Fundação de Serralves (Serralves Foundation Complex)

#14 in Best Things To Do in Porto
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Key Info

Rua Dom João de Castro 210

Details

Museums, Parks and Gardens, Historic Homes/Mansions, Tours Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 3.5Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

The Fundação de Serralves comprises a park, a villa, a contemporary art museum and a cinema all set on nearly 45 acres of land in western Porto. Billed as a cultural institution, the foundation aims to "raise the awareness and knowledge amongst audiences from different backgrounds and age groups, in relation to contemporary art, architecture and the landscape." The villa and park were the first to open (in the 1930s); the villa is often touted by architecture experts and historians as the most noteworthy example of an art deco building in Portugal and it was declared a national monument in 2012. Inside, the villa is laid out like a private residence (as it was originally such) and hosts temporary art exhibits throughout the year. Situated on one of the highest points of the complex, the villa overlooks the park, which features lush gardens, exotic plants, winding pathways and even a farm. Permanent sculptures pepper the premises as well. Meanwhile, the Serralves Museum opened in 1999 and boasts 14 exhibition galleries across three floors. Today, the museum features rotating art exhibits, music and dance performances, and educational programs. The Caso do Cinema (or House of Cinema) opened in 2019.

Although it's a bit removed from other top attractions around Porto, the Fundação de Serralves is well worth a visit for its beautiful gardens and interesting art, travelers say. Also, if you happen to be visiting in early June, you can take part in the museum's annual Serralves em Festa festival, which offers a plethora of free contemporary art and cultural events and performances.

The Fundação de Serralves is situated about 3 miles west of downtown Porto, neighboring the beach area of Foz to the east. You can reach the complex by bus, route Nos. 201, 203, 502 and 504 all stop nearby. Metro lines A (blue), B (red), C (green), D (yellow) and E (violet) can be used to reach the Casa da Musica station for connection with the aforementioned bus lines at the Boavista Roundabout. From October through March, the museum, park, cinema and villa are open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. From April through September, the foundations facilities are open one hour later on both weekdays and weekends. Admission to all the spaces costs 20 euros (or about $22); admission to any of the spaces individually costs 12 euros (or about $13.20). Discounts are available for students and for adults with the Porto Card. Children 12 and younger can enter for free. For more information, visit the Serralves Foundation website.

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#1 Dom Luís I Bridge

This iconic arching iron bridge straddles the Douro River, connecting Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia. Though Porto is known for having quite a few bridges, the Dom Luis I Bridge is especially renowned because it was designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel, the mastermind behind the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Plus, at the time of its completion in 1886, this bridge was the longest iron arch in the world. The bridge accommodates cars on its lower level and Porto's metro on its upper level; pedestrians can walk along the bridge on both levels. Stroll along the upper deck of the bridge and you'll be rewarded with spectacular views of the edifices built into the hillside cliffs that line the river.

Admiring the bridge's composition and the views it offers is something all visitors to Porto must do, travelers consistently attest. A visit here would pair well with a stop at some of Porto's nearby wineries across the bridge in Vila Nova de Gaia. Another option would be to hop on a Douro River cruise or boat tour, which would allow you to see all six bridges in one go.

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