Starting off our trip through Portugal, my friend and I met up in Brussels and flew to Porto together. Greeted by fog and clouds, we were excited to explore a new city together. Despite the flimsy weather, we immediately loved the city.

beautiful sunset in porto

A clear contrast to Lisbon which we visited right after, Porto has a more chill vibe to it. People usually have a clear preference for one of the two cities because, in essence, they’re quite different. Lisbon has a worldly atmosphere to it and the architecture clearly draws inspiration from Paris but with a unique Portuguese execution. As well as being much smaller, Porto on the other hand feels more laidback. Street art plays a bigger role in the city’s urban landscape.

Before diving into our itinerary for Porto, I wrote a list of all the magical places in Porto. A lot of the places mentioned here are in that post, in much more detail! You’ll find so many unique buildings all over the city. Some of them even look like filming locations for a Wes Anderson movie! Wherever I was, I found it impossible to put down my camera!

We only spent three days in Porto yet the weather changed so much that we experienced almost everything. After one day of constant fog and drizzling rain, we decided to do a day trip to Aveiro the following morning. But I must say that one foggy day in Porto was rather enchanting. Fog and bridges tend to go well together and this was no exception.

foggy sunrise in porto

Then there was the first sunset in the city. The end of a drizzly foggy day, it was a sunset devoid of any colors. But something cinematic was happening in the square in front of the cathedral. There was a street musician with a beautifully raspy voice, dusk was slowly setting in and Porto looked utterly magical. I think we spent a full hour strolling through the square, listening to his set of songs, and falling in love with the city.

woman looking over foggy porto

We made sure to venture on the outskirts of Porto, specifically to the Foz neighborhood. After marveling at the waves crashing against the Felgueiras lighthouse, we continued on toward the Pergola da Foz. Somehow, I managed to get sunburnt in March, on an overcast day. Despite that unpleasant event, it was a lovely way to while away a few hours on the beach. To get back to the city center, we took the historical tram and it was ever so delightful!

One of the most popular places in Porto, we had to visit the Livraria Lello bookstore. Despite having ticket vouchers as a way of getting in sooner, we still waited quite a while. The fact of the matter is that this bookstore will always be crowded, no matter the time of the day. We should know because we gave up on it early in the morning only to come back to an equally long line after lunchtime! Nonetheless, it’s a magical place and I found myself a book by José Saramago, one of my favorite Portuguese writers.

Another place as magical as Livraria Lello is the Majestic Café. I’ll probably end up writing a separate blog post about it because I photographed every nook and cranny of this splendid place. In short, it’s another one of those places where it feels like time has stopped and we all know how much I love those!

On our last full day in Porto, it was time to venture across the bridge. That day was all about finding the best viewpoints in Porto. And let me tell you, there are so many! Almost every spot in the Vila Nova de Gaia neighborhood makes for a great vantage point. Slowly but surely, the sunshine started returning to the city.

We barely stopped walking that day, making quick stops for lunch and dinner. It was as if we were driven by the sun, wanting to savor every second we had left in Porto outdoors. The city truly comes alive on sunny days and its vibrant colors pop out.

Eventually, we were rewarded with the most captivating sunset. The intensity of the colors was changing with every passing minute and I kept dashing up and down the Luis I Bridge, trying to capture its different stages. It was Porto’s magnificent way of saying goodbye to us. What an enrapture of colors before our last night of climbing up Porto’s hilly streets.

The food scene in Porto

When it comes to food, Porto was a perfect mix of sweet and savory. Obviously, you have the famous pasteis de nata all over the city. Needless to say, this was our breakfast every single day. And more often than not, an afternoon snack too. We tried out a few different places and my favorite one was at Castro Atelier. Not only because you get to see them being made and come out fresh out of the oven. They were the perfect balance of crispy and creamy!

Speaking of the food scene, I’ll write a separate blog post about where we ate in Porto. On the whole, there were a lot of dishes including cod. The Portuguese delicacy comes in many forms and as a pescatarian, I was happy to try anything. We also gave Francesinha a try, the vegan option for me, a local dish from Porto that feels like a meal and a half!

One unique experience during our stay was listening to Fado while having dinner. The live performances were wonderful and the entire lengthy dinner was endless fun. We chose the O Fado restaurant and I wholeheartedly recommend it! You know when you completely hit it off with the waiter and the rest of the evening is spent in banter and overall fun? That’s exactly what happened to us on that endlessly entertaining evening!

Looking back on it, I’m rather glad we got to see two sides of Porto. The grizzly and moody city covered in clouds and fog, contrasted by the burst of colors that is Porto when the sun comes out. For different reasons, both of those versions of Porto appealed to me. In a way, it was as if I managed to cram a summer and winter visit to Porto in one go!

To summarize, Porto was a wonderful discovery. This maze of narrow and vertical streets peppered with stairs delighted us both. We didn’t have many expectations yet Porto still left us wanting to return here one day. Even though we saw so much, it felt like we had barely scratched the surface of this charming city!

sunset in porto from a miradouro
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