The perfect weekend break in Porto

by Les 100 Ciels Team on July 06, 2018
Pretty old town, with wine tasting and beautiful viewpoints.
 

Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city, home to 240,000 people, with the heart of the community still concentrated in the medieval old city – the Ribeira. Porto is a pleasant, small city filled with stunning architecture, a flourishing foodie scene and beautiful bridges crossing the great Douro River. The pace of life is much slower than capital Lisbon, making it feel much more a village than a metropolitan city. Even on a short visit here, you can get a really get a sense of the city, relax and enjoy an espresso along the riverfront or appreciate the culture, architecture  and stunning city landscape.

Ribeira is definitely the best spot to start your journey around this attractive city. Porto has a long history behind it, and this is evident here, where intricately tiled buildings and narrow, cobbled streets are everywhere. Set on thigh-challenging slopes that run down to the River Duoro, this picturesque neighbourhood spreads up into the hills behind with tiny houses painted in colourful tones and dramatic views of the the Dom Luís I ironwork bridge that dominates Porto’s waterfront.

 Azulejos

It would be impossible to walk around Portugal and not notice all of the awe inspiring tile work that covers the outside and inside of almost every building, church and train station. Like Port wine, Azulejos tiles are an important part of Portuguese culture and they are typically blue and white. Today they have been kept largely as an ornamental art form, however in the past they had a specific functional capacity to cool the temperature inside houses. This is a list of our favourite ones!

  • Church of Saint Ildefonso
  • Capela Das Almas
  • São Bento railway station

However, Porto is much more than its landscape and architecture. It is a city filled with gems, and if you want to live it as a local here’s what we advise to eat, drink and do when visiting, to make your stay even more unforgettable!

 

Portuguese Food: A Primer

Portugal cuisine is well known for seafood and charcuterie (particularly the pork variety). Octopus and salted codfish are the most popular seafood, although you can also find a good variety of ham and Iberian roast pork (often found in sandwiches). An absolute must-have is the “Francesinha”, a gluttonous sandwich made with a huge quantity of cured ham and meats and topped with melted cheese, tomato and dripping in a beer sauce.
Pastries are also abundant, with Pastel de Nata on top of the list which is a delicious baked custard tart that cannot be missed. Also while in town, don’t forget to feast on fruit— especially strawberries and passionfruit — that are cheap and abundant in Porto.

Moving on to bevarages, the wine scene in Portugal is incredible. You can find Port cellars all along the Douro river and it is worth a tour to Sandeman vineyard to have a proper Portuguese experience! During our stay we never had a bad glass of wine, and most of it was unbelievably cheap — with a glass of wine typically going for 3 to 4 euros, and bottles averaging around 15 euros!

Tram n.1

Tram n.1 is a famous historic tram ride route in Porto, that goes from the banks of the Douro River to Foz at the mouth of the river. It has become a really popular tourist attraction and is very busy but definitely worth it. If you decide to go, we recommend you go first thing in the morning!

Street art

Through Porto street art, you will get to know some of the city’s most famous neighbourhoods and how artistic expression is symbolic of the city and culture. After the former mayor’s decision to cover all the street art in Porto, was negatively received by residents, local government commissioned a special project to some of the most prominent street artists in the city, with the aim to decorate and re-boost the area of Trindade.  After this event many other artists have left their creations around the city, creating an open-air art gallery for its citizens and visitors to enjoy.

Porto is made for the curious traveller seeking something different but still affordable.  Have you visited? We’d love to hear more about this enchanting city and any other hidden destinations in Portugal!

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