After landing at Porto airport I was surprised by how remarkably easy it was to reach the city centre. From the airport arrivals hall just follow the signs for the metro and within about 100 metres you are at the station. The ticket was cheap, less than €3 and the journey was speedy and clean. Within the hour I was sat in my hotel room.
I was staying in Trindade, an area in the new part of town near the main modern train station. There is also Sao Bento train station that I’ll talk about later but this is a more historical train station with less day to day function.
The first morning I headed for breakfast, I found a lovely little cafe called Negra Cafe, I had a Acai bowl, and it ever tasted better than it looked!
After breakfast I had organised a tour with C&D Porto Local Tours. I was met by the lovely David who was going to walk with me for the next 3 hours. He runs the tours with his wife who offers cooking lessons in typical Portuguese cuisine.
During the walk he told me all about the history of Porto, from ancient times to modern times and some truths behind the legends.
We covered loads of the city, and gave me tips for the rest of my trip.
We visited the cathedral, saw some amazing view points of the city, ate the famous pastéis de nata in a shop called Manteigaria, David’s personal favourite.
We also visited the beautiful Sao Bento train station with it’s tiled walls depicting Porto’s rich history.
Porto has a strong link with the inspiration of Harry Potter as JK Rowling lived in the city for a time. There’s a famous bookshop called Livraria Lello that inspired the moving staircases, the queue to get in this shop is phenomenal stretching all the way down the road. Apparently the best time to go for the shortest queues is about 7pm.
After the tour I headed over to David’s recommendation for lunch, a market hall on the Gaia side of the river. It was a lovely concept, being able to buy foods and drinks from all different venders and everyone sitting together in the middle on benches.
After lunch I headed on a photo tour, it was lovely to see the city from the different vantage points we went to.
After the tour I wandered across town to a restaurant I’d found online. I hadn’t expected however for it to be Portugal’s national day and it to be shut! So I headed back down towards the river to find a different restaurant. I randomly picked a restaurant called Capo No Rio, an Italian inspired restaurant. Not really the typical Portuguese food I wanted but I will have to hunt it out in the next place. Either way, the food was good and one thing I have noticed about the city is how cheap everything is. For a main city you seem to pay very low prices.
After dinner, I had booked to climb the Ponte da Arrábida for sunset. Standing 65 metres above the river this bridge used to once be an unauthorised playground for many children until the government stepped in to stop it. Now you can climb the bridge with safety gear and admire the beautiful views of Porto. Once at the top, you enjoy the amazing views and a small drink of Port in a chocolate cup before heading back down.
It’s safe to say my feet were well and truly knackered after nearly 13 hours of constant walking. Time for bed and rest!
On my final day in Porto I went to the Ramos Pinto museum and cellars. You first get a guided tour of what once was the offices of the company and hear how Port is made. You then are shown the cellars where some of the 300 million litres of Port the company has ageing is stored. Then at the end you get two Ports to try, a wine and a red. There are many wine cellars on the Gaia side of the river but I was recommended the Ramos Pinto one by the tour guide due to it being family run.
For dinner I tried out the Porto speciality of a Francesinha sandwich, bread layered with beef, ham, sausage and cheese, then covered in cheese and a spicy sauce, topped with a fried egg and served with chips. Needless to say I couldn’t finish it but it did help soak up the port!