Manic Monday? Hell no!
Sun, food and wine: for me the most important factors that make or break my trip. Luckily my citytrip to Porto included all three of them. It only took a 2,5 hour flight before I could indulge myself with sweet pastries, sweet port and sun-drenched beaches. And truly; the city is a sight for sore eyes. The historic centre of Porto, Ribeira, is declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site (you know – the postcard photos with the typical coloured houses along the river). Together with the interesting Ponte Luís bridge (not sure if it’s really ugly or really pretty) and the authentic alleys of the historic centre there’s much to see. You can probably explore the whole city in one day or, take a long weekend and enjoy the city like we did.
Of course the city itself has much to offer, but a sunbather like me wants to explore the beaches first. From the historic centre you can take a long walk (I mean 1,5 hours and 8 blisters later) to the beach or you can take the really touristic but really cute tram or bus 500 to the beach, which takes about 20 minutes. Close to the harbour there’s a really big sand beach but there are also smaller rocky beaches more close to the River Douro with a few great beach bars.
If you want to eat like a local, you definitely have to go eat fresh fish at the harbour. There are like 50 restaurants with barbecues outside and they grill the fish you order directly. Nothing fancy, but the food is great, especially the sardines.
A more sophisticated place to taste the great food in Porto is restaurant Andor Violeta (Praça Carlos Alberto 89). Here they serve typical Portuguese food but with a modern twist. For example: tuna steak with black spaghetti, pork loin filled with sausage and a-ma-zing deserts. The Portuguese consider this a more expensive restaurant, but honestly it’s not. We ate and drank a lot and the quality was excellent for no more than 60 euros.
Usually when you book an Airbnb (which we did) it doesn’t include breakfast. I always find it hard to find a good breakfast spot when I’m abroad, but Porto has several! My favourite spot is Padaria Ribeiro (Praça de Guilherme Gomes Fernandes 21), a bakery with great pastries and fresh juice. Right next to it you’ll find Leitaria Quinta do Paço (Praça de Guilherme Gomes Fernandes 51). It’s a must to taste one of their delicious éclairs, but you can also find breakfast menus here. Rather go for a late breakfast close to the boulevard? Check out the Porto Bagel Café (Rua Nova da Alfandega 12). Another cool place where you can enjoy an iced latte and a piece of carrot cake is the hip and trending coffee house Moustache, located at Praça de Carlos Alberto 104. We actually went here on Saturday night around 1 AM – it was still open and people where drinking G&Ts. Kind off weird but cool concept and totally hipster-proof.
For all you fashionistas out there: I have to disappoint you. Porto is not the best city for fashion and beauty. There’s a main shopping street (Rua Santa Catarina) that has all the big retailers, like Zara, Stradivarius and H&M, but I was hoping for some Portuguese fashion discoveries. I did find a few cool vintage shops and young designer shops at the art district. For example the lifestyle and concept store Patch Porto (Rua do Rosário 193). So back to food, in the same area there are also nice burger bars, such as Buga Art Burger (Rua de Miguel Bombarda 598) where you can eat really creative and original hamburgers (also veggie). There are veggie options everywhere in Porto (happy me). Even vegan restaurants, like Cultura Dos Sabores (r de, R. de Ceuta 80), where your seat is a swing (how cool).
You can truly capture Porto’s culture over a weekend. From delicious local food to amazing sights and from touristic attractions to partying with the locals – we loved it all.
Text: Sacha de Vries