Porto is a coastal city in northwest Portugal known for its stately bridges and port wine production. The city is stunning, the stone buildings are covered in ornate tiles or blues, greens and yellows. Narrow cobbled streets wind past merchants’ houses and cafes. I have to mention that the city is steep, there are hilly roads and the walk down to the River consists of hundreds of stone steps, do them once, then opt for the funicular.
Getting Here: Porto is just 3 hours to the north of Lisbon. You can take a train if you fly into Lisbon, but we drove. We literally parked our car the minute we got in and got it 3 days late when we were leaving.
Getting Around: Porto is so easy to get around, we used Uber a lot, there are very inexpensive taxi’s and trams as well. You do not need a car in Porto, parking is awful, and driving is a nightmare.
Accommodations: We opted for an Air BNB over a hotel, it was great to have our own kitchen and more space. The Air BNB was perfect in every way, it was a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment on the ground floor, tucked back from the street with a beautiful shared outdoor patio space. The location was beyond perfect, it was walking distance to Cias di Riberia, and just the most perfect location for sightseeing.
Highlights & Sights: As for sightseeing in Porto, like all of Europe, there are churches everywhere. The stone buildings covered with tile are truly works of art, so just by walking about you see the city. The must see’s are:
São Bento Train Station is one of, if not the most stunning train stations in the world. Worth a visit just to see the artwork on the tiles alone. There are some 20,000 magnificent azulejo tin-glazed ceramic tile depicting the history of the city and Portugal.
Clérigos Tower is one of the most emblematic monuments of Porto, is a beautiful bell tower that marks the heart of Porto. The chimes of the bell ring through the city, truly a beautiful landmark.
Base Porto is an amazing urban park with panoramic views of the Clérigos Tower, relax in the shade of an olive tree midday and enjoy some yummy cocktails! This is a great place to let the little ones run around on some grass. Cities can be hard for babies and toddlers, and I always search for parks to get rid of some energy!
Cias di Riberia is a stunning stretch along the river, where we spent late afternoons and dinners every night. The walk down to the river is beautiful, but so many stairs. You can also take the Tasquinha Dos Guindais (a really cool accordion like elevator) like which is right at the top of the walk & drops you at the base of the Luís I Bridge. One night I would recommend walking along the top of the Luís I Bridge to the other side of the river, then take the Teleferico de Gaia (a gondula) down to the river side. This side has a different vibe, you can either take a water taxi, or walk the bottom of the bridge back to the other side.
From Porto is you have time, Foz Do Duoro is a cute town on the coast where the Duoro River meets the Atlantic Ocean. There are beaches, and lighthouses. Take the Tram Linha 1 from Porto, its a pretty route along the river. If you do go, make sure to have a drink and catch the sunset at Praia da Luz.
Restaurants: There was an amazing restaurant Vinhas d’Alho that we loved so much, we ate there every night. The octopus was to die for! It’s along the Cias di Riberia, on the top walkway, as far from the bridge as possible. The seafood was so fresh, the olives were juicy and there was a lovely cheese given as an “appetizer” called Quejo de Azeitao.
You must try the Francesinha, this is a sandwich they are famous for in Porto. Right around the corner from our Air BNB was a restaurant (i’ll have to remember the name) that was highly rated for them. Do not think you can eat one alone, the sandwich is HUGE!