For my father’s 60th birthday, we gave him a city break. He could choose the destination himself and to my surprise he chose the northern Portuguese city of Porto. Port wine, ham, seafood – we are coming.
During the landing approach to Porto, the northern Portuguese city shows its best side for the first time. We approach the airport OPO from the south and see the old town of Porto and the bridges over the river Douro in all their colourful splendour below us.
View of Porto’s old town from the Gaia side – Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
After landing we take the metro to our apartment “Boavista Palace” in the district Boavista (Rua Dr Emilio Peres, 74, 4050-007 Porto, Portugal).
I used the check-in in the apartment directly to get his personal tips for the surrounding gastronomy from the receptionist. A short time later we set off for the historic city centre of Porto.
At this point, it should be said right away that the local public transport from metro and buses is not exactly cheap. Not even if you buy tickets for several days. Moreover, the vending machines and the zone validity of the tickets are anything but self-explanatory. Therefore, the use of Uber for longer trips is much more practical, especially as in the city area of Porto, one also makes good progress on foot or by taxi boat. Those who nevertheless absolutely want to buy tickets for metro and buses should rather do this at a counter with advice due to the incomprehensible vending machines.
Historic house fronts in Porto’s Old Town – Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
City park and beach promenade
Those who are well on foot can first walk from the city centre through the “Parque da cidade”, the city park, and then walk along the beach in the direction of the harbour district. The way from the city park along the coast leads past small bars and beach cafes, rugged rocky coast and old forts.
View from the “Praia Internacional” to the Atlantic Ocean – Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
We take a seat in a small café on the beach “Praia Internacional”. I watch the hustle and bustle on the beach promenade and drink a sip of the Portuguese beer “Super Bock”, while others do sports near the beach. Street musicians play songs, artists of life and those who want to become artists pass by, cyclists avoid a free running dog. I look at the Atlantic Ocean, where I swam 20 minutes ago – a cold affair in May.
After the beer we continue north along the beach promenade until we finally arrive in Matosinhos for lunch.
Matosinhos is the port district of Porto. Restaurants and fish shops line the front streets like a string of pearls. The smell of freshly grilled fish over charcoal fire is in the air, the sun pierces.
Guests sit in a fish restaurant in Matosinhos, next to it the fresh fish is prepared on the charcoal grill. – Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
Typical for Porto, the colourful house fronts with their tile and mosaic decorations await us in the Matosinhos quarter. Between the restaurants and shops there are abandoned or almost dilapidated houses without any glamour. A contrast that personally fascinates me again and again.
Almost all restaurants offer seating inside but also in a kind of “glass box” on the street. We are sitting in this conservatory-like construction when the waiter presents us with a plate of fish of different sizes. We select the middle fish, toast with our wine and the selected fish is grilled outside for us. The preparation is almost sparse – salt, olive oil, some steamed vegetables in addition. An excellent, simple meal.
The buildings in the back streets of Matosinhos have already seen better times – Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
Who loves not only fish, but also other seafood, will get his money’s worth in the “Restaurant Teresa” and in the “Rei Da Sardinha Assada“. Both restaurants offer fresh fish, lobsters, mussels, octopus and other specialities.
Clams with parsley and lemon in the “Restaurant Teresa” in Matosinhos – iPhone 8 Plus inbuild wideangle lens
The “Rei Da Sardinha Assada” was recommended to us by one of our overriders when we asked him where he and his family would like to eat on a free day. The visitor can expect a wide choice of food served in a rather simple environment. The restaurant is a bit more hidden and not in the front row. A real insider tip.
Grilled calamari with onions in the “Rei Da Sardinha Assada” – iPhone 8 Plus inbuild wideangle lens
From the Porto side of the Douro River you can reach the southern side of Gaia via one of the many river bridges or for around €3 per person with a taxi boat every 10 minutes.
In addition to the great view of Porto, visitors can expect good restaurants, a cable car to the nunnery, port wine cellars and market halls.
The sun goes down over the sea, in the foreground one of the Douro bridges of Porto – Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
If you want to change from the Porto page to the Gaia page, the taxi boat is recommended. For 3€ it takes the passengers from one side of the city to the other. No walk over the bridges or a taxi is faster.
