In this short blogpost, I’ll cover my 5 favorite things in Porto. I have to warn you, this won’t suffice as a guide for your next trip to the city. It will just give you some targets to look out for while visiting, backed up by some crappy smartphone pictures. I already described here (click it, you can do it!) why I felt the need to write about the place that brought us Porto wine. Basically, it stole my heart. Now, let’s get started with the 5 specific things I still dream about weeks later.
1. CHEAP ASS, HUGE DRINKS (and where to find them)
I knew Porto was cheap but I never expected to it be an inexpensive heaven. If you’re an alcoholic. Or just really enjoy a drink from time to time, like I do. As in most touristic cities, the prices vary from area to area and even from bar to bar. In the square I’m describing next, you can find cocktails starting from 3 euros. It’s no Brazilian 1 euro caipirinhas but still… We went out in popular, touristic places on our second night but were craving the more local atmosphere we found the night before. Praça Parada Leitão is the place we ended up, again. This is a square next to a university building, which explains the amount of Portuguese students around. I can’t promise you won’t stumble into some foreigners but you’ll mostly find young, local people. The area is also referred to as the Piolho area, named after the famous bar located there and which apparently also means lice. Don’t ask me why. Next to the square is a park. It might be nice during the day but keep in mind that everybody (I mean: EVERYBODY) goes out there at night to pee.
2. PASTEL DE NATA
Apparently pastel de nata has its origin in Lisbon but people in Porto seem to absolutely love it too. You can find this sweet pastry in every bakery, supermarket, cafe, diner, restaurant… Again, it’s really inexpensive. And sooooo good. It’s so good that I didn’t have time to take a picture of it before I stuffed it in my mouth. All four times. This means I had to find a picture of it on the internet (credits on the delicious display). You can find the pastel de nata’s in various sizes and even with chocolate filling. I tried all different kinds I could find and really loved them all. You just can’t leave Porto (or another part of Portugal) before eating one of these! Trust me on this one, it tastes even better on your way home after a long night out.
3. TRAM 1 TO THE SEASIDE
Tram 1 goes two ways. Back and forth. From the city center (the stop is near the touristic spot at the Douro) to the seaside and back. This is great for several reasons. You can’t get lost. You’ll have to try really hard to mess up and end up anywhere else than you intended to. It runs alongside the Douro, which gives you amazing views the whole way. Make sure you sit on the side of the river otherwise you’ll be looking at buildings up close for more than 30 minutes. At the last stop you can choose to walk 10 more minutes to the beach while conquering the strong wind. The views are worth it, believe me. Keep in mind that the tram can get really crowded and you might not find a spot to sit. We opted to wait for the next tram and just relax in the sun for a bit since it runs every 20 minutes. Tickets one way are 3 euros, which is on the more expensive side. For that money, you should try ringing the old tram bell and feel like a child again (like I did)!
4. RIVOLI CINEMA HOSTEL
My two friends and I stayed at the Rivoli Cinema hostel near the city center. The hostel has a perfect location to explore the city by foot, is clean and offers great services. We stayed for three nights and joined the staff and fellow travelers for a cocktail evening and organized dinner. The staff went out of their way to make us feel at home. They helped us with getting around, finding the best places to eat and go out, walked us to a tattoo shop (we didn’t end up getting one but still), took us out for drinks and just basically made our experience in Porto double the fun. Just look at how amazing the kitchen wall is btw:
And of course like anything else in Porto, the price for a bed in a dorm was really affordable.
5. PONTE DE DOM LUIS at night
Last but not least on our trip, we went up to the Dom Luis I bridge at night. We hadn’t found the time to do it during the day and we were leaving early in the morning. We convinced the receptionist of the hostel to come with us and show us the way. Of course, we got lost for a bit but we made it in the end. Unfortunately all the pictures I took ended up blurry. You can blame it on the physical rush I was feeling from standing up so high, looking down over the river and the city lights. The bridge is a very popular spot but by going at night, we managed to get some alone time and enjoy the view in silence. It’s these moments that make you think about life and appreciate it a little more. And then you realize you have to wake up in 5 hours to catch a flight back to your responsibilities.