City trip : 3 days in Porto
For the first time, I am heading to Portugal, and more specifically, to Porto at the end of January. This northern little town, located next to Douro river, is often recommended by touristic guides and everyone for the past few years. So, I decided to make my own opinion about it !
I fly to Porto, accessible with direct flight from Paris with Easyjet. I landed early in the morning and I have to get to downtown about 11 km away. You can get a taxi or the metro. I obviously chosen the 2nd option. What’s cool is that their metro are not underground like the one in Paris (or London even NYC). You can get to see the Portuguese outside landscape … ok, very urban and not so attractive after all.
Ticket metro price : 2,60 €
Warning : do not forget to valid your metro ticket (magnetic badge), with the yellow terminal before going on the platforms. Unfortunately, there is no barriers or gantry before platform access which makes it less obvious to guess. Be careful of controllers because they will know whether you are in fraude or not … that was the case of 2 Italians who bought their ticket but forgot to valid them !
I chose to stay in Bonfilm neighborhood. And what is surprising is their is more apartments to short-term rent than hotels ! The location I chose wasn’t ideal because it is about 15-20 minutes walking from the Old City. But at the same time, it was quiet and close to the good more traditional little restaurants.
But what to do in 3 days in Porto ?
Visit the Old City
The city itself is not very big. Everything can be made by walking ! The Old City gathers 3 neighborhoods : Santo Ildefonso, Vitoria and Ribeira. The more you get close to the Douro, more you will get the authentic Porto with its ups and downs little streets, its colorful houses and earthenware facades, and the old stone steps. Because I didn’t stay in the Old City, I could notice the difference between the Old City, well preserved and the postcard image, and the other side of Porto a little more poor conditions and less attractive.
In the historical center, you will find all the little cute churches : Sao Francisco, Porto Cathedral, Igrega do Carmos and more less known.
This is the place you will find the famous Livraria Lello which inspire J.K. Rowling when she was writing Harry Potter ! Unfortunately, so famous, you will have to make the line before entering inside because a limited number of people is allowed only.
Livraria Lello : 5 €
Vous pourrez monter en haut de Torre dos Clérigos afin d’avoir une vue spectaculaire à 360° de Porto.
You can go up of Torre dos Clerigos to get a spectacular 360° view of Porto.
Torre dos Clerigos : 5 €
Don’t forget to stroll Santa Catarina street for shopping. Or even, all along the Douro where all historical cafés and restaurants are gather. By sunny day, the little restaurants of Caia da Estiva alley offer the best view over the river !
As for me, I choose a free walking tour with Sandemans Tours. I really like this agency because I already chose it before for Edinburgh and Copenhagen. This is a 2h30 walking tour in the old historical center of Porto. The guide I went for was André who was great to tell us stories about the city and Portugal in general. I learnt a lot of things I couldn’t get to know without it. So I recommend you to do so, not necessarily with the same one 😉
Visit a wine cave
To do so, you have to go to the other side of the river. You will have the occasion to cross the big Dom Luis bridge which might remind you of the architecture of the Eiffel Tower a bit. You will arrive to Vila de Gaia. To choose a cave, you will have quite a selection there. They are all aligned along the dock whether it is Portuguese or British houses.
I have chosen Porto Calem house. They offer tour guides in Portuguese, English, Spanish and French. It was quite interesting but finally, all houses in Gaia are just for storage. The wine is produced upstream in the Douro valley. At the end of the visit, you will be offered a wine tasting which is included in the price.
Porto Calem tour and taste : 12 €
Go to the beach
If you have time left, you can go to the beach, to the Atlantic ocean ! Actually, not so far from downtown and quite accessible. You can go there by walking, riding a bike or by tram. It takes about 1h30 by foot. You will get directly to Farol das Felgueiras lighthouse in Foz city.
In Senhora da Luz street, there is plenty of restaurants after the walk. And then you can go back to Porto with the tram for 3 €. This is the line n°1 from one end to an other in 25 minutes.
What is cool with Porto, and Portugal in general, is you can eat for less, 15 € top drinks included ! Obviously, don’t go to the touristy spots along the Douro. No, get yourself to the tiny restaurants, that looks like nothing at first, owned by real Portuguese. This is good food !
Porto is cute but I didn’t thrill about it. 3 days was more than enough to walk around everything. The town is good start if you want to visit the surrounding region, to other villages.
And you, what did you think about Porto ?