Those who think of Porto, of course, also think of Port wine and the corresponding Port wine cellars. These are all on the Gaia side of the Douro river. Well-known manufacturers like Sandemann, Offley, Burmester and others invite the visitors here to guided tours and tastings in their own cellars.
Numerous port wine brands have opened their cellars to visitors – Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
If the matter is not too dizzying for you, you can take the cable car from the river bank of the Gaia side up to the nunnery “Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar”. The backyards and streets of the Gaia side are decorated with numerous street art installations. If you walk carefully through the alleys, you can find some small works of art.
On the Gaia side of the Douro River you will find numerous street art installations – Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
The next evening we use the view from the Gaia side of Porto for an extensive photo tour at nightfall.
Photo tour to the blue hour
Those who try the Google image search for impressions of Porto will primarily find pictures of the old town with its colorful house fronts and lights. Most of the photos were taken from the Gaia side of the river Duoro.
Reason enough for me to wait here for the blue hour.
View of Porto and the bridge “Ponte Luíz I” at the beginning of the blue hour – Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
The illuminated old town of Porto and the river bridges offer excellent motifs for long-term exposures and HDR shots. But not only photo fanatics get their money’s worth here: The sight offers all visitors an extraordinarily romantic ambience.
Armed with tripod and camera, we set out to explore potential motifs and then waited for the lights on bridges and buildings to turn on. About half an hour after the meteorological start of the blue hour the time had come: Bridges and the city shone in the golden yellow, warm artificial light.
View of the nunnery and the bridge “Ponte Luíz I” at night – Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
Delights and time-out
Apart from the places mentioned in the text so far, there are of course further recommendations for all those who would like to explore the city from its culinary side.
Markethall “Mercado Bom Sucesso”
A visit to the market hall “Mercado Bom Sucesso” is highly recommended. You can try various Portuguese specialities at countless stands. Nowhere else can you gather so many different culinary impressions in such a short time as here. We can expect seafood, suckling pig, ham, sausage and cheese specialities, baked goods and wine and port wine merchants. It is best to plan at least two hours and enjoy the Portuguese cuisine.
The market stalls in the “Mercado Bom Sucesso” invite you to explore Portuguese cuisine – Nikon D500, Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM | Art
One of the Uber drivers recommended us to try the Portuguese speciality “Francesinha”: A huge baked toast sandwich, served with a spicy sauce and fries. For this speciality we should go to the “Café Santiago” in the upper part of the city.
Three kinds of meat and sausage between toast slices and a fried egg gratinated with hearty cheese – iPhone 8 Plus inbuild wideangle lens
Let’s go. The restaurant was well visited, so well that larger groups waited on the street for a free table. Since there were only two of us, we were luckily able to sit right at the counter and have a look at the open part of the kitchen.
Here the “Francesinhas” are toasted in chord, baked and then served on the plates for the guests. The waiters swarm out and distribute the fresh sandwiches to the guests of the “Cafés Stantiago”.
The Francesinhas are fried behind the counter, baked and then served to the hungry guests – iPhone 8 Plus inbuild wideangle lens
I bite into my sandwich topped with three kinds of meat and sausage, baked with cheese and a fried egg. The sandwich is surrounded by chips and a lightly edible sauce that reminds me a little of fish & chips with vinegar and salt. A real taste firework with heart attack potential. After that you just want to go to bed, but it was definitely worth it.
What photographic equipment did I bring with me?
Below you will find affiliate links to the equipment I use:
- DSLR-Camera Nikon D500
- Lens Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 DC HSM
- Lens Sigma 17-50mm F2,8 EX DC OS HSM
- Travel Tripod Rollei Compact Carbon (980 g incl. head)
- iPhone 8 Plus
- Travelite Vector Beautycase for cameratransport in handbaggage
All the links in this text are Amazon Affiliate Links, and by clicking on an affiliate link I will earn a percentage of your subsequent Amazon purchases. However, this circumstance does not influence the background of my product recommendation. This product recommendation is independent, honest and sincere.
Bei allen genannten Links in der Videobeschreibung handelt es sich um Amazon-Affiliate-Links.Durch einen Klick auf einen Affiliate-Link werde ich prozentual an Euren darauf folgenden Amazon-Einkäufen beteiligt. Dieser Umstand beeinflusst aber nicht die Hintergründe meiner Produktempfehlung. Diese Produktempfehlung erfolgt unabhängig, ehrlich und aufrichtig.