Friday, March 28, 2014

guide to porto

let's be honest.....we fell in love with porto.
straight in love, at first sight, and second, and third.
we couldn't get enough. we have lots of favorite
suggestions in this new tourist destination!
see them here on our:

1. you have to eat at the famous {and gorgeous} 
majestic cafe in porto. it's right on the main
shopping street of rua santa catarina, so 
it's perfect to stop into for lunch or dinner
...or a midnight, jet-lagged dinner like we 
did :) try the famous francesinha, a 
portuguese sandwich originally from porto. 
the majestic cafe is famous for this dish 
and just for being iconic. it's a fun stop.
^^ lots of meat, cheese, and yummy broth sauce
make up this local francesinha sandwich---
i always have to try the authentic local dish when 
traveling..and this was definitely authentic! try one.
^^ see what i mean? such a pretty restaurant.

2. have breakfast at the traveller caffe.
seriously i would eat here for breakfast every
day. it had my favorite european breakfast of
a big fresh croissant with fresh butter + jam,
but also a full juice bar and acai bowls. the
fresh juices were so so good, especially when
traveling and needing the energy and nutrients.
it is a darling cafe and famous for their coffee
too, since we don't drink coffee we'll take
their word for it :) have breakfast here,
we promise you won't regret it!

3. go have portugal's finest chocolate at
arcádia. that hot chocolate is so thick
we had to drink it with a spoon! try
the dark chocolate or caramel-chocolate...
or hazelnut-chocolate..or any really!
take home some portuguese chocolates as
gifts! we did, and our loved ones loved us for it. :)

4. visit the fun bolhao market, an outdoor
food market. you know how we love these!
make sure to try the portuguese custard treat,
pastel de nata. they are everywhere. mm!

5. there is a restaurant in portugal, and the
name literally translates to "the best chocolate
chocolate cake in the world." that is the NAME
of the place! how could i not visit? in portuguese:
o melhour bolo de chocolate do mundo.
we had some yummy soup + sandwiches,
then of course the highlight was the chocolate cake.
it is so unique, like macarons with ganache layers
 in between. i tried dark chocolate and chase tried
milk, i'd say get both to try. yum! make sure to visit!

one of our favorite hotel experiences ever was
staying at guest house duoro right 
on the river in porto. if you are the type that
likes to find personal-feeling places to stay
while traveling like we do, then this is your
place. carmen and joão are two of our favorite
people..seriously. they visited porto years ago
and fell in love with it. they saw this building for
sale, and went for it! they bought it & completely
renovated it into the nicest guest house. it
was such a great place to stay because:
a) the location right on the river, b) the
quality + coziness of the rooms, and 
c) the feeling of staying with friends
that comes with this personal hotel!
also, the complimentary breakfast
with fresh squeezed oj...yes please!

  • torre dos clerigos-----might have been our favorite. pay to climb this tower, then swoon over the rooftops of porto. loved this!!!
  • sao bento station----- this is no ordinary train station. the walls are filled with gorgeous blue portuguese tile...the kind everyone else tries to re-create, but is just standard in portugal. i could have stared for hours! you might come into porto through this train station depending on how you travel there, but either way don't miss it.
  • lello book store-----another incredible must-visit. this stunning old bookstore literally looks like it's flourish & botts out of harry potter..and that's because j.k. rowling lived in porto for years (who knew!!!) and got her inspiration for the bookstore here. you can definitely see why. go in, walk up the split spiral staircase, breathe in the scent of books, and fall in love.
  • dom luis bridge...walk/scooter across to:
  • cais de gaia: the riverfront looking back at the town after you cross the dom luis bridge. DO NOT MISS going over here. you basically get the chance to stand in a real-life postcard.
  • sao francisco church-----most prominent gothic monument in porto, with baroque decorations inside. it's right on the water and easy to find.
  • cais de ribeira-----this is the medieval riverfront neighborhood, right where the guest house duoro is. it's amazing to see all of the old medieval houses and wander through the alleys and streets (and vespa through those streets :)
  • via catarina-----the main shopping street in porto. i like how porto is a tiny town, but offers good shopping and this street feels like a bigger city so you get a little taste of that. the majestic café is right on via catarina, and the traveller café is just above it. the bolhao market is just off it, and the prettiest blue tile church in the whole wide world is right on it. 
  • capela das almas-----also known as capela de santa catarina, this is the blue tile church i just mentioned of the prettiest buildings i have ever ever seen. i stood on the street corner for 20 minutes gazing at it (and taking too many pictures of it against that bright blue sky.) in love! visit this please.
  • ribeira venicular ride-----you can take a venicular (gondola) ride along the town and look back on it. we didn't do this but wanted to!
  • avenida dos allados-----a gorgeous avenida with the stately council building at the top, and lots of other amazing buildings lining it. this is the government area of the town, and it's bustling and beautiful. make sure to take a picture in front of the câmara municipal building!
  • palacio da bolsa-----this historic palace building used to be the stock exchange...and now you can go in and tour it to learn more about the history. we didn't pay to go in here, but did visit the outside and read a lot about it!
  • crystal palace gardens-----pretty gardens to see if you are visiting when it's green!
  • FOZ district by the sea-----if you follow along the river going west toward the ocean, you will hit the FOZ district right where the river meets the ocean. it's a really fun, local spot with great restaurants and the waves were HUGE when we were there! it's fun to see this area and realize there are great beaches around. you can rent bikes from northroad or take a scooter out here.

we met another new friend in the owner of
northroad rentals. have you noticed
that everyone in porto is the nicest? it's such a
happy place! tiago mapped out a fun route
for us on our vespa, and we had one of the best
days riding it across the bridge to the cais de gaia,
and then down along the river and out to the beach.

^^ it's right around the corner from guest house duoro,
and on the boardwalk convenient! :)

going along with transportation, if you're planning
to go in between portugal or spain then look into
TAP airlines. it is the greatest little budget
airline with amazing flight prices! they even give
you treats on each flight. we flew on TAP between 
all 4 cities within europe, and we were so happy with
our experience. friendly, reasonable airline.
porto, we clearly adored you.
we promise to be back soon...
in the meantime, hope to send 
others your way! Xo

see our trip to porto:


  1. You have made Porto move to the top of my list of places to travel. I'm obsessed with the blue walls! Where is your darling gray dress from?

    1. GOOD! it should be. we couldn't believe what a hidden gem it was! you will love it whenever you go! the grey dress is from anthropologie, so comfy and perfect for traveling! Xo

  2. This looks absolutely dreeeeeeeamy! Goodness what an amazing place.

  3. Wow it looks beautiful!! Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Hubby and I are planning on going to Porto and Lisbon this fall. How many full days do you suggest for each city? xoxo

    1. hi!! how fun. you can do them quickly if needed, but you'll enjoy time in both..especially porto. they are small but so charming and enjoyable. if you pack it in, i'd say 2 days in each is enough, 3 is plenty!! xx


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