Foto: Porto, credits to Filipe Fontes
In Porto the people are friendly, the food is hearty and the wine is sweet. Just one or two hours away from the most main European destinations by plane, it’s the second biggest city in Portugal and also the sexiest, romantic, vintage, and many other things quite difficult to describe. After Portuguese, the second language is English, and almost everyone can speak it. In 2014 was consider the best European destination by the European citizens and… it’s affordable! Really cheap! Porto is on the list of Travel + Leisure’s World’s Sexiest Affordable Destinations. In comparison to other European destinations, Porto feels a bit “off the beaten path” and it’s not too touristy. Porto isn´t diluted with tourism, or trying to be something it’s not. It is uniquely its own.
Source: Sunset at Porto’s Ribeira, credits to Edgar Jiménez
The Douro River beautifies and separates Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia by six bridges. So, if you heard a question, “Which city has the same bridges as Porto?, you definitely know the answer;) Porto has one of the most beautiful train stations stations in the world, São Bento, and if you walk around the alleys you’ll find small Portuguese typical houses with hanging clothes on the balcony. Your camera will not stop!
Here is a list of the Top Summer Activities in Porto:
Culturally, Porto holds its own against much larger global cities.
Are you a Harry Potter fan? The divine Lello bookshop (one of the most beautiful in the world) inspired J.K. Rowling in her Harry Potter books. You’ll find similarities in the famous traje, the costume that every student wears that include black suits with a black cape similar to Hogwart’s. Salazar — famously known for the name of Salazar Slytherin in Harry Potter — is literally the name of a Portuguese dictator.
Foto: Lello bookshop, credits to NoirKitsuné
Besides all historic and stately monuments that you can easily find around the city, like Clérigos Tower, Almas Chapel, Sé (Porto’s Cathedral), you also have the art-deco style Serralves Foundation and Contemporary Art Museum and its collection of national and international contemporary art. Check their cultural program of concerts and workshops.
Have you ever heard about fado? No? Wrong! It’s a little difficult to describe so first thing you should do is to find a video on youtube. Its origins are traced to the 19th century Portugal and it usually captures saudade (doesn’t have a translation but means the feeling of longing, missing something). You can see a live concert in some of local restaurants.
If you prefer something little more mainstream there is a summer festival every year in Matosinhos. Optimus Primavera Sound or Marés Vivas. Another option can be Casa da Música (House of music) where there are also film festivals organized regularly.
If you love mixing culture with tradition try S. João. It’s celebrated on June 24th, but the whole month is a long preparation for the one that is proved to be the most popular festival of the city for over 100 years and the longest night in the year.
Porto is full of parks. In sunny days people usually go relax to the parks so, wrap snacks, foods, beers, juices, or you name it and go to the park. You have the city Park, a beautiful garden in Serralves Foundation or the park of Cristal Palace, which have peacocks freely walking around.
Also, a cruise up the river is not to be missed, and you’ll see Porto in a new way.
Foto: Serralves garden, credits to Nacho Pintos
Ribeira and the sunset
Though it’s loved by tourists for the expensive restaurants and souvenir shops, it hides a darker side. Ribeira is still a poor part of the city, with ruins, slums and stray cats ruling the streets. But still have the best sunset in the city.
Foto: Ribeira, credits to Luís Calçada
If you love wine Porto is the place to be! It is often sweet, but comes in many different varieties and colors, from dry to rosé. It is typically richer and heavier tasting, and also contains a higher alcohol content than most wines. You’ve probably heard about famous Port wine. Make sure you cross the bridge Ponte Dom Luís and visit Vila Nova de Gaia. Here you can visit various wine cellars and learn a little about how this delicious wine is made. There is nothing more romantic than having a glass of port wine on the banks of river Douro.
Foto: Porto wine, credits to Theo K
Portuguese cuisines are annoyingly delicious and addictive. From a full-calorie one like Francesinha (literally little frenchie) a typically portuguese sandwich from Porto, until the fresh Mediteranian salad with grilled seafood. You should also try caldo verde (traditional soup) and bacalhau (cod fish) which are thousand ways to prepare it.
You are a pastry lover? Keep a full power to taste every pastry in the city like Natas do Céu (cream from heaven), pastel de nata and the eclairs at Leitaria da Quinta do Paço. A happy tummy is indeed a happy life, isn’t it?
Foto: Eclair, francesinha and pastel de nata, credits to Marta Lino, Rowena and André Luís
1872 River House
Last but not least, the charming 1872 River House. In one of the most distinguished Oporto locations, the Ribeira, we find a lovely and charming 8 rooms guest house inviting us to discover the best views over Douro.
The rooms filled with portuguese details in its deco, with views over the river or the city. The building dates back to 1872 and opened its doors in 2014, after a profound remodelling process in which the house’s original details where kept intact.
Foto: 1871 River House
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