Lisbon is cool, we know, but there’s a lot more to Portugal than its capital. Recently we were invited on a trip by Visit Porto and North to explore those hidden gems in Northern Portugal and absolutely fell in love with Porto. Known for it’s Port production, Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal and one of the oldest European centres, and although you could easily spend all weekend wandering the cobbled streets, drinking coffee and eating pastel de nata, here’s what else you should do on a weekend in Porto…
Housing one of the nation’s major ports, Porto is all about the seafood. The area of Matosinhos is overflowing with seafood restaurants and the place to get you fishy dose, with fish coming straight off the boats onto your plate. We suggest hitting up a family run joint, like Os Lusíadas, for some authentic grub. Specialties in the area include the must try bacalhau (salted codfish) and sardines which you should try and nab from a grill on the street in Matosinhos.
Image by Migrating Miss
Port, Port, Port! You’re in bloody Porto, you’ve got to give it a go. In Portugal, it’s cool, traditional and not just an old man’s drink, but if you don’t wanna dive in at the deep end we suggest adding tonic. For a drink with a view head to Porto Cruz’s rooftop, the sun-drenched terrace in Gaia has some of the best views across the river to the old town of Porto, and if you’re after a few nibbles they do a pretty good tapas menu too.
From the grand train station to the brutalist Casa da Música, you won’t be able to stop yourself from snapping away at the architecture, but if you really want to be left jaw dropped step inside the gothic church, Igreja de São Francisco – there’s over 100kg of gold leaf of baroque finery! Harry Potter fans and book geeks also should get in line for ‘Livraira Lello‘, the book shop (built in 1906) is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world and is also said to have inspired JK Rowling to write Harry Potter, just look at the staircase…and if you need any more convincing, look at what the uni students in Porto wear, similar to the Hogwarts uniform, no?
If you visit in the summer we suggest hitting up the beach, there are miles of golden sand in Matosinhos and bars all along the beach front, and if you want to do more than just catch ’em rays, you can always give a surf lesson a go! Of course a visit to the vineyards in the Douro Valley should be on your list too, but if you’re only staying a couple days and not planning on leaving the city, we suggest hitting up Ramos Pinto Wine Cellars for a bit of port tasting.
Located in the historical centre of Porto, Hotel Infante Sagres, was built in the 1950s and was the first 5 star hotel in the city. Now a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the hotel mixes the old with the new and is pretty glam with a huge iron staircase, stained glass windows, wood paneling and antique chairs. Breakfast is also fit for a queen in their grand chandelier-lit dining room, and if it’s sunny it’s SO worth taking a seat in the courtyard. The hotel is, however, undergoing a refurb from November 2017-April 2018, so make sure you plan your trip either side of this!
Monarch now operates flights to Porto from London Luton, Birmingham and Manchester airports and with fares starting from £42.00 one way £76.00 return, it’s pretty damn affordable. For further information or to book Monarch flights visit monarch.co.uk
Book a stay at Hotel Infante Sagres with Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
Featured image taken by Migrating Miss.