Hey, world! Today I’m sooooo happy to share with you great news important for everyone who lives in Porto. The city has been selected for the third time since 2012 as the winner in Best European Destinations Award. More details about this Award are available on their site europeanbestdestinations.com to make it short, people from all over the world (174 countries) are invited to make an online vote for the best European destination once every year. Porto won this award three times in a short period of 5 years – in 2012, 2014 and now in 2017!
(Photo saved from alma-portuguesa.tumblr.com)
Porto is the second city in Portugal by the size and historical importance after the capital Lisbon, but apparently, in terms of tourism it has something unbeatable that makes it one the best European cities to visit, and I’ll try to explain to you why people love Porto so much. Well, perhaps some of our photos made in Porto will speak better ☺
My heart was stolen from the first visit to Porto. When I close my eyes and imagine the city, I see the hills covered with red roofs and mixed with green islands of trees. Red roofs are my weakness along with the ancient narrow streets made of Portuguese pavement. Porto’s Ribeira (riverside) offers the most romantic views for your photos and your unforgettable vacations in Porto.
(Photo by Matthieu Cadiou)
Is Porto among the cheap places to visit in Europe?
To answer your question in one word: YES! Your trip to Porto can be very affordable if you are already somewhere in Europe. If you are not, combine it with a visit to Lisbon, Barcelona, Paris and other most visited cities in Europe because there are lots of cheap flights to Porto, and for this romantic destination you will not need more than 3 days. I know that many European tourists visit Porto just for weekend holidays and return home charged with new emotions.
Cheap flights to Porto
Porto became extremely popular as one of the must-see places in Europe in the last five years, the sudden growth was created by low-cost airlines that started bringing to Porto millions of tourists who never before even heard about the city. You can check prices for flights from your place to Porto on Jetradar, this aggregator always offers you the best combination of flights (if there is no direct flight to Porto) and allows you to filter the results for the lowest prices.
Once you landed in Porto or arrived here by train, your wallet is still safe. A cup of Portuguese espresso will cost you 60-70 cents. If you are not Italian or Portuguese, be careful with this coffee, the cups are small but the coffee is really strong. Well, maybe it’s worth coming to Portugal at least to try the real taste of coffee 🙂 A delicious lunch in the center of Porto starts from 6-7 euros. I mean the very touristic center, I know some nice restaurants that will never let you down (more about food and restaurants in a few paragraphs).
Cheap hotels in Porto
Next, you will find plenty of affordable accommodations even in the very center of Porto. Actually, the distance from the center is not an issue in Porto because it’s quite a small city, to see all the traditional touristic attraction in the center, you don’t even need to use transportation. The place where we live is not considered as a center, but from my place, I can get to the center in about 16 min: 8 min walk to the metro station plus 8 min in the train and I’m there. Metro trains pass every 3-5 minutes. So it’s really no problem to stay somewhere away from the very historical buildings because you can get anywhere in Porto in less than 30 min. If you are interested in affordable places to stay in Porto, don’t focus only on historical center, check on booking.com accommodations – from 35 euros per night in hostels, 60 euros per night in apartments to hotels of any price range.
Airbnb accommodations in Porto
I know that not everyone is comfortable with the concept of Airbnb that is based significantly on trust between hosts and guests. But I don’t have these issues, I use Airbnb both as a traveler and a host, and so far all my experiences were great. You can register there at least to see what is available in Porto because I know that at the moment so many locals started renting rooms or entire apartments in this city, that competition moved prices significantly lower. If you don’t have an account on Airbnb, you can use my referral link to get a €35 discount for your first booking.
We do Airbnb mostly for fun and for extra pocket money, it’s not a business whatsoever, and we even prefer to have no guest at all instead of going below 20 euros per night as many locals do now. We rent a nice cozy bedroom in our spacious apartment with a great view, right next to the biggest stadium in the north of Portugal where many important and international matches are hosted, next to a metro station, and seriously, it just doesn’t make sense how ridiculously cheap you can rent a room on Airbnb in Porto today. I don’t like to compromise quality to offer too low price, so we don’t go below 30 euros. By the way, if you think it’s a fair price for the quality, go ahead and book it, (you can check there the reviews we have so far). Nuno, Yoshi and I will be glad to meet you in person ☺
Food in Portugal is a cult – don’t miss it!
