Find your way around on your first day in Porto

in Travel · 06-12-2019 01:00:00 · 0 Comments
Find your way around on your first day in Porto

By Mirjam Collens

When friends and family visit me, I play the city guide a bit. Of course, I want them to come back here, so they must see the best in Porto. In the meantime, I have mapped out my standard route to introduce people to Porto on their first day of vacation.

It´s time to share this city route with tips for people going on a city trip to Porto. The honour eventually goes to my boyfriend; a local who grew up here and showed me around by visiting all the nice places together. The city route through Porto that I take with visitors goes by walking and public transport. Leave your high heels at home, embrace your sneakers and have your Google Maps ready to help you when you get lost. Type your destination from your current location and it tells you the way.

Get lost

Destination: Luís I Bridge.

For your convenience, use the Trindade metro station as a starting or recognition point. It´s a large station where you can change to various other destinations. My recommendation is to simply get lost on foot here, something that I have become a star in and a way to see the most.

In this case I want to take you to the bridge over the Douro: Ponte de D. Luís.

This 15-minute walk will show you some beautiful buildings, including Monumento a Garrett at Aliados, the Church Igreja de Santo António dos Congregados and the old São Bento train station. At the imposing Roman Catholic cathedral Sé do Porto you have a wonderful view over the historic city center and the Douro river. Instagrammers are visibly fond of it. From here you reach the more than 60-meter-high- and 385-meter-long bridge that consists of two layers. Walk over the highest point with panoramic views. It´s also beautiful in the evenings when the monastery at the end of the bridge is lit. Walk up to the monastery so that you have the best place for a great photo. Definitely recommended to do this at sunset.

Score your well-earned port

When you crossed the bridge, you are in Gaia. You walk down the narrow streets or grab the cable car down for the easy way. A pleasant promenade awaits you here, usually with live music and sales stands with Portuguese items. At the end of the promenade you score your well-deserved port on a terrace (five glasses of different port for € 5.00) with a snack and view of Porto. The more luxurious roof terrace of Porto Cruz is suitable for those who are more into a party mood with a cocktail and music from a DJ. Many port tasting places are hidden behind the promenade. Before you walk back to Porto via the bottom layer of the bridge, look for the rabbit in one of the side streets! Once back in Porto you can wander around or rest your feet in a good restaurant outside the touristic mainstream area. I predict that you will be knocked out after such an introduction day. Fortunately, there is also a lot to reach by bus or metro and Uber is an affordable alternative to end your day with.

When the evening comes

Many people still enjoy the outdoors when the last sunbeams of the day come. Chatting, making music and dancing during sunset at Parque das Virtudes, is therefore very pleasant and a busy ´event´. You can bring your own bottle of wine here, but you can also buy a glass around the corner for € 1,00. This coziness can be found everywhere in other spots in the city. Do you want to go for another beautiful view? Get a drink at Graça Rooftop Bar or Hotel Dom Henrique. For a meal you can go to one of the many tascas for traditional Portuguese dishes. Francesinha is a dish from Porto that you can eat in many places. If you are a vegetarian like me, then you can indulge yourself at restaurants like Da Terra where you can fill your plate unlimited times from the vegan buffet for € 10,00. My carnivorous company and I enjoyed their surprising selection.

If you have any remaining energy left, go into the nightlife of Porto that starts very late. Many locals gather at Champanheria da Baixa for their famous strawberry cocktail of € 6.00 or the nearby located Café Candelabro. In the later hours, you can go to Casa do Livro, Maus Hábitos or Base Porto. Passos Manuel or Plano B would be my recommendation for those who would like to finish off the night on the dancefloor.

Beach walk or shopping

It´s not a bad idea to plan a nice beach day for the following day in the nearby town of Matosinhos. This is where eating fish seems to be a must. You can easily reach it by public transport and for the sporty person, it´s possible to walk there in two hours, with the riverside on your left. It´s a flat walk which includes having a break at the cute town of Foz, known for its lighthouses and where the Douro flows into the sea. Here too the sunsets in the water can be quite magical. Want to stay in Porto anyway? Shop until you drop in Rua de Santa Catarina and book a boat trip. If you still need more exercise, climb the Torre dos Clérigos and keep getting lost.


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