3 days in Porto Fado, walks, restaurants and beautiful pictures
3 days in Porto: Fado, walks, restaurants and beautiful photos
I was thinking of practicing my Portuguese during this long weekend in Porto, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. Because the totality of the Portuenses The people we met all spoke perfect English and almost all French. This gave rise to some funny situations during which everyone tried to find the right word in the right language… ! Coming back to the city of Porto, this short introduction on the language clearly shows that tourism is important in the region.
And Porto is a concentrate of beautiful things to see and to eat.
Day 1: Old Porto, the historical center and the Ribeira
Arrived on a Friday morning around 10 am at the hotel after a low-cost flight early in the morning from Paris CDG, I am already looking forward to climb in the city of which I have already heard a lot of good things. And in spite of the will not to rush, to discover by taking time, the program remains loaded !
My hotel is ideally located to visit Porto because in the Bolhão district, so 10-15 minutes walking (and downhill) . ) of the Douro or the old city center. And the choice to take a good 4 star hotel (Hotel Catalonia Porto) proved to be judicious to rest well and to sleep calmly… Because Porto is far from being a flat city ! Between about 220 steps from the Douro to the deck of the Luis I bridge and the constant ups and downs, this city promises a sporting weekend.
The first big hit is the visit of the Livraria Lello, a magnificent bookshop (5 euros for the entrance, to be deducted from the purchase of a book) of Art Nouveau style whose interior staircase leaves one breathless. The architecture and the decoration of this old and small bookshop are breathtaking. It’s definitely worth waiting 20 minutes in line outside.
The 5 euros are not wasted since I took the opportunity to buy a very nice special edition of Lello’s The Art of War.
The weather is beautiful – windy but beautiful. Then I cross the Praça de Lisboa to aim at the Clerks Tower which dominates the city with its 75 meters. The visit to this baroque church (6 euros) offers the possibility to walk through the floors of the church through several rooms and then climb the spiral staircase to the top of the tower. From there, the landscape is splendid ! The almost 360° view reveals the roofs of the old city and a striking panorama of the Porto Cathedral and its white Episcopal Palace.
The famous metal bridge is hidden behind.
The walk continues with a detour on the old market Ferreira Borges all of wrought iron and glass, transformed in cultural place. Nothing to see, just pass by to take some nice pictures. And cross the square towards the small Sao Fransisco church which hides two great secrets: 1. interior sculptures all of painted wood just amazing, and 2. the catacombs quite surprising.
In the city center, visit also the interior of the São Bento station decorated with the history of Portugal in mosaics, or azulejos.
The day naturally ends with a stroll on the Ribeira: the Douro’s quays are full of sunny terraces. Ideal for a well-deserved aperitif after more than 10 kilometers of walking. In addition, the view of the Luis I Bridge on the left is delightful while the sun sets on the right. In the growing darkness, I quietly go back to the hotel along a path on the right of the Dom-Luis bridge.
A nice evening stroll to appreciate the magnificent and imposing wall still standing.
It’s time to eat.
Interlude: where and what to eat in Porto ?
In three days, I could test some restaurants. And the best advice I can give is not to trust any website or reservation site. Read the travel blogs and even better: take the small streets deserted by tourists, walk 50 meters and you will find the local nugget.
Otherwise, ask the different shopkeepers or guides which is the restaurant of the corner which is less touristy than the others.
Demonstration by example: restaurant booked via LaFourchette for the first night = disappointment and expensive. Supposed to be a typical gastronomic cuisine, the same dish could have been served in a small restaurant in the neighborhood but without the beautiful and classy setting.
I can recommend three addresses discovered either by chance or on local advice. Cana Verde, Rua dos Caldeireiros and very close to Igreja dos Clérigos : traditional food really cheap, excellent service, more locals than tourists in the restaurant. Casa Dias, Av. Ramos Pinto 242, that is to say on the quays of the Port cellars, in front of the cable car: an excellent typical restaurant, the fish was perfect. The very honest waitress warns me that the sardines are frozen because it is not the season, which allows me to redirect myself towards a freshly caught sea bream.
