This blog post will be the first of my Europe Travel Guide series. If you follow me on Instagram or Youtube, you already know that I recently came back from a 14 days Euro trip.
My first stop was Portugal, a country that I wanted to visit for so long. I met up with my cousin in Porto, where we spent a few days before driving down to Lisbon.
Porto is the capital of Portugal. It’s a beautiful historic city, divided by the Douro river. It’s a little on the smaller side compared to Lisbon, with fewer touristy sites and in general more relaxed than Lisbon. It also felt safer, but we’ll talk about that later.
Where to stay?
The Ribeira district is the main touristy area in Porto. That being said, Porto, in general, isn’t extremely packed with tourists. If you’re looking to be in the main area but want a quieter place to stay, there are plenty of options in “off streets” in that district where it’s quieter. I wouldn’t suggest getting a place far from Ribeira as there won’t be many options for things to do there.
What to do?
You have to go to the Cais de Ribeira, which is the waterfront of the city, overlooking the river. Take the Telefrico de Cais cable car to get a beautiful areal view of the city and the river. When you’re buying the tickets, there’s an option to add tickets to the river cruise, do it! It’s truly magical, to be floating on top of all the Terracotta roofs.
Once you touch down, walk around the other side of the river, and then cross back on the Ponte Luis I to the Ribeira side, to stop for a quite bite at one of the many restaurants there offering local delicacies, such as Grilled Sardines, francesinha and many more. Then hop on the river cruise boat, to see the river from a different view. Porto is known for its 7 bridges, that you’ll get to see on these cruises. If you want to know more about them make sure to sit closer to the guide to hear all the information he shares. But if you’re looking to enjoy the beautiful views, sitting in the front is best.
If you’re a book lover Livraria Lello is a must, especially if you’re a JK Rowling & Harry Potter fanatic. She wrote the first book right above the library and got all the inspiration for Hogwarts from the Library itself. And you can see why, once you step into this historic building.
A few feet away from Livraria Lello is Clérigos Church. A beautiful church from 1750. Attached to the church is the Clérigos Tower, that offers breathtaking views of the city. Make sure you’re wearing comfy shoes, preferably sneakers, as you’ll be going up many many steps up this historical tower. It may not be the best option if you’re claustrophobic, as it gets very narrow, and can only fit one person at a time. But it’s totally worth it once you hit the top!
There are plenty of gorgeous historical churches in Porto and they’re all walking distance away from each other. Make sure you grab a map from your hotel and check as many of them as you can.
Don’t forget to get lost in the beautiful side streets. Just walking around in new cities gives me so much joy and a glimpse of the real essence of the place, away from all the manicured touristy sites.
In the afternoon after all the walking you’ve done, stop at Cafe Majestic. A Belle Epoque-era cafe, that immediately transports you back in time. It’s the perfect afternoon or even late-night stop, for a quick coffee, a glass of sangria or piece of their delicious almond tarte.
At night head over to R. da Galeria de Paris for a drink. We heard it gets wild there at night, we didn’t experience that honestly. Maybe we were there in a down season, but it was very calm. That being said, it was still nice, with rows of bars and clubs next to each other, many with outdoor seating. There’s definitely an option for everybody.
Even at night, Porto is a very safe city. For two girls to walk 20 ish min after 11pm and feel perfectly safe is pretty amazing. That being said you should always be alert, whenever you are.
If you’re planning on visiting Portugal anytime soon, make sure to add Porto to your itinerary. Just a few days, 3 days & 2 nights, are sufficient to see what this city has to offer. With the beautiful streets, tiled roof and warm people, you’ll fall in love with Porto quickly.