Fresh seafood, a glass of Port wine, cute little bars and not expensive are the ingredients for a weekend in Porto. This beautiful and relatively small city with 230.000 inhabitants has the perfect ingredients for a wonderful and relaxing weekend away. It is also a perfect destination for a small budget due to the currently low price level in Portugal. So im not surprised Porto won the best european destination of 2017!
Having Portugal in your mind brings you often directly to the Algarve with its beautiful beaches that for many is a perfect holiday destination consisting of sun, sea, beach and good food. But Portugal has a lot more to offer than the beautiful south. The north side has his own characteristics and charm, like the climate and the food.
As soon as you arrive in the city you can feel the friendliness and hospitality of the Portuguese instantly. There is an open atmosphere and the locals are pleased to help you directly when they see you searching for something. If you ask them anything about Porto they will proudly talk about their city and culture.
During my trip to this lovely city in September I was enjoying, on a lovely terrace in the sun, my “pasteis de nata”(famous local pastry) at Nata Lisboa. This chain has delicious sandwiches and pastries and is spread through the city. So perfect to enjoy your breakfast and coffee on the sunny terrace. When I asked the waiter for the bill he gave me a note containing a list of 3 restaurants that he recommended, the best part is that I didm’t even ask. Just because he is proud of his city and wants to promote the real local Porto kitchen. This was so toughtfull and such a special experience, specially in this modern time with all the different travel apps advising you where to go. It is so easy to find good spots which is the convenience and the beauty of the modern age, but the downside of this development is that the contact with the locals is getting lost.
Discover the city centre
The Centre of Porto is featured with all small streets that take you back to the middle ages. No street is straight and it is easy to get lost and thereby precisely the charm of the city to lead you through the streets and wander around. The colorful cottages cheer up the center and the collection of various tiles decorate the houses. It’s not only a happy view these tiles but they actually have also a practical function: to protect the houses against the humidity and the salt. Since in Porto all houses are exposed to the characteristics of living close to the sea, the attack of salt.
Harry Potter’s library
One of the sights that you can not miss during your visit to Porto is ‘Livraria Lello Bookshop’, Rua das Carmelitas no 144. This bookshop inspired the Harry Potter’s library school stairs. This faboulous old bookstore is definitely worth a visit even if you’re not much of a bookreader. As soon as you enter the store you see the giantic spiral staircase made of dark mahogany wood and you can imagine yourself in the Harry Potter movie.
Small restaurants with fresh prepared dishes are decorating the small streets of Porto. Everywhere you find small hidden restaurants whereof some in old caves inside the city walls.
Local dishes like Franceshina (portugese meat sandwich in spice sauce) are typically from the city of Porto. It’s not a top of the bill high culinary plate but the taste is very good and mandatory for the local experience to try it! Or if you are more into a light dinner? Go for a tasting of several petiscos at Aduela taberna in combination with a glass of Port wine, or Vinho do Porto as they call it.
And to start you perfect culinaire evening a glass of Vinho Verde. This light young white wine with a slightly fizzy nature is very soft and therefor the perfect wine for the aperitif. I say: ‘A sua saúde’! (cheers in portugese)
Portugal is famous for the Port wine so what is visiting Porto without a port tour? At the other side of the river you will find a variarity of Port houses to do the traditional tasting. Select your personal favorite and buy a bottle to bring back home and enjoy the Porto atmosfer back home later on. You should also visit the old port wine celpars, with impressive cast and endless rows of bottles file in, some cases, with wine aged more than 100 years.
Porto is full of a hugh variarity of cute bars and bar dancings. You can choose for your own favorite style from authentic to the latest trends and hipster places.
The street GALERIA de Paris is filled with locals, students and tourist gathering together and enjoying a drink on the streets and in the cafes. One of my recommendations to check is Casa do Livro (Galeria de Paris 85). This Cafe is beautifully covered in paintings and bookshelves filled with old books. In front of the hugh bookshelves there is a DJ playing and a dancefloor. Ask the barman to create his signature cocktail for you and your evening will be complete!
Do you have more time to spent in Porto? Rent a car and go for a roundtrip to discover the portugese landscape and beaches. There are surfing lessons all year.