Before starting a big walking trip north to Santiago with a friend, we spent a day in Porto. It immediately jumped to the top of my list of favourite cities with its colourful buildings, the Douro River leading into the ocean, the winding streets and mosaic churches. I’ve attached a few too many photos, just because I thought it was such a lovely place.
These colourful,sometimes a little shabby buildings are everywhere. To me, they make Porto a nice contrast to cities like Paris, Warsaw or Prague. They are really impressive of course, but just don’t have this lazy, summery vibe.
Day 1 of 1:
To start the day off, we walked down to the river to see the impressive Dom Luís I Bridge. It connects the two parts of Porto divided by the Douro River.
As you can vaguely see below, some locals like to jump off the side of it. I didn’t do it – just because there wasn’t really time to jump and go back to the hostel to get changed- not because I was scared. Obviously.
The Bolhão Market, situated slightly to the north of the city centre, was the next stop. It’s a large two-story wrought-iron building from the 19th century. It sells lots of Portuguese souvenir knick-knacks made from cork (Portugal grows around 50% of the world’s cork) or with mosaic patterns. You can also buy fresh fruit and fish, sausages, olives, bread, cheese and wine – everything to satisfy your savoury cravings.
After the market, we took a short walk around the corner to the famous Majestic Café from the 1920s. It still looks like it did during the Belle Époque – which you can’t really see in the one crappy picture I dared to take of the inside. I think photos were allowed actually, but for some reason I felt like I needed to be sneaky. It’s kind of expensive to eat there, but it’s worth going in for a quick coffee.
So, instead of eating at Café Majestic, we went to a bistro to try the local Francesinha sandwich for lunch (try it for yourself, but I wasn’t a fan to be honest).
After lunch, we decided to work off whatever is in Francesinha by going up the Clérigo church tower. As with most look-out platforms, the climb to the top is quite strenuous. However, on the way up you get a great look at the interior of the church, so it’s not just a boring winding staircase. The entrance fee was 4€ when we were there.
It offered some great views across Porto and has those signs pointing out where you can see city landmarks, which I find entertaining. The wait can be quite long though, so if you’re running short on time, I’d say it’s only worth it if you really like seeing things from up top.
I didn’t have a nice picture of the Clérigo church from the outside, unfortunately. I’ve added a photo of the Santa Clara church though, which looks much more impressive anyway:
Port wine tasting – finally!
Towards the end of the day, we crossed the bridge to taste some port wine. You can choose from like five different breweries, all offering roughly the same thing. They tell you about the history of port wine and take you round their wine cellar. Most importantly, you get to taste three port wines at the end. We chose the Burmester Caves near the bridge, because it was the cheapest at the time (5€), although I checked the website and it seems to be 9€ now.
In general, if you just walk around Porto you will see tons of beautiful churches, old alleys, colourful buildings. There were a bunch of things we only got to see from the outside, because we were pressed for time or they were shut. The thing I regret most is missing the Livraria Lello, an amazing old bookshop that is said to have inspired JK Rowling in creating Hogwarts.
A couple more pics:
São Bento train station mosaic: