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  • Writer's picturetherealbritzabroad

Top 5 in Porto

My immediate impression of Porto was what a massively underrated city it is! This is one of my fav places in Europe, with its tasty food, steep cobbled streets and gorgeous river front. Not to mention the port wine, and very affordable prices.



1. Gaia

Across the Duoro River lies Gaia. Its actually another city entirely, and is home to the many port cellars and bars. There is nothing nicer than an afternoon spent this side of the river, cellar hopping and taking in the views with a glass of port in hand. To get here I took a walk across the top of the Luis I bridge for great views on route, and then jumped on the cable car which takes you down to ground level and again gives views over the very old rooftops of the port cellars.


Stop in at whichever cellars take your fancy! The Sandeman bar is right on the riverfront and does a very modern take on port cocktails, and the back streets near where the cable car drops you shouldn’t be missed either - some little gems of cellars, as well as the ‘Half Rabbit’ street art by Bordalo. Very cool and totally unique.


2. Porto bridge climb


I saw this on Richard Ayoade’s Travel Man and had to give it a go! Porto bridge climb is the only bridge climb in Europe, and probably the only bridge climb in the world where you can climb in flip flops, and get a shot of port at the top… Now that’s my kind of activity!

I’ve put this on the list as it’s a bit unusual, and given its situated about half way from Porto to the beach, it’s the perfect activity to do on a day when you are exploring a little further afield from Porto’s main historic centre.


The climb is across the concrete Ponte de Arrabida bridge, which when completed in the 60’s was the largest concrete arch in the world. Its pretty impressive looking, and for 50 years has been closed to the public apart from the crazy few who climbed it illegally and without any safety gear! It’s now fully fitted with 262 steps leading to the 62 metre high viewpoint, across the city and the other way out to the mouth of the sea.


The fun and easy 30 minute tour runs 5-9 times a day depending on the time of year, and the last tour of the day includes the sunset.


There’s also a great pizza restaurant Casa d’Oro right nearby, it makes a great stop after your climb with views across of the river and the Ponte de Arrabida which you would have just climbed!


3. Visit Manteigaria for freshly baked Pastel de Nata’s

Take a visit to Manteigaria for the freshest Pastel de Nata you will ever eat. Marvel at the speed of the pastry chefs making them before your eyes, then scoff down a few – whilst they are still warm! They are so delicious, and do very cute little boxes to take away too, perfect as a gift for someone back home… if they last that long! Locals and tourists alike can be found in this shop, standing by the counter enjoying the Portuguese tarts and washing them down with a glass of port.


4. Explore the local alleyways

What I loved about Porto was it wasn’t just a city full of tourists, you can get a feel of how some of the locals really live. Turn off the google maps, and head for the backstreets just behind the riverfront near the Luis I bridge, and you will stumble across quaint little areas you would have otherwise never found. Explore the many small, cobbled off-streets around this area and you will be treated to the most picturesque squares and street scenes – old people hanging out their washing, feeding the local cat, and watching the world go by.


5. Eat Francesinhas at Café Santiago

A Francesinha is a traditional Porto dish and the most full on ‘sandwich’ you will ever eat. It’s bread stuffed with layers of ham, steak, sausage, covered in a layer of cheese, with an optional egg on top. A beer sauce is poured over the whole thing, and it’s often served with a side of chips too.


If you only have one francesinha whilst in Porto, make it the one you eat at Café Santiago. This is THE place to eat this dish, and it lives up to the hype of its reputation. The queue wasn’t too long at all, and we soon got a seat propping up the bar, which is a great place to watch the action of the kitchen as they assemble hundreds of francesinhas.


Make sure you go along hungry!



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