Top 7 Things To Do In Madeira

For those that don’t know, Madeira is a Portugeuse island 520km (320 miles) off the coast of Morocco, and about a 1.5 hour flight from Lisbon.  It's an incredibly beautiful island and is most well known for being the home of Cristiano Ronaldo. It is also great to pair with a visit to other great Portuguese cities. Don't miss out on our Porto and Coimbra adventures or skip to The Next Trip 5 Travel Tips for Madeira here.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço

 

 

How to Get to Madeira

 

Being an island, you will obviously be arriving by plane (unless you are brave enough to take a boat!), however flights are somewhat limited to just a few airlines, primarily TAP Air Portugal and all of your favorite European low cost carriers. If you are arriving late in the evening like we did, there are some great hotels close to the airport (and the beach!) such as the Santa Cruz Boutique Hotel.  There is no better way to start your island adventure on Madeira than with breakfast with a view like this.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Santa Cruz breakfast

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Santa Cruz Boutique Hotel Breakfast

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira

 

You may be able to drive all around in Madeira in one day, but the island is packed full of beauty and activities so we highly recommend spending more time on the island to explore as much as possible! Read on for our top 7 things to do in Madeira. We had fairly high expectations for our trip to Madeira, and it easily met and exceeded them!

 

Hike to Ponta de São Lourenço

 

This was one of our favourite spots on Madeira and well worth taking a half day or more to complete. It's a 2-hour hike one way with incredible scenery.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço hike

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço hike

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço hike

 

We stopped along the way multiple times to snap a picture or two. Also, learn from our mistake and bring your bathing suit and a towel on your hike. There are a few great places to take a refreshing dip in the ocean along the way. Another plus is that there is a small café at the end if you’re a bit thirsty or hungry after your hike out!

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço hike

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço hike

 

Swim in the Atlantic Ocean

 

So if you didn’t take our advice above and swim in the ocean on your hike to Ponta de São Lourenço, there is an easier and more convenient place for a swim on the complete opposite side of the island. Porto Moniz is a city at the north-western most corner of Madeira and has a huge swimming pool full of fresh seawater. How fresh you may ask?

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Porto Moniz Swimming Pool

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Porto Moniz Swimming Pool

 

Well while we were there, the waves were even coming up over the rocks and pathway into the “pool.” You do have to pay a few dollars to enter, but it was well worth it for a nice relaxing swim and a shower to rinse off afterwards. They have restrooms, showers, and lockers there. Make sure you bring your own towels though.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Porto Moniz Swimming Pool

 

While in the area, be sure to check out the islets of Ribeira da Janela rising from the ocean. We were mesmerized watching the waves here.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Porto Moniz Sea Rocks

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Porto Moniz Sea Rocks

 

Check out the Levadas

 

Levadas are strewn across the country side of Madeira and were originally created to move water around the island as the west and northwest of the island receives heavy rainfall, but the southeast region is much drier. With more time (and better weather) we would have loved to hike some of these levadas, which can be  tens of kilometers long, run along cliffs, and even through tunnels!

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Lavada

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Lavada

 

Don’t Miss the Viewpoints of Funchal

 

Being an island with steep cliffs and mountains, there is never a shortage of views, equally when looking out over the main city. Funchal is the sixth largest city in Portugal, and has been the capital of Madeira for over 500 years. Cabo Girão is a spectacular sea cliff with the highest cliff skywalk in Europe – if you can stomach the walk out over the glass, it is well worth the views!

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint funchal

 

A bit closer to Funchal, Miradouro Pico dos Barcelos doesn’t disappoint and also provides a beautiful panoramic view over Funchal.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint funchal

 
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Watch the Sunrise

 

This is the one activity we truly missed out on while on Madeira. The sunrises from a number of the islands peaks are legendary, and in particular we were hoping to catch the sunrise from the top of Pico do Areeiro. Unfortunately for us, there were heavy thunderstorms the morning we were there and given our tight itinerary, we had no room in our travel plans to stay a day longer and hope for better weather.

