I love you, Porto. More than I have ever imagined. What they say is true: that love sometimes comes unexpectedly. Who would have guessed that you are so charming, so diversified and multicolored.
Do you know how beautiful it is to sit in the heart of your city at the harbor, while listening to Fado music? There are these students, all in black. With black coats they are roaming through the lukewarm night and disappear behind dark corners. Did they flee from Hogwarts? As mysterious as their appearance is their music. Which messages are hidden behind these melancholy sounds? Despite of this existing uncertainty, it is so easy to lose oneself in the music, to revel in her. Then, we let ourselves be carried along through the cozy night, walk always further up.
Dear Porto, your alleys look from above like a huge labyrinth. From above overseeable, from downstairs winding and confusing. Therefore, little cats feel here at home. Everywhere, there are hideaways. When I look under a car, six shining pair of eyes are gazing motionless at me. We walk along the colorful houses whose laundry hang on lines outside the windows. Most of the garments are sorted by colors and complement nearly perfectly with the house paintings.
Sometimes locals are standing at the stove and are cooking. Suddenly, I feel at home while watching them cooking through the windows of their half brittle homes. When I see the dust coming of the window, I can barely stand it any longer. Euphorically, I am looking forward to my next meal.
Two Restaurants That You Should Visit
Let’s head directly to the next (and very important) point: Where can you find good food in Porto? ;)
1. Café Santiago
In search for local dishes, you should definitely visit Café Santiago. Here a hearty and outstanding taste experience is waiting for you: Franceshina, the local specialty of Porto.
Franceshina is a hearty sandwich with chorizo, beefsteak, mortedella and a lot of cheese. They have a fried egg as topping. The whole sandwich is served with cream sauce and french fries. For this dish, a good stomach is of advantage ;)
Although I could not acquire a taste for Franceshina, many locals love that dish. My friend was enthusiastic about it as well. So just try it!
Do you fancy moist, fresh burger with homemade french fries? Then you’re in good hands in the cozy Peebz. Peebz lies in the region „Foz do Douro“ is very well accessible within 20 minutes from the Porto center with the Tram 1 (e.g. from the station Sao Bento).
Here you can expect a homely atmosphere with friendly service and a fair price-performance ratio. For a satisfying burger menu with a crispy bread, french fries from fresh potatoes (optionally fried in truffle oil) and home-made garlic-dip, you only pay between 6,00€ to 10,00€. Here you will find different burger varieties, but also fish and salad.
You should also try the cheap desserts! I have eaten in Peebz by far the best Panna Cotta. Although I was totally fulled up, I could have devoured three more of these desserts.
After a hearty meal in Peebz, you can take a postprandial walk directly at the beach.
5 Recommondable Activities in Porto
1. Enjoy the breathtaking view over Porto from Ponte de D. Luis I
Would you like to gain an overview of Porto or are you a fan of beautiful viewpoints?
Then, you should cross the impressing St. Luis Bridge which lies above the river Douro. The bridge has two levels and connects the cities Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. Pedestrians can walk on the upper as well as on the lower level.
Especially with the first crack of dusk, the view is breathtaking. Somewhere, there is a sparkling in the distance and there are only isolated lights that are burning inside the houses. Now and then, one can hear the cry of the seagulls which circle above the bridge and guitar sounds of musicians that express peace in the nightly atmosphere.
If then, a metro is rattling along the rails on the higher level of the Ponte de D. Luis, the whole floor is vibrating – and suddenly one fears that the construction could collapse every moment and could sink forever in the dark river.
2. Let you sweep along the nightlife of the historic district Baixa
After dusk Porto turns into a magical city. Between peaceful quietness and boozy atmosphere, it is especially fun to discover Porto.
Whoever would like to dive into night life now, should definitely visit the artistic district Baixa. Baixa only lies a few minutes from the station Sao Bento is surrounded by many historic buildings.
Here you can find a lot of young people amid numerous bars, restaurants as well as discos who let the evening end in cheerful mood. The nightlife in Baixa is a contrast image to the calm and partly forlorn alleys in Porto. Between the Rua Galeria de Paris and the Rua de Candido dos Reis where the greater part of the nightlife takes place, Porto awakes to life until dawn breaks.
Bars with bohemian flair and 60s style, Irish pubs and glamorous interior designs make one feel the diversity of Porto. Whether one is in mood for Jazz, Reggae, Electro or Party Classic – there is something for every taste. However, one should prepared that it will be very crowded here.
