Porto, Portugal: Day 13

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

We had heard some pretty amazing things about Porto, from many of our friends. We had a hard time believing that any part of Portugal could compare to Lisbon. Goodness were we in for a real treat when we arrived late in the night in Porto. We had booked an absolutely amazing apartment, which I highly suggest if you come to Porto, right on the river. Not only was it the perfect place, but the company managing it was amazing. They offered tons of great ideas and even showed us all the best places for food, shopping, and sightseeing. It was such a treat, and we couldn’t get enough of the area we were at and the location within the city.

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Porto is a city built in a valley, in the Duoro valley (you’ve likely seen that region on wine bottles before. If not you need to search it!) along the main river running through the region. That means that this city is VERY hilly. Like do some yoga before walking to breakfast hilly. This is not a city for the light wanderer and one that takes some serious hiking strength to walk. I found myself huffing and puffing more often than I care to share while wandering the streets of this city. Since we were on the river we climbed up everywhere and back down to get back to our apartment. It is something to keep in mind if you are looking to visit and are not someone who enjoys walking steep hills. The workout and the view totally made the huffing and puffing worth it.

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

That being said, we still loved the space and would stay here all over again because of the location within the center of the city. It has quick and easy access to the bridge which leads to all the port store houses and tasting rooms. Not to mention these windows open to the beauty of the river life in Porto and I loved waking up to it every morning. We would recommend staying on the side of the river we were on. Not the port side. There are awesome restaurants are located all along the river side, and it’s less “Clubby”.

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Our first day we slowed down and enjoyed a cafe americano and enjoyed some amazing pastries. If you didn’t know, Portugal has some of the best pastries I have ever had. Yes, they even beat Paris and even Italy for me. I never expected that, but it is the truth. I still crave their chocolate croissants.

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Fully rested and cafinated, we felt it would be fun to head to the beach. The sun was shining and we figured it would be great to at least get to the water once while in Portugal.

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

We headed north, and took the metro to the coast. It was super easy and surprisingly inexpensive as well. We were surprised by how friendly and open the locals were to tourists. We know almost no Portugese and so needless to say we needed some assistance along the way. While looking for a restaurant for lunch we had an entire cafe trying to tell us “the best place” for lunch. Ultimately, we couldn’t find any of the restaurants they pointed to, but it was just so amazing to see how much they honestly wanted to help us. They tried super hard to communicate and if they couldn’t explain, they wanted to find someone who could. It was pretty amazing.

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

This area of Porto was a little different than the historic area, we were staying in. It still had its own charm and funk, but reminded me a lot of the Spring Break I spent in Venice Beach in college. It was pretty fun to see all the street art and grit.

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

We got to the beach and I would not say it was the cleanest or coolest beach I have ever visited, but it is was pretty awesome to see the coast and watch the surfers catching waves.

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Since it was so nice and warm we decided to catch some rays. Wes decided to jump in the water and give it a test. It was a little chilly for the rest of us. I will always take time in the sand and sun no matter what.

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

It felt pretty amazing to catch some zzz’s along the coast for a while and just have some quiet time. The art of the siesta at this point in our trip had been fully embraced and understood let’s just say that. I kind of enjoyed waking up at 10am having a long breakfast, blogging, going and wandering, coming back and napping, and then showering and heading to dinner. It was a routine I could have very easily get used to. Naps are wonderful things, especially when they happen in the sunshine.

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

After a few hours at the beach we headed back to our apartment to find some lunch and refuel for the day. We had seen an awesome little restaurant we wanted to try for dinner, but since it was mid-afternoon we needed to get something to tide us over to the late dinner time of 8pm.

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Thankfully, we came across the adorable Mercearia das Flores. This little place just stole my heart. They carry local ports, flowers, salts, canned fish, olive oils, and everything else truly Portugal. We ordered some Iberian ham sandwiches and a salad to split. It was the perfect afternoon pick me up we needed. We also nabbed some Niepoort Port (our fave port we had) from and of course some chocolate at Chocolataria Equador on our way back to our apartment to change and get ready for dinner that night.

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

The night before, when we arrived, we passed this cute restaurant called Miss’opo, which just so happens to also be a boutique hotel. It is in a super hip area and we all instantly fell in love with the decor and style. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into as they have no set menu because it changes nearly everyday.

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

It was truly an amazing place and the food was top-notch. We got a small corner table next to the DJ. It was a very chill and relaxed vibe. When they brought the menu it was hand written in a book full of their previous menus probably from the year thus far. They only had 3 of them. The owner came and translated for us and took our order. Everything was spot-on at this little place and I highly suggest coming if you are in Porto!

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

As we walked home that night. We climbed the streets back down to our apartment, but the city streets felt eery in this way I have not experienced before in other cities. The street lights flickered and there were tons of cats wandering the streets. I mean none of this is that weird, but something felt oddly familiar about the streets, the cats, and the older woman talking to herself and the cats around her. Then, as we approached our apartment a hoard of kids in black capes run past us and put the river. It was at that point we thought, something is weird here. We came back and googled Porto and caped students. Come to find out J.K. Rowling wrote much of the first books of Harry Potter here in Porto. We had no idea. Thus why the wandering streets felt familiar was they were the inspiration for Diagon Alley. The caped students were the inspiration for the attire at Hogwarts. It was really cool to watch the inspiration for such an amazing series of novels happening right in front of us. We decided we needed to see the other sites that inspired Rowling as well.

