Jardins do Palacio de Cristal, Porto, Portugal - bench overlooking Ponte da Arrabida

Taking in a sunrise at Jardins do Palacio de Cristal, Porto

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There are some magical places in the world. Jardins do Palacio de Cristal in the heart of Porto, Portugal is one of them.

Translating to Crystal Palace Gardens, they open at 8am daily, depending on the time of year, it’s a perfect place to soak in a sunrise. It’s also pretty spectacular during sunset too. However, the tranquillity it offers in the morning makes these gardens so special. There are so many spots to sit and take in the surroundings. It’s been designed for peace, surrounded by awe. Just be prepared to lose track of time whilst you are there – it is very easily done.

As many know, I’m not one for spending too much time in green spaces. However, Jardins do Palacio de Cristal has a perfect balance – where green space meets blue space. Being elevated from the riverbank, the near 180 degree views over the River Duoro are mesmerising. Get there early, and if you are lucky, you can watch the haze slowly disappearing over both sides of the river as the world slowly wakes up. Along with the riverfront itself, this is one of the best places to watch the sunrise in Porto due to the wide open views.

Jardins do Palacio de Cristal, Porto during sunrise
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The gardens that keep giving

The many roosters and ducks roaming freely around the park will certainly let you know what time of day it is! Enter the park from the main entrance, and you can’t miss the giant Rosa Mota Pavillion, where many theatre shows are held. Head behind here, and you’ll find the peaceful pond with a pretty little bridge. A place to really gather your thoughts on one of the many benches.

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To the east of the Pavillion, you’ll find one of the many perfect spots overlooking the Box Garden. The design of this garden is beautiful, but this is just the beginning of the amazing view you’re about to witness. The trees surrounding you deliberately open up the most incredible view of the Ponte da Arrabida – one of the many bridges over the River Douro. It’s captivating, especially as the colours encompassing it change with the sunrise.

In the southeastern corner of the park, a tower awaits your adventure. The views are breathtaking and worth the few steps. Further to the west is a line of some of the tallest palm trees I’ve ever seen. Be prepared to bend your neck back as you gaze up into the sky. Here you’ll find a mixture of different gardens and hidden spots to call your own. In fact, get there early; it feels like the whole park is your own.

Jardins do Palacio de Cristal, Porto, Portugal
Get lost in the moment overlooking the River Douro from the gardens during sunrise

Green space fitness in Jardins do Palacio de Cristal

As a big lover of Blue Spaces and outdoor gyms, it made me smile when I found the number of different fitness equipment within Jardins do Palacio de Cristal. You’ll find several different cardio and strength stations to the east on the lower level. Cycle. Row. Stepper. Assisted Pull Ups. Shoulder Press. To name just a few. What did make me chuckle was the activity spin wheel! Give it a spin, and you might find yourself skipping, doing star jumps, dancing, doing burpees, sprinting or twisting. This a brilliant idea from PlayPlanet, and every park should have one! It’s a shame the wall surrounding the equipment is quite high – it would finish it off just nicely with that stunning view of the river and Ponte da Arrabida.

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Outdoor fitness gym equipment in Jardins do Palacio de Cristal
Outdoor cardio and strength equipment in Jardins do Palacio de Cristal

Be careful of the very protective hens and chicks in this area! I thought they would start pecking, but I stuck to the edges, and they seemed to calm down. Funnily enough though, they didn’t want to join in on the equipment.

Further to the south of the park and more outdoor equipment invites you to focus on your health for a while. Callisthenics style. Horizontal bars offer you to use your own body weight for resistance. Again, the wall is slightly too high here for the perfect view, but the sense that it is there is enough.

Outdoor fitness gym equipment in Jardins do Palacio de Cristal
Outdoor fitness gym equipment in Jardins do Palacio de Cristal, with the River Douro just in front

Escape the city bustle

Jardins do Palacio de Cristal is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Porto’s city centre. Its clever design and stunning location mean you can’t hear the traffic building up for the day. It really is quiet. Peaceful. Tranquil. You can easily get lost in the moment; this is exactly where you should be.

If you want to make your time there even longer, there are plenty of facilities, other points of interest and a cafe within the gardens.

Have you visited the Jardins do Palacio de Cristal? Did you lose track of time as I did? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

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