If you are looking for a city trip where there are things to do but where you can also relax then Porto is the place where you need to go! It’s such a gorgeous place to sit around with a coffee and people watch (don’t tell me I’m the only one who loves doing that) but there’s also plenty of places to visit.
I went for 4 days, last week so the weather was around 22 degrees which is the perfect temperature for wandering around the streets without overheating. I feel like I learnt a lot about their culture in the few days that I was there, things like when you go to a cafe you always sit down first and they come to you instead of ordering at the bar. Also a lot of places don’t take card to make sure to bring cash.
The biggest most amazing part about the place was how cheap everything was. You could get a latte for under 2 euros! As someone who frequently pays like £3 for one that was amazing. They also sell those famous Portuguese tarts everywhere and they’re not too badly priced either. Also the metro was super cheap, so it was easy enough to travel around different places and from the airport.
In terms of the food, if you’re vegetarian or vegan then you may struggle. I didn’t see any places offer alternative milks and most dishes contained meat or fish. As someone who is gluten intolerant I found it a struggle to find food but thankfully it’s not severe so I did end up eating a lot of bread. I found it odd how they eat cake for breakfast… but I can’t complain because it tasted great!
I took hundreds of photos of everywhere that we visited so I thought that I would share them and show some of my recommendations of places to visit if you are planning a trip:
Ponte luis i
So this bridge crosses the main river in Porto and this is not just any bridge, it’s a double decker bridge! Along the top you can walk across and it’s also where the metro runs across, just listen out for them if you’re walking along it. Then along the bottom is where the cars go and it makes it the easiest way to walk across. You can pay 3 euros to get a boat across if ya want.
The view from the top is insane, you can see so far!
vila de nova gaia
The best way that I can describe this area is as a district in Porto which is south of the river (that may be wrong… ) This was where our hostel was, the Sandeman Hostel and I would definitely recommend, and it is best known as being the wine/port area. There are loads of shops and places that offer tours surrounding the history of the places. It’s not my cup of tea but I’m sure it’s interesting!
There are also loads of markets as it’s a very touristy area but things aren’t actually that expensive if you are wanting to pick souvenirs.
The entry fee was 3 euros which is very cheap and wandering round here is a great way to kill a couple of hours. It’s quite small in comparison to others I’ve been to, but pretty nonetheless. You can climb up to the top of one of the towers and get a stunning view of the city, as you can see it was very foggy so would maybe look better on a sunny day. You can also attend the services that they hold throughout the day.
sao bento station
This is one of the nicest train stations that I have ever seen and is definitely worth a quick visit to take some snaps!
com coure cafe
For all my gluten intolerant pals out there, I found the best cafe! They do a huge variety of Portuguese treats, all gluten free. They are a tiny bit more expensive but worth it, and may not taste quite as good as the traditional gluten filled treats but it’s better for my digestive system!
This was the best shop that I saw and let me explain why… so all of the bags and other items in the shop are made from waste which is amazing. You could literally buy cute backpacks made from things like coffee packaging or pet food packaging etc etc. I could rant for ages about everything I learnt but instead I’m gonna save that for another post.
Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
Once again, I found another place to go and admire the view of the river! The Crystal Palace is apparently a sports stadium but they were doing it up so sadly we couldn’t go inside but the gardens are still amazing. I love a good stroll around some gardens, finding a great bench to sit and people watch because that’s how interesting I am…
I think this may have been one of the highlights of the trip and was also one of the most expensive. We paid 5 euros to go into a bookshop. Yup. But….. it’s pretty famous for being the 3rd most beautiful in the world (I have no idea who works that out) and J K Rowling spent a lot of time here so it’s also partly a Harry Potter fan shop.
The queue to get in was insane and it was packed so excuse the crappy phone photos but it’s so pretty and I could have spend forever in here if it wasn’t for the swarms of tourists.
So this is the district on the north side of the river and the view is pretty famous as you have the colourful buildings along the river which are mostly restaurants. It is very similar to the other side as there’s tons of markets stalls and is full of tourists basically.
This area is outside the city centre so there was less tourists around thankfully and only cost about 2 euros for a 40 minute metro ride. It’s basically the surf area and you can hire equipment if you want or hire bikes to go along the prom. As someone who is used to stone beaches, seeing all the sand made me very happy. You can always stop for a reasonably priced ice cream along the prom and have a sit and people watch (again)
porto city park
Last but not least we found another huge park which was still in the Matinhos area. It was a great relief to escape the heat and find some shade for a while, and it was weirdly empty as well but that made it much more peaceful.
I would definitely recommend Porto to anyone and everyone!
It’s also easy to get the train to Lisbon as well and do it in one trip, which I kinda wish we did but there’s always another time. Check out my secondhand style diaries here!
Check out my Edinburgh tourists guide here!
Have you ever been to Portugal?