Exactly a month ago today, on the 3rd of July 2018, my family and I flew to Porto for a week as part of our summer vacation. We chose Porto for several reasons: none of us had ever been to Portugal before, we wanted to travel somewhere warm with both tourist attractions and a beach and Phoebe had recently travelled there and I had fallen in love with her Instagram photos. We stayed there for a week, which on reflection was a bit too long to stay in one place, but it meant that we were able to have several pool or beach days without worrying about missing out on the culture.
Where To Stay
We stayed in an Air BnB in Combantentes, which is 3 stops on the Metro from the City Centre, Trindade. We decided to do this as it was cheaper – we had cooking equipment so we could prepare our own meals rather than eating out every day which can be expensive and there were options outside of the City Centre which is normally more expensive – and because it meant we had our own pool where we could sunbathe in peace.
Where To Eat
This is both a vegan café and grocery store, boasting a completely plant-based menu from smoothies and coffee to toasties. I had the grilled cheese sandwich and it was delicious. The fact that the lady who owns and runs the café was really nice and took the time to talk to us whilst we sat in the café only added to the experience.
A fast food café boasting both vegan and gluten-free fast food, consisting of pizza and crepes, perfect for when on-the-go or for a midday snack. The vegan pizza was honestly some of the best pizza I have ever had and I am very fussy about my pizza.
What To Do
Sightseeing Bus & Boat Tour
Whenever I travel to a new City, I always make sure to spend at least one day on a sightseeing bus or boat tour as I often find that this is the best way to explore the City. It ensures that you see all the main tourist attractions and provides you with an easy, hassle-free way of getting around. The sightseeing tour in Porto had different packages – we opted for the package that included the bus tour, the boat tour and 2 wine tastings. Most sightseeing tours have English as one of the main languages which is especially useful if the native language is different to your first language.
Port Wine is a Portugese fortified wine which is produced exclusively in the Douro Valley. There are many places in and around Porto that offer a wine tasting experience, some of which are included in the City Sightseeing Pass, but my personal favourite was the Calem Cellars. I actually prefer Port Wine as it is sweeter and I have a sweet tongue, but it is important to mention that on average, it has an alcohol content of 19-22% and therefore must not be consumed in the same volumes as other wines. It is also not suitable to drink if you have a red wine allergy like my Dad.
Canyoning describes the process of travelling in canyons using a variety of techniques including walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling, swimming and zip wiring. This is definitely not for the weak-hearted! My Dad and I absolutely love adventure activities such as watersports and rock climbing so this was perfect for us. We absolutely loved the entire time, although perhaps less when we missed the start to the England game in the World Cup, but we were definitely nursing a few bruises for the next couple of days. My personal favourite part was cliff jumping where we jumped off cliffs as high as 8m!
Places To Visit:
This is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal but the main reason for most of the visits is due to the fact that JK Rowling, author of Harry Potter, used to visit the store on a regular basis when she taught English in Porto and the store is reported to have inspired her writing. The store even pays homage to JK Rowling with a Harry Potter themed store and set.
Dom Luis Bridge
The Dom Luis Bridge is a double-decked metal arch bridge that spans the River Douro, which is set between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. At its construction, it was the longest bridge of its type in the world.
Have you ever visited Porto? What was your favourite part?