October 30 – November 1, 2015
Porto is a city in the north of Portugal, near the border with Galicia and strategically located on the banks of the Douro River. Its economy has been based for years in its wineries, known internationally and with easy distribution through navigation.
It is a highly recommended visit. It is a beautiful, affordable city for a weekend getaway and very pleasant. I left pleasantly surprised after this trip.
This time we made the trip with our friends “los calamares” (although we missed one). Here you have the guide of our weekend in Porto.
Arrival day: Friday 30
We flew from Madrid with Ryanair. The flight cost us around € 60 per person round trip. There are very good prices to fly to this city.
TRANSFER TO / FROM AIRPORT
-The cheapest way to get from the airport to Porto is using the metro. In 20 or 30 minutes you will arrive to the center of the city taking the violet line (E). The price per trip is € 2.30 .
-The taxi is always the most comfortable option while the least expensive. The taxi ride from the airport to the city center can cost around € 25 .
We booked an apartment with airbnb ( https://es.airbnb.com/rooms/7291978 ). The owner is friendly and the apartment is very well equipped, modern and well equipped. The only bad thing is that it is in the walking area, so if you have trouble sleeping with some noise, it may not be your best option.
That afternoon we arrived at evening, so we took the opportunity to dine near the apartment in a place recommended by the owner, it is called Casa do Carmo and it is on the Rua de Sá de Noronha, 51. Ask for the Desserts that you will love. 😉
Before going to bed we had a drink in a pub near home that does not have much more than decoration, which may be worth a visit for photographing it. It’s on Rua de José Falçao, 199 (the street party par excellence).
First day of visit: Saturday, October 31
We got up and gave ourselves a good tribute in a coffee shop where they made their own cakes. It was a discovery!. Cafeteria Amarelo Torrada , Rua de José Falcão 29. Very close to the apartment.
We had recommended the breakfast at Ribeiro Bakery (Praça de Guilherme Gomes Fernandes 21), a few steps from here and it really looked good, but it was too full (notice on Sundays it is closed).
We started the day with a free tour of the old town of Porto at the hands of City Lovers. It lasts approximately 2,5h. You just have to be at the meeting point at the agreed time (do not have to book in advance) and the final price is the will that you consider (we gave € 25, I think, for us 6).
We started at Avenida de los Aliados, located in the heart of Porto. This street is full of modernist buildings including the City Hall at the end of the avenue with its large construction in marble and granite.
Walking along the avenue and leaving the City Hall behind, we arrived at the Plaza de la Libertad, the most important square in Porto . In its center there is an equestrian statue of King Pedro IV.
Turning left we found the San Bento train station, one of the great treasures of the city. Its hall decorated with more than 20,000 tiles in which the history of Portugal is told left us impressed.
We left the station and went down the Mousinho da Silveira street, a very pleasant street with musicians in the street and curious little shops. Before arriving at the edge of the Duero, the guide directed us, through a little street on the right, to go up to a viewpoint ( Miradouro da Vitoria ), from where there is a fantastic panoramic view of the city and the River.
From here the visit continued discovering the bookstore of Harry Potter (it served as inspiration for the books), but we decided to leave here our visit, because we had booked to eat in a restaurant and the time was over. Keep in mind that in Portugal you eat about 13-13.30 and dinner about 20-20.30. Keep it in mind so that you do not find everything closed.
100% recommended to eat here. We had to make a reservation (we called by phone from Spain, in Spanish, and they understood us), Tavern two merchants (+ 351 22 201 0510) , Rua dos Mercadores 36. To be Porto it’s a little bit expensive (I think it was around € 25 per person) but we ate like kings, a championship meal, with great quality and excellent service. It is a very small restaurant, with only about 8-10 tables.
After lunch we walked down and walked along the riverbank, very pleasant, and crossed the Bridge of Luis I to Vila Nova de Gaia, a neighboring town of Porto where the port wine cellars are located. Right on the opposite bank there are several commercials that sell tourist packages. We bought a boat trip and visit 3 wineries (with tasting) and fado (I think it was € 10-12 each).
After the boat ride is the ideal time to visit some wineries and taste their sweet wines. The most recommended wineries on the Internet are Ferreira, Sandeman and, for its museum, Ramos Pinto. I personally recommend that you enter the “Espaço Porto Cruz” winery, which also has an exhibition hall and that you go up to the terrace on the roof. You can have a drink or just admire the views from here (it’s free to go upstairs).
When we finished sweet wine and fados, we decided to recover strength.