Stop by Lighthouses for More Amazing Views

 

One of Bettina's favourite things to see in Madeira was the Ponta do Pargo Lighthouse. Situated high up on a cliff, it provides with more spectacular views of the ocean.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint ponta do pargo lighthouse

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint ponta do pargo lighthouse

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint ponta do pargo lighthouse

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint ponta do pargo lighthouse

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-flowers butterfly

 

It is easily accessible by car and the viewpoint is only a short walk from the parking lot. The lighthouse itself is as picturesque as they come and also houses an exhibit.

 

Watch your Plane Arrive at the Funchal Airport Observation Deck

 

Even for non-avgeeks, planes are fascinating to watch.  Once you’ve gone through security at Funchal Airport, be sure to wait for your flight on the outside observation deck which has great views of the runway.  Funchal airport is unique in that it has a particularly steep approach and the runway even extends out over the ocean on a platform. As a result, it is a great place for some casual plane spotting!

 

We put together a list of 5 top tips for your visit to Madeira to make sure you can make most out of this trip and be prepared.

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for a Visit to Madeira

 

1. Spend at least one night in Funchal, the surprisingly bustling capital city of the island. While this city is not going to be a party hot spot, it is a great size to explore in a day or two on foot and has a great atmosphere. Be sure to wander the streets to find the perfect restaurant for dinner and take in the island vibes.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-streets of funchal

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-funchal harbor

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-streets of funchal

 

2. Rent a car. While Madeira isn’t that large, and does have public transportation around the island, the freedom of having your own car is highly worth the cost so that you can visit what you like at your own pace.  The roads can be narrow, twisty, and steep, but for us that just adds to the adventure!

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-driving in madeira

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-driving in madeira

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint

 

3. Be prepared for all types of weather.  We experienced torrential downpours, followed by clear blue skies, and fairly frequent wind while on Madeira – such is the case for an island in the Atlantic! Expect to have rain and wind, but don’t let that dampen the mood as the weather is constantly changing and the sun will likely shine again the same day.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-mountains view

 

4. Seafood and Wine.  Need we say more? Madeira is well known for it’s local Madeiran wine as well as great seafood. Be sure to sample what you can! We can highly recommend the Filete de Espada (Scabbard Filet), traditionally prepared with a banana and passion fruit sauce.

5. Bring your hiking shoes. Madeira is far from flat, and whether you are hiking to the top of Pico do Areeiro, walking to the end of Ponta de São Lourenço, or walking through the streets of Funchal, there will be hills and cobblestones. Bringing a pair of comfortable flats will make your travels easier. Bettina managed fine in some ballet flats but we did get very interesting stares on our hikes.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint hiking

 

Is Madeira on your bucket travel list? Tell us about the places you want to travel to in the comments below!

 

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Top 7 Things To Do in Madeira

 

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A Sintra Day Trip – Why You Have to Go

If you’ve ever dreamed of being a prince or princess living in a palace, then a Sintra day trip from Lisbon is a must!  Our day spent here brought all of Bettina’s princess dreams true. To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on how to prepare for a daytrip to Sintra, click here.

 

What is Sintra and Pena Palace

 

Sintra is a small city on the outskirts of Lisbon, only 30km (19 miles) away, and is surrounded by natural parks and the Sintra Mountains. There is a lot of history in this area of Portugal as Sintra was a playground for royalty, the rich, and the famous throughout much of history. This means that there is not only the Pena National Palace, which we visited, but also the National Palace of Sintra, the Castle of the Moors, and many others all located in and around Sintra. We drove through Sintra, stopping for a quick coffee, but decided to focus our time on Pena Palace.

 

A Sintra Day Trip View of Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip View of Castle of Moors

 

How to Get to Sintra

 

We already had a rental car as we were completing a short road trip through Portugal from Porto (you can read about our time in Porto here and Coimbra here). Our drive from Cascais to Sintra was about 20 minutes, and it is only 10 minutes more from Lisbon.  We appreciated having a car to get up through the hills to Pena Palace.  The road was steep and narrow, but there was lots of parking when we arrived.

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

Alternatively you can easily reach Sintra by train from Lisbon.  There are numerous bus and tuk tuk options to take you up the hill to Pena Palace, or you can hike! Of course plan a lot of extra time if you plan to hike through the hills.

