Porto: a city with a charming spirit that’s visible in its food, wine, and breathtaking views. It’s where the mesmerizing Douro River flows towards the cold waters of the Atlantic. The city is positioned on the steep riverbank, showcasing an opulent city hall and tall towers.
Remains of the city’s past are apparent in the astounding architecture of the buildings. After sunset, the city flaunts a romantic setting, glowing like a honeycomb. Connected, the seaside is only a few minutes away from the CBD. On one side of the Douro River, a plush suburb straddles the shore ‘til it meets the ocean. On the other, a romantic setting encompasses tidal pools where awe-inspiring sunsets can be found.
While its beauty can be found all around you, it is up and down the cobbled streets where one gets to experience the spirit and soul of Porto. It is in the bars and smoke-filled cafes, unusual combinations of foods and drinks that don’t tug your wallet, and where a mellow stroll home is always guaranteed to be fulfilling.
Here’s a list to look to for the raw experiences I encountered in Porto City during my trip around Europe.
Delving into the spirit of the city of Porto
Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art
Visiting the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art tops my to-do list as it is considered to be one of the most important modern art museums in the country. The contrast of light and shadow fills the empty spaces of the architecture of the building, which was designed by veteran architect, Siza Vieira. Exploring and learning about the history and ideas of the exhibitions was enough to give me palpitations.
Half-day walking tour
To get a real feel of the city of Porto, join in on a free half-day walking tour led by provocative architects. Take full advantage of the tour by exploring the 70 kilometre-long cycle paths that trace along the river and into the town. Hire a bike by a local bike rental, Porto Rent a Bike.
An hour’s walk or 10-minute cycle, follow the riverside boardwalk that stretches towards the Atlantic where you’ll find the small village of Afurada. A tour of the village gives you an authentic experience and the chance to enjoy perfectly grilled fish. What’s more, there’s a ferry service that runs across Porto as well as regular buses.
Visit a local eatery
The true food culture of Porto can be found at O Buraco. The eatery is where you’ll get to indulge in food that might be found in a Portuguese grandmother’s kitchen. On offer is authentic Portuguese food like frango pica no chão cabidela, a chicken-and-rice stew that uses chicken blood.
Of course, this is just a small taste of what Porto has to offer. The European trip afforded me a glimpse into the beautiful and secret world of Porto. This city is definitely on my list of places I’d like to revisit. With a little patience and the willingness to skip what is usually advertised to tourists, it’s possible to dig a little deeper into the culture, food, people and buildings to experience the soul of the city.