Porto is a city on the rise, tempting travellers with its pretty old town, excellent wine bars and golden rooftops. This isn’t a destination for those who want up-to-the-minute cool – this is the spot for long, seafood dinners, slow strolls through sleepy streets and a white port and tonic as the sun sets. It’s traditional Portugal at its finest, without the crowds of Lisbon or the tackiness of the Algarve. And with the addition of a new service from Monarch and a wealth of other budget flights available, it’s never been easier to get there. blablablablaba
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WHERE TO STAY
I stayed at Casa Carolina, in the very center of Porto.
It is a very sweet place and prices start from 59€ for a standard double room. Shops and cafés are right outside the door and most of Porto's interesting spots are in walking distance.
In the end it is a small guesthouse with only eight rooms - very sweet and familiar. The breakfast is very nice, but I actually did eat outside, always on the search for great spots.
ROSA ET AL
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SOUVENIERS & STREET ADVENTURES
Mercado do Bolhão
Mercado do Bolháo is a must see place in Porto. Located in the center of the city, this market is where you’ll find fresh produce, meat, fish and flowers. And you’ll meet the most unique characters in Porto. Dating back from 1839, when the town hall bought the land where the market now stands and defined the area as a market. As there was a small creek running though the square and there was an air bubble (“bolha”) forming on that spot, the market was named Bolhão (as in big bubble). The neoclassic building that now exists was built in 1914 and it divided the market into two floors.
Walking around inside the building, you’ll find that the market is divided into different areas: fishmongers and butchers, greengrocers and florists. On the ground level, you can also find a couple of small restaurants where the meals are homemade and quite cheap. You’ll also find some souvenirs shops inside the market as it became a tourist attraction in the last couple of decades.
In Bolhão market you’ll find women selling their products with something like an outcry. We call it “pregão”. Each one has their own and it’s really interesting to see them defying each other and the clients with their different outcries. It’s something that you can now only see at Bolhão market. Another unique feature of this market is a knife sharpener who’s usually at the northern entrance. This is something you don’t see that often. He’s one of the last knife sharpeners to get on his bicycle and go around Porto sharpening knives.
Roasted Chestnuts and Street Vendors
Every city has its traditions regarding street food. In Portugal, especially in the North, what pops out just after summer leaves the city, are the salty roasted chestnuts, that are found everywhere downtown.
The smell of the chestnuts being roasted can be sensed everywhere and their smoke seen from far away, it is really amazing. So if you are crossing any chestnut vendors, don’t miss it!
FOOD & DRINKS
Café Mesa 325
This is quite a good place to get coffee when you are asking for specialty coffee. When I talked to one of their co-owners, she mentioned that they were the first one to get third wave vibes in Porto. They do roast their own beans; the espresso is a blend of 100% arabica beans. Their brewings are single origin.
The surprisingly nice and wonderful thing about portuguese people is, whereever you go, you find all kinds of people in just one place. Eben in a hip coffee place like this one, whole families with all generations were there to enjoy a good breakfast.
The owners are super sweet, their prices very reasonable. A flat white will cost you 1,90 €uro.
Combi Coffee was by far the best coffee place I was at in Porto. It is a very charming and warm place, not far from nice lunch spots, cafés and bars around the corner.
I knew about their coffee-truck, and was happy to find they opened a café just two months before I visited - in september 2017.
The story behind it is a prime example of what kind of a boom Portugal, especially Porto and Lissabon, are experiencing the last two years. The founders at first decided to get a coffee truck after living abroad for a long time. They decided Porto needed a van. Said and done, it was to be the first of its kind in Portugal. Since they wanted to serve really good coffee - green and fair- they started roasting their own blend after taking roasting classes in Spain.
They started with a blend of Guatemala, also do they now serve a single origin coffee of the country. They buy from a Spanish supplier, who provides them with green beans from Brazil, Guatemala, Colombia, Ethiopia and Indonesia. Their blend reflects the coffee tradition of Portugal, it is more on the dark and chocolatier side. I love a good old dark roast. So thats why I liked it so much.
In addition, they serve pastéis de nata, muffins, small savory snacks, granola and greek yoghurt with fruit.
Espresso from 1€
Flat White from 2€
Rua do Morgado de Mateus, 29 | São Lázaro
+351 929 444 939
Maus Habitos is a place for all forms of cultural expression. It’s urban, contemporary, also very hip - since it’s a bar, a restaurant, a concert venue, a club, a gallery and much more. You could spend a whole day there and probably not bored after all.
The restaurant in there goes by the name of Vícios de Mesa.
In Porto you can not be expect much, if you want to eat on Sundays. It's because most restaurants are closed on Sundays. A few, mostly those who appeal to the younger crowd, offer brunch. (In general brunch seems to be a thing in Portugal!)
I had the choice between Rosa Et Al and the brunch of Maus Habitos. Because I wanted to enjoy the view of the city, and would have be reservated at Rosa Et Al, I decided to go to Maus Habiotos.
Let me tell you straight up, I only ate their brunch menu there and had coffee on a sunday morning. I had the mini brunch menu for one person, which includes coffee, but costs 10,50 € - which is insanely expensive compared to Porto standards. The soup, a beetroot soup, was unsalted and unseasoned. The scrambled eggs were ok, but unfortunately not salted. The pancakes were too dry. On the tables was neither salt, pepper or sugar or something to sweeten. The salad was undressed iceberg. The only tasty thing was a kind of homemade herb butter with Parmesan cheese. But then, the breadslice was to small. The coffee was really bad (even with no high expectation - it is Lavazza). I really didn't like the brunch, even it was highly recommended on a few sites. The 10.50 were not justified at all, it was a disappointment. But they do have an italian based menu for lunch and dinner. So maybe that can catch you on a higher level.
Why I still talk about this place? Because it is actually a really nice spot, on the rooftop of a high building, their view is breath-taking.
They do concerts and parties. Their programme is finely curated, highlighting both portuguese talents and international artists. Just go and find out for yourself if it's for you!
Alvaro Siza Vieira
Merceriaria do Bolhao
Escondidinho do Barredo