Once a month one of our locals flies the nest and writes up their wanderings to offer you a guide of some of Cuckooz favourite cities. This month?Bryony?has flown the nest and landed in?idyllic Porto, Portugal.
Porto is the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon, famed for its amazingly sweet port wine, handpainted tiles and beautiful, historic architecture. I travelled there for an extended weekend stay with my sisters, having spent around £70 on return flights and £50 per night on accommodation (AirBnb). Portugal has been on my bucket list of travel destinations for a while, having been recommended the city numerous times by friends. For a budget holiday, there was certainly no shortage of things to do – the weather was amazing, the food was incredible and the city was big enough that each day could welcome a new adventure, though not so big you’d get lost!
I generally like to have a vague plan of the places I’d like to check out before I head there… I’m far from anal when it comes to itineraries as I’m a firm believer that most adventures happen unexpectedly, but with this in mind I’d like to share some of my experiences of places to eat, drink see and do to give you a little bit of direction ahead of your stay…. ?
Touching down in our modest apartment, the first thing my sister and I did was make up a shamefully large jug of sangria to drink on our balcony. The local wine is good quality, a little sweet and pretty reasonably priced, so we made to stock up at our local supermarket. Padaria Ribeiro in the centre serve the most incredible baked goods including the delicious and fresh pastel de nata and bite sized meat pastries and well worth a visit. A Casa Guedes is famed for their roast pork sandwiches… though personally not to my taste everyone seems to rave about them, so it’s definitely worth checking out for a cheap eat. To aid a gut wrenching hangover, we travelled across town to boujie hipster hangout Zenith, where we were greeted by friendly staff and gigantic portions of tasty, unusual spins on brunch classics for very reasonable prices.
If you’re thinking of hitting the clubs during your stay, you’ll probably want to head to Rua Candido dos Reis. The area is flooded with people, hopping from bar to bar and taking in the best (and worst) the city has to offer. If, like me, you’re a fan of electronic music, I’d recommend checking out Plano B, where you can find live DJs most nights of the week. Though we never got the chance to go, locals we spoke to recommended the Gin Club and wine bar Candelabro as places to grab a couple of drinks beforehand. For the wallflowers amongst you, you should consider paying Pinguim Café a visit, an intimate space with live poetry readings and drinks.
Earning a contradictory reputation as the most beautiful McDonalds in the world, The Imperial McDonalds on Aliados Avenue is a must-see for any passing tourist. Sack off the lengthy queues and simply pop your head inside. Art deco interiors and hand crafted stained glass narrates the country’s colonial history and is truly breath taking. Regardless of whether you’re headed out of town or not, you’d be a fool to visit Porto without visiting the São Bento railway station. The stunning interior dates back to 1864 and features over 20,000 hand-painted azulejo tiles, detailing the history of Porto.
With an incredible neo-gothic façade, Lello & Irmão Bookstore has been rated one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. The immensely ornate wooden staircase makes you feel like you are stepping back in time and you can even sit and enjoy a coffee and pastel de nata on the second floor whilst you take it all in. For lovers of fashion, you cannot visit Porto without visiting The Feeting Room.
The clothes are of superior quality with amazing quirky prints and stylish cuts, but something special must be said about their selection of shoes, which left me being dragged out by my sister for fear of bankruptcy. There’s a menswear section and café upstairs just in case it all becomes a bit much…
I would recommend visiting Porto because… I think there’s something there for just about anyone. Beautiful architecture, incredible weather, stylish boutiques and life changing food mean you’ll never have a dull moment. The city is truly romantic.
My favourite part of the trip was… Spontaneously falling upon The Feeting Room on my last day and the mountains of delicious food.
The best time of year to go is… Whenever you can afford to! I’d probably be biased in saying the summertime is the best time of year to go, to make the most of the amazing weather, but I’ve heard the city stays warm most of the year so you’ve no excuse not to visit