By Seth Fera-Schanes
Three hours, 30 euros and a direct train ride from Lisbon to Porto makes me a happy traveler. Sipping Port wine along the Rio Duoro as I watch the sunset over the Atlantic and the lights of this tiered city come up means I will be going to Porto again (and again.)
I stayed about 1.5 miles away from the river which ended up being a great central location. Close to a large farmer’s market, shopping, restaurants and multiple subway stops.
Public transportation in Porto is a great option. Affordable, consistent and clean (the trifecta.) There are multiple zones so spend a few minutes looking at the map and then purchase a day pass and great ready for some great adventures.
Boat tours – I took one of the Rio Duoro hour long boat crusises. They run all day but my recommendation would be to take the one closest to sunset for some great photo opportunitites. If you choose this option, purchase your ticket earlier in the day because it’s a popular trip.
Train rides – Porto has a large train transportation hub which is great for day trips outside the city. Note: if you are downtown, all trains will be routed through a second station that then takes you all around the area.
Walking – Best way to see the city. I continued my 10 mile walks each day and it paid dividends. It’s worth taking the time to make some zig zag tours around the city.
Uber – I wanted to get some nigthtime shots of the city. However, it was 11pm and I really didn’t want to walk anymore. So….uber. It was a couple euros and with entering your location before you get in the car, it helps eliminate some language barriers while attempting to provide directions.
2 highlights: the 80 year old man who ran a 10 foot by 10 foot store and made cheese or chorizo sandwiches.
Restaurante Flor de Congregados. The best marinated sardines I have ever had, caldo verde was on point and the dessert list was simple but first rate. A must visit restaurant (be sure to make a reservation.)
I found an apartment/hotel with kitchen, dishwasher and washing machine. It was 80 euros/night and the front desk apologized for the expense because they only had the larger apartment available. This place had room to sleep 4 people. If you are with a group of friends or a family, then these are the places to stay.
Day Trips and Activities
Bookstore (Livaria Lello) is one of the reasons I wanted to go to Porto and it didn’t disappoint. Entry fee is 3 euros but if you purchase a book they subtract the fee. A must see in the area.
Day trip to the beach. There are a number of beaches but (Matosinhos Beach) is only 40 minutes away on the subway so I took that option. It’s close to a major port but the beach had nice sand and was perfect for a few hour stay.
Guimaraes (old town with castle) takes around 1.5 hours. You can pay a tourism company for a 1/2 day trip or get on the train and it’s easy to get there and navigate yourself.
You could also do full day wine cruises, 4 x 4 expeditions and lot of other outdoor activities. Or head to Gaia across the river and tour the many port wine cellars (and drink the afternoon away.) I did and it was awesome.
Categories: Escape from New York: Extended Travel