Porto (or Oporto to give it its proper name) sits near to the mouth of the Douro River, about 3 hours north of Lisbon. Most famous for its production of Port, it is however (to my mind, anyway) an underrated holiday destination.
We wanted a short pre-summer break, and our brief was simple; somewhere warm with things to do and we can fly direct from Edinburgh. Stuart had been in Porto and Lisbon many years ago and had always wanted to go back. So, with cheap direct flights to Lisbon with Easyjet it was the obvious option.
Porto is an easy 3 hour train ride from Lisbon, rattling through beautiful countryside and whizzing past little towns and villages on the way. Our accommodation for our couple of days was a lovely little studio apartment which we rented via Airbnb, up near the beautiful Sao Bento Train Station which is was so handy for everything.
Since we only really had 2 days in Porto we wanted to make the best of our time there, so immediately we went in search of the Historic Tram, which takes you along the Douro River to where the river hits the ocean. It was quite a picturesque ride, followed by a short walk at the end to the beach. The wind was wild and the waves were crashing, but that didn’t stop us popping into a beach bar for some Gambas and Fizz! A great spot to watch the sunset.
We had designated the next day as “Port Drinking Day”, well we had actually intended it to be just the morning, but we spun it out all day. All the Port Lodges are on one side of the river, starting up on the hill and working down. We started at the top, making the journey home easier! First though, was a little sightseeing. On the way past Sao Bento Station to the Maria Pia Bridge (Built by Gustav Eiffel) we passed the grand Porto Cathedral which sits on the hillside looking out over Porto, definitely worthy of a quick peek.
Across the bridge and we arrived at Port heaven, we tried to plan which lodges we visited but in the end we just popped in to each one that was open as we made our way down the hill! Pretty much every lodge offers a tour, at some you can taste without a tour. Tours and tastings are all just a few euros for a couple of samples. We managed to visit: Taylors, Crofts, Sandemans, Offley, Ferriera, Wiese & Krohn, Cockburns and finally Quinta Do Noval. Not bad for an afternoon!
After a hard afternoon of sampling Porto’s finest, we went in search of a plate of the local speciality – the Franceshina, a take on the Croque Monsieur but with a layer of beef, sausage, ham, topped with cheese and a beer and tomato sauce – a bit of a feast that’s for sure!
There are a lot of cafes and restaurants on the port lodge side of the river, its a nice place to sit and watch people and boats go past.
The next day, even though we were heading for a train early afternoon we managed to fit in some last minute sightseeing including visits to the fabulous Casa Da Musica (the VIP Room alone is worth the visit) and the Livraria Lello to see the fabulous staircase said to have inspired JK Rowling for the staircase at Hogwarts.
We finished up our brief visit to Porto with an elaborate breakfast at the Cafe Majestic, one of Porto’s oldest and ornate cafes. There was meat, cheese, fruit, yogurt, croissants and breads, as well as coffee, orange juice and most importantly a little glass of fizz! We then had to run for the train – which wasn’t great having just eaten all of that!
Porto was a great wee city and definitely worth a visit. We managed to do a lot in our short time there, but there are still plenty of things to and see for a future visit!
We Travelled: By train from Lisbon Oriente Station
We Stayed: A studio apartment near Sao Bento Station rented via Airbnb
We Ate and Drank:
Shi’s Restaurant: Located on the beach in Foz, great for the view and the seafood [Praia do Ourigo Esplanada do Castelo]
Praca Bistro and Cocktail Bar: For good food and cocktails, this is a lovely little neighbourhood bar [ Praça Filipa Lencastre]
Bella Doce: Good for a speedy and cheap breakfast of espresso and pasteis de nata [Opposite Sao Bento Station (at the top of Rua des Flores)]
Restaurant Book: Set in a old book shop, Book is slightly more pricer and good for a special meal. They have a small bar with great cocktails too! [Rua de Aviz, nº 10]
For more of my photos from Porto you can check them out here!