Highlights from Porto, Portugal

A very happy Monday to all of you! I hope you all enjoyed your first weekend of the New Year and haven't forgotten any goals or resolutions yet (I'm going strong with mine...so far). I have a fun set of posts that I'll be kicking off today- highlights from my recent trip to Portugal.

porto portugal three days

Dan and I went on this trip during Thanksgiving, and mostly found it by luck. We were a few months back from our trip to Japan early in 2019 and were already itching to go overseas again. Instead of booking a trip right away, we decided to find something months in the future as something to look forward to. We browsed Groupon Getaways (a favorite of mine- check out older recaps from Costa Rica; Budapest and Prague; and Ireland and Scotland) and found a great deal for a week in Portugal! This trip included flights, car rentals, hotels in three cities, and a few scheduled tours. I immediately bought two packages and sat waiting for months for our trip to happen!

grahams porto review

The first city that we visited was Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, and the stop I'll be talking about today. We only had one full day there (first day was spent flying in and driving to Porto, then the third day we had to leave to go to destination number two). We definitely crammed as much as possible into those short hours, and I had an amazing time! Here's what we did during our time in Porto-

porto three days sightseeing

Day 1

Our plane landed in Lisbon around 12:00PM. After going through immigration and customs, we picked up our rental car and hit the highway up the coast to Porto! The drive took us about 3 hours, and we stopped a few times for coffee since we were both exhausted from a full day of travel and jet lag. Once we got to our hotel, Dan took a nap while I explored the town a bit.

Hotel - Eurostar Das Artes

eurostar das artes porto review
Photo credit
I really liked this hotel! The location was really convenient to all of the sights that we wanted to see, but was still in a quiet neighborhood that felt safe. There was a breakfast every morning that was really delicious. Parking was in a lot behind the building, and cost about 12 euros per day.

Exploring the town

Igreja do Carmo tiles
I didn't really have any destination in mind when I set out. I knew that I wanted to visit a Starbucks to pick up a "You Are Here" mug (my souvenir of choice when traveling), so I just followed what looked interesting! This included seeing a lot of beautifully tiled buildings (like Igreja do Carmo above), looking into the bookstore that inspired imagery in Harry Potter, and strolling around town squares.


traca restaurante porto
Once Dan was awake and I was showered, we wandered around even more together, and hours later were starving! Not knowing where to eat, we ended up on a pedestrian street full of restaurants with outdoor seating, live music, and lots of energy. After looking at a few menus, Traça caught our eye the most. The food was decent- I got a cod dish (which is a specialty in Portugal) and a glass of wine with rose port for dessert. Just a note when you visit a Portugese restaurant- they usually offer some kind of appetizer (typically bread or olives). This is NOT free, and if you eat it you have to pay!

Catraio Craft Beer Shop

Catraio Craft Beer Shop
We ended the day by stopping at a nearby pub. Although Portugal is mostly known for their wine, I wanted to try some local drafts. I loved this place for its cozy feel and wide range of beers! They also have a beer garden in the back that was closed when we were there, but all the reviews make it sound great when the weather is warmer.

Day 2

We woke up bright and early for our full day in Porto! We had a few things planned out and wanted to take advantage of the time we had, so we were up and at 'em as soon as breakfast was available in the hotel.

Duoro Acima

douro acima boat cruise review
After enjoying a filling breakfast, we set off for the Bairro da Ribeira, a cute area right on the waterfront. The first activity included with our Groupon was a boat cruise down the Duoro River! We got to see seven different bridges and learn more about the history of Porto. It was gorgeous!

Caves Burmester

burmester port tour tasting
Once we got off the boat, we headed across the famous, double-decker Luis I Bridge to the Vila Nova de Gaia neighborhood.  This area is where all of the port wine houses are located, and we had a tour included with our trip to the Burmester port house. The tour was great and gave us a ton of information about how port is made. We also had a tasting at the end of three different types of port wines.

7g Specialty Coffee

7g coffee porto
We finished up our tour and tasting and grabbed a quick coffee before continuing to drink! We stumbled upon 7g, which was the cutest coffee shop / cafe / roaster. I got a cappuccino that was amazing, and wanted to pick up some beans as well (but resisted since we would be out all day).

Port Houses

taylor port tasting
Most of our day was spent hiking around the steep streets of Gaia in search of our next tasting. The houses were all close to each other, and it was fun to see so many common winery names that I recognized right in front of us! We ended up stopping by about 6 places for a glass or two of port tastings, and each one blew me away. My favorites (in no particular order) were Graham's, Taylor's, and Enoteca 1756. It was also interesting to see about three different Sandeman shops, since that's the most popular brand! We skipped it here, but ended up going to their vineyard on our next stop of the journey.

Mercado GAIA

what to eat vila nova de gaia
With all of that drinking, we made a few stops for food. The first one was at a market that had a bunch of different restaurants in a large courtyard. Dan and I shared one of the best dishes I've ever eaten- a smoked salmon pasta that was so delicious. We also shared a beer flight with international varieties made by the biggest brewer in Portugal- Super Bock.

Day 3

After such a long and exciting day out, and a long drive ahead of us, we lazed around the hotel before setting out for a last walk around the city.

Upper Deck of Ponte Luis I

upper deck ponte luis i bridge porto
The previous day we got to walk on the lower level of the famous bridge, so we took this opportunity to walk on the top! While cars drive on the bottom, the top is reserved for the trams. It was a beautiful view from the top, and it was fun to wander around the entire bridge (and then jump out of the way when a tram was coming!)

Porto Cathedral

porto cathedral tour
Our next stop was at the Porto Cathedral, which sits on top of a hill right by the bridge. The view was spectacular on the clear, sunny day! We didn't have enough time to go in before our hotel check-out, but we walked around the grounds and saw all of the buildings from the outside.

And from there, we headed back to the hotel to check out and head to our next destination! I loved Porto and had so much fun exploring the streets. Even though it's a small, walk-able town, there was so much to do and see!

highlights porto


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