Porto Travel

PORTO CITY BREAK

Birthday jaunt to Porto


After a dear friend’s wedding in Lisbon, I thought why not hop on the train to Porto (a 3 hour journey) and give that city a whirl, since I’d been to Lisbon before.

The uber driver that picked me up from Campanhã (the other main station is São Bento) said flying is a better option – just 50 minutes and you can get tickets quite affordably. Good to note.

Below’s a lil sum up of my few days in the land of abundant port and steep AF hills…

Image: Kanndid

STAY

As always, I researched a healthy amount of places to stay. Lots of gorgeous guest houses like My Home In Porto, Duas Portas, A Bela Aurora and Rosa et al Townhouse. 

However, in the end, my friend was keen on having a bigger space for less money, so Airbnb it was (c.£45 per night). Good value for money if not in the prettiest area – you certainly won’t find tourists in this neck of the woods which would appeal to some. I’d still like to go back and try one of those guest houses and for a night of luxury, perhaps The Yeatman.

Image: Airbnb


EAT

Eat. You can always count on me for that. Eating for wild pleasure and never for sustenance alone. However, as I usually lament, for some reason my eating capacity has dwindled over the years; I struggle to pack away as much I used to, I did a better job in Paris when I wasn’t even at my peak.

However, I did manage to hit a few spots. One word of advice, even if you’re a spontaneous traveler, try and BOOK in advance (you can always cancel) because a lot of the good restaurants are reservation only and you could end up missing out on some excellent grub.


FLOW

Brick walls, Cesca chairs and wicker basket chandeliers give the restaurant a chic, laidback but luxe feel. Luckily, style doesn’t come at the expense of substance here, as the food we ordered stood up – with generous portions to boot. Good tuna ceviche to start and a solid sea bass risotto for mains. The main dining room was fully booked on a Mon night but we managed to get a seat in the conservatory which is equally lovely.

Rua da Conceição, 63 4050-215 Porto
+351 22 205 4016 | Open Mon – Sat. Dinner service only on Mon
Instagram 

Image: Portugal Confidential

DOP

Holder of a Michelin Plate, DOP is helmed by Rui Paula. We opted for their very reasonable €27 set lunch menu. Starting off with the octopus carpaccio, delightful albeit a little salty for my tastebuds; followed by a hearty portion of veal and gnocchi and summing up the meal with the ‘banana, orange and cookie’ – a modest description for what would turn out to be an excellent dessert plate – there was a mini banana flavoured crème brûlée of sorts which paired delightfully with the orange puree, cookie crunch and caramelized bits of orange. Just yum. Would certainly revisit this spot.

Palácio das Artes, Largo de S. Domingos, 18 4050-545 Porto 
+351 22 20 14 313 | Open Mon – Sat. Lunch service only on Mon
Instagram 

Image: Kanndid

CRUEL

The menu is split into three: cruel, cautious and fearful. To me, it felt a little gimmicky and elaborate for what was fairly average food – Jose Avillez on the other hand nailed his theatrical menu at Mini Bar when I visited a few years back. The salmon doughnut balls were fine. The salmon with quinoa I had was perfectly ok. I didn’t hate Cruel by any means and I’d possibly eat here again if nowhere else I wanted to check out was available.

Rua da Picaria, 86/86A, 4050-477, Porto
+351 924 400 259 | Open Everyday
Instagram

Image: Porto 24

ZENITH

Their Shakshuka is weak – possibly one of the worst meals I’ve paid for. I’d had an Eggs Benedict here on a previous occasion when it was less busy and it was fine. The quality goes down when they are overwhelmed with large numbers. I don’t generally diss places but the huge queues that gather here are insane, so I just want to warn people, it’s really not worth the wait, eat elsewhere! It’s also heavy on the tourists front. If you’re after brunch, I’ve heard Rosa et Al Townhouse does a killer one which is open to non-guests but this is only available at the weekend.

86, Praça de Carlos Alberto, 4050-158 Porto 
+351 22 017 1557 Open Everyday
Instagram

Image: Evasoes

EUSKALDUNA STUDIO PORTO

It. Is. Wonderful. Cool. Unpretentious. Fine dining. With it’s roots in the Basque Country and Portugal, Euksalanda also taps into Asia for inspiration both for its dishes and overall aesthetic and sensibility. There’s no smoke, there’s no foam, there are no gimmicks at this studio; it is focused, considered, precise cooking that experiments with seasonal produce to deliver flavours to delight your tastebuds. The sommelier guided me through 8 glasses of booze alongside the 10 course tasting menu which you can find out more about here.

