Travel Diaries

Porto Pleasures

by Ana Linares

Taking in the views and catching up on work, a three-hour train ride provides the perfect downtime after Lisbon, and prepares me to explore Porto. Turns out this coastal city in Portugal is just as charming as the last.

São Bent Station tiles Hotel Teatro Tub

Arriving at São Bento in the heart of Porto, I’m surrounded by the most incredible azulejos (Portuguese tiles depicting historical life scenes). I could spend hours there just looking at all of these! Walking distance from the station is my home for the next four days, Hotel Teatro. The ambiance is akin to a theater, with lowlights and unique character. I freshen up and head out to meet one of my traveler friends, Yishy, for dinner at Tapabento, just steps from the hotel. Another prime example of Portugal’s incredible food and wine, Tapabento is a dream. We order almost the entire menu. I follow up the divine meal with a relaxing soak in my room’s incredible bathtub.

Livraria Lello ceiling

In the morning, I enjoy a lovely breakfast at Hotel Teatro, followed by a walk to Livraria Lello. This incredible library-slash-bookshop takes my breath away with its incredible architecture and wood carvings dating back to the late 1800s. It’s also rumored to have inspired J.K. Rowling’s depictions of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. Once inside, all you’ll want to do is sit down and take it all in. Although brimming with tiles like Lisbon, Porto has its own magic, theirs shine in their own unique light. It too is such an incredible city to walk around and get lost in. In a mission to find a good antique shot, I went in search of Armazem, which I’d read about in a blog. Located by the water, this incredible warehouse houses all sizes of antiques, from a vintage car from the First World War to a 100-year-old pocket watch. A must-see gem for sure, and it’s impossible to leave empty handed.

Douro River panoramic shot

Leaving Armazem, the sun was out and the views to the Douro River were just incredible. I spend a few hours wandering the little shops by the water and shooting all sorts of colorful tiled buildings. It’s delightful to watch the locals getting off from work and meeting friends for an aperitivo at their local bars and restaurants. I do the same and meet Insta friend and Porto local Leah at a gorgeous restaurant called Flow.

Ana Linares in front of church in Porto

The rest of my days in Porto are all about visiting its beautiful churches, local shops and coffee spots. One of the best viewpoints is at Clerigos Tower, quite the workout, but so worth it! I check out Bolhao Market, as it’s a place my grandma loved going during her travels. With all its local produce, as wells as a handful of artisans, it’s a very special place. Local markets like this one really carry the character and history of a city. I visit as many restaurants and coffee shops as possible. Cafe Guarany has the loveliest space and exquisite tiles! I order pastéis de nata, my fave Portuguese pastry. Afterwards, I walk by the Church of Saint Ildefonso for the stunning tilework both inside and out. For people-watching, I head to Cafe Mercador, located on Rua das Flores, a busy but lovely narrow street.

Majestic Cafe coffee

Before heading to the airport, I have breakfast at Majestic Cafe, in Porto’s Historic Center. I love the Art Nouveau architecture of this classic coffee shop. It’s another great spot for people-watching despite being called a tourist trap. Predictably, I order pastéis de nata, because I can’t leave this picturesque city without one more.