It’s one of Portugal’s most beautiful cities, full of life, culture and of course… food and drink. I headed to Porto last month for a long weekend with some friends and revellers, and just had to take the chance to jot down some of my must-see/do/eat/drink suggestions.
I suggest you get your bearings and find your feet in the Ribeira District of Porto. The gorgeous riverbank has plenty of fantastic restaurants and drinking spots from which you can admire the view of Porto and the Dom Luis bridge. We spent most of our time at Café Do Cais, drinking jugs of their delicious Sangria.
A trip to Porto wouldn't be complete without indulging in a tipple (or two) of their distinctive digestif. Take a tour of the Port cellars to experience all of the fantastic Ports that Porto has to offer. But we’d suggest you choose a few cellars you fancy and conduct your own tours. Lovely though they are, the guided tours can tend to get a little repetitive. These were some of our favourites, which will give you a good variety in both produce and ambience.
Sandeman are one of Porto’s most well known cellars, with a long standing history in the region. They pioneered marketing in the sector when in 1805 they became the first port company to brand a cask with an iron brand.
Churchill's is a great family run Port cellar. In contrast to Sandeman’s history, the British owned cellars is a relative new kid on the block, founded by John Graham in 1981.
Ferreira has a rich Italian history and oozes tradition. It also has a fantastic story about a female port maker, who became a near mythical figure of strength for her work in overcoming the limitations of her station in 19th Century Duoro.
A beautiful mix of history and innovation, this company has been leading the way in port making for centuries. The cellars also offer a great view of the historic city. I’d recommend paying The Graham 1890 Lodge at sunset.
Finally, to take advantage of the late night scene in Porto make sure you hit up Galerias de Paris. It is an area of three streets with plenty of great bars, jazz clubs and tapas venues. You can fill any desire for music or drinks here from Gin clubs to dirty dance floors.
Authentic local food is always a travel priority for us, and you cannot go to Porto and not eat a Francesinha. Luckily for us, there are so many places to seek out this tasty gem. Certainly not one for our vegan friends, a Francesinha is a traditional sandwich of white bread filled with ham, linguiça, fresh sausage, steak or roast meat. The meaty masterpiece is then smothered in a rich tomato sauce and mountains of melted cheese.
The most authentic Francesinha experience can be found at Café Santiago. Sunday’s is a busy time to so make sure you go early to avoid the Sunday rush. This place is so popular that they had to open a second restaurant!
P.s. If you can’t get into Santiago – try Cufra also very well know for its authentic fare.
Porto has some great little restaurants showcasing its great local cuisine.
Camafeu comes well recommended – we suggest making a booking ahead of time as unfortunately we missed out on this little gem. The look and feel is like you’re stepping into someone’s living room and experiencing the fantastic local cuisines.
Another restaurant worth booking ahead for is Yeatman. It comes with the fabulous reputation associated with having a Michelin star, and specialises in innovative Portuguese dishes.
Now where to lay your weary head… We stayed in some fantastic Apartments called Feel Porto. Very reasonably priced, well located and all very modern. Would definitely recommend staying here particularly with a big group like ours.
Now that you’re well fed and rested, it’s time to soak up some culture. Here are a just a few ‘must-sees’ we’d recommend:
- The gorgeous tiles in São Bento railway station… all 20,000 of them!
- Mercado do Bolhão is definitely worth checking out located right next to our Feel Porto Accomodation – we frequented this market for plenty of local cuisine including our favourite portugese tarts – pastel de nata.
- Be sure to climb the Dom Luis bridge – you get the most impressive view over Porto
We had such a fabulous time and can’t wait to revisit this gorgeous city and explore it even further.