Our Time in Porto

We greatly enjoyed our four weeks in Porto. It is a beautiful city with perfect August weather (highs most days in the low 80s Fahrenheit, lows around 60 degrees, lots of sun and no rain), and easy to get around. Though we didn’t see or do anything too spectacular in Porto, it was very liveable and had plenty to do. 

Continued from Part 1

I don’t want to be too redundant about the things I already talked about loving about Porto in my prior “We’re Home” post, but we continued to utilize the excellent public transit system, especially buses, throughout our stay. I forgot to mention in my prior post that one of the things that made the monthly bus pass work well for us is that we arrived in Porto at the beginning of the month. The passes are sold by calendar month and can’t be prorated, so if you started a month-long stay in Porto in the middle of a month, you’d have to buy passes for both months your stay straddles, which may not be as cost-effective versus the regular tickets. So when planning a month in Porto, I definitely recommend following a calendar munch. 

We also continued visiting parks on a regular basis, including revisiting some we went to in our first week and finding a few new ones. The large city park near Matosinhos on the Atlantic coast remained our favorite and we ended up spending a couple hours there every weekend. It was a great Porto tradition for us. And, we continued to enjoy Porto’s delightful food and pastries.

Foz and Matosinhos – The Atlantic Coast

Regular visits to the Atlantic Ocean was our favorite part of life in Porto. We went to Foz, Matosinhos, or both every weekend. A big highlight was the regional futevolei tournament held at the beach in Matosinhos. As you might expect, futevolei is a combination of soccer and volleyball. We first saw it years ago in Brazil and really enjoyed watching it. When we saw the poster advertising the games the following weekend we knew immediately we’d attend. The quality of play wasn’t as high as we remembered from Rio but it was still really fun to watch the players use their feet, heads, and shoulders to maneuver the ball over the net. We went both Saturday and Sunday and had a great time.

We also had another great seafood dinner out in Matosinhos and watched the big “classico” football (soccer) match between Porto and Sporting Lisbon at a bar in Foz with many local fans. We’d hoped to attend the match in person but the tickets sold out to members before becoming available to the general public. Watching at the pub worked out really well and it was another great time. And, we had the opportunity to see fado music performed at the park in Matosinhos. We liked it well enough that we bought tickets to a professional fado concert at the music hall later that month. 

Day Trip to the Douro Wine Region

We didn’t have time to do many day trips from Porto (next time!) but we did take a trip out to the Douro valley to see the vineyards and taste more Douro wines (though they are served everywhere in Porto). We took one of the earliest trains from Sao Bento station in Porto, making sure to sit on the right side of the train for the great Douro views once we hit the valley. 

We arrived in Pinhao two and a half hours later, shortly before 11 a.m., which gave us time to walk up through a couple of vineyards and through the little town before the restaurants opened for lunch. We found a restaurant with a view along the river called LBV 79 and had a great lunch of salmon and grilled veggies and Douro wine. Then we visited the shop for Quinta do Noval winery to taste more local wine and then took a one-hour riverboat ride. We came back in time for wine at another vineyard across the river, Quinta das Carvalhas, which was pricey but excellent. 

After that it was time for coffee and a snack, then a little more wine before our evening train back to Porto. The train back was delayed several times both before and after picking us up, so I think it was almost 10 p.m. by the time we returned to our apartment. It was a long day but a very worthwhile trip.

Porto Sights

Of course, Porto has several tourist attractions that are worth visiting, including its cathedral, the old neighborhood called Ribeira, and the riverfronts on both sides of the Douro. We enjoyed a single visit to all of those parts.

We also spent a late afternoon visiting the Casa de Musica, a great piece of architecture in the city, and then wandering around its neighborhood, Boavista, before attending a Fado concert there. It was a really fun date night that we capped off with an excellent dinner at a restaurant called Casa de Ló. We called it our casa night because the wonderful bar we stopped for drinks between our audio tour and the concert was called the Casa da Agricola.

But the closest sight to spectacular we saw in Porto were the sunsets from the Jardim do Morro across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia. After our initial picnic there, we went back two more times and really enjoyed seeing the sun go down over the Douro River with a couple hundred other people. I think that would be my first recommendation to someone visiting Porto.

Summary

We had a really wonderful month in Porto and I’m glad we chose it. Anyone who loves good food, great wine, lovely weather, and beautiful architecture would find a lot to appreciate in Porto.

Airbnb Review – We spent four weeks in this apartment and it worked really well for us. The host’s communication was excellent. During the check-in he told us about the main Porto sights and answered our questions. We appreciated that weekly cleaning was provided. The apartment was clean when we moved in and made like new once a week at a time that was coordinated with us. The bed was comfortable for us and the small kitchen worked well. The best part of this apartment is the terrace – we ate every meal that wasn’t in a restaurant out there. The wifi worked well though the router is located in the apartment next door, which the same host (Miguel) also rents on Airbnb. If that unit is available, I would choose it next time because the wifi signal would be stronger and the terrace is even a little nicer since it is closer to the trees from the garden next door. But honestly we’d stay in any of Miguel’s properties in this building! It’s in a wonderful location and he’s a great Airbnb host. 

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