If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that a few weeks ago I went to Porto with a friend. We were coming from Lisbon and decided to road trip our way up, stopping in Coimbra along the way.
Now, I’ve been to Porto once before but it had been raining so much that I was barely able to see anything in the city. (Cool side note: Did you know that Porto actually gets more rainfall than London? I don’t know if that means that London just gets a bad rep or if Porto is actually just rainy AF.)
This time, though, the weather was PERFECT. And two days was not enough to see the whole city.
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
We got to Porto at around 8pm, just in time for dinner. We had spent a hot afternoon in Coimbra and were ready to drop off our bags and EAT.
That night, we went to N’O Mercado for dinner – it was the closest thing to our hostel and I was starving and they had pizza. Nuff said. The pizzas were actually quite big and I would’ve been happy enough with sharing one but when I’m hangry I can’t think and I ordered an entire one for myself. The staff were also really nice and recommended some wine. I always find it is so underrated how well pizza and wine go together – but not in Porto apparently! I was sold.
We ended up going right back to our hostel from there because I wanted to sleep.
I like sleeping.
After resting from all the driving the day before, we were super ready to explore. We had our very touristy city maps, our comfortable shoes and we set off right after breakfast. The plan was to walk everywhere, since we were pretty much in the city center. It was a good idea, but also a painful idea.
Our first stop was the São Bento train station which is really just my favorite place on Earth. I know, you’re thinking like – What’s the big deal, it’s just a train station.
This is the place where all those 19th century romance novels were inspired. Where dramatic goodbyes were said and passionate kisses were given and perfectly embroidered handkerchiefs were waived. I could just see it all…
… except I actually couldn’t because the place was absolutely crowded with tourists. And not even the kinds of tourists you can easily overlook and walk around – no, these were crowds of organized tours with elderly tourists and foreign tourists. And, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that so many people are loving Porto! But it really was just a lot of people – over 200 for sure at the train station all huddled in huge groups and talking loudly.
We moved on to Sé, the main cathedral in Porto, which was just a few steps away. Porto has a gazillion churches (yes, that is the accurate figure) so you’re never going to get through them all. If you have to select just a few, put Sé on your list. Not only is it beautiful and grandiose and full of pretty mosaics, but its location also gives you a pretty neat view of the rest of the city. So go.
Next on our list was Mercado do Bolhão, a popular local market that sells pretty much everything. From fresh fish to vegetables all the way to souvenirs. The cool thing about it is the atmosphere, which is very Portuguese.
In all honesty, the place has become a bit less “authentic” because it’s becoming more catered to tourists (hence the selling of souvenirs). But I actually liked that we could get some gifts there. I bought myself a cute little fridge magnet and was quite content. Plus, the old lady who sold it to me was a sweetheart in true Porto fashion.
Visiting the market grew our appetite so I took my iPhone and looked on Zomato for some lunch recommendations. Do you guys have Zomato in your countries? It’s an app for searching restaurants. Even in Portugal it’s not available for every city but, hey, it worked for Porto and we scored BIG TIME. We found a nice burger place and since we were starving (read: since I was starving) that looked like the best option. Plus, they were recommended for their great sangrias. That may or may not have influenced our final decision.
First, though, we walked through Avenida dos Aliados which is essentially the main avenue/square thing in the city center of Porto. A very historic place. We took photos. We loved it. Really, though, we were just thinking about our burgers.
So we get to DeGema, the burger place, and what happened was I died and went to heaven. The end. That’s it. K BYEEEEE.
JK, we ate and it was amazing and the sangria was the best I’ve ever had but it was also a huge serving (in true Porto fashion). We still needed to do some sightseeing in the afternoon so you know I paced myself and managed not to get drunk (always an accomplishment in my book). It all ended up being quite cheap (€11 each for a burger, sangria and an extra side of chips) so I was happy.
We moved on to Livralia Lello. This bookstore is known for being one of the most beautiful in the world. It was once free to visit but now you have to pay €3. And now you’re going to ask me – What? Girl, no. I’m not paying to get into a store.
To which I have to say:
Shut the F up. Listen hun. This is the most beautiful bookstore in the world (at least according to me and, oh yeah, Lonely Planet. No biggie). It inspired the moving stairs in the Harry Potter series. You could spend all day in there and you would still want to come back the next day. So. Don’t.
The bookstore is basically now paid because they were getting +4,000 visitors per day and no one was buying any books which made it impossible for them to keep it open (and for any visitor to get a good look at the place). Now, they get about 400 visitors a day and it’s much nicer to visit.
In the afternoon, we decided to do a free walking tour with Porto Walkers who were wonderful and fun and I loved it. We learned a lot more about Porto’s history and all kinds of crazy stories about the city. We walked from Avenida dos Aliados, to the Lello Bookstore and Torre dos Clérigos, past Praça dos Leões, down to Antiga Cadeia da Relação (an old prison), got a beautiful view of Porto at Miradouro da Bataria da Vitória and walked down Rua das Flores.
We were pretty much exhausted from all the walking after that so we headed back to the hostel to rest and then went out to dinner at Clérigos Vinhos e Petiscos. This was kind of like a tapas place but the sangria we got was subpar and the food was a little expensive so it wasn’t a great night. We ended up going to an Irish pub up the street to chill for a little and then we were back at our hostel for the night.
This was our last day in Porto.
We still had some major spots to hit up so we started off the morning early.
First we headed to Torre dos Clérigos, only Porto’s most iconic landmark. We got there before 11am which was perfect because there was almost no line. (When we were coming back down at around 11:30am the line was super long!)
After getting those gorgeous views of Porto, we headed to our car for the first time in two days. We wanted to head to the other side of the river to get the iconic view of the Porto riverside. And that we did.
Then, it was time to quickly walk through the Crystal Palace Gardens. I really wish we had more time to see this place because it’s huge and beautiful and gives you some of the best views of Porto. But, alas, we were running out of time so we only had a few minutes to get the highlights.
And that’s it friends! Those were my 48 hours in Porto. I definitely think it wasn’t enough time to see it all. Maybe if we hadn’t done the walking tour we could have gone to see other city landmarks. But we learned a lot about Porto’s history in that tour so I’m glad we didn’t skip it! I guess now I just have an excuse to return!