72hrs in Oporto
The notable city of Oporto is located along the lengthy Douro river estuary in the northern breadth of Portugal. The old town centre was recognised and registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO before the start of the new millennium. This year however, Portugal's second most important city has been prized and awarded for being the Best European Destination for 2014. Oporto has stuck to their true roots and traditions as well as having gone out of their way to achieve global city status. Traditional cafés, friendly personalities, addictive food and marvellous architecture has blended in well with this city and has become a heart breaker.
The city is quite varied architecturally, with medieval as well as modern living door to door. The city's location is hard on the feet, but pleasant to the eye. With the extreme hilly landscape, many of the buildings are clinging from the edge of the cliffs facing the river. The old stone steps are linked vertically on the hills, rewarding you with stunning views as you walk. Across the river from the city centre, in the suburb of Gaia, you can see the more than 50 warehouses of notable companies dealing with Port Wine, such as Fonseca, Sandemans, Kopke and many more.
We would actually shed light on the fact that Oporto is a design, trending and architectural city. The Oporto Art District which is the new touristic attraction in the city, is actually what differs itself from the rest of Portugal. Unique projects are being invested in this side of town, taking a step forward in appreciating and cultivating the values of art in a creative but historic city.
The district is still pretty much a novelty, bridging together the traditional habits with new, modern twists. Such is the example of the Centro Comercial Bombarda. It is a shopping centre with alternative commercial shops displaying artistic local products. Ecological goods like biological cosmetics, natural hair products, hand-made toys, vintage products etc. can be easily found here. An additional touché to the centre is that artists are able to share their crafts and galleries. We enjoyed seeing some examples of contemporary art and sculptures in the passages leading up to some of the shops.
We ate at the hipster joint Bugo Art Burgers in the arty district part of town, a restaurant we describe as burgers with a portuguese twist. The Restaurante Book as well was on our list for some time and we decided to try their fried cod fish with rice and an amazing portuguese pudding called molotof for dessert. One morning we had a hearty breakfast at Café Majestic, everything looked too delicious to wait for the camera. A lot of cafés are well worth your time spending sitting and eating an apple tart or pasteis de nata.
For first timers, our top three recommended places to visit are the Livraria Lello bookstore, the Bolhao Market and the Sao Bento Train Station as it is blessed with beautiful tiles of historical significance. Who would ever have thought a train station to be so incredibly decorated!? The blue and white tile panels, depict the history of transportation as well as historic battles and artistic renderings of 14th-century King João I and Queen Philippa of Lancaster by the city’s cathedral.
We stayed at two of the city's best boutique stays: Design Oporto Flats and 4ROOMS. Our amazing pad in Design Oporto Flats was 15 minutes from the city's main sites and had all of the perks needed to feel at home whilst blending in with the locals. 4Rooms is located in the sophisticated district of Foz, with a multitude of ocean-front bars, cafés, clubs and restaurants. We enjoyed our walks by the waterfront and staying on the quieter side of town towards the end of our trip.
This is a picturesque post of our 72 hours in Oporto.