Over the last four years, on October 11th, we have found ourselves in Portugal for our wedding anniversary. We rarely remember in time to spend a lot of effort planning, but luckily there are always amazing weekend getaways at our finger tips. These is the first post on the trips we’ve done and the gems we’ve found along the way. Cheers to LOVE and TRAVEL!
Getaway Weekend 1: Porto
Despite the many visits to Portugal, it took us many years to make it to Porto. I’d heard the weather falls apart by October, but we visited mid October and it was simply glorious. An easy 3 hr drive or 1 hr flight from Lisbon.
A Little History
Protected by UNESCO since 1996, the old town of Porto is suspended in time and beauty. The history of Porto dates back to the 1st century BC when, under Roman rule, the city played an important role on the main trade route between Lisbon and Braga.
Between 410 SD and 584 AD, the region was invaded by the Germanic Suebi people, who took control from the Romans and made the city now known as Braga their capital. However, the Suebi rule over the area was short-lived, being successfully overrun by the Visigoths in 584 AD who renamed the settlement at Porto, Portucale. Control of the region changed once again in 711 with the Moors invasion of most of the Iberian Peninsula.
What To Do
My favorite thing to do in a city like this is just show up and wander. We did just that and here are my favorite finds to share with you to make your weekend as spectacular as possible.
- We loved this Airbnb which has several units. Spacious, with vaulted ceilings and perfectly located, I would definitely stay there again. Be sure to be in walking distance to the central river front.
- Pestana Porto Carleton for a drink on the water
- Cafeina for dinner – 20 min cab ride to the beachside neighborhood but well worth it!
- Restaurant Galeria de Paris by night for a drink or dinner there are anywhere on that street.
- Port of course, but one tasting was enough for me. We enjoyed the tasting at Taylor’s and a celebratory lunch with sweeping views from their terrace restaurant…or you can just take it straight to the face…
- Climb the Clerigos tower – go early to avoid lines and take in the killer view from top.
- Have a coffee at Cafe Majestic on Avenida Aliados. During the 20’s and the 30’s, political and literary discussions took place at Cafe Majestic. During World War II, Cafe majestic decayed rapidly to the “war tax”, having been sold much of its original filling (including lamps and the pool table) and fired most of its staff.
- Stand in awe at the Sé (cathedral)
- If you’re into modern art, escape the rain in the Serralves museum. Explore interesting modern gardens and rotating exhibitions.
- Walk the Ponte de Luis bridge, by night!
- Take a river tour and see Porto from the water
- Book a wine tour up the Douro valley
- Buy a book in the magical Lello Library and be open to inspiration. #funfact JK Rowling was inspired to write Harry Potter in this very space when she taught English in Porto.
Just do me a favor and don’t judge the Portuguese by this not-so-p.c. book I found while browsing…
…don’t mind the dagger in your back, just keep smiling!
Drink, wander, cruise, eat, explore your way through this historical beauty of a city. Porto is a must for your Portugal itinerary!