Porto is to eat well, that’s why guts are famous in the porto style, dish that we did not try and that give name to the inhabitants of the city, los tripeiros . Bifanas are a clear example: small sandwiches, pork hors d’oeuvres with a very spicy sauce, of those that offer you the perfect excuse to have a couple of very cold national beers, a Sagres or a Super Bock. Its price? From one euro to three. We were recommended the best ones in the city, at El Conga , Rua do Bonjardim, 314, the old and well-known bar that cooks bifanas at street level, they do not stop, they have to make thousands a day. It is very busy at lunchtime or mid-afternoon, but they always find a table for you. (Particularly I found bifanas a bit guarded, but they are like this…)
From here we went to the apartment to rest, but not before stopping for a drink at Praça D. Filipa de Lencastre, on the way.
Second day of visit: Sunday, November 1
The visit began around 10 o’clock in the morning at the Church of the Clérigos. After visiting the church you have to go up to the tower . The privileged views of the city make you forget the more than 200 steps up.
Then we came to Rua Santa Catarina , one of the main commercial arteries of the city. Advancing through it we found on the right the Café Majestic , an elegant café from the 20’s where to have something accompanied by one of those local pasteis de nata and enjoy its historical atmosphere.
Returning to Santa Catarina and advancing a little more, we can see the facade of the Chapel of Souls, a small church decorated with white and blue tiles that by now will be familiar.
Going down the Fernándes Tomás street we saw the Mercado do Bolhao, a nostalgic place where lots of sellers expose their fruits and vegetables as if by them the time had never passed.
When leaving the market we took the Formosa street to the Avenida de los Aliados. We crossed the avenue, the Plaza de la Libertad and the Mousinho da Silveira street until arriving at the Rúa da Bolsa.
Rounding the corner by the Rúa da Bolsa you can find the Church of San Francisco where you can see its ornate interior and its catacombs.
Then we can take advantage to visit the Cathedral and the cloister. The best way to get there is to take the funicular at the end of Cais da Ribeira. You can also walk up and lose yourself in the narrow streets of the city.
From the cathedral it is highly recommended to climb up to the church of Serra do Pilar, whose views are impressive from a different perspective. You can walk from the cathedral, walking along the top of the bridge that crosses the river.
In the guide of Carlos’ friend we were recommended the Casa da Música and take a guided tour of the wonderful building of Ren Koolhaas, but we did not.
Not far away is the Crystal Palace, a small park that looks fast and has beautiful views to photograph the river.
They also recommended Serralves (foundation of contemporary art). It is worth buying the full ticket: the gardens and the Casa de Serralves are incredible, take time because they take hours. We did not visit either.
EATING AND DRINKING
Recommendations of Carlos’s friend:
- The best Francesinha : – Santiago (in front of the Coliseu do Porto). Rua Passos Manuel 226: I recommend you go to the one below (there are two in the same street). The one below is a less seedy and noisy place than the one above, but both are from the same family. This would be for dinner. It looks a bit disgusting but when you try it… (Go at 9 or so, have an early dinner and close at 11).
- Eating and drinking: Casa Guedes (Praça dos Poveiros 130): It is very close to Café Santiago, near the Coliseu do Porto. Ask for a sparkling white wine bottle. And to eat sandes de pernil (suckling piglets). Here you can go at noon or mid-afternoon as an early dinner.
- Bacalhoeiro (Av. de Diogo Leite 74, 4400-111 Vila Nova de Gaia): It is on the other side of the river. Run away from the tourist restaurants and enter this one. It is in the Cais de Gaia. They barely serve cod and it is the best. You have several cod recipes and everything is delicious.
The Porto underground consists of 5 lines and 68 stations. If you plan to use this transport, you should bear in mind that with it you can not go to most places of tourist interest .
Underground lines of Porto
- Line A (blue): Estádio do Dragão-Senhor de Matosinhos.
- Line B (red): Estádio do Dragão-Póvoa de Varzim.
- Line C (green): Estádio do Dragão-ISMAI.
- Line D (yellow): Hospital São Joã-D. João II.
- Line E (violet): Estádio do Dragão-Aeroporto.
The most important station of the metro network and where you can transfer with line D (yellow) is Trinidade.
Timetable : from 6:00 in the morning until 1:00 in the morning, with a frequency between 4 and 15 minutes depending on the time you travel.
Rates : A single metro ticket costs € 1.20. If you have bought the Porto Card or the Andante Tour you can travel by metro unlimitedly without paying the ticket.