After three wonderful days in Sintra, we headed to Porto which became our favorite Portuguese city! I booked train ticket from Lisboa Oriente to Porto Campanha in exactly 60 days in advanced which saved me 40% at Portugal’s rail website: https://www.cp.pt/passageiros/en/ With the 40% discount, it was not a significant difference between first class and 2nd class train so I decided to try out first class at only €25.5 per person (first time ever)! The first class seats were very comfortable for the ~4 hours train ride to Porto.
The AP trains (high-speed most expensive) are all equipped with free wifi but the network was sketchy at its best, constantly dropping off 😦 We had taken high-speed trains in Italy, Germany, France, and we felt like the train was a bit shaky!
We arrived at 12:44 pm but at Porto Campanha which required a change in the local train to the old town – Porto Sao Bento station. All the intercity train ticket included a free ride into the city center as noted in the ticket itself. Do not discard your train ticket because many times the conductor came in for ticket check! I booked four nights: two night annual certificate from the IHG credit card and two with points at the Intercontinental Porto which conveniently located right across from Sao Bento station. It only cost 30,000 points per night (before they increased to 35,000) and it was a great value for points because cash price for the room was over $300 per night. We were told that we got an upgrade but have to wait for the room to be cleaned around 30 minutes of wait…..but ended up over an hour and still not done yet. I was super starving at that point and I made a reservation at The Wine Box at 2 pm so we had to go.
We grabbed a city map from the concierge and walked to The Wine Box…..those down hills would be fun on the way back up! As the name indicated “The Wine Box” and if you don’t know, Porto is known for its port wine!
It was a late lunch so we were the only ones in the restaurant but quickly more people came in to have a sip of wine LOL. It was weird to dine in a “wine” restaurant and not try out Porto’s famous wine….so Jason ordered a glass. He said it was very good, easy to drink no bitter taste!
You know I don’t drink, just for photo 🙂
We ordered the fish balls, those were fresh and tasty!
Razor clams, it’s a must try in Porto!
Big huge grilled shrimps yummy!
And the pork cheek….which I can taste cooked with wine 😦
The delicious lunch cost €32.80 not too bad with all those seafood we ordered. We walked back to the hotel and our room was finally ready! Welcome treats….the tart wasn’t great of course!
And the upgraded room is actually with better view of the famous street: Avenida dos Aliados.
Jason was totally knocked out by that glass of wine lol!
So while Jason was sleeping, I did some work-work. Afterwards, we walked out to explore this beautiful and charming city.
The colorful tile houses of Porto, aren’t those cute?
We didn’t have any particular points of interest to visit since we have 4 nights there so no rush, we took it easy and just get a sense of the city layout and direction. And checking out souvenir prices but it was a shocking surprise that there aren’t many souvenir shops in Porto! We happened to walk pass a catheral so we decided to go in check it out, we have no clue what the name is.
A bigger cathedral across of it which is the Monument Church Of St Francis.
We walked to the Praça da Ribeira (Porto’s waterfront) filled with restaurants and beautiful view of the Luís I Bridge! We went through each alley and hardly find any souvenir shops what a shock! I guess Porto is not as touristy as Lisbon or others so souvenir shops can’t make a living. There are three big shops we came across on one of the main streets: Rua de Mouzinho da Silveira that sell tiles souvenirs ranging from magnets to hanging wall art.
More of the colorful narrow houses of Porto!
And the ship that used to transport port wine up and down the Douro River!
You can easily walk across Porto’s waterfront in less than 10 minutes so we turned back to Monument Church Of St Francis or Church of São Francisco:
We didn’t realize the church houses hundreds of tombs until we got down to the lower floor and then noticed how the floor is divided up….urg…scary!
The main church prohibited taking photos too bad! The church’s details are incredible and very unique!
Near the church around the corner is the Bolsa Palace can only visit by tour and the last English tour is completely booked. Then cross the square is the Mercado Ferreira Borges, an indoor market but by the time we got there all the vendors are closed 😦
We wandered around the square in search for souvenir shops but concluded that there were none! We headed to our dinner which I made an advanced reservation at Jimao Tapas e Vinhos, one of the highly rated tapa restaurants in Porto. I can tell you that Porto has the best tapa restaurants and food except for the Portuguese seafood rice! I made the reservation month in advanced so I was able to request a table with view; there are two tables outside and we had one of them 🙂
Full house inside!
Their tapas were very good but the service is very slow! Jason ordered this………we have no clue what it is in English but according to translation, they are like baby eels yuck! Jason said it was good though!
Tried again the pork cheek, it was tasty but I think they cooked with wine again!
Because of the slow service, we enjoyed the blue hours with views of the Praça da Ribeira, it was cold too so bring a light jacket when going out for dinner in Porto.
After the pretty good dinner for €29.50, we took a stroll out to the waterfront, the view of the Luís I Bridge wa beautiful! Porto waterfront was very living at night with music and singers. Even locals opened their window to listen to the performance.
We both very like Porto’s atmosphere, lively , charming city, and yet no annoying sellers bothering you. We walked back to our hotel which was a good 10 minutes walk uphill but very safe. We can’t wait to explore more of Porto the next day!