Porto, Portugal

Porto is the second largest Portuguese city. Its vibrant nightlife, delicious food and wine, Romanesque architecture will leave you satisfied. Porto is UNESCO listed city and it feels so much slower than Lisbon. I noticed that there are not as many tourists on the streets and it gave you that feeling of peacefulness. The best way to explore Porto is by foot – its small in size so you can get to all the major attractions walking.

We stayed in the Ribeira district which is the old town of Porto on the northern side of the river and one of the hilliest places I have ever visited. The entire area is filled with medieval cobblestone narrow streets and cute little restaurants, shops and bars.

Tips:

  • Have something to eat or drink along the river. There are so many colorful picturesque houses with balconies. We had coffee and pastries one morning there and just enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere. It is great spot to people watch and you can see boats go up and down the river. Also, it is best place to see the iconic Luis bridge.

  • We took a boat tour which was in the same area. It was about one hour ride up and down the Douro, you get to see city and learn about 7 bridges of Porto. I believe we paid 15 euros per person – it was rainy day when we did it so I wish it wasn’t so we would enjoy sitting on the deck instead of inside.

  • Take a ride on a Funicular dos Guindais – it was built in 1891. It takes you from Batalha to Ribeira in just few minutes but its enough time to see beauty of Douro river and Luiz bridge.  Tickets are 2.5 euros one way and you purchase them at Funicular.  https://en.metrodoporto.pt/pages/436
  • You should definitely take time to walk across Dom Luis I Bridge. This bridge was completed in 1886 and it consists of the top deck which is reserved for pedestrians and city’s metro and the lower deck for the cars. It comes as no surprise when you learn that the bridge was designed by Gustave Eiffel. We took spectacular walk (get your camera ready because the views are incredible) and we ended up on another side of that bridge -Vila Nova de Gaia. It is a city on the south bank and it famous for its port cellars and where all the port wine tasting takes place. For 100 years that was a place were barrels of wine and port were loaded and unloaded.

  • As soon as we walked off the bridge we took a cable car ride (Teleférico de Gaia), its pretty quick ride but enough to see port warehouses, and beautiful Ribeira in its folded glory.  We bought tickets on site and there was no line, both way ticket was 9 euros.   http://www.gaiacablecar.com/Teleferico_UK.html

(View from the cable car)

  • We learned that if you want to eat good food most of the times you need to make reservations. We were given few recommendations by our local hosts. We picked restaurant Reitoria, the ground floor has cute outside and it serves tapas and second floor where we made our reservation was a steakhouse. We really enjoyed our dinner and wine, Wagyu-Escocia was absolutely delicious and their freshly baked focaccia caseira was yummy http://www.reitoria.pt/
  • The other highly recommended restaurant was Cantina 32 -it is Portuguese’s cuisine with a modern twist. Unfortunately we were unable to make reservations on time :(. http://www.cantina32.com/
  • Grab table outside of Mercador cafe for breakfast and you can people watch. This cafe is in the middle of the cute street, Rua das Flores. We enjoyed coffees and homemade pastries.  https://www.facebook.com/mercadorcafe/

(The last two photos are from some random wine bar we stumbled upon)

  • Plan to visit Livraria Lello as it is a must see spot in Porto. It’s the oldest bookshop in the world and if you are a huge Harry Potter fan rumor has it that J.K. Rowling was inspired by it to write the books. I suggest to buy your voucher ahead of time on their website (see below) its 5 euros per person and its totally deductible on the purchase of a book. Prepare to wait in line or you can try to visit library early in the morning during the week. We went on a rainy day and you can only imagine that everyone else had the same plan, we still enjoyed our visit and even caught little performance though it was in Portuguese it was very entertaining. https://www.livrarialello.pt/en-us/products/online-voucher?returnurl=%2fen-us%2fproducts%2f

  • After your visit Livraria Lello you should walk to A igreja dos Carmelitas Descalços (baroque Portuguese  church). We regret not going inside but the entrance is free, I just wish we hadn’t been soaking wet from the rain that day.

  • Allocate yourself one solid day to just wander around and you would be surprised where you going to end up… we happened to discover the most beautiful sights on our unplanned walk in the town.

I fell in love with Porto, the city of bridges, lots of hills and wonderful wine – it’s definitely a place to visit again on my list. The food is awesome, wine is amazing, the breathtaking views of Ribeira district never gets old and you meet the most friendliest people who treat you as you were a long time friends. Time seems to have stopped when we wandered around the streets full of little details and hidden beauty – till next time Porto.

Armazem was one of the places we stumbled upon and it was just a treasure. It’s a vintage shop with a cutest bar that serves great wine and tasty tapas. Of course we didn’t leave empty handed.

https://www.facebook.com/armazem93/

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