You might already have checked out Mike’s guide to Lisbon – we can’t get enough of the Portuguese capital, but don’t overlook Portugal’s second city and the home of Port. Porto is an undiscovered gem sitting on the Atlantic coast – Mike explains why you should check it out this summer…
Looking across to Gaia (the focus of the port wine industry in Porto) it’s truly odd to be standing in the heat of a Portuguese city seeing a number of quintessentially English surnames such as Taylors and Graham peppered across the length of the river bank. Though I’m not a big fan of encountering my fellow countrymen abroad, on this occasion I’ll make an exception. I can’t recommend enough a trip across to Gaia to these British Port wine-making giants to sample the drink from which this magnificent city takes its name. Be sure to make a reservation for a tour in advance as the port houses are, understandably, very popular.
Much of what you will see in Porto will be on the other side of the river in the medieval Ribeira district and on first impressions, you may think Porto a little rough round the edges and of little interest. With the crumbling historic facades of buildings (a result of difficulty in meeting the expensive UNESCO reconstruction standards) and its relatively quiet cobbled streets, it is easy to dismiss Porto as a city with little to offer. Make no mistake – Porto is to be explored; A genuine city playground ripe for an urban adventure!
Free Tour – Regular readers of Pulped Travel will know how much I enjoy and value a free tour, and with Porto it’s a must do for any visitor. For most people this city doesn’t have the familiar history and sights of, say, London, Paris or Barcelona, so taking a tour means you get a local’s insight into the city; its past, its personality and, of course, where the best place is to eat the legendary local sandwich, the Francesinha! ()
Just like the capital, Porto has a superb range of hostels catering to both backpackers and flashpackers. They are highly rated and understand the needs of the modern traveller. My experience at the Porto Lounge (); a centrally located hostel that is close to all the attractions and a host of transport options, was superb.
Porto may not be on your bucket list, but with so much to offer travellers of all stripes, this magnificent city by the beach is one not to miss.
Mike lives in Leeds and when he’s not writing down his best tips and advice for the readers of Pulped Travel, you can find him teaching Geography to secondary school pupils. Mike’s interests lie in authentic travel experiences, visiting off the beaten track locations and meeting people from all over the world. Read more of his adventures at www.pulpedtravel.com, or follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Interested in checking out Porto for yourself? Why not take a look at our awesome travel itineraries! From our 2 week Spain and Portugal trip, to our epic 6 week Mediterranean wanderer route… or, create your own Portuguese adventure with our custom trip builder! All our trips involve exploring Europe by rail, with awesome accommodation options included.