Porto is the second city of Portugal behind Lisbon the capital, and it is worthy of its own city trip. Porto is filled with charm and rustic, a blend of historical heritage, and Atlantic seaside vibes that Portugal do so well. Yet with something very specific as it is the major point of departure of all the Port Wine exports from Portugal. Across the Bridge is the city of Vila Nova de Gaia which you will see approaching Porto Airport and it is where Porto Wine caves are. North of Portugal has beautiful places to visit if you do not mind the simplicity and old-fashion ways of living (I don’t!), there is no “trendy places to visit” but there are beautiful places to discover.
A question you may wander before you go to Portugal is how are the Portuguese people? From my experience, they are kind people, reserved at first, family oriented, not very materialistic, the quality of food in the country is high (organic is just normal there), the younger generations (before 40 y old) all speak conversational English, if older than they usually do not speak English. Portuguese people inherit a very rich history that includes several episodes of suffering, I think sadness is a feeling that many people share (hard to explain). They are not too interested in going abroad and being tourists (in general!!! obviously many Portuguese are fond of traveling but I would say the majority is not). There are many Portuguese people who fled the country in the 1950s, 60s, 70s to escape a dictatorial regime and poor economic conditions (because of the decline of manual farming and fishing) and many decided to establish themselves and their family abroad as a result. Post-WWII labour was needed in many EU countries for a few decades so emigration status was granted fairly easily. Even though, the emigrants always kept a strong link with their original towns and families. Hope this helps in giving you a general idea, of course the reality is always more complex than a brief description.
Here are a few places I visited on my last trip and recommend to check out if you are into chilled out authentic little places, carefully designed hotels, and curated home retail shops.
There are gorgeous picture spots in Porto.
like Igreja do Carmo or Praça de Lisboa. One of my favourite is taking a train accross the Douro river as the day-time view of the city is gorgeous.
In the streets, a recurrence of Art Deco Buildings and fonts. Keep an eye if you visit the town there are many.
If you like juicy, yummy burgers and crispy crisps, you will like Bugo Art Burger. We had to wait before getting a table here, but it was so worthy! While we waited, we decided to tryBiltre craft beers(Porto cerveja artesanal). My boyfriend loves and knows quite a lot about craft beers, myself not so much (more of a no-fuss lager gal) but even I appreciated the taste of it. The burgers come with freshly made crisps made out of extremely thin slices of potatoes. You can often find fries in the shape of crisps (round) in Portuguese restaurants, this is one step further as they are so thin, they taste a lot like crisps.
Concept Stores and Homeware shops
Near the now globally famous Livraria Lello (which inspired JK Rowling writer for her Harry Potter books), is a large, high ceiling, over two floors curated homeware shop called “A Vida Portuguesa” which translate in English to “The Portuguese way of life”. They offer genuine and authentic everyday life products of Portuguese design (You can also find products of international design on the ground floor). Some products from old times in which they kept a certain tradition and some designed for modern life. I madly fell in love with this shop. There are a lot of products: Soaps, Stationery, Textiles, Clothes & Shoes, Drugstore, Gardening, Kids, Posters, Paniers, Ceramics etc. A great place if you are looking to bring back something authentic. This is their only shop in Porto, but there are 4 other shops in Lisbon.
Rua do Almada, Cedofeita, Porto
Rua do Almada in the historical center of Porto has several interesting independent concept stores selling the finest products made in Portugal, vintage furniture, vintage Homeware and design clothes. Sometimes a single store will focus on one category but several will mix it all. Be mindful many of the retail shops open at 10am, and close between 1pm and 2pm for lunch, we found a couple of closed doors because of that!
Number 13 : Their Instagram / Facebook
More lifestyle than homeware-only, this has a bit of everything: home decor, modern art, designer clothes and bags, traditional Portuguese souvenirs, including items made out of cork.
Casa Almada – Number 544 : Their website
Mid-century Vintage furniture. They also have an online shop to see the available collections.
Click for their Facebook
Address: Rua do Rosário 193, 4050-124 Porto
Beautiful vintage oversize planters, homewares, mugs, glassware. Very cool vintage shop vibe.
Minho Hotel is a beautifully designed hotel. It has comfortable rooms, and a generous outdoor pool and Spa area. The Spa area has so many gorgeous Marble Carrera details, I have not tested any Spa treatment due to lack of time, but there were several choices. The hotel is located in the far North of the country and is easy access by car and has an on-site parking. It is a good place to stay to visit the nearby Medieval town: Caminha. If you love pine trees, and eucalyptus, like I do, you will love this place as it is at the border of a beautiful wild forest, and the smell is divine. Probably one of the most relaxing places I have stayed at.
Praia do Moledo. We had an afternoon coffee break (and Nata number 1) at one of the beach cafes you can find on Praia do Moledo. The vibe is very relaxed and they had menu (“a carta”) in English.
Lots of people go there for windsurfing. The rock you see at the background is Spain (!), you can take a ferry from Caminha and spend the day there. We didn’t do it though.
Note: Image Credits mentioned under the picture, if not they are the property of mymindfulhome.co.uk, please contact me and credit my website accordingly.