Porto Local Travel Guide
August 19, 2019
by Brunella Pinto
The city of Porto is famous for its reputable production of wine the Vinho Verde. Situated in the north of Portugal near the coast, Porto attracts millions of visitors each year. Its charm and its weather also make it a very attractive city. You can enjoy many activities during the day and appreciate the vibrant nightlife of the city. Here are some highlights of how to visit Porto, Portugal in an unforgettable way!
Tour from Matosinhos beach to the Douro River by foot
In the beginning, it may seem far on Google Maps, but it’s not. The tour takes about 2 hours with stops. What counts is that you will enjoy observing different landmarks along the coast. There’s a bit for every taste. From beaches, monuments, to cafés. In case you are wondering how to start, I created an achievable and fairly easy itinerary.
How to plan your itinerary
First thing first. Take Line A (or line blue) of the subway with direction to Senhor de Matosinhos. You cannot get lost as it is the last stop of line A. Matosinhos neighborhood is more of a modern area. Don’t feel baffled that you may feel like in another city! Once you stop at Senhor de Matosinhos, all you do is walking towards the beach which is only a few blocks away heading north. This should take 5 minutes or so and here is where your walking tour begins. Here are some highlights of the different landmarks you will see along the coast and some tips on how you can make the most of it!
Visit the circuit of beaches
Starting with Matosinhos beach, or most commonly known as the surfers’ beach. If you are into surfing or you are keen on learning this sport, surf schools are available near the area. As you walk forward, you will arrive at Praia do Castelo do Queijo. Here you will see a seventeenth-century fortress named Sao Francisco Xavier. The fortress is on the top of a small cliff and it offers an amazing view of the Atlantic ocean which you can enjoy from the top of the fortress. Another great landmark to stop by is Praia dos Ingleses. The beach is calmer and adapted for swimming. Although when the winds are strong it is not recommended to swim. However, such time can be great for kite-surfing. Why not give it a try? This could be your chance. On the same beach, there is a restaurant & bar named after the beach. So if the weather is not favorable, it could be just the perfect time to get yourself a beer or a coffee!
What to see in Foz do Douro district
Visit Faro de Filgueiras & Fortress Sao Joao Baptista
Halfway through this tour, you will arrive at Foz do Douro district. The first attraction to look for is a sixteenth-century fortress Sao Joao Baptista. Inside the fortress, you will find this mystic area where ritual ceremonies may have taken place. Entrance is free and it’s not a crowdy touristic attraction but it is a monument that reminds us of the medieval atmosphere that once embedded the city of Porto.
The second attraction is Faro de Filgueiras. At first, it may seem like an ordinary phare but this is where it gets interesting. The closer you get the more the ocean waves crash against the phare creating splendid abstract figures on the air. This is a perfect time for an ocean photoshoot. You risk to get wet by the splashing waves so I recommend you wear some water-proof clothes and of course, protect your cellphone and camera.
A tour inside Jardim do Passeio Alegre
Another option here is to take a tour inside the Jardim do Passeio Alegre. The freshness and beauty of this park are breath-taking. It possesses two modern sculpted fountains and an external sidewalk of palm trees. Inside the park, there’s also a stylish & classical Portuguese coffee house. Of course, what better time for tasting some Portuguese pastries and drink a Bica (the way Portuguese people call espresso coffee in Portugal) while enjoying the view of the park.
The fishing port of the Douro River
A few blocks away from the park its found the entrance to the Douro River which leads you to the medieval district Ribeira. On the same street and more specifically next to the Phare “Sao Miguel O Anjo” there is the fishing port where fishermen chill out and small fishing canoes are stationed on water. I’m not an expert in sea life so I couldn’t figure out how that worked but that’s something pretty exciting to see. Surely by now, you are excited about your coming trip to Porto and cannot wait to see all this. Indeed, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity not only because you do a lot of walking but you can explore the city differently.
What you must eat & drink in Porto
We all heard that you should try out the “francesinha” dish. Of course, it is something you cannot miss and meat lovers are going to love it. But Porto also has a variety of seafood dishes thanks to the Atlantic Ocean. Trying out Porto seafood is worth the experience because is well-seasoned seafood with a touch of Portuguese cooking. Here’s my favorite combination.
Pastel de Bacalhau & Vinho Verde at Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau
The place is lovely. It is more than a simple restaurant. It has an inside art museum that enhances its classical architecture. It offers visitors the experience to eat outside with a lovely view of the Clerigo Tower, the highest building in Porto. Another aspect of the Casa Portuguesa do Pastel do Bacalhau is that every single “pastel” is traditionally made in front of you. Hence, visitors can learn how the ingredients are assembled and the way these codfish fritters are cooked in a traditional oven. Codfish fritters are cheesy and melty on the inside and a fine crusty layer of fish on the outside. While a simple pastel de bacalhau may be good, one with Serra de Estrela cheese is even better. This appetizer is usually served with a glass one of the most reputed wines of Porto, the Vinho Verde. When you taste these two together, it is totally worth the experience!
Hopefully, you find this article useful and are ready to try out these different suggestions on your next trip to Porto.