Parque da Cidade in Porto is the biggest urban park in Portugal and the ideal place to have a nice relaxed walk, do your workout, have a picnic or even some birdwatching.
Parque da Cidade, meaning city park, located on the western end of Avenida da Boavista, is one of the city’s lungs. Facing the ocean and with a direct access to Praia Internacional (the beach), the park, has more than 80 hectares of area and tries to replicate a rural ambience, and that’s why it’s classified as a “naturalist” style park. If you decide to go to the beach, try one of the surf schools based in, and around, Edifício Transparente, and take a look at “She Changes“, a 27-meter high floating sculpture by Janet Echelman – locally known as anémona (anemone). #3 on the map below.
Parque da Cidade was inaugurated in the 1990’s and designed by Sidónio Pardal, a Portuguese landscape architect, that was inspired by the works of Jens Jensen, Puckler-Muskauer and Olmsted, New York’s Central Park chief architect from 1858 to 1861. Large open areas and scenic viewpoints are trademarks that you can easily find together with lakes with a lot of ducks, geese, cormorants, gulls, starlings and a lot more birds, so take your camera or binoculars if you are into birdwatching.
On the northwest corner of Parque da Cidade, you can find Queimódromo, a big open space used for different events like Red Bull Air Race airstrip, Circuito da Boavista racecourse paddock, and the home of the University of Porto biggest party, Queima das Fitas. This area is also the official entrance way to NOS Primavera Sound, an annual music festival usually held in the first week of June. 2016 lineup just got out and features artists and bands like Sigur Rós, Animal Collective, Dinosaur JR and PJ Harvey. #2 on the map below.
On Parque da Cidade’s North side, close to the entrance in Estrada da Circunvalação, you can find Pavilhão da Água, a beautiful contemporary building created by Alexandre Burmester and José Carlos Gonçalves for Expo ’98 World Fair and donated to Porto in 2002, were children, and grown ups, can learn a lot about water’s value and its usefulness. #7 on the map below.
A little bit east from this spot, on the northeast corner, on Rua da Vilarinha entrance, every Saturday you can visit Mercado Biológico, which features Organic fruits and vegetables, and buy apples, that taste and smell like real apples, and onions, potatoes… If you are getting hungry, you can have a coffee and a light snack at the granary’s terrace, or try one of the amazing soundwiches created by seven of the top chefs in Portugal. Do it in the renovated farmhouse or on the sunny terrace. #6 on the map below.
Rain or shine, this the right spot to do it all!
Now you ask me how to get to Parque da Cidade.
Bus is the best way to get there and you’ll be right at the door – one of them at least:
#1 Entrance: Estrada da Circunvalação – Bus 205 (Campanhã Train Station – Castelo do Queijo)
#4 Entrance: Praia Internacional – Buses 500 (Praça da Liberdade – Matosinhos) and 502 (Bolhão Market – Matosinhos)
#5 Entrance: Avenida da Boavista – Bus 502 (Bolhão Market – Matosinhos)
#6 Entrance: Rua da Vilarinha – Bus 501 (Aliados-Matosinhos)