Weekend in Porto: What to do? What to see?
Often considered as Lisbon’s little sister, Porto doesn’t need to be jealous of the Portuguese capital. Smaller but warmer, Porto is most of the time more appreciated than Lisbon.
How to get there?
Like all big European cities, the easiest and fastest is the flight. There are even many low-cost companies which fly to Porto airport.
Even if Porto is located in the north of Portugal, it is very hot during the summer. Moreover, the summer is the touristic season. In my case, I went there in September. The high season is finished and the weather is still good. The spring is also a good time to enjoy the city. It is still not too hot and the tourists are not here.
Portugal is usually a cheap country compared to France (even if the prices are increasing nowadays). This is even truer in Porto because the city isn’t the capital. You can find affordable prices for restaurants, accommodations or activities.
The city has a metro and some tramways. However, everything is on a walking distance. If you want to take an unusual transport, I advise you to take one century old tramway. It leaves from the cave in the city-center and goes until the beaches.
My must sees in Porto
The cruise on the Douro
it may be the most touristic cliche, but I loved the boat tour on the Douro. The cruises last from few hours to few days. It depends on you, the time you have and your budget. If you choose the same as I, the cruise offers a nice view of Porto and you will see the famous bridges of the city.
You have to know that Porto is on Douro’s right side. The left side of the river isn’t Porto anymore. You will find several fishermen villages on this left side. My favorite village is Afurada. This village is located between the Douro and the Atlantic Ocean. To get there, you have to take a small boat to cross the Douro from Porto. Afurada is full of small streets with a colorful house but especially very good restaurants.
Ribeira: the historical city-center
The historical center is obviously the most visited district in Porto. Its narrow streets and the wine bars give to the center a unique atmosphere. While you are walking there, you can discover beautiful old buildings, a small square with music and meet many locals!
Moreover, the city center is full of old historical monuments: the cathedral, the Torre dos Clerigos, the Sao Bento train station, etc. This is one of the reason why this district is classified at the Unesco world heritage!
What to do/see in Porto?
Take the cable car
Porto is built on hills. Even if it’s possible to see everything on foot, you rest by choosing the cable car. Moreover, while you are in it, you will have a nice view of Porto and the Douro. The departure (or exit) is along the Douro.
Visit the wine caves
How can you visit Porto without visiting the wine caves? The wine is famous is also one of the reasons why Porto is famous too. The caves are all in the same place along the Douro and offer one free drink. Be careful, Porto has more alcohol than usual wine. If in the cave there is fresh air, outside in the street it can be very hot.
There is in Porto a century old tramway. It leaves from the city-center (Ribeira) and brings you to the beaches. The tram is full of tourists, so full that sometimes it doesn’t even stop to some stops. The schedule is random also. So you have to be lucky and patient if you want to take it. However, your patient will be rewarded because you will be enjoying the beach or a drink in the city center after.
Relax on the beach
Porto is located along the ocean. Thus, you can spend the day in the city and then chill on the beach. The beach is huge and there is enough space for everyone. You can get there by foot or by transportation (bus) too. So in a few minutes, you can go from the historical city center to beach, nice isn’t it?
Personally, I loved Porto. I even prefer it compared to Lisbon. The city is smaller and the atmosphere is more friendly thus I felt more comfortable. I felt home in this city. People are friendly and kind. Lisbon is a bigger city with the atmosphere of a European capital. Porto is a smaller city where you can still discover the Portuguese culture. You can visit it and chill at the same time.
And you, which cities did you prefer, Lisbon or Porto?