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Hello guys! It took forever, but this post is finally out!
In June a friend of mine was traveling to Portugal … Since I needed to go there
to apply for my Portuguese citizenship, my husband and I took a quick trip to Porto, in order to meet the friend, expedite the citizenship and well, to tour! It was all kind of last minute so we only had three days.
If you are traveling to Porto in a tight schedule, let me give you the scoop on what to do, so you can enjoy the best of this incredible city!
We arrived on Sunday evening and returned to Germany early on Wednesday. This gave me a day and a half to visit, since the rest of out time was meant to solve citizenship bureaucracies. The first thing I think it is important to say is that two days is enough time to get to know Porto well!
That being said, let’s get down to business …
Where to stay
Porto has great Airbnb options! You can find spacious and well-located apartments from €50. We stayed at the Path Monte Apartment which I highly recommend! If you prefer staying in a hotel, another good option is the Domum 2, which offer good price and location.
One thing you need to keep in mind when setting up your accommodation is that Porto is a city full of ups and downs. I would say that there are three main levels: the Cedofeita region is the highest part; the historic center would be the medium level, while the margin of the river is the lowest part of the city:
This is important for you to plan the order which you will visit each sight seeing spot. If you are staying in the highest part, even though the rides are all downhill, remember that at the end of the day you will have to go up again to return to your hotel. If you stay on a lower level, a good part of your days will be about walking up the hills. That’s why I recommend choosing a mid-level accommodation. It won’t be the cheapest choice, but it will make your life easier!
In fact, whoever is going to stroll through Portugal and is not up to date with cardio, prepare! In addition to the slopes, the average walking distance per day to enjoy Porto 10 km!
Speaking of distances …
How to get around?
Everything in Porto is close and you can get almost everywhere on foot. I say almost, because the beach of Matosinhos
and everything around that area is a little further away, but in this case you have two options: Tram and Uber, which are super affordable. As we arrived very late at the Porto airport, we took an Uber to go to the apartment. The ride was about 16 km and cost €12. Uber is also a good plan B for when you walk too far down hill and have no energy to go back yes, this happened to us.
Another transportation worth checking out is the Porto tram, which goes around the margin of the river. You can buy the ticket with the operator for €3!
Another very popular option in Europe is the Bus Tour, also known as Hop on Hop Off, but for that particular destination, I would not recommend it. The tourist part of Porto is very small and you can go everywhere on foot.
Where and what to eat?
Cod and port wine, right? In fact, the codfish can be found everywhere… On our first day of tour, we ate so many of those snacks that ended up skipping lunch. Only by the end of the day we had a francesinha in Vila Nova de Gaia.
If you have not read anything about the francesinha , let me tell you what it is, since all restaurants in Porto serve: it is a fancy sandwich. The dish consists of a cheese and ham sandwich, topped with gratin cheese, accompanied by chips and a pepper sauce. As you can see, it is not a very healthy meal
but it is very tasty! We ate this delicacy in the restaurant Tempero D’Maria, which has a very diverse menu and friendly price considering the prime location.
You can also try the Portuguese Custard Tart called Pastel de Nata. A must-see place for it’s pleasant and romantic atmosphere is the Majestic Café! But the best custard tart in Porto is found at the Manteigaria!
The Rua das Flores is another common destination for those looking for delicious food and good wine. Another good idea for dinner is checking out the Mercado Bom Sucesso, which is kind of a gallery of restaurants:
Here you can eat everything, from seafood to Italian or hamburger!
What to visit?
Here I will tell a little about what we saw around Porto, in the order we visited. If you look at where each thing is on the map, you can see what is closest to what and most importantly: which places are at those high, medium, and low levels I explained earlier. I suggest planning your itinerary before leaving the hotel. In addition to saving time, it will be easier on your legs.
