After an interesting boat tour around the canals of Aveiro in the morning, we headed an hour up the highway to Porto, our final stop in Portugal.
We really enjoyed our small town visits on the way up, each with their own architecture and character, but it was nice to visit another vibrant city again. We had a couple of nights in Porto, so split the city in to two areas.
On the first day we tackled the city centre, strolling and lunching on the huge pedestrianized street that runs through the heart.
We originally attempted to have lunch at Cafe Santiago, a no-frills restaurant that’s famous for its Francesinha, but it was a 30min+ wait and we were too hungry. Instead, we made a plan to head back for dinner, ensuring we were prepared for a wait this time.
The Francesinha is a local delicacy in Porto, comprised of bread, cured ham, sausage, roast beef, and covered with melted cheese and a thick tomato and beer sauce. It is a (very unhealthy) Portuguese adaptation of the French croque-monsieur, brought back from a returned emigrant. It’s heavy, but pretty great!
The rest of day one was spent finding the main attractions of the city centre, an unlikely highlight of which was the train station. The Sao Bento train station has one of the best examples of ‘azulejo’, the blue and white tiles popular in Porto; over 20,000 of them!
We then tried to make it to Livraria Lello, a library in Porto famous for being the inspiration for the library in Harry Potter, as well as often being voted one of the most spectacular libraries in the world. However, with a 30min queue and 5€ entry we had to give up on that idea pretty quickly. Having a quick glimpse of it, it did look beautiful though. Shame we missed out on this.
Our aperitif location was the Guindalense Football Club bar. This was supposed to be a bit of a hidden gem, but with a view over the river we weren’t surprised it was packed. It was also hosting a launch party for a wine, to make matters worse, but we still managed to find a table without too much stress. The line for the bar was long, though! A great place to have a drink towards the end of the afternoon, nevertheless.
Feasting on Francesinha at Cafe Santiago concluded our first day; the walk back to the hotel was most welcome after all of that food!
After the morning cafe ritual to start the day, we made our way through the old town up to Miradouro Ignez to enjoy another coffee with a beautiful view back over the city.
We then headed back to Ribeira, the oldest part of the city on the waterfront. Small winding laneways scattered this little barrio (suburb), most of which is still residential. Every now and then we’d stumble across a brilliant lookout point over the city, or an old building covered in tiles we’d not seen before.
After visiting a small restaurant close to the water front in one of the popular laneways for lunch, we walked up the waterside promenade and across the main bridge to the other side. Each bank of the river gave amazing views back across to the other side; Porto has to be one of the most photogenic cities we’ve been to so far and we’ve truly loved it.
After walking to the other side of the river, wandering around the waterside and a quick Port tasting (neither of us are fans!), we caught the cable car back up to the top to cross back over the bridge.
Music was pumping close to the bridge as we arrived, a DJ playing Portuguese music centre stage of a grass amphitheatre, an incredible backdrop of the city and river behind. We had a drink in the shade and enjoyed, before heading up to the Monastery nearby for a higher view down to the city and the surrounding scenery.
Crossing back, this time we took the higher option (you can cross via the lower or upper roads), which gave fantastic views both ways the entire time.
After a pit-stop at the hotel, we went out for dinner and drinks. The daughter of one of Jean-Claude’s friends happened to be in Porto at the same time, so her and her boyfriend joined us for drinks and dinner back in the Ribeira area.
A lovely final meal in Porto was had by all (although for the first time in 6 weeks, we nearly put jeans on as the temperature took a bit of a drop!).
Tomorrow we’re driving back to Lisbon and then will catch our flight to Edinburgh as a quick 36 hour stop on the way to Iceland.
- Cafe Santiago was a great fuss-free place to try the Francesinha. Pretty busy though, be prepared to queue at least 30min. It’s closed on Sundays.
- Porto is gorgeous. It has made it to our top 3 (so far!). 3-4 days would be a good length of time to spend there.
- Guindalense Football Club bar was a great spot for an end of afternoon drink. Be careful as it’s closed on Sundays.