Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Travel: Porto, Portugal - Primavera + City Guide

porto primavera city guide
Primavera - the music is mostly at night so there's time to explore the city during the day too.
Porto is Portugal's second city - it has a similar look and feel to Lisbon but it's smaller, easy to navigate on foot and very affordable. Oh, and it's slightly less steep but still has the cute retro trams of it's big sister city.

porto primavera city guide
Cliche festival girl.
I visited for the Primavera Festival which is hosted by Barcelona and Porto - I went to Primavera Barcelona in 2014 so it's great to be able to compare the two. Barcelona gets a bigger and better line-up (this year they had Radiohead headlining which would have been an absolute dream) but it's pricer - both the festival tickets and the city itself. The Barcelona festival site is sparse, futuristic and devoid of any greenery whereas Porto's is in a lush green park and has more of a ~festival feel to it, there's really nothing better than sitting on the grass under a blue sky with a cold drink in hand. Both festivals are non-camping so you'll need to find somewhere to stay, get yourself to and from the festivals site each day and bag searches mean that you can't bring your own drinks into the arena. European crowds are quite different to British ones - I felt at both Barcelona and Porto that people didn't really dance much but people are friendly and there's definitely less undesirable behaviour than I've experienced at day festivals in London... If the line-up is your thing than pick Barcelona but if you're less bothered about seeing a certain band then the Porto venue is nicer and the city is more manageable so you can easily do the festival in style and see everything the city has to offer whereas in Barcelona you definitely won't be able to make the most of the festival and see all the sites if it's your first visit.

porto primavera city guide
The entrance to Primavera.

porto primavera city guide
Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds - my festival highlight.
We stayed in an Airbnb in the university district, this one here. It was affordable and so nice, spacious and with a balcony overlooking the historic tram route. It was great to have a well located base to have some pre-festival chill out time and to be able to stock up on drinks and snacks and not have to get up early for breakfast! Our host met us to show us around the apartment, explain how everything worked and to give us tips on the city - she was super nice and it was a great welcome.

porto primavera city guide
Original art work on the walls.
porto primavera city guide
Little touches.
I'd recommend one day for exploring the city centre- the station is well worth a visit and there is street art absolutely everywhere of varying qualities. Walk across the Dom Luis bridge to the port producers and take a cable car to street level where the port houses are. The cable car ticket includes a free port tasting but if you are more into port than I am you can do a proper tasting session. Two small samples were enough for me in the sunshine but I actually liked the taste more than I thought I would!

porto primavera city guide
Porto Central Station.
porto primavera city guide
Looking back at the city from the Dom Luis Bridge.
porto primavera city guide
Looking back on the bridge after crossing it.
porto primavera city guide
Look up! Porto's buildings are so unique.
I found the food a bit hit and miss - being in Porto on a Sunday and a Friday national holiday meant that a lot of my starred places on Googlemaps were closed. The Majestic Cafe is mentioned in every Porto guide and while it's a lot pricer than other dining options in the city it's beautiful (and as a Londoner I didn't flinch at a 6e coffee). While the food isn't adventurous, it was tasty and service was great - the architecture and setting are beautiful, it felt like the Porto version of the Wolseley in London with its old school vibe. Full marks to the adffogato here - pretty much the only coffee I drank on this trip so it might well have been a double espresso sweetened with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. There are bakeries everywhere selling the famous custard tarts and the Rua das Flores has a lot of pavement cafes and affordable restaurants.

porto primavera city guide
Affogato and tea at Cafe Majestic.
Spend a second day exploring the outskirts. Porto is a city by the sea but it's not really a "lie on the sands and sunbath" type of beach. We walked from our Airbnb to Serralves for the art museum and beautiful gardens. On a Friday afternoon the gardens were quiet and tranquil - one of the most beautiful places I have seen and there are turtles swimming in the green lake, so magical to see them in the wild. From Serralves its a short walk to the Foz beach where the waves crash onto the rocks and a few brave souls sunbath on them. The Greek-style beach structure looked beautiful during the golden hour sunshine and walking along the sea front before heading to the nearby Parque da Cidade for the festival made for a great afternoon.

porto primavera city guide
The park at Serralves.
porto primavera city guide
Such a beautiful, peaceful place.
porto primavera city guide
Walking along the sea front at Foz.
Our final morning in the city saw us visit the Palacio de Cristal park where you get a great view over the river and the city. It's lovely peaceful spot - not much is open on a Sunday but thankfully the Livraria Lello was. The city's oldest bookshop charges 3e for entry (refundable against a book purchase - many are in English) but its well worth it - JK Rowling lived in Porto and took inspiration for Harry Potter from the store and even though the facade was under renovation when we visited the interior of the shop is beautiful too.

porto primavera city guide
Views from the park at the Palacio Cristal.
porto primavera city guide
Porto's "Crystal Palace".
porto primavera city guide
Inside Livraria Lello - one of those places that indoor photography doesn't do justice to.
Porto is only a two hour flight from London and is on the same time zone. The metro is quick and easy to use - 30 minutes into the city from he airport and single journey are around 2.5e. Porto taxies are very cheap - just make sure you have a Googlemap screen shot of the location to show the driver.


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4 comments

  1. I loved visiting Porto, it was probably my fave in Portugal, so gorgeous and of course so much Port to drink!

    Jasmin Charlotte

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  2. Porto looks amazing! My friend visited at the beginning of the year and absolutely loved it! It looks like you had a great trip! The gardens look so lovely (and I love all the tiles everyhere)
    xo April | April Everyday

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow so beautiful! Sounds like such a great place to visit.
    But 6 Euros for a coffee...whaaaaaa? OK I'm not from London to me that it INSANE.

    ReplyDelete
  4. уоu will find thеrе аrе ѕоmе dеliсiоuѕ tasting foods thаt уоu can try while уоu are holidaying in Porto. Hаving ѕаtiѕfiеd уоur craving fоr authentic Pоrtuguеѕе food, here

    ReplyDelete

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