Last minute trip to Porto. In two days, we booked everything and got on the plane. I love this kind of trips, they’re so exciting but actually very stressful at the same time.
We decided to visit Porto because I’d never been to Portugal and Javi had been there for a business trip and he couldn’t see almost anything. So Porto was the best option. We arrived on a Thursday morning, and the first thing we did was go to Costa Coffee (not Portuguese but… reminds me of England!). We spent the morning walking around the city center and ate at the Novo Mondo restaurant. Homemade food and super nice people, so I recommend it if you want to eat typical Portuguese dishes at a good price.
We stayed at Antero Quental Residence, we booked the penthouse because it had a terrace and the truth is that it was amazing. They even gave us a bottle of Portuguese wine! Although it was a ten minute walk from downtown, it was totally worth it.
Porto is a city of contrasts. The central district is full of traditional narrow buildings, decorated with shimmering and colourful azulejos which captivated my attention. On the other hand, in the outskirts the view is different. Buildings from the 70’s or 80’s with repeated lines and geometric shapes take over. It’s such a mixture!
My favorite area of the city is the bank of the River Douro and Dom Luís I Bridge. The architecture of the riverbank is stunning on both sides. As you cross the bridge, on the right side there’s the Riveira neighbourhood filled with restaurants, lovely cafés and a beautiful walkway that runs along the river. On the left bank, there are the famous Porto wineries and cellars, most of them are located in the neighbourhood of Vila Nova de Gaia. I totally recommend walking along both banks as you get an amazing view of the city. I also loved the area of Praça de Carlos Alberto for its atmosphere and beautiful cafés.
In my opinion, thanks to the cheap Ryanair flights from anywhere in Europe, Porto is changing really fast, so the contrast is huge. This is normal, neither a city nor its locals, adapt to tourism overnight. To actually do it properly in order to benefit from it in the long-term, takes a lot of time. There are cranes everywhere and this is great because at least in the city center, instead of pulling and building again, the buildings are being restored. In this way the city keeps its personality and remains authentic.
Speaking of contrasts, what shocked me the most was Mercado do Bolhao. That really was a slap of reality and authenticity in the face. So I recommend it if you want to get to know Porto in depth and its customs.
To sum up, Porto is a getaway that I totally recommend, but be prepared to walk a lot and go up and down the hills. I am going to leave you the links to the restaurants where we ate and the coffee shops (ah, don’t forget to try Pastries of Chaves and the cod!). And if you want to see more photographs and videos of our trip, there’s a Porto highlight in Instagram stories.