Porto is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. You actually need much more than five days to experience all it has to offer, but we’ll give it a go. Bring your camera, an umbrella, a raincoat, and your appetite. This city has it all. SO much so, that we’re considering moving there!
Where we stayed: One Shot Aliados Goldsmith 12
Fabulous boutique hotel in the middle of everything you want to see, including many restaurants, cafes, tourist sites and more. The beds were amazingly soft (I didn’t want to get out of bed!) and each room has it’s own private wifi connection instead of connecting to the entire hotel. We scored an amazing deal at $90/night during our September trip.
Where we Ate:
Breakfast: Do Norte Café by Hungry Biker
Think Williamsburg hipster meets Seattle. Gorgeous cappuccinos, delicious options for meat eaters and vegans in a cosy decor. It’s pretty busy from the moment they open but we arrived around noon and found a table quickly.
Londrina Taberna: Our hotel recommended this taberna for the infamous Porto francesinha and it didn’t dissapoint. For me, the francesinha is all about the sauce and the sauce here is pretty magical.
My hubrock had the full throttle meat version and I had the vegetarian. BOTH were delicious. We washed them down with a cool Superbock caneca (big beer), though they had a variety of craft beers on tap as well as a variety of yummy looking cocktails.
Taberninha do Manel : great place to eat a real sized steak and typical Portuguese dishes. I had the octopus salad with grilled chouriço and my husband had a giant, thick steak with delicious hand cut fries. Fantastic food and perfect place to watch the sunset over the Douro river.
Brasao Cervejaria Aliados: (lunch/dinner-reservations required)
There is always an insane line outside of this place, so you definitely have to make a reservation, whether it’s lunch or dinner. The food and service is above and beyond.
People come here for the mythical Francesinha, but we strayed from the norm since there was such a fantastic selection on the menu. Both my husband and I started with delicious, crunchy empanadas covered in a unique panko crust (truffle for me, cheese for him). I had the steak Portuguesa filet mignon and he had the onion filet mignon; both were top quality delicious and came with fries and a delicious salad (good salads are hard to come by in Portugal, FYI). For dessert, you MUST have the lemon meringue; it comes in a circular shape with a hard meringue exterior that you have to tap and break with your fork to dive into the deliciousness of the lemon inside.
Yes, there are vegetarian options.
Raiz: (dinner only-reservations strongly suggested)
I would recommend that you make a reservation for this place, as well. My husband and I lucked out here on a rainy night and they happened to find a table for us. Most people did have reservations. Quaint setting, delicious food and excellent service. I had the roasted octopus over vegetables; my husband had pork cheeks with sweet potatoes… all magnificent.
*Special note: You must close every meal out with dessert and Port wine…because PORTO. It’s what you do.
What we Did:
Day 1: Wander around to find your bearings and head over to the Douro river.
Walk to the Ribeira side with all it’s cafes, street performers and restaurants and then wander across the lower deck of Ponte D. Luísbridge to the beautiful Vila Nova de Gaia side and settle into a restaurant or bar to watch the sun set and have dinner. If you’ve not had too much wine with dinner, dare to do a wine tasting at one of the many port wineries.
Day 2: Take the Yellow Bus tour. Yes, I said Yellow Bus tour.
Alright you tourist snobs… just give in. This bus takes you all over Porto main sites: the Sé, castles, gorgeous beach areas that I didn’t expect to see, and some tours feature port wine tastings as well as underground art exhibitions. We were thoroughly impressed and because of this tour, had a proper plan of action of where to walk, what to see and do. I highly recommend.
Day 3: Take a port riverboat tour. We took the Oporto Six Bridges Cruise.
You get 3 free wine tastings with it! Not bad for about 15 Euros.
Day 4: Take a free walking tour. We went on the Porto Lifestyle free walking tour with Porto Walkers.
Meet at Praça da Liberdade in front of the D. Pedro IV statue.
Covers: pass by the nightlife area, Lello bookshop (outside), University, Carmo and Carmelitas churches, Piolho cafe, Clérigos tower, Cordoaria garden, the Courthouse and former prison, Vitória view point, Virtudes garden, Miragaia neighborhood, S.Francisco church, Palácio da Bolsa, ending at Praça do Infante.
Discover the city from the point of view of a local and get the inside download on where to eat, what to see and Porto’s history. Maria was our tour guide and was excellent. Finish off with a port tasting at one of the many wineries (many offer 3-5 VERY full glasses per tasting) or take one of Porto Walkers wine tours.
Day 5: Have brunch at Do Norte Café by Hungry Biker and contemplate when you can come back to this fantastic city.