Being the amazing girlfriend that I am 😉 I booked my partner a trip to Portugal for his 30th birthday. His birthday is in August but though I love him deeply I refuse to pay August flights, we’re also both as pale as pale can be and summer sunshine is not the kindest to us. So I booked for us to go in September, flying into Porto and heading down to Lisbon.
I’m very much an in and out traveller, I don’t go with lots of money so it’s more about exploring for me rather than fancy food and activities. I’m also trying to not make the blogs so long they’re a bore to read – but it’s hard to include tips without going into detail…. any road:
Whilst in Lisbon we stayed at Good Morning Hostels, which I can’t recommend more – they’re super central, the staff are fab and the prices are brilliant. There are shared bathrooms but for the price difference it’s worth it.
Firstly be ready to get those thighs a-pumping, Lisbon is a city built on steps and hills and a lot of them. You can use the trams but they’re €3.70 a time and seconds so don’t feel worth it to me personally. Possibly worth a go if you want the experience, but otherwise get the boot moving.
On our first evening we just went on a stalk around the town, heading towards Time Out Lisbon market via pink street. This is simply a painted pink street, but it makes for some nice photos. Time Out market is a collection of food stalls all house under one place. It’s great if you want to dabble in or sample a variety of different foods because the choices are plentiful. We opted for meat and cheese boards and mojitos from the Time Out bar. The bar prices for cocktails are quite similar to London but the measures are much friendlier and each one spot on in taste.
Sometimes, when travelling, I like to just amble along with no google mapsdestination in mind, by doing this we fell across a bar called Stupido which was having a Pantone pop up. Apparently they often have pop ups and I recommend it for the amazing prices and nice atmosphere. €4 glasses of prosecco? GET IN MY FACE (which they did)
There was more ambling, up many, many, many stairs and then we headed to a burger bar. We have a tradition of trying the best rated burgers regardless of what country we’re in -A Cultura Do Hambúrguer had a great rep and the queue outside consisted of both tourists and locales backed up the notion it’d be good. Also the smell every time the doors opened.
(I’m so trying to avoid these travel blogs being AND THEN, AND THEN, AND THEN)
The next day we went to Sintra, Sintra is good, it is worth the journey. It costs less than €5 to get there which is just ridiculous. (In the train station they will be happy to help you) When you get to Sintra there is a bus for €5 that takes you round all theattractions, we were only heading to the castle but it’s still a huge hike so we jumped on there. This bus gets full so be prepared to potentially stand. We decided we weren’t going to go into the castle because it’s all about them aesthetics with this castle haha and for €7 you could walk around all the gardens and the castles outsides. It is one of the weirdest but coolest pieces of architectural design I’ve ever seen, but if you’re going to go I 100% recommend it.
For dinner (back in Lisbon near Alfama) we had pizza at Restaurante Casanova it was a lovely place to eat and watch the sun go down and they also had prosecco for €7 for half a litre… once again in my face it went.
The airport is semi far out from the main town but there is a metro (E line) that goes straight there for just a couple of euros. It gets busy though. On first glance I was a bit meh about Porto, Lisbon was so clean and fresh and Porto seemed a bit down and out. However this opinion rapidly changed when we made it into the city – it was so shonky and colourful and built up and I fell in love.
JK Rowling lived in Porto and it’s not hard to see where she may have been influenced, students walk around in long flowing black cloaks, the buildings are all different colours and shapes very reminiscent of the Burrow or Diagon Alley.
Porto is also the home of Livraria Lello, regularly visited by JK during her stay in the city, and said to have inspired more of her world. The line is very busy and I’d recommend going in the early morning or end of the day as it gets pretty busy quickly! You also have to buy a ticket (€4 from the shop on the left hand side of the building, on the corner)
The first day then we literally just walked around and took photos and took in everything there was to see, Porto is a photographers dream, blue tiled buildings, and so many many nooks and crannies to explore (and hills).
We decided to try a local delicacy called Francesinha at a small local cafe O Golfino. I felt a bit out of place at first as we were the only ones there, but the food was good and ridiculously cheap €15 for us both to eat mains and have drinks. I would recommend stepping outside of your comfort zone, your purse and stomach will thank you for it
In the evening we headed to the Gin Club, now I love gin even more than prosecco and they had so many choices, however I felt it was a bit pricey for Portugal, looking at closer to London prices and in some cases more. After a couple we headed to a bar a few doors down which had much more reasonably priced cocktails, and there are few nicer things than sitting outside on a warm evening with a good drink and a better person.
The following day we went on a boat trip these are priced at about €15 p/p and last about an hour but the tour is interesting and gives a great insight into the town of Porto. Hanging out by Douro river afterwards is just lush, there are so many bars/cafes to choose from, we read, drank gin and appreciated the beautiful views and hustle and bustle
Finally, we had another meat and cheese board in the ridiculously cheap Lareira Baixa there’s a bit of a wait but it’s 100% worth it, I couldn’t believe just how cheap it was and the food is top notch! Can’t recommend it more highly.
One really cool place in Porto is a sweet shop called DreamPills – you get to go in and pick the sweets using latex gloves, it’s themed really well and defo worth a look if you find yourself in Porto!
If you’re thinking about Porto, also check in Mackinstyle’s blog post HERE