posted on: 7 July, 2021
Find out why a city break to Porto is the perfect surprise trip for foodies and wine lovers.
Porto, Portugal’s second city often flies under the radar when it comes to city breaks and stands in the shadows of magnificent Lisbon. But if you like a chilled-out weekend break catching Portugal’s unique relaxing atmosphere and tucking in some fantastic food, then look no further. A trip to Porto surprises and is the perfect surprise for all who like glorious sunsets, genuine culinary delights, and fabulous wine. And when it comes to value for money it is almost unbeatable.
Set in the Northern part of Portugal on the banks of the river Duro, Porto has developed a charming vibe away from the horrors of mass tourism. Its old town – Ribeira, Centro Historico – is lined with beautiful small houses set in narrow, sometimes steep, cobbled alleys. Famous for its blue tiles – Azulejos – which are often used to façade the houses. Some could do with a lick of paint, but this is exactly what gives Ribeira its character. Find hidden food gems in the many cafes, bars and restaurants and discover an authentic Portugal. Just North of the old town you find Vitoria. A lively, and alternative quarter full of hip eateries, vintage shops, and retro fashion stores. Our hot tip: Discover and explore. Porto offers many beautiful small squares, an amazing street art and great viewing spots. Find them and make your friends jealous!
Dom Luis Bridge
Strolling around Ribeira you will come across Porto’s iconic Dom Luis Bridge. Glorious views guaranteed and a spectacular site. Cross it to reach Vila Nova de Gaia, the heart of Porto’s port wine scene. Of course, Port wine comes from here and you can try it in all its varieties in the many wine cellars and find all about its history at the Museu da Cidade Porto. Red, wine, mixed with tonic, a port wine tasting is essential on your surprise trip to Porto. From here you also have an amazing view over the old town and the Duro with its many small fishing boats. Just imagine yourself sitting here at end of a busy sightseeing day.
Churches and Cathedrals
Porto is filled with baroque churches and the imposing Cathedral Se do Porto overlooking the whole town. Some seem fading away and some are beautifully restored such as the Saint Ildefonso church dating back to 1711. Admire the beautiful craftsmanship of its façade decorated with more than 10.000 meticulously placed tiles. Again, your explorer spirit is called upon finding the one special church no guidebook has ever mentioned.
Green Thumps Up
Just west of city you find the glorious Jardins do Palacio de Cristal. A beautiful park which is the perfect place for a picknick spoiling you with great views over the city and the river. A perfect place for a rest from your busy Porto surprise trip. Another less known highlight is the Jardim Botânico do Porto – Museu de História Natural e da Ciência da U.Porto (up.pt). A small but cute botanical garden set in an impressive estate.
You will never go hungry in Porto. Cafes and restaurants are literally everywhere. Seafood lovers find their heaven as well as those who like it hearty. Try the unique to Porto Franchesinas. The mother of all sandwiches is made with rump steak, sausage meat, covered in cheese, sometimes with red cabbage, and is floating in a dark beer sauce. Wow! The famous Bacalao, a dried salt fish can be found everywhere too. The variety of its food scene surprises.
The Bolhão Market is the most famous indoor market hall offering a vast array of fresh produce from its many market stalls. But it’s also a place to meet, have a chat and a quick Superbock, Portugal’s delicious lager. And you only must worry about your waistline, eating out is extremely affordable! So, no hidden surprises on your surprise trip to Porto when bill comes.
Iconic Tram Ride
Take the historical tram from the Infante in Ribeira and head to beach. Praia de Leca beach is only about 20min away and rewards you with some spectacular views over the Atlantic. The ride is joyful and iconic with its carriages dating back to the 18th century. The reward are sea views which are best enjoyed from the beach bars and restaurants tucked all along the beach. And no worries, it never gets crowded and there’s always space for some quite time. But be aware, this is the Northern part and even in July and August the Atlantic is too cold to jump in unless you are a Geordie.
Where To Stay – How To Get There – When To Travel
Central, central, central! Good 3-star hotels start from as little as £30 per person per night. And Porto is very walkable. Contact us for your individual hotel offer.
Porto Airport offers connections to all major European cities and the metro connects you with the city in less than 30min for as little as 2.6eur per ride.
Porto is close to the Atlantic and the weather isn’t what you’d expect. It rains often and prolonged in winter and it rarely tops the 30C in summer. There’s always a fresh breeze around, so we recommend travelling from April to September.
Porto is wonderful. Less busy than Lisbon but with tons of things and places to discover a fantastic weekend trip for those who like it a little relaxed. It’s authentic and original place to take a breath, stroll around and indulge. In short, a surprise trip well done.
For info and how to book, contact us here
And if you have fallen in love with Porto and want to explore more, why not book yourself one of our Portugal Train Tours & Holidays 2021 | ATO Tours (ato-tours.com).
See you in Porto!
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