When it comes to travel, there are some places that you visit that are nice, some that are memorable, and some that just completely steal your heart. For me, Porto, Portugal was definitely the latter. From the moment I arrived in this vibrant and charming city, I knew that I was in for something special. With its stunning architecture, delicious food, and friendly locals, Porto captured my heart in a way that few other places ever have. So, I’m excited to share my experience of this wonderful city with you and hope that it will inspire you to add it to your travel bucket list.
From Lisbon to Porto, I embarked on a scenic train ride through the picturesque Portuguese countryside. As I stepped off the train and into the lively streets of Porto, I felt instantly energized by the city’s vibrant energy. My first stop was the Hilton in Gaia, where I checked in and headed straight to Taberninha do Manuel for a delicious traditional Portuguese lunch with a view. The stunning riverfront and the iconic Dom Luis bridge in the background made the perfect backdrop to my meal of fresh seafood and delectable Portuguese wine.
After lunch, I decided to explore the city from above by taking the cable car to the top of the hill. It was an inexpensive ride that offered incredible panoramic views of the city, including the red-tiled rooftops and the winding Douro River. If you’re not a fan of heights, don’t worry! You can also choose to climb the many stairs or take the tram up the hill. Once I arrived at the top, I hopped on an hour-and-a-half tuk-tuk ride to see all of the landmarks in Porto. My friendly guide taught me some fun facts about the city, and I was able to take in all of the sights without getting too tired.
Of course, no trip to Porto is complete without indulging in some delicious snacks! I stopped to try a cod fish cake with melty cheese, which was the perfect savory bite to complement my port wine. But the highlight of my snack break was stopping inside a gorgeous McDonald’s. Yes, you read that right! The McDonald’s in Porto is a must-visit for its stunning decor and unique design. The sleek and modern interior is a far cry from the fast-food chain’s typical aesthetic, and it made for a memorable stop on my tour of Porto.
As the day drew to a close, I made my way back to the riverfront but not before stopping at the stunning Sao Bento train station. The station is known for its incredible collection of over 20,000 tiles that depict important moments in Portuguese history. It was a breathtaking sight that made for the perfect photo opportunity.
To end the night on a sweet note, I stopped at Fabrica de Nata for some delicious pastel de natas, a traditional Portuguese custard dessert. The next morning, I visited the Mercado do Bolhão (farmers market) for some espresso and fresh fruit and even tried a canned fish flight with sardines.
While I highly recommend spending three days in Porto to truly experience all that the city has to offer, my one-day adventure was still filled with unforgettable experiences. From stunning views and delicious cuisine to unique landmarks and unexpected stops, Porto is a city that will capture your heart and leave you longing for more.
Checklist for the Perfect Day in Porto:
- Took a scenic train ride through the Portuguese countryside from Lisbon to Porto
- Checked into the Hilton in Gaia and had a traditional Portuguese lunch with a view at Taberninha do Manuel
- Admired the stunning riverfront and the iconic Dom Luis bridge while enjoying fresh seafood and Portuguese wine
- Explored the city from above by taking the cable car to the top of the hill, offering incredible panoramic views of the city and the Douro River
- Hopped on an hour and a half tuk-tuk ride to see all of the landmarks in Porto and learn some fun facts about the city
- Stopped to try a cod fish cake with melty cheese and port wine, and visited the must-see McDonald’s with its stunning decor and unique design
- Visited the Sao Bento train station, known for its collection of over 20,000 tiles that depict important moments in Portuguese history
- Ended the night with some delicious pastel de natas, a traditional Portuguese custard dessert from Fabrica de Nata
- The next morning, visited the farmers market for some espresso and fresh fruit, and tried a canned fish flight with sardines.
If I had a couple of extra days, I would have loved to climb the Clerigos Tower, check out the crystal palace gardens, do a proper wine tasting, explore the Livraria Lello, and take a relaxing river cruise down the Douro River. There’s always more to discover in this beautiful city, and I can’t wait to go back!