Porto, Portugal

In contrast to France, there is no break in service for places in Portugal, which was helpful as we arrived late afternoon. Restaurants are also open much later than back home, often until 12 or 1 am.

Originally we had 2 nights and only one full day scheduled for Porto, but the morning that we are supposed to leave for Luso, we found out that the forest is closed! Lesson learned that we should have been more proactive about checking with our AirBnB hosts and our upcoming activities, we checked the weather but not on the forest itself! Apparently a month ago there was a terrible storm and clean up is just getting underway. So in a wild panic we decided to cancel our Luso trip and extend our stay in Porto; luckily it all worked out as we got an extra day that was finally sunny!

Logistics

general

Good to Know

In our experience, the Portuguese use English much more than the French, so we had no trouble getting around.

Vaccinations: Routine Vaccinations

Mosquito problems: None during this time. Their windows also don’t have screens!

Problems for tattoos: None

Traveling as a woman: Standard Precautions

Getting around

Porto is not too big of a town, so it’s very accessible via walking. There’s also a light rail and the bus, but we never needed to use it other than getting in from the airport. The light rail tickets also operate via zones, the reusable but paper card costs .60 EUR to get, and the trip from the airport to Old Town was 2 EUR.

Interesting to note: We validated our Eurail pass in France, but when we took our passes to Portugal, they were confused by the stamp from France and re-stamped our passes with their own stamps.

budgeting

Currency: 1 EUR = 1.15 USD
Tipping is not necessary, but appreciated. Tax is usually already included in their pricing. Most places in Portugal only take cash, so always have cash on hand just in case.

Daily Budget

$50-70/person: This was for 3 evenings in Porto with a private Airbnb apartment located in the city center. We mostly ate out, as we originally planned for only one full day in Porto and did not purchase groceries, but since most restaurants don’t open until 10 am, it was mainly 2 meals and a snack per day.

Some typical costs

  • Pastel de nata/Egg tart: .90-1 EUR
  • Food court meal (pp): 5-10 EUR
  • Restaurant meal (pp): 10-20 EUR
  • AirBnB: $35/night

What to Eat

After a week of spending in France, we were grateful for the more casual food scene in Portugal. While you can definitely splurge on seafood, you can also just spend 5 EUR at a food court/market. Randomly, we noticed that just like in France, there’s a surprising number of pizza restaurants (and they’re really good!). It also seemed to be the norm to order drinks with dinner, water will usually be bottled and cost extra. And of course, there are the famous pastéis de nata, which you can find everywhere.

Egg tarts

  • Forno dos Clerigos, Rua dos Clérigos 64
  • Padaria Ribeiro, Praça de Guilherme Gomes Fernandes 21 (multiple locations)

Both had great quality tarts: Padaria Ribeiro tarts were just a little more savory and flavorful. Both had the traditional puff pastry crust, imagine something like filo dough sheets, and a much eggier flavor than the Chinese dimsum tarts.

Mercado Bom Sucesso

mercadobomsucesso.pt/home, Praça Bom Sucesso 74-90, $

Though we came in the middle of the afternoon there were plenty of people hanging out, having some food and wine. We sample a couple empanadas (tasty) from El Argento, then swayed by the smell of roasted sucklings at Leitão do Zé grab a pork sandwich with cheese and chips (which we mistakenly thought would be cheese fries, was an ok sandwich though a bit salty), and a fruit smoothie from Be Natural, all for about 15 EUR.

O Diplomata pancake

O Diplomata

facebook.com/odiplomatabar, Rua de José Falcão 32, $

Even though it was raining our entire first day in Porto, Carl mentioned something about pancakes so I jumped out of bed and trudged happily sans umbrella to O Diplomata. We arrive just in time to snag the last seats at the bar and hungrily peruse the menu as jazzy hip hop warmed the room.

We built our own pancakes and ordered a Limonada and nutella cappuccino to share. I had 2 mirtilo + chocolate quente + frutos vermelhos, blueberry pancakes topped with chocolate sauce and berries (oh hello again groseille berries that we discovered in France!). Carl had 2 simple + creme de banana + morango, plain pancakes with banana cream and strawberries. Banana cream was very subtle and Carl’s creation was a better balance but who doesn’t love a hot mess with chocolate on it? The Limonada was not lemonade, instead more like watered lemon juice. The nutella cappuccino is a cappuccino with the cup lined in Nutella and topped with an equal portion of whip cream. In retrospect I should have ordered simple pancakes since my toppings overpowered the pancakes and a regular cappuccino, but no regrets! They also have other fruit juices and milkshakes. This place was busy all times of the day, we even saw people eating there for dinner.

francesinha

Capa Negra II

capanegra.com, Rua do Campo Alegre 191, $

We came to Capa Negra II for a late lunch to try a Porto signature francesinha; a very filling and popular sandwich stuffed with various meats, covered with cheese and a tomato and beer sauce. I had a disappointing tagliatelle pasta that was just too bland, but there was complementary roasted chestnuts. Note that ordering water gets you bottled water for 1 EUR.

