Portugal: Porto

Porto is the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon, it is a coastal city in northwest Portugal known for its steel bridges, narrow cobbled streets and picturesque river front. It’s a true gem. I loved my one-day trip here. Porto has become one of Western Europe’s most popular attraction and it’s easy to understand why after spending the day here.

The Ribeira District is one of the highlights and also the oldest district in the city – the narrow cobbled streets and antique houses really set the tone of this unique city. There are many cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops found all-over as you make your way downhill to the real highlights – the Douro River, Ponte de Dom Luis l (steel bridge) and the scenic backdrop of the vivid roof and building colors. It’s so beautiful!

The combination of soft colors and ocean breeze make this place feel so relaxing. There are loads of tourists found at every nook and cranny of this old town, the highlight is the view after crossing the Ponte de Dom Luis l, but walking across the bridge itself is really cool too. You can feel the ocean breeze and snap memorable pictures along the way. Once you get across there are several vendors selling and sampling wine for reasonable fees. I sat on one of the benches and just watched the boat cruises come and go – it was very relaxing!

The bridge was built in 1886 and it is the highlight of Porto, it can be crossed from the upper or lower section – the bridge links Porto and Gaia. I didn’t cross it from the top or see it at night, but it apparently it is a spectacular experience in these other options too.

To fully take in all Porto has to offer it’ll easily take two days – there are several districts to be explored, boat cruises to be taken and Port cellars and Port tasting to be experienced. I was solo traveling otherwise I would have opted for spending minimum of two days here. If you do decide to stay for more than a day do visit: the Baixa district, Ribeira district, Vila de Gaia, Douro River via boat cruise and the Forza district.

The peak season is from June to August, these are the hot and dry seasons of the year which is ideal for visiting the coast. During the peak season most hotels and rooms for rent become fully booked, so it’s best to plan a visit here with adequate time. Flying directly to Porto has also become popular – weekends are of course the most expensive times to travel to Porto, and again it’s best to plan ahead for the best prices.

It took about 3 hours one-way to travel from Lisbon to Porto and I payed about 30€ total for the tourist ticket. The ticket I purchased was from Lisbon-Oriente to Porto-Campanha then I boarded the train from Campanha Station to Sao Bento Station – at no additional cost. Once you arrive at Sao Bento Station grab a map and start making your way down the hill through one of the many narrow cobble streets.

The Lisbon-Porto train ride was really comfortable and I felt the price was more than fair – overall my trip to Porto wasn’t expensive and I got to explore a very cool part of Portugal. After spending about a week in this beautiful country, I thought Portugal was simply great, it exceeded my expectations. Portugal is a country that should not be overlooked if visiting Europe. I loved it. Happy Travels!