3. Two mysterious places of refuges for cats: Rua de Madeira and Igreja Sto. Ildefonso
Behind the station of Sao Banto is the Rua de Madeira. Along decayed buildings there are stairs that go abruptly upwards. It would be better not to slip. The ambience of this corner reminds me of a ghetto: the windows are boarded up and the house fronts are full of jarring graffiti works. This view does not give the impression that someone lives here. This place partakes of something mystical and ghostly.
Can you find in the middle of the stairs at your left side the hole in the exterior wall? Pssst. Sometimes little cats are lurking behind the thick walls which are sitting closely snuggled together and stare at you with sparkling eyes. They seem to me motionless and make no sound. As if they would watch the house
If you walk straight from the Dua de Madeira, you will get to the crossroad Praca de Batalha. Here, you go left and walk a little further until you see at your right side the Igreja Sto. Ildefonso. This is an old church with impressing architecture which is ornamented with blue mosaics.
Usually, I don’t belong to the tourists who like to watch churches, but this one looks from outside very imposing. But the best is yet to come: There are sitting many adorable kitten on the stairs who have made themselves comfortable behind the fence. A truly amazing sight. ;)
4. Take a Port Wine Tour in „Sandemann“
Do you belong to the wine lovers and are interested in production processes? Would you like to know how the wine is stored and where the wine matures? Do you feel like discovering the dark vaults of Sandemann, where the port wine is stored?
The tickets for a tour through the mysterious Sandemann basement cost 6€ per person. Here you’ll receive interesting information around the production process of port wine and will be presented a short film after that. As crowning culmination of the tour, you will get three different port wines for tasting.
Even if I usually don’t have much interest in wine production processes, the tour was quite exciting. Only an insight into the mysterious vaults with the dark barrels, it is worth the price.
5. Take a Time Out at the Beach at Foz
If you need much more vacation feeling, just get into the Tram 1E (e.g. from the station Sao Bento) and drive to Foz. At the beautiful bays you can bare your feet into the sand, listen to the sound of waves, take a walk in the Parque de Cidade (the biggest park in Porto) and afterwards visit the burger restaurant Peebz.
Nevertheless, I wouldn’t go swimming because there’s a lot of garbage at the beach. Since there are huge waves which slam against the rocky bay side, swimming is anyhow a high exposure.
Our Accomodation Was The Hotel de Bolsa (***)
Adress: Rua de Ferreira Borges, 101, 4050-253 Porto
On the whole, I can recommend the three-star hotel „Hotel de Bolsa“. If you would like to travel cheaper, however, you should look for another accomodation possibility. I would rate this hotel with four of five stars.
The Hotel de Bolsa convinces with its central location. Within 5 minutes one can already reach the Ponte D. Luis I. The historic city can also easily be accessed on foot. The Rua das Flores, where you can find numerous bars, cafés and restaurants, is only two minutes away from the Hotel de Bolsa. Also sights are in the immediate surrounding.
If you’re on the road with a car, you should expect high parking fees. The free parking places are most times used and the parking fee for the park house near the hotel amounts 60€ for two nights. However, you’ll get a discount at the Hotel de Bolsa, if you show them your ticket.
How much is one night?
As you might already know from the first article of my Portugal journey, we only paid 300€ per person our one-week road trip through Portugal. The Hotel de Bolsa was included. Usually, the prices per night for a double room cost between 70€ to 90€. If the accomodation hadn’t been included, we would have looked for a cheaper accommodation option.
Hotel facilities and cleanliness
The rooms offer everything one needs: a desk, nightstands, a bathroom with a shower, lavatory, Bede, air conditioner and hair dryer. The hotel was clean as well. Though, sometimes it smelled strongly of chloro and polishes. If you air the room for some minutes, however, the strong smell disappears.
The breakfast buffet was okay. Not more and not less. We had a variety of bread, cheese and meat, marmalade, pudding, yoghurt, orange juice, fruits and coffee. Nevertheless, the cheese and meat appeared very expensive, why I rather chose to eat fruits.
Oh, I love Porto, too! I fell in love with it the minute I had a chance to look around. Unfortunately I’ve had there only a short moment with a band I was touring with but I’m definitely going back. To me it had the same sort of attractiveness as Rome but more intimacy and quietness. Absolutely loved it. I’m going to keep your tips in mind. :)
I loved Porto for its quiteness as well. Though the city is very popular, there weren’t much tourists when we went there in November. It still keeps its charme from the older times.
Best regards! :)
Great travel tips. Thanks for all the details about the hotel and what to expect.