Zenith cafe

zenithcaffe.pt/en, Praça Carlos Alberto nº 86, $$

A cute hipstery cafe for brunch or cocktails, things here were a little more expensive for what they are but delicious nonetheless. The big surprise was that they serve truly traditional Brazilian açai, simple toppings and that signature gritty texture (Carl was thrilled!). The Eggs Benedict had a nice touch of paprika, a much thinner spread of avocado than we’re used to back in California, but not surprising. Carl had the Eggs Zenith, which was a leveled up Benedict, with crispy ham and breaded poached eggs; which were really interesting as they tasted more like chicken than egg, but did not have a runny yolk. The orange juice was very fragrant and the mocha dark. We really enjoyed the meal!

Food Corner

zenithcaffe.pt/en, Praça Carlos Alberto nº 86, $$

We check out Food Corner for dinner, which is like a food court building; each floor is a different restaurant. We decide to finally try a pizza after seeing so many pizza restaurants in France and Portugal, and it turns out really good! Here they do it super thin crust and while it doesn’t seem like as much in terms of quantity compared to back home (it is more expensive here as well), and the pizzas have more flavor. It could be the cheese perhaps, either way, we chow down pretty fast on the pizza before moving to the next floor and grabbing a smoothie bowl from Abacate (which we mistakenly thought would be an açaí bowl) and a Spiral pasta bowl from Maza Pasta Bar. All in all, decent and quick food, mostly frequented by locals.

cremosi

cremosi.com, 344,, R. de Mouzinho da Silveira 342, $

As always, we had to try some local ice cream on our one sunny day in Porto, so we stopped in at Cremosi. Their ice cream is all handmade and they offer a small variety of flavors, nothing too crazy. We shared a scoop of their most unusual flavor, which was a white chocolate orange saffron. Turned out pretty mild, but tasty.

Read about Carl’s take on the food in Porto below:

Carl's Corner
The foods of Portugal! While having somewhat of an idea of what to expect in terms of food I must say that a lot of the things we ate in Porto and Lisbon were very delicious! Our first stop was Porto for what was supposed to be 1.5 days with the full day being rainy, it turned out that our Luso trip was to be cancelled because our Airbnb host failed to mention that the main attraction of that place was actually closed due to a big storm that just destroyed it in mid October. So much so that 2 days prior of our arrival in Porto they chose the winning bid of the company to help restore the forest!! When we book Airbnb we always tell the host who we are and what we are there for and that’s exactly what we did yet for some reason he tells us literally 1 hour before checking out of Porto to double check if the forest is still open (this is literally the only reason why people visit Luso too..) and we stopped dead in our tracks as we were about to walk out of the door, did some digging (for some reason it was extremely hard to find current information on it) and found out that it was definitely still closed off. Once that was confirmed we immediately extended our Porto Airbnb 15 minutes before we were to check out! Everything worked out as that day the sun was out and we were excited to explore. It was definitely the greatest thing that could have come out of an unfortunate event!

First off, we arrived to Porto mid day so we chose a marketplace close by that had many stalls of food called Mercado Bom Success: our first stop was a stall that served empanadas. We had their carne empanada as well as the corn and cheese empanada. The crust for both of the empanadas were soft and had a wonderful buttery flakiness to it. The carne empanada was juicy and flavorful, fearing it would be dry we grabbed some of the salsa they offered but found we didn’t need it. Actually, I ate the salsa by itself because it too was very tasty! The corn and cheese stole the show. I’m a corn guy, I love me corn! On a salad, on a pizza, a topping on a hotdog, whenever wherever (Shakira voice) I love it!! Paired with a cheese that didn’t overpower it too, these are the times where I wish we didn’t share… it was gooey goodness forsure!

Our next food item was a roasted milk piglet sandwich. It was super juicy with every mouthwatering bite. The stall showcased the the little guys, roasted of course and if you’re Filipino or have been to a Filipino feast think of the cutest little lechon you would have ever seen! Then you realize that little guy is roasted to perfect and you get a bit sad… but then you try it and it’s crispy skin and have your imagination goes wild like it’s an Herbal Essence commercial. Our first night of eats was definitely a great way to start a wonderful night’s rest.

The next morning/brunch (we decided to sleep in past our first alarm since it was raining heavily) we gained the courage to explore Porto in the rain and made a half mile walk to O Diplomata, Porto’s main spot for breakfast, brunch and lunch. A bit of a hipster vibe that attracts all crowds! After all who doesn’t like pancakes! Adrienne ordered blueberry pancakes with chocolate sauce and berries and I ordered their original topped with banana creme and strawberries (plain I know..). The stacks were fluffy and flavorful! Not too sweet and the banana cream was made fresh from scratch too! We also had their freshly squeezed lemonade which most reviews said was a must but tasted like an overly lemony water with a tarty punch! Not what I had imagined but definitely a drink that’ll wake you up. Every time I looked over at Adrienne she seemed to be in her own fluffy world. So I would imagine she was enjoying her pancakes!

