Portugal’s Not Complete Without a Porto Travel Itinerary

Sure, Lisbon is Portugal’s big bustling capital, but Porto has all the charm. And the vibe is way more chill—in a good way! Here’s why you shouldn’t skip the smaller city when planning a trip to Portugal.

The food scene is diverse and eclectic.
Porto has all the good traditional eats you’ll find in Lisbon, but also a trendy and innovative food scene. One of the best meals I had was at Tapabento, a recommendation from the late great Anthony Bourdain. The food was incredibly fresh and the menu (which changes often) offered so many great options (like foie gras toast, oxtail empanadas, wild shrimp) we could barely choose.

Brunch at Rosa et al Townhouse was not at all what I expected. In a country where meat and seafood reign supreme, this bed and breakfast had delicious healthy meals featuring produce plucked from the land. Not to mention that the décor is Pinterest-worthy. On a warm day, have your meal outside in the garden and enjoy the lush scenery.

Save room in your luggage—it’s a book lover’s paradise.
It seems like everywhere we look, bookstores are vanishing, but bookworms, fear not! Porto has an infinite amount.

Live out your Harry Potter dreams at Livraria Lello, the bookstore that inspired J.K. Rowling! You’ll have to buy a ticket and wait your turn to take a picture on their famous staircase, but if you’re a true Potterhead, it’ll be worth it. (For me, the bookstore wasn’t as beautiful as the pictures made it seem online, but hey, do it for the culture.)

If you’re looking for a Portuguese author to round out your bookshelf, I highly recommend José Saramago. Pick up one of his books while waiting for your staircase picture (I recommend Blindness, an enthralling novel in which a country is hit with a plague where everyone has lost their vision).

Explore the Douro Valley and sample Portuguese wines.
Porto is located near/in the famous Douro wine valley, and along the riverfront are tons of wine houses that offer both tastings and tours everyday. Make sure you sample vinho verde (light, bubbly and crisp wine in a green bottle), a wine unique to northern Portugal.

Riverside lounging is a must do.
Porto has a well-developed riverfront area full of restaurants, bars, the aforementioned wine houses, and shopping. Go shopping in the artisanal market where you can buy everything from jewelry to home decor to linens. Or just lounge along the riverside. It’s one of my favorite things to do (and apparently the Portuguese feel the same way).

If you want to take a picture of the river, the best views come from the bridge. But be careful—it might look like a pedestrian bridge, but it’s not! Watch out for the train that comes barreling through every so often. Instead, take the cable car to get sweeping views of the river and the rest of Porto.

Relaxed vibes for a relaxing time.
There’s a reason Porto consistently shows up on the list of best places to visit. You don’t need an itinerary to enjoy yourself (though you’ll still have fun if you abide by one—I see you, Type As).

Whether you’re lounging on the riverside, watching the peacocks in the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal, or curled up in one of the many bookstores, it’s a trip you won’t regret.

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