JC Travels: A Short Break in Porto, Portugal
I’ve known Hannah since I was 13 on my first day of high school, soon we were best buds and have been the same ever since! Hannah is a med student in New Zealand so I have been missing her lots since I moved to the UK, luckily she has to do a medical elective overseas so is here to visit me for 6 whole weeks! To celebrate, I thought we should do a little trip away. I wanted somewhere to visit that was hot, exciting and affordable – and after my awesome trip to Lisbon last year, I decided that Porto was the destination!
Porto is the second biggest city in Portugal, at the North on the coast. Luckily, EasyJet fly there everyday from Gatwick – we got our flights for about £90 each return which I thought was a bargain. The airport is an easy 2 euro journey away from the centre of the city.
We flew in early on Tuesday morning, on about a 7am flight! We made our way to the hotel in the city and dropped off the bags by about lunchtime. After a quick pit stop for food, we went on a massive walking tour of the city. Porto has an amazing UNESCO protected heritage region. It is set on steeping hills looking down to the river and crossed by giant, gorgeous bridges. It is a stunning city!
The city itself is full of old historic buildings and churches, many from hundreds of years ago. We really lucked out on the weather, with beaming sunshine and temperatures in the late 20s, early 30s all week. We headed across one of the huge bridges and looked down over the river. Across the bridge, is the area of Gaia which is where all the port cellars are, and on the Porto side, full of bars and restaurants.
After winding our way down the hill and across the river, we ended the day sipping Sangria and eating tapas on the river banks.
On our second day, we started off by doing my favourite thing in the world – a food tour! I’m obsessed, I wrote all about my London one last week. I’m going to save going into this and write a whole post on it later in the week as I have about ten million pictures! Let’s just say, it was awesome and by the end of it, it was siesta time.
In the afternoon, we went to visit the bookshop. This is a hugely famous Porto bookshop, which J K Rowling used to visit when she was living in Porto. Even though she didn’t write Harry Potter when she lived there, you can definitely tell that it inspired some of the scenes in the book! The grand sweeping staircase was gorgeous.
We wandered down to the river again for dinner, they did some lovely sangria. We bought a pack of cards so spent the evening watching the sunset with sangria, playing cards and catching up on the months – ideal.
On our final day, it was time for something I hadn’t done for years – go to the beach! The beaches in Porto and Gaia are stunning. They are just outside of the city, so we hailed a cab and in about 20 minutes we were there. The beaches are not touristy at all – in fact it took us awhile to find anyone who would speak English to help us get a cab back to the city.
It was glorious lying on the white sand beach in the sunshine and reading my book. Although the sea itself was pretty freezing, it being the Atlantic and all. One we were suitable relaxed and warm, we headed back to the city for our final essential activity – port tasting!
Port originally comes for the city, and is named after Porto. There are 22 port cellars in the city and each offer a tasting and tour. We were recommended to visit Taylors which is off the main strip and slightly up the hill. For 5 euros you can get a tasting of 3 ports and a tour around the cellars. Unfortunately, we timed it slightly wrong so had just missed an English tour and there wasn’t another for 75 minutes. We decided to have our port tastings and see how we got on.
Port is a fortified wine, higher in sugar and alcohol content so usually served as a small glass at the end of dinner. It is delicious! We had a white, and two reds which were savoured. By the time we had enjoyed all of our tastings, it actually ended up being in time for the tour! So we headed around to see the giant barrels and learn about how port is made. Once the tour finished, we had another tasting of our favourite whilst sitting on the balcony overlooking the city. Safe to say, I picked up a little bottle in duty free to take home!
We finished our final day in similar style, with a drink and some cards over dinner. We were up early and flew home at lunchtime on Friday, making it home to a sunny London.
Overall, I really enjoyed Porto, it is a gorgeous city and full of really interesting architecture, food and drink. I think I may have even preferred it to Lisbon! It is a really affordable city too, with meals only costing around 4 euros and a big jug of sangria only 10. If you are looking for an affordable and interesting city break, add Porto to the list!
Have you been to Portugal?