I have already shared about my Port Journey in Gaia and continuing on that, let me share what else is worth visiting in this city that is full of the boozy port. Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city and the other metropolitan besides Lisbon. It is only a 3 hours train ride away from the capital and this is a city that you should never miss when you are in-country. There is much character, history and cuisine to be discovered. Besides seafood, you have the addition of port wines and of course the passionate Portuguese passion. Follow me in checking out these two amazing cities in the north of the country. Porto & Vila Nova de Gaia, a tale of two cities!
Porto is a huge city and when you add in Gaia as well, that are a lot of areas to cover. Add those hilly steps and slopes in, your feet are going to be in for a tough one. This is not a city where you can simply do so on foot. Porto does have a great metro system that takes you to most of the major spots in town and the yellow line even takes you across the river to Gaia via the Luis I Bridge! That is sure cool. If not you have your choice of various ride apps in town that offers affordable rides to zip you around town. Prices are affordable and in fact, if you are not a solo traveller this is what I would recommend. It might be cheaper too. Bolt, Freenow and Uber are some of the available apps.
Ponte Luis I! This has to be the most famous attraction in Porto. The iconic arched bridge that links up Porto and Gaia. The bridge is super gorgeous and on the bridge itself, you get the best view in town of both Porto and Gaia. This is where most of the iconic postcard-perfect pictures are taken. There is an upper and lower level of the bridge and the upper level boasts the best view. Pedestrians can walk on both sides of the bridge and in the middle, the trains run. Do pay attention to the traffic while getting your picture. Look at how lovely this is!
I also really love the area around the Porto Cathedral! It’s pretty relaxing and frequently you can find people busking. The great view goes well with great music.
Visit also one of the most gorgeous book stores in the world, Livraria Lello. This historical book store comes with tons of charm and a winding wooden staircase. It felt like something right out of Harry Potter. Along with Bertrand in Lisbon, they are touted as one of the oldest bookstores in the world. This place for a fact open in 1881 which means that they have gone thru the years of civilization, countless wars and pandemics. The reason that it is still standing is enough for you to have a look while in town.
There are countless viewpoints or Miradouro around the city that boasts a great view of the city. Here are some of the snippets that I took around town as well.
Well, as you have read about in my previous post, one of the main things to do in Gaia is to visit port wine cellars one after another. It is a heaven for wine lovers and out of the various wines and whisky famous areas that I have been to, Gaia is the easiest. They are all concentrated in this small area and you do not need to self drive to visit wineries. You can’t do that in Bordeaux, or Napa. This makes it great as wine and driving are not a combination that goes well together. Do check out my previous post where I visited Graham’s, Churchill’s and Pocas port wine cellars.
One of the best things that you could do when in Gaia is to ride on the cable car from the lower part of the city to the higher part of the city. It is one of the best ways to see the city and from the cable car, you get a unique point of view. It is really lovely. It might be one of the more pricey ways to get to the top part of the city, but it is certainly worth at least a ride. Tickets can be bought on the spot. The lower station is right on the banks of the river and the upper station is at Jardim Do Morro. The ride takes about 5 to 10 mins or so.
Gaia is pretty quaint and the areas around the river are especially gorgeous. You should simply take a stroll around the banks of the river and just walk on the promenade aimlessly. We did that one the morning after breakfast and look how gorgeous it is. The path is well maintained and it goes on for miles around the bends and curves. You get a great view of the Douro River and Porto behind you. This is also a popular spot for a run.
I love seafood and simple cooking and Portuguese cuisine certainly fits my palate. Seafood, herbs, olive oil and a dash of sea salt. Paired it up with some chilled white wine, lovely. But first, let me share something cliche with you guys! How about visiting one of the most gorgeous McDonald’s outlets in the world. Porto is home to one and it is right smack in the middle of the city. Nuggets and fries may be an excuse but every day can be a cheat day with how beautiful it is. Apparently, the outlet is opened in 1995 and took over the space left by a cafe.
The other place that I would like to recommend would be Churrasqueira Kinay, it is local as heck and nothing fancy at all but I had the most amazing grilled chicken and grilled fish here in Portugal. While the decor may not seem like much the genuine service and food more than make up for it. The prices are very good as well. It is in the Bolhao district and just a short walk away from the main area.
Check out the menu here. We got some grilled chicken and grilled fish and wash it all down with some Super Bock. You can see the owner preparing your food right in front of the shop. The whole meal was around 20 Euros. Amazing value! Must try. On paper, they open from 9am to 10pm but you know how these things work. This is one place that we wish we had time to visit for the second time.
When in Gaia, we also visited this local restaurant by the river and along the main street, despite being in such a location, it was super authentic and local. It felt really homey and the owner was very lovely and nice. This also turn out to be one of the best meals I had in Portugal. You got to check out Casa Adao! The menu is mainly focused on seafood and the prices are super fair. Look at this interior. We ordered the seafood stew after seeing someone having it next to us. The portion is super huge and please just go for the minimum amount. We ordered for 2 and it looks like you can feed this to a family of 5. The food is super good and that broth is to kill for. The dish came with potatoes and rice on the side. I love the huge seafood and the stand out items got to be the clams here. I love it. Great for sharing!
Celebrating Christmas in Porto & Gaia
Christmas is actually rather quiet in Porto and Gaia, I can’t speak about the other cities but there was barely anyone outside since most of the people will be spending time with their families. While it may be nice to be in Europe in the weeks or days leading up to Christmas, it is perhaps not such a great idea to be there on the actual holiday itself since most of the places are closed by midday on Christmas eve.
We simply had a nice stroll around the city especially around the promenade area before calling it a day and took a rest in our hotel, enjoying the facilities and getting uber eats later on in the evening. It is rather nice seeing a different Portugal. The views are impeccable here.
HoHoHo! A Merry Christmas from Portugal. This is also the first time that I am in Europe over the holidays.
It is nice to be finally checking out Portugal after hearing so much about them. I have barely even covered a tenth of the country. All I did is the main two major cities and got only a glimpse of the country. I would love to be back one day and see more of Portugal. It is an amazing place and prices are very affordable as well. If I am ever back in the city, I would love to go on one of those boat tours. I am so happy to have Portugal being my 31st unique country in the world. Next up is Spain, where I will be spending the last 14 days of my trip in the country before heading back to Singapore. Woohoo with that I have been to all countries on the Iberian Peninsula!