 

Pena Palace

 

The main attraction! Pena Palace is perched at the top of a hill, and is considered one of the seven wonders of Portugal. This is a Romanticist castle, and we couldn’t agree more. It is one of the most romantic castles we've visited so far. Pena Palace has a number of different sections and design elements, reflecting the tastes of its prior owners through the ages.

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

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A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace
A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

Explore Pena Palace

 

One of the great things about Pena Palace is that you are allowed to climb up a number of the bastions, parapet walls, and ramparts. As a result, this makes for great pictures! You will have to be patient and wait your turn in line though. Unfortunately not all tourists we encountered were so considerate!

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

Definitely make sure to explore all around Pena Palace so that you get views of this truly impressive building from all angles.

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

Inside Pena Palace

 

To truly live out your prince/princess dreams, be sure to take the time to walk through the interior of Pena Palace.  The inside of the palace is set up to serve as the summer residence of the royal family, and is full of period appropriate furniture, paintings, and other artwork.

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Inside Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Inside Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Inside Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

Usually when exploring European palaces you only get to see the fancy sitting rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms of the royal elite. However Pena Palace also allows you to see the working kitchen of the palace, which is a unique perspective and makes you appreciate our modern appliances.

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Inside Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Inside Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

Best Views of Pena Palace

 

Once you’ve completed your tour of Pena Palace, take the time for the 20 minute walk through the peaceful surrounding gardens and forest up to the Cruz Alta monument.  With a little bit of flexibility you can climb up to the monument and will be rewarded with impressive views of Pena Palace from afar.

 

A Sintra Day Trip - View of Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip - View of Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip - View of Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

This view was worth the walk! In addition, this monument had very few tourists, compared to Pena Palace, which was bursting with selfie-stick wielding crowds in the early afternoon.

 

How Long Does it Take for a Sintra Day Trip?

 

We spent a full afternoon exploring the Pena Palace as well as walking some of the pathways in the surrounding park. Arriving just before lunch, we had about a 5 minute wait to purchase tickets and enter the palace grounds, but otherwise could access everything within and around the palace as we liked.

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

You could easily spend a week exploring the hills around Sintra and the many palaces as there are walking trails all throughout the region allowing you to explore as much or as little as you would like, however it also works perfectly as a day trip.

Check our top tips below to help plan your Pena Palace and Sintra Day Trip!

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Sintra Day Trip Tips

 

  1. Get there early! Like as soon as they open or even earlier. As the day goes on there will be more and more tour buses full of tourists arriving, so get arrive at the palace as early as you can to have the palace to yourself (more or less).
  2. Take some creative photos. Pena Palace is breathtaking from almost any angle, and with almost all of the walkways and areas of the palace open, you are free to get creative and take more than your standard tourist photos. This is your chance to make your princess fantasies come true!
  3. Bring your best walking shoes. Pena Palace is located at the top of the hill and requires at least a 10 minute walk up the steep cobblestone paths. Further, the surrounding park grounds are full of pathways to explore.
  4. Pack some water.  While there is a cafe in the palace, you’re going to want to pack some water if you are exploring on a hot day as there are no other stores near the palace.
  5. Go for a hike. Take the extra time to walk to the Cruz Alta monument to get the perfect photos of Pena Palace from a distance – no drone required! In addition, if you have the time as part of your Sintra day trip, you can also walk and hike all over the Sintra Mountains for other unique views of Pena Palace and the beautiful Portugal Riviera.

 

Have you been to Pena Palace? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

 

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A Sintra Day Trip - Why You Have to Go - The Next Trip

 

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How to Spend A Day in Coimbra, Portugal

To be honest, we hadn’t even heard of Coimbra prior to researching destinations for our Portuguese road trip, which is probably why it was the most surprising destination of our trip.  We had no expectations and absolutely loved the 24 hours we spent here and can’t recommend it enough! To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on how to spend a day in Coimbra, click here.

 

A Day in Coimbra: Getting There and Around

 

We arrived in Coimbra after a weekend in Porto (read about it here) during rush hour, and since we didn’t know much about the city, we were just following the directions of our GPS to get to the hotel. However, the closer we got, the steeper and narrower the streets became.

