“Are you looking for a perfect city break, but the more relaxing feel compared to the countries capital city Lisbon? Portugal’s bejewelled second largest city makes for a perfect laid-back alternative.”
Porto is a European city entering its prime, and is rapidly becoming a bustling tourist destination. So if you’re looking for the perfect weekend break don’t delay it. Better to visit Porto now before it becomes overrun with tourists!
Get that holiday sorted, nobody can argue with Porto for a perfect summer getaway! Porto is considered the countries northern jewel offering steep history, rich in culture, great food and don’t forget the Porto wine!
Do you still need an excuse? OK, what about scenic boat rides along the Douro River. Come and join me lets explore Porto!
Photographic Stroll let’s keep that camera clicking! Are you ready? Let’s start exploring or I meant clicking! Be warned that Porto is a bit hilly so a good comfortable walking shoes is a must!
Let’s get to know the treasure of Baroque architecture and ornamentation of the region. Thanks to Nicolau Nasoni an Italian architect,painter-decorator with his stunning masterpieces around the city.
A visit to the Porto Cathedral ( Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady )is a must! Centrally situated in the historical area of the city. It is the one of the oldest monument in Romanesque style. It was built in the 12th century, then went to some alteration to Gothic style but then later renovated into a Baroque Style.
The Clerigos Church a baroque church and Torre dos Clerigos one of Porto’s landmark, it was built between 1754 to 1963, for the brotherhood of clerigos. You can climb the tower ( 73 metres height ) with a small fee offering a panoramic view of the city.
Have you noticed those blue tiles mostly in building interiors or facades? Azulejos tiles it dates back from 13th century when the Moors invaded the Portugal. And it was reintroduce by King Manuel I, since then it was deeply embedded in Portuguese history!
“Azulejo is an arabic roots means small polished stone. Azulejo tiles were intially decorated in simple colour palate, mostly dominated by blue and white. The simple geometric shapes it was then replaced by more ornate decoration. Now a days it become a pieces of public art work.”
The most famous site for Azulejo art is the Sao Bento railway station ( Estacao Ferroviaria de Sao Bento) It was built during the reign of King Manuel I and it was designed by Jose Marques da Silva. The interior panel of the station is the main attraction showing the historical Porto. One panel represent the work scenes in vineyards, the harvest,the water mill and the wine shipment down the Douro.
Location… Location! It’s perfectly positioned on the steep banks of the Douro River, offering numerous stunning viewpoint overlooking across the stretch of the bright terracotta rooftops and coloured building facades.
Are you feeling romantic or just want a quiet place for that well earned beer after a full day of wandering? I got you sorted! In the afternoon before the sunset, cross the bridge towards Calem Cellars at the Nova de Gaia, but use the highest footpath and you will be welcome with a garden by the top of a hill. Or if you’re feeling lazy take the metro and get off at Jardin do Moro station.
This place promises a great vantage point to see the sunset overlooking the Douro River and the whole Porto cityscape! And enjoy an evening beer and your picnic whilst enjoying the fantastic sunset view.
Excuse me! Who’s on a Diet? Don’t even think about it! Definitely forget about diet while on holiday! I suggest ignoring any plans of a summer detox! If you are in Porto prepare to dig into their local dishes, so are you hungry and ready? Aside from the famous sweets Pastel de Nata, a Portuguese egg tart pastry there’s so much food to try!
Let’s try and dig into Porto’s most famous and iconic local dish, the Francesinha. A sandwich with layers of meat from cured ham,steak or roast meat and sausages smothered in melted cheese with variation of rich beer hot tomato sauce. It’s normally served with fries to complete the belly buster monster sandwich! It was perfectly paired with local wine.
Francesinha was invented in 1960’s, when an immigrant from France returned in Porto named Daniel da Silva. Who tries to adapt the croque-monsier to local Portuguese taste . Since then there are different variation to create the sauce by adding spiciness which gives a distinct taste accordingly to the restaurants.Next dish!
Potuguese cuisines has been obviously influence by Mediterranean so seafood is infuse well with. Shall we try the infamous Bacalhau. Bacalhau or “cod fish” is considered the most iconic ingredient in Portuguese cuisines and there are thousands of recipes of Bacalhau in Portugal.
“History told that since 15th century Portugal has been fishing and trading cod. And over 500 years ago Salt cod was discovered, drying and salting is an ancient process to preserve and makes the cod tastier. During the 1700’s cod fish was considered the staple food to Portuguese. It was also popular during Lent for Roman catholic.”
Hmm who love sausages? Portuguese old traditions include the ritual killing of pigs, it was once an important tradition for the economy and the start of the love affair with the meat. Every part of the pig is important, even the guts that makes the most varied sausages. As evidence to their recipes and menus up to this day that has been passed on to generations.
While wandering around the plaza there are rows of restaurants and a whip of the air reaches my nostril and I can smell food, my stomach started to rumble as if protesting to be fed.
It was hot and sunny so I stopped at the nearest menu stand, as I was examining at the menu and my eye was caught with Chourico, I was told that this dish is quite popular Portuguese sausage that is similar to chorizo. I looked around and found an empty chair and soon the waiter approaches me, and taking my order in no time.
The grand entrance of my Chourico Assado, served in a clay dish with a flaming fire, it was so entertaining watching the flame and sizzling sounds of the fat dripping on the fire. The presentation itself was phenomenal and it tastes so good too, served together with seasonal salad wash down with refreshing Sangres Radler lemon.