Porto, Portugal: Day 13  |  The Fresh Exchange

Sorry to geek out a bit, but it was a little shocking to us as we had no idea and things felt way too weird and familiar all at the same time. Has anyone else noticed this that has been to Porto? Did you know coming in or did you end up doing research like us?

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

  1. Such lovely photos! I’ve had so much fun following your travels. Thank you for documenting everything so beautifully and so detailed. I’ve honestly never even heard of Porto but you’ve added a new destination to my bucket list…

  2. It was just lovely to read what you’ve written about my city. It certainly is different than Lisbon: not better, nor worse, just different. The aura is different, the air you breathe, the light, the people are different. And you can’t do nothing than just end loving that. As for the beach you happen to visit (Matosinhos’ beach, wich that’s actually in the neighbour city of Matosinhos), that’s in fact the one with the easiest access. You had bad luck though, as the beach is in bad shape with a lot of dirt in the sand (it is usually a lot more white), as all the portuguese coast had been beatten by several sea storms in the first two months of the year. The sea strenght was very destructive and the beach still surffers from it. I just hope we can have it all clean untill summer. If you can, try eating some fish in the fish market (lota) street in Matosinhos. Hope you love Porto as much as it’s people loves it. 🙂

  3. I always had a strange love for Portugal and in particular Porto, even though I have never been to either. Reading these blogposts and the connection with J.K. Rowling only makes my desire to visit Portugal grow even more!

  4. I love Porto! We live only an hour and a half drive away (in Vigo, Spain) and really enjoy this city. I didn’t know about the caped students, though!
    Thank you for sharing your travel tips, despite having been to the cities you’ve been in these past days, your insights are really helpful. Man, I can’t wait to travel again! Have a nice trip 🙂

  5. Porto is a great place, everyone is so friendly! More than in Lisbon in my opinion. Have you tried francesinha?! Best food from Porto ever 🙂 I mean it!
    There are caped students in every Portuguese town as long there is an university in it ahah! You have to come to South Portugal. Google “Lagos” in Algarve 🙂 Love your pics and blog xx

  6. Hi, let me explain to you the “caped students”: these are traditional capes weared by almost all portuguese college students. The tradition comes from the first university in the country, at Coimbra, where the students used to wear black clothes similar to those weared by the catholic priests in the 14th century ( most of the teachers were priests). The capes helped them to feel equal to each other, protecting the poorest from discrimination, and were a way to help them feel as members of the same family because they usually were away from home. Nowadays it is a tradition in all cities and a way to live college with proud and joy !

  7. I’ve been following your trip for a while now (and blog before that) but this has got to be the coolest post yet! What an incredible discovery. You learn something new every day.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing your photos and experience ! This is such an inspiration ! Firstly, it’s amazing that you do it as a couple, and second of all – thank you for taking time and effort to make new posts frequently (because I can imagine how tired you may feel some days / evenings – even holidays can get us tired 🙂 )

  9. I have been really loving your travel posts! I was in Spain and Portugal a few years ago and adored them both, but Porto was one of my (unexpected) favourite place of all. Thanks for bringing back some great memories!

    Did you find the Everlane backpack to be comfortable to carry around for long periods of time? I’m seriously considering one for some travels I’ll be doing in the fall (among other things). I have a couple of their tops and love them so I’m sure the quality is probably great, but I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    1. It depends on how much you will be moving around. The times we went from Airport to taxi to apartment were super easy with it, but the days we had to walk nearly 3-4 miles were pretty rough. I don’t think it was their bag as much as it was simply the style of bag. The backpacks were amazing the whole time, but it made me want a larger pack, but they just don’t make super cool ones. I highly suggest the Everlane bag over a roller bag though. The cobble stone streets and tons of stairs are no bueno with those. Also the bags held up REALLY well to all of our moving and long walks. If anything if you travel a lot in short intervals for work or anything the Everlane bag is stellar. If you are going 3 weeks and have 8 different places you are staying I would say just go with a larger pack from like Osprey or a similar company.

  10. OMG! I visited Porto on a whim a few years ago and LOVED it. I was studying abroad during law school and we tried to get in as many weekend trips as we could. My family is Portuguese so we decided to go SOMEWHERE in Portugal. I think we settled on Porto because it was less expensive than Libson and we absolutely loved it. I’ve loved your posts because it seems like you all retraced our steps – the Sandeman visit, the beach visit, the feeling walking back alleys and small roads at night. LOVED this post – now I want to get back to Porto!

  11. Hi,
    I am hoping to visit porto soon, this post and the following one have been very helpful to me. i was just wondering what area of porto you went to find the beach?
    thank you,
    natalie