Once you have visited a few European cities, you will start noticing that most of them have the same structure. People usually end up doing the same things over and over again – visiting the main attractions, eating out wherever it says online and photographing the same landscapes where every tourist goes on a guided tour. Although there is nothing wrong with that and this might be a very good way of getting to know a city, after wandering around for one or two days, you might be the type of person who would like to get a grip of how a local lives, what they do and where do they go to eat. After all, travelling nowadays is not only to get to know a place, it is all about the experience you get from it. In Portugal, one of the smallest countries in Europe but with loads of history, you can end up doing exactly that – visiting all the exact same things that other people see. Having said that, if you are looking for a different perspective of the second largest city in Portugal – our lovely Porto, and want to avoid being stuck in touristic places, here’s a list for you to pretend you live in the area (even if you are in Porto for just the weekend!)
Drink a beer by the beach at Praia da Aguda
I begin this list with one of my favourite spots in the whole district of Porto – the wonderful Aguda beach. Not only is it part of the long coast of Gaia, but it is also far from the public eye. To get there, you only have to take the train (at São Bento or Campanhã train stations) towards Aveiro or Ovar (make sure you take the one that stops at Aguda). Once there, go towards the coast and head to Ela’s bar – 465, R. Dr. Alfredo Dias
221. You can enjoy the view while drinking a beer or eating something. My advice? Go before sunset and you will love the vibe of this place!
Spend your Sunday morning in Parque da Cidade
If you are a Nature lover, you will definitely enjoy a walk at Parque da Cidade, where people come to do sports, walk their dogs, have a family picnic or simply to keep up with their reading. Whatever you feel like doing, if you are lucky enough to have sunny days whilst your visit, this is something you want to add to your list. This park is located in Matosinhos and to get there you can either walk from Casa da Música
towards the coast and you will find an entrance, or you can take the bus – no. 205 or 500. Whatever you decide to do, you will get there very easily as the site is not so far from the centre. Enjoy your time, relax and watch the geese and ducks as they swim on the many lakes that can be found there.
Have your afternoon snack in a typical pastry shop
It is not difficult to spot the many cafés in Porto with their display windows filled with delicious pastries and bread. Believe me, Porto people also have difficulty avoiding going to these places and eating sweets when they are trying to keep a balanced diet! But when on holiday, you should not restrict yourself from the nice things a place has to offer you. So, in order to act as a true local, on your stroll around the city, find a nice café where you see a lot of Portuguese people around 4/5pm and order something different to eat. Usually, we go for a Meia de Leite
, whatever is easier for you to say!) which is coffee and milk and a pastry – popular ones are Bola de Berlim, Éclair, Napoleão
and Bolo de Arroz
. You can also go for toast if you want to keep it simple. Want to get extra points? Try ordering in the local language. The waiter will definitely help you and you will feel very proud of yourself!
Book a table at Tasca do Langarica for dinner
Now, this is a gem. This old-school food-shop will be your escape to an all-typical-Porto night out. It is such a hidden spot that is not even listed online! This food-shop turns into a restaurant at night and you can book a table and have a real party with your group. For 16 euros, get yourself a lot of starters (food will be brought as the time goes by), the main dish and all you can drink from the fridge which will be right next to you! This is not a typical place but will surely stand out and create a lot of fun, interesting memories! Have I mentioned that to book a table you have to go there directly? Don’t worry, it is right in the city centre and you should be fine walking there. Find this hidden place at Rua Da Vitória 384
. Just do not mention you found it online, it should be kept a secret, ok?
Wrap-up your night at the latest trendy spot: Pérola Negra
This is not a club to visit once, this is the club that you will feel the need of going again so might as well go on a Friday and decide if Saturday is also worth going! Pérola Negra
(Rua de Gonçalo Cristóvão 284
) is a former strip-house from the 70s and now its new owner gave it a new identity without getting rid of the ambience it has from that time. This alternative spot will take you back to the 70s and make you dance all night long! You might get lucky and get a live performance, as well as the club, usually is the stage to awesome live acts. Go there before it becomes popular and you will get the vibe that we, in Porto, like to celebrate! Well, these would be 5 of the main things you can do to avoid crowded touristic places. In case you find yourself too tired to walk, catch a train from Porto’s main train station, São Bento
towards Aveiro and just look at the landscapes from Gaia’s coast and you will be amazed. Oh, and one last thing, make sure you say Porto without the O! We are very proud of our city’s name!