Another wonderful and tasty sausage I tried was Linguica a smoked, cured pork sausage seasoned well with garlic, chillies and paprika that gives a subtle sweet flavour.
“There’s an interesting story behind Farinheira sausage. During 1500’s a year of the inquisition the Portuguese Jews created their own sausage without using pork . Instead, they filled with flour and different spices, Same with Alheira sausage, but it’s filled with poultry and wild game. They normally hang it on their kitchen, hoping to deceive the inquisitors and thinks that they had converted to Christianity.”
Is it Porto wine time yet! After an all day conquering the multi-coloured streets of hilly Porto, it’s perfect time for afternoon sips of wine! Let’s enjoy some Port wine, shall we?
Are you a wine lover? You are in the right place! Porto is considered as one of the top wine destinations in the world. Featuring the region’s Douro Valley own grapes grown only in the area.
There are numerous cellars offering wine tasting as well as restaurants along the riverbank, overlooking the Douro River and the famous Luis I bridge. So wherever you choose to go, the wine is definitely good!
I have dined out a couple of times and before I pay my bill, the waiter will offer a free shot of Port wine. And I didn’t realise that there’s even a white port wine! The port is commonly served after meals as a desert wine to be paired with cheese, nuts or chocolates,but in other countries it is frequently consumed as aperitifs.
Port wine ( Vinho do Porto ) is fortified wine exclusively produced in the Douro Valley, in the Northern provinces of Portugal established as a protected region and name Douro, making it the third and oldest official appellation. it is typically serves and enjoyed as a desert wine. It also comes in dry, semi dry and white varieties.
Bridging the Gap! Porto is known for its stately bridges around, but the most famous is the Dom Luis I Bridge ( Ponte D. Luis ) a double-deck metal arch bridge that spans along the Douro River. Linking Nova de Gaia area in the bustling Ribeira district of Porto. It is the most photograph bridge displayed in the postcards.
Dom Luis I Bridge is 85 metres high, 172 metres long and is the longest arch bridge in the world. It carries a light rail line and pedestrian on the upper deck and general traffic and pedestrian on the lower deck. It is included in the Historic Zone of the City of Porto.
Exploring the nearby places! Before my travel to Porto, a friend has suggested a couple of places to visit for a day out. I didn’t waste any time I have searched specifically for Guimaraes.
Guimaraes is regarded as the birthplace of Portugal offering an extensive history, this charming historic city is worth a day trip. Guimaraes is definitely pique my interest as it was declared as one of UNESCO heritage sites on 2001.
“Guimaraes is the birth place of the first King of Portugal ( Afonso Henriques ), thus it was regarded as the birthplace of Portugal. The king was also baptised in a small chapel near the Guimaraes Castle sat on the Largo Hill”. After 1146 when the Battle of Sao Mamede was fought to victory. Guimaraes then became the capital city for 20 years before it was relocated to Coimbra, the medieval city of Portugal for over hundred years.”
After purchasing my train ticket from Sao Bento Porto to Guimaraes. I was surprise with the inexpensive return ticket only costing 6.20 euro, after an hour journey the train slowly stopping.
I navigated myself towards the south of the city and soon enough I was welcomed with a beautifully manicured lawn in the centre of the road leading to a stunning Santos Passos Church( Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Consolacao e SantosPassos ).
The 18th century church is a Baroque style church built by architect Andre Sores, and later the two towers were added during the 19th century. I can’t help but take so much photos with the extremely impressive balustrade staircase leading to the church entrance.
I then headed towards the historic centre of Guimaraes ended up following a trail along the forested park of Monte Latito. A massive medieval building stands out The Palace of the Dukes of Braganza, where the former residence of the first Dukes of Braganza.
In 1910 the palace was classified as a National Monument, and was then transformed into a Presidential residence of the Republic. Now a day a part of the property has been reconverted to a Museum with art collections and disposition from 16th to 17th century.
A slight ascent to Largo Hill, where the symbolic medieval Castle of Guimaraes is situated atop of the hill offering a view of the city. It is a military defence fortification mainly in the Romanesque architectural period and was remodelled to early Gothic period.
Before reaching the top of the hill you will also pass by a small chapel The Church of Sao Miguel ( Igreja de Sao Miguel ) it has been claimed that young Afonso Henriques ( First King of Portugal ) were baptised.
After wandering around the castle ground, I headed down to find somewhere for lunch. I then stumbled upon a square, The Largo da Oliveira surrounded with restaurants the smell of delicious food permeates the air my stomach started to rumble. But the interesting features around the square caught my interest, medieval buildings and my eyes were drawn to a beautifully preserved Gothic Shrine just opposite of The Church of Our Lady of the Olive-tree.
“The shrine was built to commemorate the Batlle of Salado, the Portuguese and Castillan forces defeated the Moorish army in 1339.”
”Porto is a vibrant city that is definitely worth visiting, it is rapidly becoming one of Western Europe’s most desirable destinations.The city boasts extensive history, buzzing nightlife, with good food and obviously great wine!”
From the Airport, take the Metro E to the city buy tickets at the machine costing €2.60 for one way fare.
Go and join a free walking tour and make sure wear a comfortable footwear as Porto is a hilly place and don’t forget your camera!
If you have a chance to venture outside Porto, go for it and explore! There are numerous places that are an hour drive radius or a train ride away!
Sharing is Caring!