 

Narrow Streets in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Tight narrow roads do not phase us after all of our European road trips, but these were some of the tightest and steepest we had ever driven on within a city. Even though our rental car was relatively small, we ended up taking a different route to our hotel as we were not confident that we could make a turn without scratching the car.

 

A Day in Coimbra: Where to Stay

 

We spent our one night in Coimbra at the Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra which has very luxuriously designed hotel rooms.

 

Hotel Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra | The Next Trip

 

Hotel Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra | The Next Trip

 

Our room was on the first floor but because the hotel is on a hill, we had an amazing view of the city. The room was small but very unique and they even included free of charge champagne and cake in the evenings as well as breakfast in bed in the mornings.

 

Hotel Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra | The Next Trip

 

We didn’t spend much time in the hotel though as we hit the streets as fast as we could due to the rapidly setting sun.

 

How to Spend A Day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

A Day in Coimbra: What to See

 

Coimbra is a very old city, dating back to the Roman era and is anchored by the University of Coimbra, established in 1290, and perched on top of the hill. The university buildings include the jaw-dropping Pátio das Escolas. This historic square alone is worth the visit to Coimbra as there just isn’t a bad angle to take a picture.

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

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It was particularly beautiful at dusk and includes a view of the surrounding valley.

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

The next morning we headed back to the University of Coimbra area to see the Biblioteca Joanina, a famous historic library.  The next visiting time was in one hour, so we spent the time taking more pictures in Pátio das Escolas square and checking out the nearby chapel and palace.

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

My dress is sadly already sold out but I linked some of my favorite turquoise and teal dresses below.


 

 

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

The palace tour had an outdoor terrace, which provided great views over the city.

View from the Palace, University Square, Coimbra | The Next Trip

 

View from the Palace, University Square, Coimbra | The Next Trip

 

We eventually made it into the library, the Biblioteca Joanina, and it was definitely worth the wait! This is one of the most impressive libraries that we have ever been to, and a definite must-see if you are in Coimbra. You’re not allowed to take photos inside, so check out their website to get an idea of what it looks like inside here.

 

Biblioteca Joanina, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Heading back down the hill, we explored the streets of the old town more and fell even further for this quaint city.

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Because we only had one day in Coimbra, we did not have enough time to see the aqueduct, botanical gardens, and waterfront. From the quick views we saw from afar, they definitely are worth a visit as well!

 

A Day in Coimbra: Where to Eat

 

While in Portugal, we were on a mission to try natas in each city. Pastel de nata’s are custard filled tarts, and worth eating at any time of day.  A few locals recommended we stop by this café for a coffee and some natas. The natas were some of the best we had tried with incredibly flaky pastry and were only surpassed by the slightly more lemony natas we had at the Largo da Portagem square.

We both truly believe that calories don’t count when you are traveling!

What to eat in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

For dinner, we can highly recommend Zé Manel dos Ossos. This restaurant was recommended to us by some locals we had met the day before, and they advised arriving half an hour before the restaurant even opened at 7:30pm! We arrived on time, and were second in line, with a few other groups arriving only a few minutes later. This restaurant is considered one of the best in Coimbra for traditional Portuguese food. As there are only seven tables inside you’ve got to be early, or prepared to wait.

 

Zé Manel dos Ossos, Coimbra, Portgual | The Next Trip

 

Zé Manel dos Ossos, Coimbra, Portgual | The Next Trip

 

Zé Manel dos Ossos, Coimbra, Portgual | The Next Trip

 

The time went by quickly, and soon enough we were inside the eclectically designed restaurant.  The owner is super friendly and since we didn’t know what to order (nor could we read the menu) he chose for us. We ended up sharing a starter of mushrooms and pork, which had such a rich flavour and were absolutely delicious.

 

Zé Manel dos Ossos, Coimbra, Portgual | The Next Trip

 

Next up was the main course, seared pork with rice and beans.

 

Zé Manel dos Ossos, Coimbra, Portgual | The Next Trip

 

Portuguese food is hearty and filling, and this was the best we had on our trip to Portugal. The pitcher of wine helped wash it all down. And there is nothing like a digestive evening stroll around the city after a heavy meal.

