Portugal⎜Visit Porto in 3 days
Many of you followed us during this short stay in Portugal. And many of you asked us the details of our itinerary to visit Porto, the capital of the North region and especially known for its Porto wine.
So we will do even better, we summarize everything, we reveal everything in this City Guide: flights, hotel, restaurants (good and bad, as usual we are transparent), places to visit, beautiful places and things to see absolutely... there will be no more secrets to prepare your stay and visit Porto with a free spirit!
And as we have plenty of things to tell, we decided to make a second article about what to do around Porto 😊
Let's go, we take you with us to visit Porto, the second largest city in Portugal behind Lisbon (Lisboa in Portuguese), and discover all its old neighborhoods marked by Portugal's story.
Arrived in Porto
We flew with EasyJet from Nantes at 4:30pm (ok, with 20 minutes delay, but caught up during the flight) and we landed at 5:10pm in Porto. If you also plan to visit Portugal and Porto in particular, there are many direct flights from the largest cities in France. It is also what makes Porto a beautiful city and an affordable tourist destination.
Be careful, there is 1 hour time difference, so the flight lasts 1h40, not 40 minutes (it would be so good!)
Porto airport is quite small so it's very easy to find your way. Go to "Saida" (exit) then level -1 to take the subway (line E, the purple line) for about 30 minutes to get to the city. Don't be surprise if you wait a lot, the subway/tramway don't often go outside rush hours and on Sundays. We waited 28 minutes !
We arrived at Mirandesa Guest House, the hotel that greeted us during our stay, around 6.30pm. If you want to book a hotel, we recommend this one if you don't know where to stay in Porto. This hotel is almost out of the way because it's located 5 minutes walk from the historic center of Porto, in a quiet street, rooms are comfortable and the staff is really friendly (say you're coming from us 😊).
After putting our stuff in our room, it was time to discover the city at night! We went for a walk for1 hour before going to the restaurant in Porto CBD and discovered this beautiful historic town with magnificent illuminated buildings and incredible architecture.
The restaurant of this first evening was located in the center of Porto: The Tascö. Very good atmosphere and beautiful decoration but we were a little disappointed by the dish. We expected more flavors and we got ourselves on the English menu: chips = crisps. While we wanted french fries. And then it was the first restaurant we did, so we didn't know we had to pay for the bread (well after we were lapped!). On the other hand big positive point for the wine which was really cheap (it starts at 7€ the bottle) and very good. So we consoled ourselves with a good bottle 😉
Porto city tour
The hotel offers a full and unlimited buffet breakfast: bread, croissants, chocolate croissants, portuguese tarts (the famous pastéis de nata), cereals, ham, cheese, tea, coffee... quite good and at will! So we got some strength for the day that was waiting for us 😊
Because this Monday was a full day, we visited almost all the emblematic and unmissable places of Porto.
We started with the famous Bolhão market (Mercado do Bolhão in Portuguese) a typical market where locals sell their products on display. It's very nice and colourful, we recommend you to go for a walk to soak up the Portuguese culture, stroll and meet the locals. The market is open from Monday to Saturday from 7am to 5pm and until 1pm on Saturdays.
We then headed to the shopping street Rua Santa Catarina and its famous Majestic Café, the historical café of Porto with Art Nouveau architecture, but we had to wait more than an hour. So we didn't stop. We just had a look inside with its gilding and large mirrors (and looked at the menu by curiosity... 4 euros for a coffee instead of 0.60 cents!). Yes in Portugal, food and drinks are really cheap, except at the Majestic 😅
We preferred a sun terrace next to the church of Santo Ildefonso, far from the crowds!
After this short break we reached the train station São Bento through small streets with colorful walls made of faience tiles called Azulejos. This is a specialty in Portugal, there are everywhere. And when we arrived at the train station, we were so happy! Walls were covered of Azulejos, that was beautiful. We could have spent hours contemplating them, but there were plenty of other beautiful things waiting for us in the narrow streets of Porto.
We then went to Aliados Avenue to contemplate Garett's Monument. It was busy but we loved this place. All the buildings around with a Baroque style are splendid and the avenue is huge.
This is a good photo spot there I tell you (Arthur took a lot!).
Always walking, we took the direction of the busy Lello Library, emblematic place of Porto, but there was (there too) more than an hour waiting. We then went for a walk in the park opposite of the librairy, and tested the famous Pastel Bacalhau (cod donut) at Casa Portuguesa. We were hungry, so it was an opportunity to test the specialty.
