Porto really exceeded any expectations I had. It was so pretty, everywhere you looked was like a scene from a postcard. Exploring the steep streets rewarded you with views across the city, following the narrow paths lead you to beautiful old buildings, and walking along the winding river gave you new areas to discover.
The city was just pure good vibes. We spent 4 days here, but we took it very slowly, you could easily see the city in 2 days. Here are my pics and recommendations, enjoy x
Sights to see
Porto isn’t hugely touristy, so the tourist hot spots were actually ok – the city centre is full of really old buildings so the architecture is breathtaking wherever you look. The ones to look out for are Clérigos Tower, Sé Cathedral, Bolsa Palace, and Sao Bento Station.
There are also a lot of bridges in Porto. The best one IMO is Dom Luis I Bridge (didn’t think I would ever be picking my favourite bridge, but here we are). The views are honestly so nice no matter which time of day you go, but the sunset from here was *chefs kiss*.
We walked over to the Vila Nova de Gaia side and watched the sunset from the Jardim do Morro one night, the vibes were immaculate. There was a man playing a guitar and singing. There were groups of friends sat drinking, making plans for the night ahead. Couples hand in hand soaking up the romance. Parents scooping up their sleepy children from the park. The sun set perfectly over the horizon, and the twinkly lights of Porto started taking over for the night, it was one of those moments where you just feel immensely grateful for life.
Things to do
Palacio de Cristal is a botanical garden right next to the Super Bock Arena. I know I’ve basically just banged on about views, but this is another view you will take a mental snapshot of and remember forever. There are all kinds of things to discover in the park, and there was even an outdoor book fair when we were there (felt like such a main character wandering around the bookstalls). Jardins Dos Sentimentos is the specific place where the view I am talking about is located, but I’m sure there are many more to be discovered.
My absolute favourite thing to do on holiday is sit in the sun with a coffee. We were very fortunate that our local coffee shop was housed outside vintage store, Amrazem. They sold all sorts of bits and bobs, they had some vintage Azulejo tiles which I would have bought home if EasyJet didn’t charge an arm and a leg for luggage.
The one thing I would strongly advise you to avoid is the Livraria Lello, which everyone randomly has dubbed the birthplace of Harry Potter despite JK Rowling saying she was never been there. Don’t get me wrong, it looks nice inside, but you have to queue and pay to go inside a bookshop (?) and the shop next door is the exact same inside! It also sells locally made gifts!
Food and drink
Three words. Pasteis de Nata. The one food I would sacrifice my life for. The solitary reason I could never be 100% vegan. And they are also Portuguese.
They’re actually from Lisbon (you can read my Lisbon post here) BUT I visited Porto before Lisbon, so the Nata’s I ate here hold a special place in my heart.
They were good from all the places I tried (I was pregnant and on holiday so I tried a lot), but the places I would recommend are Natas D’Ouro who do a Port flavoured nata and Nata Lisboa where I ordered a whisky coffee by mistake and panicked the waiter.
If you’re looking for a more substantial meal than a custard pastry, I would recommend Oficina Dos Rissois who make handmade rissois, which are like a savoury pastry type thing. They’re like the old-school Findus Crispy Pancakes that I loved when I was younger but much better. They are super cheap and super tasty. You can get anything from Thai Curry to Caprese as the filling, everything we ate was a strong 10/10.
Tapas (or the equivalent cultural variation) is a given whenever I go on holiday, and I was very happy with the tapas I had at Mercearia Das Flores. The vibe was very old deli shop, it was one of the best people-watching spots we found and all the foods they sold were local to Porto.
Porto is also famous for a sandwich called a Franceschina. It was my boyfriend who had his heart set on finding this, as apparently, it’s popular when people go to Porto for the football? It’s essentially the thickest bread in the world, filled with about 5 meats and topped with cheese, an egg, and a spicy tomato sauce. I can’t comment on how nice it was, as it sounds like my idea of hell, but George thoroughly enjoyed it. We went to O Afonso, which was full of old Portuguese men eating these gigantic butties and drinking Port, which was exactly what we were after. You just know it’s going to be good if it’s full of locals at lunchtime.
Another George centred meal we had was at Pregar, he said it was the best steak sandwich he’s ever had, and it was only 8 euros. I got the veggie mushroom one which was surprisingly nice for a mushroom sandwich, and the mocktails lowkey went off.
Brunch at Noshi was a nice stop-off, I had the vegan pancakes with fruit and could have eaten 4 portions. Sometimes you just need a basic bitch brunch, and this one more than hit the spot. The area around here was full of independent stores and coffee shops, so it’s worth a wander.
Just outside the city
Foz Do Douro Beach is a lovely walk down the river away. You literally can’t get lost, just get to the river and head towards the mouth. We stopped for a drink on the way and found a park with swings overlooking the river. Highly recommend going to the beach, if only for the walk there.
We hopped on the old tram back home as I was tired and also it was a bit of a novelty. It was pretty busy though, and we were there out of season. I wouldn’t really suggest doing this if you’re going in summer. It was about 4 euros each for a one-way ticket, but the walk back home is nice enough and not long enough to warrant being a sardine for 10 minutes.