A couples 3 days in Porto
I am a huge celebrator of birthdays; I love them more than Christmas! As it was my boyfriend's birthday this month and seeing as it was his first birthday together, I wanted to make sure it was extra special.
I chose Porto because even though I had been to Portugal many times (the Algarve and Lisbon), I had never made it to Porto. Apart from its extensive history and beautiful architecture, it also appealed to me as my boyfriend loves port wine! What better place to take him on his birthday!
We left London late on Friday evening, therefore only arrived into Porto around 1am. We jumped into an Uber and went straight to our Airbnb for a quick shower before jumping straight to bed before our first day of exploring.
Northern Portugal is generally cooler and more grey than other parts of Portugal, as we visited in late July we had comfortable temperatures during the day, with the grey sky clearing in the afternoon, leading to lovely hot weather.
One of the many great things about Porto is that it is very walkable, apart from its hilly terrain, everything of major attraction is within a 30-minute walk. Our Airbnb was just outside the city centre, and it only took us 20 minutes to walk to the town square, so don’t be afraid when booking that your hotel/apartment looks far from the centre.
Our first day in Porto we did a free walking tour. These free walking tours can be great as they are led by an enthusiastic local who is paid by our tips, depending on how much his/her group loves their tour. We learnt about much of the city's history and secrets. A local tour is also a great way to get an inside knowledge of where to shop, and how to avoid “tourist traps.”. We used Porto Walkers, which I would highly recommend.
After 3 hours of walking around central Porto, and listening to our guide Nunu, we then went off on our own. Seeing as we had a full-day tour the next day, we decided to relax, eat some food and enjoy a drink by the Douro River. Here, you can find lots of a busy waterfront restaurants, and markets selling locally made souvenirs. To get an idea of average prices:
Wine: €3 per glass
Beer: €2.5 per pint
Lunch for two people at waterfront: €18
Cork cap from market: €10
Ubers: Airport to City one way €13, within city approx €3.90 per ride
Happy Birthday to my boyfriend!
We were picked up by our tour guide Delfina and whisked away in a minivan towards the Douro Valley. This took about 1 1/2 hours. The scenery as you go deeper into the valley is amazing, with hundreds upon hundreds of vineyards rising above us as we drove further in.
We took Douro Valley Full-Day Tour https://www.cmtour.pt/
Our first stop was at a local vineyard where the owner gave us a tour and showed us how the wine was made in the old days, followed by some port tastings.
After a few cheeky morning ports, we continued our journey through the river to the boat cruise in the heart of the Douro Valley. Later on, we arrived to yet another winery for lunch.
If you are thinking of doing a day trip to the Douro Valley, it is certainly worth it. You can hire a car and drive in yourself, but in saying that, it is full of narrow, winding roads which can be difficult to manoeuvre if you are not used to them. Also, if you are planning to indulge in a few wines in the variety of vineyards, leave it to the escorted tours.
Day 3 was a lazy day for us. We weren’t so interested in the major tourist attractions as the queues were too long being it peak season.
We attempted to go to the beach so took an Uber for €8, but it was really grey and not swim-able. Porto has some nice beaches, if you are willing to take a small trip out of the city. Unfortunately, for me it was just not the weekend for it.
The prettiest views of Porto are from the top of Dom Luis I Bridge, which has spectacular views overlooking Porto and Gaia. After walking over and taking in the view, we indulged in some cocktails and food in Gaia whilst enjoying the sun.
So there you have it guys,
Seeing as at this stage I did not know I would write my experiences down, we had more of a relaxing getaway rather than chasing the tourist sites, but I would highly recommend Porto for a city break. Food & drinks are cheap and the city is very walk-able not forgetting that Ubers are also cheap should your legs get tired.
It's a city full of history and hidden gems.