A lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, Brexit, the Royal Family, travels around the world, Europe, and being British in Berlin!
So last week I wrote all about why I thought Lisbon would be the next top European place to be!
Because it’s worth it!
And you know what?
After spending three (3) days in the Algarve, and three (3) days in Lisbon, is it any wonder that we wanted to continue travelling around Portugal?
So we did.
We went to the Northern part of Portugal. To a place called Porto.
Porto – Portoooooooogal!
Do you see what I did there?
Porto, otherwise known as Oporto, is the second-largest city in Portugal, after Lisbon.
Porto’s combined Celtic-Latin name is known as Portus Cale, and is believed to be the origin of the name “Portugal” meaning “the port”!
Located along the Douro river estuary in Northern Portugal, Porto is one of the oldest European cities in the world and its historical centre was classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996!
Porto’s settlement dates to as far back as when it was an outpost of the Roman Empire, during the Medieval Ages, and to important artifacts found in the 8th century!
And of course, one of Portugal’s most internationally famous exports is the port wine, named after the city of Porto itself!
Truth be told, until a year ago, I had never even heard of the city of Porto!
Yes, of course, I’ve had many a glass of port in my time.
But somehow, it didn’t click that the lip-smacking tipple of port, came from an actual place called Porto!
Until last year!
I was watching the BBC Travel Show when a feature came up on the city of Porto, and on how parts of it had been forgotten, with many of Porto’s oldest houses either abandoned, or at the risk of collapsing.
Porto was once an important global centre of trade and production for many a century, and then just like Bristol, business moved to the capital of the country, and that was that.
The locals moved away into the suburbs of Porto, the city lost it’s populated buzz, business followed suit, and what was left was the emptiness of a harbour, and the quiet husk of a neglected abandoned building.
I was intrigued!
And so, when I planned our Spain & Portugal Spring Break, I decided to add Porto to the core!
Most people have never heard of it! Up until last year, even I had never heard of it!
Porto seems to be dying. A little over 220,000 people live in Porto with 1.5 million living in the suburbs! As a result, 18.8% of residential buildings in Porto are empty, with many more abandoned and neglected. A very untypical story.
When most people think of Port, they don’t think of Portugal, but of England, and English companies such as Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman!
Who doesn’t like to buy a souvenir to take home? Portugal has a reputation of high quality, standard goods.
Some shops were raking it in, but many shops and buildings were boarded up, becoming quite the eyesore, not only uncomfortable to see, but also with a hint of “is-it-safe-for-me-to-walk-through-this-street?” feel.
On almost every street, you’ll find some sort of bookshop.
Outside of the pretty historical few, when was the last time you patronised a bookshop? A real bookshop. Of brick and mortar. Come to that, when was the last time that you even purchased, and paid for a book?
I love cats. In fact, we have two lovely twin cats at home and we love them dearly.
There were cats literally everywhere! Under cars. On roofs. On walls. In doorways. Everywhere. I can’t imagine that they’re all domestic, looking as skinny and scrawny as they did. Certainly not the type of animal that you would think of stroking.
Or touching, come to that.
Lovely, pretty mosaic tiles with pictures of historical or religious images, donned the walls of various buildings.
You only have to turn around a corner or a side-street, and you would find a building that was derelict, covered with broken red brick, over-grown with weeds, strewn with old newspapers, bottles and rags, or half-built derelict buildings.
As always, my number one piece of advice is not to shy away but to visit.
And here’s why!
TAKE ME THERE?
Getting from Lisbon to Porto was enormously smooth.
This time we took the train. Again, I can’t remember the exact details, but the train the company was called Comboios de Portugal and we bought our ticket just 24 hours previously. It pays to do so a little earlier, as the cheaper tickets went pretty quickly! The cost was something like €25.00 for adults and 25% off for “youths!”
The Portuguese train was clean, smooth and efficient. Some trains are also “quiet” carriages, but it shouldn’t be an issue unless you’re planning to party your way along the aisle lol!
The journey from Lisbon to Porto was roughly 3 hours.
If you’re flying from the UK then Ryanair is virtual proof of the pudding. If you’re on the Continent, then Easyjet and any other airline residing in France, in Belgium or Switzerland, is probably your best bet. If you’re coming from the Americas, then you’d probably need to fly to Lisbon or any other European hub, first.
IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?
With a population of just 220,000 people, you’ve got the place to yourself!
WHAT IS PORTO LIKE?
We were only there for three (3) days but Porto is on the one hand charmingly young, and on the other, historically old!
I DON’T SPEAK PORTUGUESE
English is widely spoken, but there’s nothing wrong with learning a few basic words of Portuguese as a measure of respect!
AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?
Things haven’t quite come to that!
Just like in Lisbon, we stayed at another rather adorable contemporary styled boutique hostel located in the trendy Art Quarter of Miguel Bombarda.
The Gallery Hostel characterizes the new concept of a luxury hostel, and is based in an impressive 1906 building house, blended with a modern décor, infusing neutral and earthy tones, with unique textures and furnishings.
We chose this hostel not only because it was family-friendly and family-owned, but because it has it’s own art gallery!
An Art Gallery!
An. Art. Gallery!
I’m not going to lie.
I like my luxuries, pampering, and exclusive service.
And let me tell you, when I’m in Asia or Eastern Europe, that is exactly what I go for.