 

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Can't get enough of Portugal either? Check out our blog post on Porto here or get planning your own trip with our free top 10 tips on how to save money on traveling!

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips on How to Spend a Day in Coimbra

 

  1. Pick a hotel in the historic old town. There are numerous small hotels in the historic old town that are reasonably priced. The location will allow you to easily reach all sights by foot, and will be close enough to rest your feet in the middle of the day if you need it. We stayed at the Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra and can highly recommend it!
  2. The first stop when you arrive should be to get tickets to see the Joanina Library. They only allow 60 people at a time into the library, and so times are reserved. Get your tickets early so that you don’t miss out! There are so many beautiful photo opportunities all around the University of Coimbra and the square, that even if you have to wait a bit, it is no problem.
  3. Bring your best walking shoes, i.e. comfortable and preferably closed flats. While flip flops might be comfortable, they will hurt your feet after walking up and down these steep cobble stone streets for hours. Walking is absolutely the best/only way to explore Coimbra. This seems to be a common tip in Portugal!
  4. Try the natas – all of them!  We indulged in natas almost every day of our trip in Portugal.  The best ones that we had on our whole trip were in Coimbra. We can highly recommend these two cafes, here and here. We also had The World Needs Nata recommended to us, but it was closed when we were visiting.
  5. Eat at Zé Manel dos Ossos. This is not your typical restaurant and already seems to be gaining a lot of popularity through word of mouth only. Be prepared for a hearty meal of traditional Portuguese food and entertainment written all over the walls. If you decide to stop by, make sure you get there a 10-15 minutes before they open for dinner. The place has only a few tables and often lines up out the door.

 

Have you been to Portugal? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

 

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How to Spend A Weekend in Porto

Porto may be the second largest city in Portugal, but it is easily accessible and perfectly set as a great weekend destination.  Bettina and I can’t believe that we haven’t made it to Portugal until now, and fell for Porto as soon as we had our first taste of the Portuguese life. If you enjoy cobblestone streets, great food, great wine, and great weather, then Porto is for you! Keep reading for how to spend a weekend in Porto!

Click here if you want to skip to our 5 Top Porto Travel Tips. If you'd like to watch our Porto experience on video, check out Bettina's Instagram stories here.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

With the city being very walkable, a central hotel location is great so you can drop back in at any time of the day if needed. We arrived on a Friday and stayed at the Porto Royal Bridges Hotel. The location was perfect for our stay, as was the fantastic breakfast and friendly staff!

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Bettina ambitiously decided we should wake up early to catch some of Porto’s famous blue-tiled buildings before the crowds set in. We started at Capela das Almas de Santa Catarina, which didn’t disappoint.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

The azulejo tiles are striking and found on buildings throughout Porto, certainly adding to the charm of the city.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

The historic center has a number of iconic buildings, including the Porto Town Hall and Porto Sao Bento train station.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

From the train station head downhill, exploring the many side streets along the way.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Eventually, you will be greeted with a fantastic view of the Douro River and surrounding city!  The North side of the river contains many of the famous colourful houses in Porto as well as a lot of the best restaurants in the city.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

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{Bettina:} My shoes were gifted to me by Mi.iM and they quickly became my favorite travel sandals. I was wearing them all day, every day, walking through the streets of Porto and was comfortable and fashionable all the time.

 

 

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

This was our favourite part of the city. While it is a bit touristy, it has a great vibe, and in March wasn’t overly crowded, but buzzing with the right amount of energy.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

A weekend in Porto would not be complete without a glass, or two, of some fine port wine, which the city gave its name to. Your best bet is to cross over the Douro River to the city of Vila Nova de Gaia, the riverfront stretch on the south side of the river with breathtaking views of the historical center as well as some of the best port wine cellars in the city.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Porto Cruz came recommended to us and didn’t disappoint. We were able to snag a seat on the rooftop to rest our weary feet and relax with a glass of port wine and some tapas. Other port wine cellars which were recommended to us but we didn’t try were Ferreira and Graham’s. If you haven’t tried it before, port wine is produced exclusively in the Douro Valley of Portugal, and is typically a sweet red, often served with dessert.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Did we mention the stunning views of the old town from the Porto Cruz rooftop? This is a great place to spend an afternoon tasting wine in the sun.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Before you cross the river again, make sure you stop by Jardim do Morro for the most incredible sunset views. Depending on the number of glasses of port wine you’ve had, you can either walk or take the cable car to the top of the hill at Jardim do Morro.  We opted to walk and zigzagged our way up the narrow streets to the top.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

The views of the city are breathtaking!

