens, bosquets, and a cactus garden.

The historical garden also has ponds with water plants, camellia hedges, and a park filled with trees, flowers, tropical and sub-tropical plants, orchids, and many more. The entrance to the garden is free, so you have no reason not to visit and explore. It’s open between 9 AM to 6 PM, so you can start your day with a morning walk or an afternoon stroll.

Parque de São Roque

Escape the bustling city centre and head to Parque de São Roque, a famous city park with lots of trees, grassy areas for sports and relaxation, picnic tables, benches to rest, lakes, and a playground for children. It’s one of the most important green spaces on the city’s east side, nestled on the site of the former Quinta da Lameira, an impressive manor that the Calem family once owned.

There’s so much to see and do at São Roque Park, but one of its prominent features is the labyrinth of hedges, which creates a scenic effect when viewed from above. It’s a stone’s throw from Estádio do Dragão, FC Porto’s 50,000-seat stadium, the third-largest football stadium in Portugal. It maintains the characteristics and styles of a romantic garden with winding paths for walking, scenic vistas from the terrace, little hideaways, and quiet corners for solitary contemplation and relaxation.

Although it’s a short distance from the city center, São Roque Park offers a serene space with picturesque scenery you’ll want to explore with family, friends, or on your own. It is well-maintained and offers excellent views of the river and parts of the town. It’s not as massive as the City Park, but enough to take a walk and stretch your muscles while relishing the atmosphere.

Parque Oriental da Cidade do Porto

If there’s Parque da Cidade on the east, Porto’s western side boasts another large park called Parque Oriental da Cidade do Porto. It was designed by landscape architect Sidónio Pardal, the same creator behind the City Park. This Porto park was opened to the public in June 2010 with the goal of transforming an uneven and compartmentalized space of fields into a continuum of grassy and wooded areas with a network of paths where visitors can spend their free time immersed in nature in peace.

The Oriental Park of the City of Porto has vast lawns and patches of greenery for picnics and sports. You can take your furry or human friends or explore it on your own; no matter the case, you’re sure to have an enjoyable time at the park. You can play catch with your dog, ride a bike, or run for morning or afternoon exercise. Because it’s outside the city center, you’ll rarely find a tourist crowd here, perfect for relaxing strolls and meditations.

If it’s your first time here, don’t expect to find many tables or benches to sit on. The lawns are well-maintained and clean, so you can set up a picnic blanket or just rest on the grass and chill under the sun. If it gets too hot, there are shaded areas to cool down and enjoy fresh air.

Jardim do Morro

If you’re willing to go for a short drive from Porto city center for breathtaking panoramas, Jardim do Morro is the place to go. It’s at the highest point of a hill; hence the name Jardim do Morro, which translates to ‘garden of the hill’ or ‘hill garden.’ It’s located in Vila Nova de Gaia, a few kilometers south of the city on the other side of the river, known for its astonishing views and gardens.

Morro Garden is great to visit at any time of the day, but many people come to watch the sunrise or sunset, depending on whether you’re a morning person or a night owl. There’s a playground to keep your little ones occupied while you take in the surroundings, an abundant green area, a terrace, a tiny pond, and an open-air auditorium. There’s not much to do here, but the highlight is the view, which is worth the trip.

Drive to the area or take the D metro line from central Porto. Then, you can get to the garden park on foot by crossing the upper deck of the iconic Luis I bridge from Vila Nova de Gaia or Ribeira or ride the Teleférico de Gaia. This aerial gondola will give you a bird’s eye view of the Douro River, the city, and beyond.

Parque de Serralves

Combine history and nature experience at Parque de Serralves, covering an area of 18 hectares that extends beyond Casa de Serralves, an art deco mansion that promotes arts and cultural activities. The park consists of a wide diversity of spaces harmoniously connected together, including formal gardens, a traditional farmhouse, a romantic lake, and woodlands. Architect Jacques Gréber designed it in the 1930s, showcasing a unique example of Portugal’s landscape heritage.

Visitors of all ages and interests will surely have a wonderful time at Serralves Park, reconnecting with their environment and participating in programs and activities. It has different routes that vary in length for a physical challenge, sculptures on permanent display, and various species of native and non-native flora. But one of the park’s newest features you shouldn’t skip is the Treetop Walkway, high above the ground next to the tree canopy. It allows visitors to study and observe the park’s biodiversity.

While there, take the time to tour the Serralves Museum. It’s proud to be the country’s finest contemporary art museum that stands on the grounds of the Serralves Estate, along with a Villa and the Park. It introduces works of some of today’s most important artists, which include the emerging and established masters, featuring thematic and monographic exhibitions. Music, contemporary dance, cinema, and performances are also regularly held in the auditorium and other parts of the museum.

Unwind in the beautiful parks and gardens in Porto

 You have no excuse for a dull and uneventful day in Porto. With so many parks, gardens, and natural sanctuaries in this energetic city in Portugal, you’ll always have something to do, whether participating in sports, going out for a leisure stroll, walking your dog, or simply taking in awe-inspiring views. Plus, most gardens and parks in Porto offer free admission, so even if your budget is tight and you can’t afford to spend another dime, you can still visit and forget the stress and chaos of life.

Looking for more things to do outdoors that will cost you little to nothing? Get ideas from our guides on the best hikes in Porto and beaches near Porto to find more ways to spend your free days in the city.

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