Huge quantities, so too much, but very good. And the most amazing restaurant for the end: Porto A Noite, R. dos Mercadores 172, less than 300 meters from Praça Ribeira. Some evenings, you will have the right to a Fado show: acoustic guitar and Portuguese guitar accompanied by songs of the regulars of the evening and even the staff of the restaurant.
A very nice intimate moment considering the size of the restaurant. You will be surprised to dance and sing with the other customers ! And yet, we were hardly 8 customers on a Saturday evening. Very traditional cuisine.
The grilled octopus was very simply good and not expensive at all.
What does it mean to eat cheap in Porto ? Between 6 and 10 euros for a menu: dish of the day, drink, starter or dessert. In comparison, a 50 cl beer on the Ribeira: 6 euros, a one-way cable car ticket: 6 euros for an adult (no comment), a full church tour ticket: 3 to 6 euros.
Day 2: crossing the Luis I bridge, discovering Villa Nova de Gaia and strolling along the seaside
Despite all the small streets, the darkness at night and the few lights, Porto never seemed to me a dangerous city, nothing to do with Rio de Janeiro for example. It is not at all. So don’t be afraid to explore as much as you can because the small winding streets can give you a completely different view of the city or a square.
Everything can be done on foot quite easily without taking public transport.
The symbol – if there is one – of the city of Porto is the famous Luis I Bridge. With its 395 meters long and its 85 meters height over the Douro, it can impress. On the high deck only streetcars and pedestrians circulate. It is therefore the perfect place to photograph serenely the old town of Porto and its neighbor opposite Villa Nova de Gaia.
Think to return on the bridge at night, the work of lighting of the city and the bridge is simply magnificent.
This is what I did on my way back from the beach. Because Porto is only 20 minutes by bus from the Atlantic coast ! Be careful, it’s way too cold in March to take a dip or go diving. We are far from the tropical temperatures of the same ocean on the Brazilian side; take the 500 bus in the early afternoon from the city center or the quayside to Matosinhos, then walk down to the Felgueiras lighthouse.
Only 4 kilometers of beaches interspersed with rocky areas to enjoy a beautiful sunset lying on the beach.
Day 3: Palácio da Bolsa and Porto Ferreira
This Sunday, it is raining. This is ideal to visit two obligatory places in Porto while sheltering from the rain: the Palácio da Bolsa and a Port wine cellar. Allow 1 hour to visit the Palace and 45 minutes to visit a winery. Just enough to fill the morning in the city center with the Palácio da Bolsa, re-cross the Luis I bridge, have a bite to eat on the docks and visit the Ferreira winery.
Without running too much after the return plane of Sunday 17:30 (low-cost again). To avoid running, don’t forget public transportation like the subway and the bus.
By the way, if you absolutely want to take a boat ? The cheapest excursion is 3 euros… it is simply to cross the Douro via the TAXI RIVER 😀 3 minutes crossing.
There are really unexpected treasures in this city of Porto, starting with the Palácio da Bolsa. The rooms are more beautiful than the others with a visit that ends in apotheosis with the Moorish Room or Salão Árabe. The pictures speak for themselves, knowing that they already take away a lot from the beauty of the place.
Last step before going home: the imperative visit of a Port wine cellar. I chose it a bit at random and after reading some blogs. Let’s say that the Ferreira winery is also at the end of the pier and I thought I would find less people. A friend visited Ramos Pinto and tasted some of their wines. The visit is rather quick (30 minutes) but the guide is patient and answers questions.
The building is beautiful, the barrels well displayed. The visit ends with a tasting of a white and a red Port. For 14 euros, maybe a little expensive as a visit.
After a cellar, many walks, even more stairs, cod, churches, the beach and music, I can say that I made a first nice tour of the city of Porto ! This report is not much compared to what you can experience in this city in only 3 days.
And you ? Which corner of Porto do you like the most ? Don’t hesitate to share your good addresses in comments.