Simply because I can!
Sometimes, I go for Art Design Hotels and sometimes, I go for a Quirky Bed & Breakfast.
And sometimes, I target luxury boutique hostels.
Just like the Gallery Hostel.
See you next week!
This article is part-sponsored by the lovely boutique Gallery Hostel, but all opinions, and the delightful glasses of port that we sipped whilst on the riverside quay, are my very own!
Next week, I’ll be focusing on food!
From June 2nd – June 3rd, I’ll be at the Berlin Fashion Film Festival.
From June 28th – July 2nd, I’ll be at Berlin Fashion Week.
Save the Date!
June is going to be fabulous!
I’ll be there. Will you?
As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & Facebook!
If you’re not in Berlin in June, you’re going to miss out on everything!
Watch this space!
See you in Berlin.
There’s still so much of Portugal I havent seen yet, including Porto. That top photo is incredible!
Thanks so much Anna! I thnk so too!
Totally agree! Porto is really great!
Thanks so much Travelling Rockhopper. Amazing!
The city of wine? Heck, you don’t have to twist my arm to visit there!
Tell me about it Phil! Honestly, even a tiny little newspaper stand had bottles of port to sell. You seriously, couldn’t go wrong lol!
I would be in so much trouble there…..
Europe does that to you. Great food! Delicious wine! 24 hour bars! Very reasonable prices, and a guarantee that if you fly, within an hour, you could be in a completely different country, with totally different food! Wine! Bars!
Yep! Definitely on my list. Dreams of touring Sandeman, my favorite port. The food goes without saying of course 🙂 . Looking forward to visiting this lovely country. Glad you had a marvelous time, and the bookstore in Harry Potter is a must visit for me, not because of that, but because it just looks amazing! 🙂
Thanks so much KemKem! Hmmm! We’ve got a few bottles of “ordinary” Port, Graham’s 10 year old Tawny Vintage Port, a few Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port. And 10 year old Ferreira White Porto Branco! We looked quite the visitor as our suitcase was carefully stored with encased bottles of port, coupled with buying even more at Duty-Free at the airport lol!
We did have a lovely time KemKem and the Livraria Lello definately warrants a bit of a browse. They don’t have much literature in English but they do have a “bar,” and that’s good enough for me! 🙂
Ahh, I want to go back to Portugal now!! I’ve only ever been to Lisbon, but on my next trip I definitely want to see more of the country. Porto looks like a really interesting place to visit! I’ll have to keep it in mind. Plus, I guess you can’t really go wrong with the city of wine, eh?!
Thanks so much Danny! I want to go back to Portugal toooooo! The country is just so versatile. There’s the cute and lovely Lisbon, the sophisticated Algarve, and now the gritty-but-oh-migod-isn’t-it-fascinating Porto!
City of wine? Always mine!! 🙂 🙂
It would be pretty hard to visit a pestle and mortar book shop though I’m intrigued by the concept… 😉
Lol! I think so too, but what an idea….!
p.s. It’s updated. Thanks. 🙂
I loved Porto when we were staying in Portugal. We walked around the whole main area and stayed only one night. I loved the river cruise and getting a chance to see all the fantastic bridges from the water. I also loved the Port, but that kind of goes without saying I think. LOL
Thanks so much Jenny! I’m so pleased that you managed to get to Porto. I hadn’t even heard of it until just last year but I’m so glad that I did! The river. Check. Food & Drink. Check. Sights. Check.
A great place to visit. 🙂
Oh girl, now you make me wanna visit Porto this summer! I was planning some adventures in Europe with my mom but we decided to pick Vienna and Dubrovnik. As you mentioned, Porto has the best wine and so delicious food – I’ve also heard that from my friends who visited this city couple of times. It’s still on my bucket list. What was the best sightseeing spot in of yours in Porto?
Thanks so much Agness! Europe is great for the summer and I’m so looking forward to reading all about the travels with your mum. She’s cool! 🙂
Porto really does has yummy food and wine which I’ll write about pretty soon! The best sighseeing spots in Porto are from the Porto Cathedral, the Torre dos Clérigos, or the Tower of Clerics, and from the Dom Luís I (or Luiz I) Bridge which used to be the longest bridge in the world! Any of these sightseeing points would give you gorgous, magnificent views! 🙂
Ugh, I’ve been dying to go here! And this post just made my wanderlust for Portugal that much stronger. It looks and sounds so amazing! Next I will have to read your post on the Algarve… Would love to go there, too. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Maddy @ http://www.travelalphas.com
Thanks so much TravelAlphas!
Porto really is an underrated city but with so much more to see and do!
Thanks so much for coming to my blog. Feel free to look around my posts about Portugal or any other destination under Countries that I have recently travelled to! Do read my piece about the Algarve, you’ll love it! Here’s the link: https://thebritishberliner.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/12-unique-things-to-do-in-the-algarve/ Happy travelling. 🙂
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Thank you for sharing this with us! I’ve definitely been inspired to make a trip to Porto!
Thanks so much! You’ll love Porto but if you have any questions, do let me know. It’s a great place. 🙂
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Great post, It is always good to hear nice things about our city.
“Obrigado e até uma próxima visita.”
Thanks so much Nuno! ‘Glad you liked it. Porto was lovely! 🙂
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