Unexpectedly, Porto became my favorite city in Portugal. I think it is one of the most charming cities in Europe. We spent there two days in November and I can definitely name Porto a great destination for a weekend trip.
Others share my opinion as well: Porto already won the European Best Destination Award three times: in 2012, 2014 and 2017. The city is very cozy, romantic, safe and friendly. It is full of history but not old-fashioned. Everywhere we saw trendy restaurants and nice local shops. Aditionally, it is easy to get there with a plane (less than 100 euro from Frankfurt) or with a train from Lisbon (around 2,5 hours).
For me, it was love from first sight. When I went out of the train at São Bento and saw wonderful Azulejos at the main station, I immediately thought that a city with such a pretty station must be wonderful.
What to do in Porto for a weekend – 5 ideas:
Make a long hilly walk
The historical center of Porto big and charming. I love to walk in a city like this without any plan because there is a beauty on every corner. Even in November the weather in Porto warm (around 15-20°C) and mild – the best one for a long walk.
Porto is located on the river Duoro that can be crossed through the Luís I Bridge. The historical part of Porto and the Ribeira area near the river Duoro are great for a long pleasant walk. Many attractive restaurants serve there seafood and local Portuguese dishes. The area doesn’t feel too touristic (maybe because we were visiting in November).
Many also took a boat tour on the Duoro. We didn’t do that; however, we took a water taxi to reach the other side of the river – the city of Vila Nova de Gaia.
Visit port wine tour with wine tasting in Vila Nova de Gaia
After the walk in Porto, we made a stop at the opposite side of the Duoro in Vila Nova de Gaia for port wine tasting because the place is very famous for this drink. Several famous wine cellars are located in Vila Nova de Gaia. We visited one of them for the wine tour & tasting (tours are available in English every hour or even more often).
We chose Burmester wine cellar that offers an interesting tour about the history and features of Port wine. After the tour, you can taste different sorts of port wine. It is a specific drink (too strong for me) but it is worth to try it anyway.
Take a historical tram number 1 and go to the Atlantic Ocean
The first tram goes at 9 a.m. – that was the one we took. If you take it later, it will be full of tourists. There are also double-decker buses that go in the same direction and cost less but the heritage tram is much more romantic.
We went till the last station, which is located on the shore. From there we took a long walk (2-3 hours) along the coast. It is a very beautiful place even at the end of autumn when we were visiting.
We finished our walk in Matosinhos, a perfect spot with many amazing restaurants that serve fresh seafood.
Eat a lot of seafood
Most of the Portuguese kitchen is a seafood and fish in different variations. As a fast food, I always eat cod croquettes in Portugal – warm tasty pies made of potato and cod.
During our weekend in Porto, we had dinner in a fancy Cantina 32 and an atmospheric O Caraças. O Caraças is hosted by a family: mother is cooking, the daughters are serving. Both places were amazing. The prices in Portugal are affordable, everything is fresh and delicious. And don’t forget to try the octopus!
For a breakfast, we like to go to small and cheap (but very tasty!) bakeries to eat traditional pasteries like Pastéis de Nata (custard tart) or almond cookies. However, this time we also visited a hipster Zenith. The breakfasts there are huge, tasty and beautiful.
Visit the iconic bookstore Livraria Lello
It is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal, which became an inspiration for JK Rowling. It is a mecca for Harry Potter’s fans and a cool attraction. The entrance is not free: the ticket costs 5 euro but you can use this ticket as a voucher for buying one book. Be prepared to wait in line for 1 or 2 hours if you want to visit the shop. But I think it is worth it.
Besides usual books that you can buy everywhere else, in Livraria Lello they sell special editions of English classics. I bought a beautiful edition of “The Wizard of Oz” – a nice souvenir from the weekend in Porto. Maybe, even better than a bottle of port wine 🙂