General information: Porto is the second largest city in Portugal, with some 300,000 inhabitants. It’s located in the north of the country and is considered the capital of the north. It’s a beautiful, safe and cheap city, at least I would describe it like that. The currency they use is the euro and they speak Portuguese. As it’s a tourist country, there are quite a lot of people who speak at least basic English or Spanish so if you don’t speak Portuguese (I’ll leave you a small vocabulary in the second article, just in case), you’ll be however able to communicate with people.
How to get there?
The airport it’s very well connected to the city center. I came from Brussels where everything is unnecessarily expensive, so I was very surprised when I realized that you only have to pay a normal subway ticket to get to the center, sit and enjoy.
Where to eat?
Everywhere, and whatever. In addition to having delicious and cheap food, the Portuguese people give you portions that sometimes seem like two or three people. I mean, that’s serious, they don’t want someone to say that they lacked food in Portugal, I think they would take it as the worst offense in the world. The must is to try francesinha and pastel de nata.
The most important part of my trip, because I was visiting a friend who does Erasmus (academic exchange at the university) there. Which means that I experienced a lot of the nightlife of the city 😉 As for the choice of places to go out, I let myself be carried away by my friends and by the random people I met, who took me to so many places in so few days and in all there was a very good atmosphere. We went out every day and it was great, a lot of young people, you can choose what kind of music you want to listen to, if you want to go to karaoke – the Portuguese love it, and I loved it too, if you want to listen to live music, reguetón, a 70-year-old DJ who plays music from the ’70s and’ 80s (understandable), if you just want to have a drink in a bar with your friends, meet new people and talk, because in Porto there is everything. Night life is definitely one of the great advantages of this city. Also, the prices are quite affordable and it’s a safe city, so you can walk home, nothing happens. Which means less money for a taxi.
1) the “azulejos”: it’s one of the symbols of Portugal. Surely you have seen them out there. They are the ceramic pottery pieces that are everywhere. It’s an Islamic heritage, since a Portuguese king at the end of the 15th century visited Spain and saw the tiles he loved and later introduced them to Portugal. And so those pieces, mostly blue in color, began to appear everywhere in Portugal.
2) the Luis I bridge: it’s one of the bridges that cross the Douro river and it’s very nice to cross it on foot and then see another part of the city, go up to a hill (on foot anyway because the cable car was expensive and the priority in my budget was party and food, not classic tourism, sorry) and find a spectacular view of the city.
3) the center: it is really nice and pleasant to walk around the center, full of shops and cafes. There are also street artists who make the city even more attractive and enjoyable. I would say that walking through the center one can get to know a little the soul of the city and the people who live there. Portuguese are good hosts, always correct with the client, not very enthusiastic, just enough. They are calm and a little colder than the Mediterranean (you can see the influence of the Atlantic).
The special beauty of the historic city center didn’t go unnoticed. In 1996 historic centre of Porto was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Definitely deserved.
4) the Douro river: walking along the Douro river is priceless, it’s very beautiful. The architecture in that part is particularly interesting and there is also an open-air market where I bought a couple of tiles to take home. There are many things and crafts that can be bought at the market and the truth is that I really liked it.
I think this title sums up the three days and four nights I spent in Porto quite well. Honestly, I saw Porto more at night than during the day, but it’s amazing both ways. I had a great time. I was sad when I returned to Brussels because in such a short time I almost had a life there in Porto, friends, partying, having a good time, eating good and cheap, who wants to leave all that and go back to Brussels. Nobody, there is no logic to that. But, you have to work. And I had very few vacations. So I had to make the most of the little I had, and I don’t know what else to say, I think it’s clear to all of you that I recommend Porto, it’s a city where one could stay much longer than three days. I personally could stay for at least a month 🙂