During our yearly holiday in Portugal, I planned to go to Porto, sans child, with friend. I confess I had been dreading this day. The day when I would have to leave my child for more than 5 hours. The day when I would self-indulge in my own interests, leave him for 3 days and go away on a girly weekend to a Festival in Porto.
I tried to find any and every excuse to call off the trip, or at least find an excuse to shorten my trip and dash back to my mum’s, who was looking after him. But bar the sudden crying fit I had when I got into the taxi on my way to the station, I managed quite well, and even had (shhh) fun.
I took the train from Estacao Sta Apolonia in Lisbon towards Porto (or Oporto), which took approximately 3 1/2 hours and was surprisingly comfortable, especially considering I usually take the filthy First Connect train to London. We were going back to our roots as Festival goers, and our budget was super tight.
We stayed at a nice enough place called Residencial Porto Novo, spot on in the centre of town, as well as benefiting from being located by the river. You really couldn’t beat the location, and although the room was small, it was very clean, with TV, WIFI and our own bathroom for a real bargain: €12/night. And to top it off, it looked over the most amazing house – a house build on a roof top daring anyone’s perception of what’s what!
As the festival only started in the evening, we spent our days roaming through the streets of this unique city – Where raw ruined buildings sit next to strikingly modern structures. Where an extreme of cultural spectrums meet – independent shops selling 100-year-old trinkets to rows of galleries and avant-garde museums. All of which is adorned by the river Douro, a thing of real beauty.
During the weekend Porto really revealed itself as city not only made of port wine cave and boat trips on the Douro, but a city of true personality, unpretentious and full of helpful and friendly people. In one day it had completely won me over, to the point where I wanted to bring my family here. Not just for a holiday, but to live. Mind you I’m from rival city Lisbon, so I was prepared to risk treason to relive this city’s energy forever.
Still unconvinced this is the place for you to visit? Check out how much it costs us to stay in Porto:
The food was great and cheap, even considering Lisbon prices and if you’re into pastries and cakes, Porto is the place for you. Our lunch consisted of a sandwich, drink, expresso and a cake and we paid on €3 per person – take that rest of Europe!
3 Day Transport – €15
You can pretty much cover most of the city by foot, so buy your ‘Andante’ cartao (3 day public transport pass) only when you’re sure you’ll be needing it.
The city has inspired a few posts which will be part of a Porto series. If you don’t want to miss out on future posts, sign-up for our newsletter.
Have you been in Porto? Do you have any tips?