We went back to our Airbnb to do some work and before we knew it we were getting hungry again! I shouldn’t say again since we are always hungry and if we aren’t we still can definitely eat! We looked up what was good to eat and found out that we need to try a francesinha. A triple protein sandwich wrapped with melted cheese and sauced over with a beer and tomato concoction. We walked over to a spot called Capa Negra II to try it. The place had this diner feel to it and we were greeted by this nice older gentlemen that kind of looked like Carl from the movie Up. The francesinha protein consisted of ham, Portuguese sausage and a thin slice of beef in between slices of bread then wrapped with cheese and melted. The sauce reminded me of those wet burritos from home too but with a bit more body, thicker in consistency and more of a bolder flavor to it. The combination of all the ingredients worked very well and looking around we seemed to be at the right place for a francesinha as it was what most people ordered. After a great early dinner we headed back to get some work done. We couldn’t do much as it was raining and we were basically traveling the next day.. or so we thought.

After going through our morning damage control we needed food! Enter, Zenith Cafe. A wonderful little spot that seemed to be also one of the main breakfast, brunch and lunch spots. After a short wait we were excited to order some Eggs Benedict. Adrienne getting a regular one that consisted of an avocado toast with a perfectly poached egg and I had their house Zenith Benedict which was an avocado toast with Parma ham topped with a deep fried-poached egg. Both with a beautifully made hollandaise. My Beni was quite mind blowing because of the fact that the poached egg was also fried! The taste was unreal, it tasted like chicken.. don’t look at me weird thinking “uhh eggs come from chicken” it was strange yet delicious that it was like eating a fried chicken stuffed with a poached egg. Again, don’t look at me weird.. chickens come from chickens I get it.. but definitely a dish I need to recreate! After our wonderful benis I was hankering for an açaí bowl and I’m very particular about my açaí. Nothing beats the stuff you get from Brazil and I mean nothing. The simple sweet grittiness of real Brazilian açaí will always make me feel like I’m floating. So when I saw they had “Brazilian açaí” I had to order it. It wasn’t like the real thing but it was dam near close. I’m simple when it comes to açaí, just need the açaí itself or on occasion topped with granola. This had all the frills: banana, coconut shavings, goji berry and some other things. The açaí itself wasn’t as gritty as I like but the flavor was really good!

Since the day was sunny we explored all we could around Porto. Beautiful bridges by the river to the lovely strolls in the cobblestoned alleys. In the evening, we found ourselves down a creepy street to find Food Corner, a four story building where on each floor was a different tiny eatery. Which doesn’t do well for me as I’m pretty indecisive as they come but very flexible in terms of what I’ll eat. I love all kinds and crave all kinds at the same time. I’m not one to say I don’t want to eat there because I know wherever I eat there will be something I’ll want to try or eat! With that said we had pizza and pasta.. haha. From top floor to bottom the building had a pizza place, an “American” hamburger joint, a sushi spot and a pasta eatery. I didn’t miss America enough to get a hamburger and figured the sushi spot would be mediocre at best. The thin crust pizzas looked appetizing and of course sharing it wouldn’t be enough so we opted to get one of Adrienne’s favorites… pasta. There wasn’t anything special to these meals but we did enjoy the thin crunchy crust pizza with mushrooms and an egg. If only it came with more than 1 egg though. The pasta itself wasn’t bad but it wasn’t anything to rave about. It was your simple multi colored twist pasta with cheese and lightly sauced. I did like the fact that the building was kind of like a food court.

I’m honestly glad that we had the extra day in Porto. The city itself is wonderful and beautiful. The people are nice and so far most of everyone speaks English. There isn’t a bad place to sit and people watch which is one of my favorite things to do. Food wise the city has wonderful things to offer and though most of what we ate were simple meals they definitely exceeded expectations in terms of flavor and execution.

What to Do

Porto is the origin of Portugal, so there are multiple historic buildings and many of them are religious, including the iconic Igreja do Carmo. We enjoyed walking through the city to admire all the tiled building exteriors and the murals/graffiti along the alley walls.

Casa da guitarra

casadaguitarra.pt/en, 98, Praça Guilherme Gomes Fernandes, $$

There were also a number of retail stores throughout Porto, but our favorite shop was Casa da guitarra. They sell everything from the classical guitars to the traditional Portuguese Cavaquinho and ukuleles. We learned that ukuleles came from a smaller Portuguese brenguina and cavaquino guitars when the Portuguese migrated to Hawaii to work on the sugar plantations. Apparently, nowadays they are starting to have more popularity with the ukulele in Portugal and are teaching ukulele in grade school, rather than the flute.

Where to Stay

AirBnB

The Porto Concierge – From above
We really enjoyed this AirBnB in Porto. The apartment felt and they were organized more like a hotel in terms of the modern space and their communication. The common room, bedroom and bathroom were spacious and the floors were mopped clean just before we arrived. They were extremely responsive through AirBnB messaging, we ended up trying to extend our reservation one more day (due to the Luso forest closure) just before check out and they responded and accommodated immediately.

Want to give AirBnB a try?
Use our referral link to get $40 in travel credit when you sign up!

 

Leave a Reply

We're glad you want to join in the conversation! Please keep in mind that comments are moderated and will only be published upon approval. Your email address is required but will not be displayed.