First of all, I would like to say that I was so pleasantly surprised of Portugal as a whole, and now more importantly; Porto.
The first attraction that brought me to traveling to Portugal was the south part, the Algarve. But looking into flights, it was easier and so so much cheaper to fly into Porto, which is in the North. Looking at TripAdvisor and other sources, Porto just didn’t seem all that nice. And what a lie that is! So i didn’t budget too many days here in Porto but i really wish I had. Just from walking from the metro station to my hostel for the first time, it all dawned on me that staying in Porto for 1 day was a huge mistake. The city is so beautiful.
I landed into Porto around 1pm and had plenty of time that day to walk around, it was actually so hot! I was burning up in jeans and a light long sleeve. I didn’t pack for warm weather but thats just what I got. And luckily enough, it didn’t rain on me in Porto, just overcast for a bit in the morning.
I headed down towards the waterfront, knowing thats where all the main ‘attractions’ were, but got distracted along the way with all the beautiful tiles they have on their buildings.
Apparently they didn’t introduce the tiles til a little over 100 years ago, which is new for European standards, and these tiles that you see here are probably more new.
Once at the water front, there were restaurants everywhere, not too many souvenir shops. And the buildings were clearly the main feature. This is the water front with the big bridge, but i couldn’t see a way to get to it which didn’t involve endless amounts of stairs. Oh, did i mentions Porto is just a bunch of hills? Yes, plural. Not just one big hill, multiple. Constantly going up and down and up and down some more.
Exploring these little neighbourhoods and windy streets kept me busing during the day.
I stayed at Yes! Hostel Portugal and loved it there. The location was perfect and every night they did a pub crawl and made traditional Portuguese dinners. I was only there for 1 night and signed up for the dinner which was 10€ and included, a started, soup, main course, dessert and all the wine/sangria/beer/drinks you wanted during that period of time. And it tasted like a home cooked mean which was the best part! Also got to meet a lot of really cool interesting people. Who were basically all Australian haha.
I love myself a good free walking tour, and the best one on TripAdivsor, you have to book in advance, even though it’s completely free. I couldn’t believe it, but it was booked solid the only day i could do it. It’s October! isn’t that off season? However, my hostel provided a free walking tour, and i’m usually skeptical of free walking tours with hostels, they’re just never that great. So i went on it with an open mind and had a great time, of course it wasn’t as great as the others I had been on, but he did bring me to some spots i wouldn’t have been able to get to on my own. Just a little tip, TripAdvisor sucks for trying to figure out Porto.
He brought us up to the bridge and then once we were finished with the bridge, we went to the Monastery on top and started to walk our way down to the water front which was an endless amount of stairs with amazing views the whole time. My google maps was kinda useless here since all the streets are so narrow, so high and so windy. The house are quite high and that’s because they stack them. A mom and dad have children and then those children start a family, where are they gonna go? Just stack on another level for them and so on and so on.
And did you know Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe? It became independent in 1143!
One little treasure which i had no clue about and you wouldn’t be able to notice it on the outside was their train station. Don’t miss it!
Here’s a little tidbit for all you Harry Potter fans. Remember you always heard that JK Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book in a cafe? Well, this Cafe is in Porto! Majestic Cafe
JK Rowling also met her now ex-husband here in Porto and he still lives here. I definitely loved the Harry Potter references. There’s also a Library here in Porto, which I didn’t go to but apparently was her inspiration for the bookstore in Diagon Alley.
Since i was here for just over 24 hours, there’s still A LOT I didn’t do. There’s a whole other neighbourhood, a more hip neighbourhood which I never got to see. I didn’t venture too much to many restaurants and therefore didn’t try much of the food. They also have their very own Port wine which I never tasted. They have a huge neighbourhood across the water front dedicated to wine tasting and touring.
Porto was such a beautiful pleasant surprise and has quickly become one of my favourite cities in Europe.