June is a good month to visit Porto
In June, the days are warm and invite you to discover the city on foot and the sardines start to get fat, that is to say that this time of the year is the best time for the good sardines to arrive at every restaurants table.
S. João is celebrated on June 24th, but the whole month is a long preparation for the one that is proved to be the most popular festival of the city for over 100 years. It was during a referendum promoted in 1911 by a popular daily newspaper (Jornal de Noticias), that the population recognized the festivity of the saint as a festivity of the city and has pioneered the establishment of a municipal holiday, which continues until today.
Every year, on the night of 23rd to 24th of June, the inhabitants of Porto and visitors, domestic and foreign, go to the streets to one that is known to be the longest night of the year in Porto.
On the night of S. João, almost every parish in the city offers a musical ball and even entertainment and modern cultural facilities, as the Casa da Música or the Hard Club, located in the former Ferreira Borges Market, in the historical center, have special programs. There are free concerts in the City Park, in the historical city center and the bars also join the party.
Among other traditions, the inhabitants, especially the younger ones, have a habit of starting the night in the historic center and go walking, from ball to ball, to Foz do Douro, the riverside and seaside or, for some years now, stopping in the casa da Música and following the Boavista Avenue.
The evening begins in Ribeira, because there are fireworks, usually launched from Bridge Luís I and boats anchored in the river where the banks of the Douro are the best places to see the show. If you do not like confusion, there are places that do not come in the guides where you can watch with the same emotion, such as the viewpoint of Bataria da Vitória at the bottom of S. Bento da Vitória Street and very close to the monastery of the same name.
You can also see the fireworks, on board of a tourist boat - the companies operating in the Douro normally have special programs for the evening of S. João, which may or may not include dinner. What is promised is always a lot of revelry and excitement!
On the day of S. João, watch the traditional Rabelo boats regatta, which is organized yearly by the Port Wine Association. Find a place on land with good visibility and see the boats that once carried the Port wine from the Douro Region up to the cellars of Gaia, a race from the mouth of the river to the Luis I Bridge.
On the 24th, there is still the traditional S. João concert in the gardens of the Crystal Palace.
When walking through the city during the day, stay tuned to the numerous representations of Saint John, the Baptist in civic buildings, churches and public spaces of Porto. The City Hall, through Casa do Infante, organizes a pedestrian circuit of these evocative works of art. One of the best known is the of John the Baptist, by João Cutileiro in the Ribeira Square, near the river Douro.
Apart from S.João
The Casa da Música has a special program that includes free shows and outdoors, and throughout the city multiply the craft fairs and urban grocery stores open.
The city offers an incredible heritage, which ex-libris includes its historical centre, which was classified World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1996.
Mercadinho dos Clerigos (market), in Cândido dos Reis Street (last Saturday of each month, at noon), in downtown, and the Free markets at the Palace of Arts - Talent Factory, in the historic al center (last Saturday of every month, all day) are just two urban markets that you must visit.
During the summer, there are several shows with free entrance in the Casa da Música, as part of the program for the summer. Outside there is a stage set up just for the warm months, which concerts of various music genres take place and there is also a bar.
Sardines and kid
In the evening, go to Matosinhos and dine in one of the many fish restaurants there. Until October, the Fish and Seafood festival takes place there and the participating restaurants set up outdoor cafes on the street. The weather invites to it. Ask for grilled sardines and choose a white wine from the Douro.
The kid is also a typical dish this time of the year. In olden times, people began to eat sardines because the kid was too expensive, but the S. Joao tradition is also to eat lamb or roast lamb with potatoes and rice in the oven. In the historical center, you will easily find a restaurant that serves this plate.
It is impossible to remain indifferent to a festivity like S. João. Is there a better souvenir than a typical figure of a saint? In the past, it was tradition that children would ask, with the figure of the saint in the hand, for a penny to help them to make the cascade of S. João. In downtown, there are shops where you can buy the saint, the professions of other times, the houses, the bridge over the river and even the sheep.
You can buy a manjerico from the same family as basil and symbolizing S.João, in Bolhão Market St. and S. João Cake available in the best bakeries in town.
Needless to say, in the north of Portugal there are other cities that celebrate this saint. In Braga, for example, the day of S. João is also a holiday.
There are flights to Porto, low cost , for example, London (Stansted and Gatwick), Paris (Beauvais, Orly and Charles de Gaulle Vatry), Marseille, Lille, Tours, St. Etienne, Bologna, Bordeaux, Lyon, Toulouse, Madrid, Barcelona El Prat , Tenerife, Valencia, Venice and Palma de Mallorca.
In the summer there are companies low cost flying from Liverpool, Las Palmas, Carcassonne, Rodez and Nantes.
With normal fares are from London - Gatwick, Madrid, Barcelona and Paris - Orly.
From the International Airport Francisco Sá Carneiro the best way to reach the center of Porto's metro. The trip takes about 30 minutes.