This blog post will be mostly a photo diary from my time in Porto with some recommendations for sightseeing and accommodation. If you have kept up with my last few blog posts or my Instagram you will know I had been unwell for almost a month and in Porto, I got worse.
So… I was pretty sick the whole time I was in Porto
I thought I was recovering when I arrived in Porto until I started to have pain/pressure in the centre of my chest. I got really worried and decided it was time to see a doctor. That doctor’s visit was the most expensive I have had in Europe so far (156 Euros), I think because I required a translator, so I was so glad I had my ITrek travel insurance, which I have written a review on now that I have actually used it. I spent days having bed rest as I had difficulty moving without experiencing discomfort. Just to highlight how sick I was during my time in Porto, I chose to miss my flight to Germany, where I had planned in advance to visit friends. I also did this knowing I wouldn’t be reimbursed by my insurer for my flight because my doctor said I was fine to fly even though I could hardly walk for 10 minutes.
Eating vegetarian in Porto wasn’t easy but I have some recommendations:
I found it especially hard being sick in Porto as I was not up to preparing food and the vegetarian options for takeaway were difficult to find and in the supermarket nearby to my first accommodation the only option was frozen pizza… I eventually had some luck though. If you are looking for vegetarian takeaway Santa Catarina Shopping Centre has a food court where you can get vegetarian salads and noodles and they also have a veg-friendly mini-supermarket called Celeiro. There are also many vegetarian and vegan restaurants including ones with a buffet at a good price (I didn’t go because I didn’t want to cough all over people) – check out Happy Cow for more information.
Sightseeing in Porto
On my last day in Porto, I decided to set myself a challenge to sightsee using only a map because I realised that sometimes I can rely far too much on my phone and should actually use my brain. Oh and I managed to do just fine and actually found it fun to use a physical map. The following pictures are from that little adventure.
Accommodation recommendations for Porto
My main recommendations for Porto are accommodation related as I spent a lot of time actually in my accommodation so I got to know these two places very well.
- Guesthouse/Pension: If you would like a private bedroom but you don’t mind sharing a bathroom (which is kept very clean, by the way) I highly recommend Ana D’Ouro Apartment. It is run by a mother, Berta and her daughter, Ana and they truly make you feel like you are at home. There are also full kitchen facilities where you can prepare your own meals. This was about a 5-10 minute walk from the main city centre. This cost me around $40AUD per night.
- Hostel: Never fear, if you are on a tighter budget, the hostels seem to be of the highest quality in the larger cities in Portugal. I stayed at the Urban Garden Porto Central hostel for a whole week and it is the best hostel I have ever stayed at. If you are after a very chilled out hostel this is for you! I spent most mornings sunbathing in the morning sun in their garden. Their free breakfast is decent and their kitchen is well equipped for you to prepare other meals. The hostel is in the heart of the city and is, therefore, a great base for sightseeing. The staff here are friendly and helpful and were easily the most professional hostel staff I have come across in a long time. This hostel was definitely on the pricey side at around $27AUD per night for an 8-bed mixed dorm but I felt as though in this case you get what you pay for.
I was actually kind of surprised by how ‘expensive’ accommodation was in Porto (compared to other parts of Europe eg. Eastern Europe) as people had told me that Portugal, in general, is so cheap. You can however also find cheaper hostels but finding decent, cheap private accommodation is a challenge. I was told by a friend, Ana, who has recently moved to Porto that the growth of tourism has been huge over the last 3 years which could also explain why Porto isn’t really that cheap anymore.
Do I recommend going to Porto?
I feel like I don’t really have the ‘authority’ to recommend it or not as I didn’t have a ‘full tourist experience’ as unfortunately, I spent more time in bed than actually exploring Porto. I will, however, share with you my impressions. Compared to Lisbon, the city is a bit worn (I personally like this aesthetic though), for me the vibe wasn’t anywhere near as magical and it didn’t seem as tourist friendly. I found that fewer people could speak English than in Lisbon which generally isn’t a problem, I don’t expect everyone to speak my language but I did have a handful of people working in shops get visibly angry with me because of the language barrier. Don’t get me wrong though, the locals in Porto are largely very friendly people! It was also to my surprise quite congested with tourists at most times of the day, the only time to escape the crowds was early in the morning. The time that I spent exploring Porto was enjoyable but I don’t have much of a desire to return.
Muro dos Cobertos da Ribeira (pictured above and below), near the Ponte Luis I bridge, was a very cool place to explore. It is lined with cafes and restaurants and is the perfect place to people watch especially on a sunny day. You can also simply sit by or stroll along the riverside and take it all in.
I really loved meandering around the surrounding area of Muro dos Cobertos da Ribeira. I stumbled across Rua Das Flores which is a historical street dating back to the 1500’s, it was once home to the elite of Porto. It is now home to cafe’s, restaurants and some very unique shops. I may have made a cheeky purchase at Claus Porto which is a fancy artisanal perfume and soap store which is located on Rua Das Flores. If you are in the market for a special, very aesthetically pleasing souvenir for yourself or someone else this is the place to go as the brand was founded Porto (in 1887!!) and is still made in Porto to this day.