R. de Santo Ildefonso 404, 4000-466 Porto
+351 924 400 259
Instagram | Open Wed-Sat 19:00-22:00

Image: Kanndid

DRINKING & NIGHTLIFE

We went to Porto early in the week, so the nightlife it’s fair to say was pretty sleepy. Here are some of the spots we checked out…

ONCE UPON A TIME IN PORTO

Past an unassuming kiosk and up some stairs is the bar Once Upon A Time In Porto aka Era Uma Vez No Porto. We got referred here by a friendly local whilst having dinner at Cruel. Assume it gets rammed the back end of the week and weekend but on a Tue it was super chilled and we occupied the sofa chairs in the candlelit backroom that had a bourgeois bohemian vibe to it. They have a larger sister bar Once Upon A Time In Paris on one of the busiest streets for nightlife in Porto.

R. das Carmelitas 162, 4050-161 Porto, Portugal
+351 22 202 2240
Instagram | Open Mon – Sat from 17:00, Sun from 21:30

Image: Kanndid

PASSOS MANUEL

Red. Stylized. 70s. David Lynch – loved the look of this place – the folks here though have zero interest in non locals or anyone that’s not their mate for that matter. No menu, so ask for costs of your drinks before you order or you could end up paying over 10 euro for a G&T. There’s also a cinema housed inside the space with a little peeping Tom spot accessible via the bar. A dancefloor awaits you beneath. 

Rua de Passos Manuel nº 137 (ao Coliseu), Porto, Portugal
+351 22 205 8351
Facebook | Open Tue-Sun from 22:00

Image: Kanndid

MAUS HABITOS

Pretty much directly opposite Passos Manuel is Maus Habitos which is housed in a carpark. It’s kind of a multi functionary space, tripling up as a gig venue, bar and eatery. It also has a small open air space. Drinks are pretty cheap especially in comparison to Passos across the road.  The really cheap wine is tempting – don’t do it, go for something higher grade or a spirit and mixer. It’s a little off the beaten track from the main slew of bars / clubs in Porto (for now at least).

R. de Passos Manuel 178, 4º Piso, 4000-382 Porto, Portugal
+351 937 202 918
Instagram | Open Tue-Sun from midday

Image: Vogue.it

CHAMPANHERIA DA BAIXA

They’ve got outdoor seating on the square, perfect for balmy evenings but if you want a darker more intimate vibe, head indoors. Champagne is the order of the day and a range of cocktails are on offer too. I wasn’t a huge fan of the cocktails we ordered, all a bit too syrupy, so I’d stick to champagne or spritzers. It’s in the same square as another decent looking cafe/bar called Café Candelabro and pretty much directly opposite Cruel.

Rua da Picaria 107, 4050-478 Porto, Portugal
+351 22 323 5254
Facebook | Open Mon-Sat from midday, Sun from 18:00

Image: Kanndid

SEE & DO

I mean, we didn’t really SEE Porto or DO much. When we attempted to do either, we failed, not for lack of wanting but we just had some laughable unexpected things happen to us…like taking a 20 min drive out of town to check out Serralves, only to find it was shut as they were prepping for an upcoming festival. Excellent. Oh, and it was raining. Even better.

We did do the tourist thing of clamber down to the harbour and take in the views. Wherever there are tourists, guaranteed you will find mediocre eateries and drinking dens. Luckily for me, my friend had scoped out a place in the harbour the day before, where we had a nice glass of wine and some wonderful croquettes – it’s called RIB and is owned by the Pestana Hotel Group.

We considered doing a tour of one of the Port houses but ended up having lunch at DOP instead; we did head up to Gaia though but just to soak up the spectacular views from the vantage point of the outdoor bar at The Yeatman Hotel

One afternoon, we were near the Sao Bento train station, so decided to have a gander. Housed in a Beaux-Arts building, it’s decorated with intricate azulejos on all four corners. I’m generally not an advocate of guide books but it would have been useful in this instance to understand the context of the various scenes being played out on this impressive stretch of tiled walls.

Shopping wise, we ambled along Rua de Miguel Bombarda where I took note of the attractive facade of a guesthouse called Mercardor and perused a couple of shops. We then turned into Rua do Rosário where we chanced upon Patcha lovely vintage shop worth checking out for its curated selection of garms and crockery for the home. My friend got the mustard jars (see below) for a couple of euro and a vintage leather bag for €17, so Patch won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

The research I did for Porto was fairly minimal in comparison to what I normally do and the impact was quite apparent. My mobile also decided to pack up whilst I was out there, so I couldn’t research on the go. Nightmare.

People may find it super boring and unspontaneous to plan trips but I personally find it quite stressful wondering up and down streets trying to figure out where is good to eat, drink and check out. I find doing my homework in advance of a trip makes my time in places a whole lot more enjoyable; I give myself enough options, so it doesn’t end up being too dogmatic. Having a map of my top spots is always so helpful too.

Would love to hear people’s favourite hangouts in Porto and any tips for places to check out when I return to Porto. Drop your deets in the comment box below.


4 comments on “PORTO CITY BREAK

  1. I LOVE all the pictures in this!Loved the blog-post too.Your writing style is awesome!Keep blogging<3I'd love for you to check my blog out too<3

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