Porto, Portugal has got to be one of my favorite destinations for a weekend trip: stunning architect, chill vibe, lots of characters, beautiful landscape, affordable delicious food and friendly people, I don’t know what more can you possibly ask for. In fact, I’ve been questioning myself why am I not living here already!
Day 1: Downtown Porto
I landed smoothly in Porto airport on a Saturday morning. Upon arrival, I took a metro to the city center and checked in my Airbnb roughly around noon. The metro system here is relatively simple, I got the ticket with no sweat thanked to the help of a metro officer. I checked in to my Airbnb room roughly at noon and decided to have lunch before exploring the city (mainly because the breakfast early in the morning had been far gone by then). My Airbnb host suggested a 5-euro buffet place right by the apartment and it was well worth it.
I then walked around town getting a feel of the charming city. I actually skipped all the tourist’s checklist items like entering the Clérigos tower, cafe Majestic, and the Livraria Lello because I simply didn’t feel like waiting in lines; moreover, to me they weren’t exactly an authentic representation of the city. Nope, I did not enjoy the city any less without visiting them! I did walk around and check out several attraction sites along the way. I trust Google Trips on picking the best routes and organizing important points of interest. And yes, it works offline! I loved the many shops with their own unique style like A Vida Portuguesa, which has intricate interior architecture and carries great gift products.
Located on the west side, it’s no surprise that the sunset drapes on Porto the prettiest colors, but it still struck me hard. I stumbled upon this panoramic viewpoint as I tried to catch the last rays of sun. The night walk along Rua Nova Da Alfandega was delightful despite of the winds and the chills. I even crossed to the other side of Ponte Luis I (via the lower part used for general vehicles) which has better view of the city but a bit less activities in overall. There was even a bar that was closing at 9pm. That’s okay though, dinner at Pajú restaurant definitely made up for it. I didn’t miss out on trying Porto typical dishes which are francesinha and the tripas among several others tapas. This alluring city was already winning me over after just one day!
Day 2: Guimarães
It was a Sunday (many places are closed on Sunday by the way) so I started the day rather late but I still had breakfast anyway because who would say no to 1 euro coffee + pastel de nata breakfast? I wanted to take a day trip to the vineyard but to get there you have to either drive or join a 90 euro guided tour, so I detoured and decided to just take a train to Guimarães that costs 6,80 euro round trip. The train ride takes one hour from São Bento station to arrive and runs every two hours. While waiting for it to board, I took a walk around the Antigo Palácio dos Constantinos neighborhood. This is place is so interesting, you can see quite a contrast between the rich and the poor living not far from each other.
In Guimarães, the sky was clear and sunny during the first half of the day and rainy during the rest. The gloomy weather didn’t stop me from enjoying the beauty of Guimarães. For this trip, I basically followed the Porto Portugal guide. I was swooned by the charms and gothic style of the city. I also entered the ancient castle which is free of charge. It offers a panoramic view of the city although my view was rather limited due to the rain. There was a special celebration in town so the entrance fee for the Dukes of Braganza Palace was waved for all visitors when I was there (Whoohooo!). It was interesting but I’m not sure if I would still think the same if I had paid the 5 euros.
Before heading back to Porto, I had takeout dinner at Pingo Doce and before you ‘boo’ at my food choice, I had to say that it was very delicious and cheap! In Porto city center, I walked along the Rua das Flores and decided to stop by a wine tasting place called Vinofino. For a wine amateur like myself, it was a fabulous experience; I’m sure it wasn’t a bad idea for a wine appreciator, either.
Day 3: Matosinhos
It’s seafood time! But first thing first, I had pastel de vouzela for breakfast and still think about how delicious it was until today. I had to constrain myself from getting more yummy-looking pastries from the old Confeitaria do Bolhão just right across from the Bolhão Market located in the heart of the city because I was on my way to Matosinhos for… more food. By the way, if you’re interesting in buying souvenirs, this market offers a lot of variety at a much more affordable price than small shops around the city.
Okay back to the real mission, I hopped on the double-decked 500 bus from the Liberty Square – Plaça de Libertad to Matosinhos. The bus ride took me along the scenic coastline and arrived to the Matoshinhos seafood market in about 45 minutes. The market was unfortunately closed already when I got there at 2pm on a Monday afternoon so keep your self on track with time if you really want to check it out. I quickly made my way down to Rua Heróis de França, the street that is closest and parallel to the coast. There are plenty of seafood restaurants here covered in smoke of outdoor grills. It was difficult to pick one, I just settled for an old-schooled looking restaurant and opted for grilled squid and bacalhau à brás. TOP NOTCHED! The experience was so lovely I would do it again within a heartbeat. We finished our lunch at 3:30 and were the last customers to walk out. They reopen at 7pm, that’s how most restaurants work here.
I then took a walk along the beach. It was foggy and the sun was hiding behind the thick clouds but the surfers still hit the waves. Strangely enough, it was all sunshine and clear sky the moment we head south to the city. I had some time to spare crossing the Ponte Luis I bridge and let Porto beauty soak in.
Three days are short but enough to take in a lot of this charming town. See you again, Porto!