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Walking across the bridge back to the historical center leaves you with just as many beautiful impressions of the city. Watch out for the trams along the bridge as you will need to share the space! If you didn’t enjoy dinner at one of the port wine cellars, head back to the historical center to find your new favourite dinner spot.

 

 

 
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Early Sunday morning head to Livraria Lello, one of the world’s best bookstores to beat the crowds just before opening. This bookstore has impressive architecture, but is probably most known for being an inspiration for Flourish and Blotts of Harry Potter fame, when JK Rowling lived in Porto and began developing ideas for the Harry Potter series.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

You can also see into the bookstore from the outside, which may be enough for some. We opted not to wait in the 50+ deep line and pay the 5 EUR per person entry fee, and instead settled on gelato next door!

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Just a bit further up the street is a beautiful square with Porto’s famous twin churches. Igreja dos Carmelitas and Igreja do Carmo are famous for having the narrowest building in the city between them and having a beautiful outside wall with azulejo tile.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

The buildings can easily be mistaken as one church, but each has a very unique history, along with the narrow building in between, which was created to ensure no contact between the nuns and monks at any time.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Continue the neighbourhood tour of Porto with a requisite tourist photo at the ‘PORTO’ sign nearby and while we’re into cheesy tourist opportunities, why not get a sardine can with your birth year printed on it? Or try the local cod cakes which are hand-made cakes shaped like a potato, filled with cheese and fried.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

While you’re in the neighborhood, snap a picture of the iconic Tram 28 which winds its way through the steep and narrow cobblestone streets.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Because no weekend in Porto would be complete without shopping, make sure you head to Porto’s Rua de Santa Catarina which is the main shopping street. Bettina definitely spent some time here and contemplated the limits of her hand luggage and how many clothes she could buy and still fit in.


This is how we spent our weekend in Porto and we loved it so much, we can't wait to go back. Check our top tips below to help plan your weekend and sign up for our 10 money-saving travel tips to save on your next weekend getaway!

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Weekend in Porto Tips

 

1) Uber from the airport to the city center.

We used Uber to and from the airport as well as a few times within Porto and every time the car was there within 2 minutes, was clean, and had a good driver. As a bonus, it is cheaper than a cab, our rides to and from the airport were just under 15 EUR each way. There is a bus and metro option, which can definitely save you money, but for our location it was also over an hour vs. 20 minutes in an Uber.

 

2) Drink the wine!

As this is what they are (rightly) famous for. Without a doubt, sampling the many kinds of port wine the city has to offer, is a great way to spend your afternoon. If port wine is not your thing, no worries, vineries offer all kinds of other regional wines as well. Our favourite wineries, or those recommended to us by locals are Porto Cruz, Ferreira and Graham’s.

 

3) Eat the seafood.

Portuguese food is typically quite hearty, and we found it heavier and greasier than we expected, however the exception is seafood and Porto has that in abundance.  There are so many great places to try, just get out there and start eating and remember that fresh sardines in Portugal are far better here than that old can in the cupboard of your grandmother’s house.

 

4) Bring your best walking shoes.

The city is small enough that you can easily see all of the major sites by foot in a weekend.  There is no need to use the metro, buses, or trams, unless your hotel is slightly off the beaten path. That being said, the streets are cobblestone and there are a lot of hills! Bettina wore her Mi.iM shoes and this was probably one of the first trips she didn't have sore feet or blisters.

 

5) Do search out your favourite azulejo tile.

The blue tiles are on all sorts of beautiful and very average buildings, but taking pictures of the tiles you come across and searching for the one that speaks to you is a fun challenge we enjoyed while walking the streets.

 

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