If you are in a company of Portuguese friends or colleagues, 50% of their conversations are about food (recipes, restaurants or what they had for dinner the day before), another 50% is dedicated to football. No wonder why in 2 years of my replete life in Portugal I gained 5 extra kilos. And for me it a lot. So if you come to Portugal, take a chance to try the traditional local food and don’t eat in fast food restaurants, which offer you the same in every part of the world.
By the way, if you are not vegetarian, you can’t leave Porto without trying the most traditional dish of this city – Francesinha. If you are a vegetarian, forget about it. It’s an enormous Portuguese-style sandwich, which includes everything forbidden for a veggie – 5 different types of meat, eggs, cheese, topped with a tomato sauce mixed some alcoholic drinks (Porto wine, beer), usually served with a handful of fries. Yes, I personally never managed to finish a Francesinha, my record was half of the dish. Order it with a beer; locals claim that it helps your digestion because the dish is really heavy.
Try Port Wine in Porto
A bottle of genuine Port wine in any supermarket will cost you from 5 euros and higher depending on wine’s age and exclusivity. You can try two types of red Porto wine, a white and even a rose one. Well, it’s already 4 different bottles, so don’t try to drink them all alone ☺. And I didn’t yet mention the amazing Portuguese table wines and among them the so-called Vinho Verde (literally means “green wine”, but translates as “young wine“) which is a unique specialization of Portugal. These wines are light, fresh and slightly sparkling, Portuguese prefer to keep them in the fridge before drinking. I know that Portuguese wines are not as famous as French or Italian, but it’s a shameful injustice in my opinion. If you don’t trust me, come to Portugal, try the wines and tell me I was wrong.
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Add Porto to your European vacation plans
I strongly believe that you won’t visiting Porto. It can’t be a coincidence that Porto is now a triple award winner in Best European Destinations. It’s quite a small city that doesn’t require more than 2-3 days of stay. If you want to see some smaller cities nearby, I highly recommend Guimarães (read it as [gɪmaráɪʃ]) – you don’t need to rent there anything, it’s just 1 hour away by train and 30 min by car on a highway. And it will charm you with a genuine medieval look of the city center and with an amazing park on a mountain full of gigantic rocks covered with moss. For Guimarães you can save just one day (if you go there by car, half of a day will be enough). But I absolutely love it! Just look at these pics!
As I mentioned, usually tourists from far away (the USA, Canada, Australia, China, etc.) visit several holiday destinations in Europe in one trip because the flights across the ocean are long, tiring and expensive, so if you already travel to Europe, why miss Porto, the best European destination in 2012, 2014 and 2017? ☺ I guess, I’m getting too pushy, sorry guys. I just feel that Porto and Portugal, in general, is so much underestimated from a touristic point of view. In the winter the touristic traffic is really low here, and interestingly, locals appreciate it because they witnessed what happened with Barcelona in the last 15-20 years, and they are not sure that tourism brought only positive things to the lives of citizens.
I don’t know what will happen in a few year from now in Porto, maybe it will become crowded like Barcelona or Rome, I hope not because today I can enter metro at my station around 8:45 going to work, am and the train will be half empty. I can go with my dog to a public park next to my house on a sunny day, and we’ll meet there no one except birds, wild cats, and workers who take care of the park.
Porto is not about museums. If you want to see famous artists, go to Rome or Paris, for opera visit Vienna. But if you want to enjoy the beauty of an old city which seems to be a living creature itself, with romantic bridges resembling Eifel’s Tower, with colorful houses in Ribeira and the entire city center considered World Heritage by UNESCO, the silhouettes of hills and my favorite red roofs, welcome to Porto, the city of my dreams that came true.