Our decision to explore Porto was the result of a much-needed vote. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, we were leaving Fatima and couldn’t agree whether or not to carry on up North to Porto or make our way back across Spain to Madrid. It might sound like a bit of a no-brainer but we had taken some seriously naff weather over the last couple of weeks in Portugal and it wasn’t looking any better in the near future, so we turned to our Instagram and Facebook friends to let them decide. It was an almost unanimous vote for Porto.
After about an hour of arriving in the centre of the city, it quickly became clear why.
As the second largest city in Portugal, Porto couldn’t be more different from its hipster neighbouring city, Lisbon. It is surprisingly underrated and in fact a lot of the time is overshadowed by Portugal’s capital, which is bizarre considering there is so much to love about this UNESCO heritage city.
The city is split by the river Douro , or ‘river of gold’ and even though there is always markets, street performers, people trying to sell you a boat trip and hundreds of tourists milling about on either side of the river, there’s a real sense of calm and easy way of life that settles over the city.
Porto is a welcome feast for the eyes with its colourful buildings and Romanesque/Gothic architecture.
It’s also a feast for your taste buds. Port wine tasting is a must when visiting here, and above all else you must try the traditional salt cod cakes, or Bacalhau.
Similar to Lisbon, Porto is extremely hilly and wandering round the beautiful old cobbled streets will certainly get the thigh muscles working.
Our first stop was of course the Cais da Ribeira; the wonderfully colourful and picturesque riverside which is probably the most iconic tourist spot in the city. When you think of an image of Porto, the Cais da Ribeira is likely the image you’ll think of instantly.
The Luis I Bridge proudly connects either side of the Douro river and is quite an impressive piece of engineering up close.
From the south side of the river we hopped in a cable car that took us to the top of the bridge and oh my, the view from there (I think) is the reason that Porto won so unanimously in the vote, it’s superb.
After a while of just standing there swooning at the view, we jumped back on the cable car and headed for our port wine tasting. The port is so delicious and so cheap, if like us you fancy buying a cheeky bottle for yourselves.
There are so many churches and basilicas to have a nose around in Porto but most of them you have to pay in to so we opted for a couple of freebies, Porto Cathedral and the Santa Clara Church. Although they’re freebies, they are definitely two of the more interesting in the city.
The Cathedral is a harsh looking building that presides over the oldest part of the city and the Church of Santa Clara is steeped so much in gilded wooden carvings and blue marble on the vaults and ceilings that you’ll spend ages just standing there looking up in awe and taking it all in.
Our final stop was one of the most famous bookshops in the world, the Livraria Lello. This store is every book-lovers dream. Everything about it is stunning, from its Art Nouveau design to its glorious wooden winding staircase to its stained glass skylight. It’s like something out of Harry Potter!
All the exploring had us ravenous, so before we headed back to our motorhome we dropped in to Noshi Coffee for some well deserved food. This wonderful little cafe serves up some seriously good scran that’s healthy, cheap and most importantly delicious…
Distance travelled so far: 4,093 km
Days away: 125