Porto Weekend Getaway
It must have been, what, 8 years since I last was in Porto during the summer, but I still remembered its friendliness and charm. So, when my friend asked me if I wanted to join her for a weekend trip, I could not resist.
Porto is ideal for those who love being able to walk around everywhere, those who love art and those who love food! Although it was grey and rainy that weekend, Porto still did not fail to express its charm and loveliness. The people are the friendliest I have met so far, always trying to help you even if you don’t speak their language and they don’t speak yours. Especially the eldery always have a smile for you when walking past.
So what are the must-sees and must-dos in Porto?
Where to Eat
Day 1 in Porto – I arrived just before noon and took the Metro to the city centre. Working on my current photography project about solo female travellers, I met some girls who were curently travelling for lunch at A Sandeira on Rua dos Caldeireiros. Porto is characterised by its plenty narrow streets that can seem like a maze at first. I managed to find the place and did not expect what I saw when walking inside. The place was very small, with only few tables and a “bar” table available, but the atmosphere was warm, cosy and homey. The decor was rustic and vintage and staff was very friendly. The food and drinks were cheap and absolutely amazing! I had a hot chocolate and a sandwich with goat’s cheese, walnuts and honey. Delicious! The two girls arrived, both from the USA, but living and travelling in Europe. We talked about what travelling means to us and shared our adventurous and funny stories of past travels and future travel plans.
After lunch, we walked along the River for a bit, trying to keep our balance in the wind, before saying our goodbyes. Time for a coffee! I met another girl from the USA at Cafe Majestic, a very famous Cafe in Porto, mainly for its Art Noveau Style. The interior is adorned with chandeliers and mirrors. Cafe Majestic was visited by many famous people, JK Rowling, amongst others, is said to have come here often to work on the first Harry Potter book. There was a queue outside when I arrived, but the wait was not too long before we were guided to a small table at the back.
In the evening, I checked into the AirBnb and when my friend from the Netherlands I arrived, we went out for dinner. Although we were in Portugal, both of use were craving Sushi and too tired to walk into the City Centre, so we went to a small Japanese place called Domo Sushi. The Sushi was so fresh and all we wanted was to order 3 more portions! With our full bellies and pure happiness, we went to bed.
Day 2 – for those of you who know me, you’ll know that breakfast is my favourite meal of the day! Before I go to bed, I am already looking forward to breakfast and imagining what I could eat lol. We walked to the City Centre and unfortunately, all the amazing places with pastries I have seen on the first day were closed. We strolled along the streets until we found a Cafe called Porto Douro. We ordered two cafes con nata and croissants with three different fillings and of course, pasteles de natas. The croissants in Portugal are different than the ones in France. Though the same shape, they taste more like a brioche, soft and sweet. In combination with different types of cheese and toasted, it was just incredible and kept us full until the early evening.
Unfortunately, I was not able to try to speciality in Porto called Franceshina, as we only found one place that does vegetarian ones far away from where we were. Franceshina is a Portuguese sandwich, filled with tones of meat in a tomato sauce and often with egg on top and fries on the side. If you have tried it, let me know what it tasted like!
Besides all the food, what is there to do?
What I love about Porto? The creative atmosphere, the blue, green and yellow tiled walls, the sound of Portuguese chatter and laughter.
On the first day, I wandered around the Mercado do Bolhão Market. A perfect place for street photography. The market was filled with music and stalls that were overfilled with fresh vegetables and fruits. You can also find all sorts of souvenirs, from tiled chopping boards to magnets and mugs. The rain starts and stops, pouring down for several minutes before the glance of the sun comes up again. I spent most of the first day walking along the river and the Ponte Dom Luis I along the bottom and the top part of the bridge. The top deck of the bridge gives a breathtaking view on the city with its colourful houses and boats along the river. The bottom deck offers narrow footpaths and more of a city vibe with the greatness of the construction over you and the traffic next to you.
When the sun finally appeared on the second day, we walked through town, exploring the little shops that sold artistic painted tiles and jewellery. Tinned fish is known in Porto and though I don’t eat fish, the creative and funny packaging were truly impressive and would be too much of a shame to destroy and eat. On our way to the famous bookstore Livraria Lello, we ran into a little market and could not say to all those soft, massive scarves, epecially with the wind. A scarf and a bracelet later, we discovered a vintage shop Fabrica E Armazem Fernandes, Mattos & Ca. that made me wish I brought a suitcase and not just a backpack.
Finally, we found the Livraria Lello, a bookstore that is said to have inspired JK Rowling to write Harry Potter. The interior represented an Art Nouveau style. The bookstore offers books from different languages and the 4 Euros entrance fee gets deducted with any purchase.
If you have time, which I unfortunately didn’t, you can also visit the beach using the tram or metro.