Well we tell you, they are tourist attractions (or tourist catch 😅), especially when a donut and 4cl of Porto cost 9€. The price is exorbitant! But it works because there is the tail! And as it is eaten in 2 minutes, customers turn very quickly.
After this short break, we continued to visit Porto down the cobbled streets to the Ribeira, the historic district of Porto, and lunch on the terrace listening to this young singer with his guitar doing Fado (typical Portuguese singing) . So there, we had to choose THE good restaurant, not too expensive and good quality among dozens of restaurants. BINGO! We got screwed ! So as we are super honest we tell you, don't go to O Cubo. It really annoys us to say that because staff was super nice but we ate a frozen pizza and a despicable Francesinha. In addition it is a specialty of Portuguese cuisine, especially of Porto, too bad!
And that's when we asked you for good addresses on Instagram! Thanks again because we have discovered very good restaurants thanks to you 😚
The Francesinha (or "little Frenchie" in Portuguese) is the typical dish of Porto. Theory or reality, this dish dates back to the time of French invasions in Napoleon's Portugal. French soldiers used to eat a lot of bread with their meat and a lot of cheese. But in Porto, we are quite unanimous about the attribution of the creation of this dish to Daniel David Silva who worked in France and decided to bring back the croque-monsieur recipe. To match the culinary tastes of the Portuguese, he modified slightly the French recipe by adding ham, linguiça (Portuguese pork sausage seasoned with garlic, paprika and smoked), fresh sausage and beef. The whole covered on the outside with bread melting cheese and a fried egg. To finalize this dish, he added this famous sauce with tomato, beer and chilli. This dish usually comes with french fries.
After lunch and to keep visiting Porto, we had to eliminate all those calories. We then climbed on the famous Dom-Luís Bridge (or Louis 1st bridge), built by a student of Gustave Eiffel (and not by Gustave himself as most think!). It crosses the Douro river (Rio Douro in Portuguese) which flows into the Atlantic Ocean a few kilometers away. We preferred to take the stairs rather than the funicular to go through the small typical streets (sinuous 😅) of Porto and discover pretty (albeit dilapidated) colored houses. Arrived at the top, how not to appreciate this magnificent sight on Porto! We stayed nearly 30 minutes to contemplate this city and take photos so the scenery is spectacular. Crossing the bridge, we came across a cute little park overlooking the city. It's nice to stop there and watch the Ribeira from the other side 😊
And (by chance), we were on the side of Vila Nova de Gaia, the shore where are the Porto cellars! So, you can imagine, we wouldn't leave this place without visiting at least one cellar!
For the info, all the production of this Portuguese wine takes place in the Douro Valley. So if you want to visit a winery, it will be there. In high season, you can take a cruise on the Douro and get lost in the vineyards for a tasting.
And who says cellar visit says... wine tasting✌️We went to Taylor's, a big name like Borges, Porto Cruz or Sanderman. But when paying for the visit, we realized that there was no physical guide. For 12€, it was an audio tour! We found it a little swollen so we went looking for a new wine cellar. We chose the Porto Augusto's winery and highly recommend it. Private tour of about an hour with a guide who speaks French and explains all the secrets of Porto's production. Then a tasting of several Porto wines. It was very rewarding and their Porto is delicious (we ordered 3 bottles they just delivered us home for our grannies). It was just 6pm when we came out of the wine tasting and before Arthur lets himself be obsessed by the cable car comings and goings, I said to myself: go try the Lello Librairy!
We had to go back to the other side of the river and arrive before 7pm (librairy closing time), but I absolutely wanted to do it. We arrived on time, and I can tell you, 6:30pm is the perfect time to visit this bookseller. The entrance is 4€ (refunded if you buy a book) but it's worth it, it's really beautiful.
For the record, this bookstore is known as one of the most beautiful in the world and it's said that J.K Rowling was inspired by the stairs for Harry Potter at the school of wizards.
To end this wonderful day in style, we had dinner at the Galeria de Paris, in the street next door. It is a very good restaurant with lots of choice, quality and a folkloric decoration. We even had a piano-trapeze show. We recommend it.
And you guys, are you keen to visit Porto ?
I hope that city trip and this visit of the center of Porto pleased you and makes you want to go! This beautiful little town (not so small 😊) is for us, one of the best destinations for small budgets. It is full of surprises and places to visit for a romantic weekend, a family trip or to party with friends.
I am writing for you an article about Porto's surroundings. Feel free to ask me any questions, I will answer with pleasure