– Day 01
Carmo and Carmelitas Churches: We started the day in the Carmo and Carmelitas Churches, with its stone arches and blue tiles. The interior is all decorated in baroque style
filled with gold. I think these things are very beautiful but a bit sad at the same time … I can not help but wonder where all the wealth that is displayed there came from, you know?
A little further down, we arrived at …
The Lello Bookstore: Also called Chardron Bookstore, located at the city centre. The architecture of the bookstore is known worldwide, especially the staircase, which inspired J.K. Rowling to create the animated stairs of Hogwarts Castle!
Although it is always full, it is a wonderful visit! The ticket costs €5 and if you buy a book there, you receive this amount as a discount. Two important things: the first is that the ticket is not bought in the bookstore. You need to buy it at the Ticket Office which is on the corner of the street. The second thing is that you are not allowed to enter the bookstore with backpacks, so if you need to leave yours somewhere, you can inquire about lockers in that Ticket Office.
Tower of the Clerics: Going further down the street, one arrives at the Clerigos Tower, designed by Nicolau Nasoni. The Tower has 240 steps leading to a nice city view. We did not go up to the top because it costs €5
who pays to climb stairs?! and also because we were told that it is not the best view of the city. The best view is the one from the cover of this post, which I will mention later! The Clerigos Tower is next to the Clerigos Church, which you can not miss either.
São Bento Railway Station: On the way to Praça da Liberdade, you will arrive at the Porto Railway Station. The atrium of the station is covered in blue hand painted tiles, which portrait several historical moments like “The Battle of Arcos de Valdevez” and the “Conquest of Ceuta”. From the station it is possible to travel to Braga or Guimarães.
Church of Saint Ildefonso: For more blue tiles, go to the Church of Saint Idefonso, which has about eleven thousand of these and eight incredible stained glass. Hint: this church is very close to the Majestic Café!
Porto Cathedral: Walking towards the river, you will arrive at Porto’s Cathedral. It is located in a neighborhood called Batalha, which means “Battle” and maybe because of that, it looks like a stone fortress.
Stock Exchange Palace: The national monument that today is the Commercial Association of Porto, took almost fifty years to be built on the ruins of a Franciscan convent. The guided tour is available in four languages (Portuguese, Spanish, French and English) and costs €8.
After all this walking, we finished the day in Vila Nova de Gaia, which is the city next to Porto, across the Luis I iron bridge. Little tip about the bridge: you can cross it over (at the highest level), or under, which is what we did. There are a few ways to switch between these levels, but my favourite is the Gaia Cable Car which leads straight to the Monastery of Serra do Pilar. Which, by the way, has the best view of the city and it’s where the cover picture was taken!
In Vila Nova de Gaia we ate the Francesinha. If you’re in doubt about where to eat, I recommend using the Trip Advisor or Yelp apps. In addition to showing all restaurant options near by, the two apps allow you to filter the results according to your budget!
– Day 02
On the second day, we spent the morning in the Central Archive of Porto, dealing with my citizenship. After that, we went to the beach area of Matosinhos, which as mentioned, is a little further away. So, we took an Uber. In this region there are several wonderful restaurants serving seafood. That’s where we had lunch!
From there, we walked to the São Francisco Xavier Fort and also to the City Park. After that, we took the tram that goes back to Porto by the margins of the river, which is a beautiful ride. We finished our day tour in the gardens of the Crystal Palace and went back to the apartment to pack. Our flight was leaving at 6am the next morning!
There are three things we didn’t see/do, contrary to recommendation: the Walls of D. Fernando, which is said to have a spectacular view; the boat ride along the river and a Guided Tour through the Port Wine Cellars. We only learned about the walls after the trip was over… As of the boat ride and the wine tour, we decided not to take them because I get seasick in boats and my husband does not like Port wine.
If you know Porto, tell me about your trip in the comment section below! If you are planning on travelling there and have any further questions, you can aske me too!
I hope you enjoyed and see you all on my next post!
♦ The pictured used as cover for this post was taken by myself 😋