In 2012 we went to Porto. “Porto” you say? Yes, Porto… The place that has recently become a hype to go to. We went there before the hype. Yes. We did. That’s how cool we are ;-).
This is one of the last trips that we did, that I didn’t prepare very well. I think I only read some things online. There didn’t even exist travel guides from the place when we wanted to go there!
We stayed in a hotel a bit outside the city center. As I recall, I think it was a 20-30minute walk to the city center. Could be slightly less as well. They were very friendly in the hotel, the room was okay as well. And they spoke Spanish. Or at least, that’s what I think. I could understand them, and they could understand me ;-). I always thought none of the Portuguese spoke Spanish. Guess I was wrong. In that hotel, they did. Now you might wonder which hotel it was? Well, I can’t remember. But it was a good one!
We stayed in Porto from the 12th to the 15th of August in 2012, and the weather was nice most of the time. One day we had a lot of rain, but we decided to go on a Porto-tour in one of the many distilleries.
What did we do and where did we go to?
We started our tour at the beginning, passing by the Câmara Municipal Do Port, which lies at the beginning of the Avenida dos Aliados. It’s the municipal building. We never went inside, but the outside of the building was beautiful enough. After that we took a walk through the old part of the town, which is called the Ribeira. On our way we passed by some beautiful buildings, with blue ceramics on the side. One example is the Igreja do Carmo.
One thing you can’t miss in Porto, is the Ponte Dom Luis-I. We walked on top of it (although we had some trouble finding the start of the bridge on the other side of the Douro).
We also passed by the Torre dos Clérigos. It’s a bell tower, which you can climb to have a nice view on the city. But at the beginning of our trips, we didn’t actually do a lot of things ;-).
Nearby you can also find a little bookshop, the Livrario Lello & Irmão. Although… it’s actually not small. You have to pay to enter the bookshop – which we didn’t do. But once you entered you can use the entrance ticket to buy a book. It’s one of the oldest bookshops in the city. It’s beautiful on the outside, but from what I saw through the door and windows, it looks magnificent from the inside.
One stop you also have to make, is Café Majestic. Though you pay a lot more than the surrounding cafés, I enjoyed sitting there. The interior was nice, so was the building. I wouldn’t do more there then just drinking something… But you can eat there as well.
A few other important things to visit in the city are the Igreja da Sé and the Igreja de São Francisco. They are what you think they are: churches. The Igreja de São Francisco doesn’t look all that special, but when you enter the church it’s kind of breathtaking. You can see gold leaf everywhere.
Not far from the São Francisco you can find the Igreja da Sé, on top of the hill. It’s kind of a walk to go there, but you have to do it J. You also have a nice view on the city.
I don’t know why, but we also visited a lot of cemeteries in Porto. I didn’t really liked them, but the boyfriend was really… interested in them. Just because they had a lot of mausoluems. Fine, they were nice to see… But after one of them, you saw enough. I thought.
I already mentioned that we had one rainy day in Porto. That was the day that we went on the other side of the Douro, to Vila Nova de Gaia. There you can find all the distilleries. There are a lot of choices if you want to visit one. We chose to go to Ramos Pinto. It was mentioned as one of the better distilleries and, this was a huge plus, it’s right at the Douro, so it’s easily to be found. I already recommended Ramos Pinto to a few other people. We really enjoyed the tour. First you go to the museum, which makes you learn more about Ramos Pinto. Next you enter the distillery. And yes… at the end of the tour you get to taste port. I liked it. Even the port itself.
The last day we stayed in Porto, we went to the beach. On our way we passed by the Casa de Música, the concerthall. We never entered (what a surprise there), but the ceiling looked wonderful. At the beach you can also walk into the Parque da Cidade.
Speaking of gardens and parks. The thing we didn’t do was visiting the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal. I actually never knew it existed :-).
This turned out a bit longer then I thought.
If you have your own tips about visiting Porto, feel free to leave some tips down below!