I have a bittersweet relationship with travel posts. I mean, I love looking back at photos and memories and sharing my trips with you. But then on the other hand, it makes me want to forget about my dwindling bank balance and just book up the next trip. Anyhow, enough of that. This post is all about our recent trip to Porto. Porto is about a 3 hour train ride from Lisbon and is a completely different city. It’s a bit rustic, quite small and just super chilled. They also seem to have a bit of a love affair with some bridges – which are pretty spectacular TBF. So, here’s the lowdown on our couple of days in Porto…
Where we stayed
We stayed in the Hotel Aliados, a 3 star hotel in the centre of the city. It’s handily located, right near the train station. The rooms are quite basic but clean and have all that you’ll need for a short city break. As the hotel is right in the centre, there is quite a bit of noise from the traffic outside. Luckily it quietens down at night and so we didn’t find this to be an issue. One thing we did find was that the single glazing windows didn’t keep the room that warm and the bathroom which was completely tiled was freezing in the morning! They did have a small radiator but that didn’t help for having a shower first thing.
What we did
We had absolutely no idea what to expect from Porto, but we spent a good amount of time exploring and just taking in the vibe of the city. As already mentioned, it’s completely different to Lisbon. The city feels much more rustic and has a real charm to it. It’s set over two sides of the River Douro – on one side you have the main city and the beaches and on the other side, you have various port cellars…..here’s what we did:
- Went on a tour of the Calem Cellars – there’s so many different tours that you can do, but we chose this one as we decided that we wanted to go to a Portuguese port manufacturer, rather than a British one like Taylors or Grahams. The tour was great value, it was about €6.50 each for the tour and two tastings at the end. They do a number of tours in different languages, so make sure you get the right one for you. Our guide was very knowledgeable and was able to answer all of our questions.
- Took the Number 1 tram – the number 1 tram is one of those old style tram carriages which goes all of the way from the centre of the city, down to the beaches at Foz do Douro. It’s a great way of seeing more of the city and getting down to the coast.
- Visit Foz do Douro – related to the point above, but definitely worth a visit. Even in winter, it was so lovely to be able to take a walk down by the beach….albeit it was so windy! There’s so many pretty houses around this part, and it would be lovely in the summer.
- Take the cable car from the wine cellars to the Dom Luis 1 Bridge – word of advice, it’s definitely better to get the cable car up to the top, rather than the other way round…..the hills are quite steep! By getting the cable car, you see some great views of the city. And then when you get to the top, the Jardim do Morro is lovely for a quick stroll and some good panoramic selfies!
- Have lunch at Jimao Tapas e Vinhos – this tapas restaurant has lovely views of the square and the river. They only have a couple of tables outside, but we were lucky to get one and basked outside in the January sunshine. The food was lovely and the service was great. Absolute fave.
- Have traditional Portuguese food at Restaurante Abadia do Porto – this restaurant was a Trip Advisor recommendation and we had a lovely dinner here on our first evening. The restaurant is only about a 5 min walk from the hotel, so was super convenient. The food was lovely, as was the service. We both had traditional dishes – I opted for the roast kid, whilst the boy went for the tripe stew. Both were lovely and real comfort food dishes.
Choosing to visit Porto in January was the perfect idea – ideal for that bit of winter sunshine! The days were bright and sunny, probably about 13 degrees. Ideal for lots of walking and sightseeing. It was a bit windy down by the sea though and in the evenings, you’ll definitely want a coat as the temperatures do seem to drop drastically.
I can totally see why Porto is gaining in popularity. It’s so pretty and is ideal for a short weekend break. The city is small, but really picturesque – there’s lots of great bars and restaurants with lovely views for you to enjoy whilst you sip on a glass of Port. All in all, I totally recommend!