Flying via budget flight, my trip in Portugal began at Porto. In comparison to Lisbon, Porto is a little town, filled with history.
When to go: Porto has a semi-Mediterranean climate. A good time to go is some time in April where the temperature is comfortable. Do note that it’s warm in the day, but bring a cardigan out for it gets chilly towards the night.
What to see:
This is a good place to start your visit in Porto. Named the World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Cais Da Ribeira is a romantic spot at the waterfront with restaurants, bars and cafes. At dusk, expect couples walking hand in hand along the river accompanied by music from the bars. I would also highly recommend anyone to hop on the river cruise and enjoy the city down the stream. Also from the boat, one can catch a perfect view of the bridges of Porto.
Our schedule was really tight when we got to Porto so we decided to tour the town the easy way, sightseeing bus. Tours are great when you want to see the most out of a short period of time. For most tours, pre-recorded commentaries in various languages are available to enhance your experience and for others there are tour guides available.
The Porto sightseeing bus tour we picked offers two different routes for different types of attraction. The only down side is that the tour stops at a certain time so do take note of the last bus when you are at a particular attraction and hop on.
Other ways to tour the city includes, segway, cycling and walking! Be sure to check out the link for more recommendations on tripadvisor.
Once at Porto, you can’t miss the port wine! Multiple Port Wine Cellars are located around the area of Ribeira de Gaia. With the varied selection, it may be difficult to pick a place. Some tours are free and some cost a couple of euros. I went to Croft for my port wine tour because it was recommended on the sightseeing bus tour I picked and absolutely enjoyed it. Other popular wine cellars are listed in the link. Whichever tour you ended up going for, I’m pretty sure the port wine would satisfy your taste buds.
There are plenty of hidden gems in Porto which I wish I had more time to visit. For instance Fundação de Serralves, contemporary museum with charming a park to relax, and Livraria Lello, voted one of the most beautiful bookshops in Europe.
What to eat:
Porto is famous for it’s traditional Portuguese food served with its finest catch of the day. At Porto, I was fortunate to chance upon 2 very interesting restaurants that I absolutely enjoyed.
The first was BUGO Art Burgers where burgers are given a whole new look! We ordered the eggplant cannellonis and beef carpaccio for starters which wowed us. As fish and seafood is the popular meat used in most Portuguese dishes, we decided to go with the Cod burger and the Monkfish burger for our mains. Ending off our meal, we picked Port wine Pannacotta with berries jam. All I can say is that I was very very very pleased with the food. Taste, presentation and service was spectacular and I would definitely head back to the restaurant. If you’re in Porto, do have at least one meal at BUGO. Pre-booking is advisable.
PS: Don’t forget to pick a good wine to complement your dish.
Here you can get really fresh seafood. Choose to enjoy seafood at the bar with good wine or have a nice meal seated down at the restaurant. One can also find delicious sushi on the menu, or simply pick the catch of the day, literally! The waiters and waitress were really friendly and I had a pleasant experience dining there. There are a few outlets around Portugal so be sure not to miss it.
To be honest, I got lost quite often walking around Porto due to the winding streets and multiple alleys. There are buses available within the city. If you can get your head round it they will come in handy. If you live at the centre itself, taxi is also an affordable option (flag it down yourself though, getting a taxi at hotels would mean extra costs; plus hotels tend to book really pricey taxis).
Traveling to and fro Porto airport is easy though. There are direct trams/trains that connect the city and the airport.
To be continued…