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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Valenti

Porto and Coimbra: Portogallo on the road pt. 1

Porto and Coimbra, the first two stops of our Portugal on the Road tour. Often this part is a little underestimated, many tours depart from Lisbon and head south, but after some research we realized that these two destinations were essential, and we have not regretted them. To find out the other stages of our journey and how to organize your tour of Portugal click here. I'll tell you, maybe I loved Porto more than Lisbon. Its colors, the Douro river and the colorful alleys, there is an atmosphere of other times, not to mention the wine and exquisite food. Coimbra, what to say? A splendid university city, a real pearl that absolutely deserves some of your time. But let's go and find out in detail.

Porto

Saturday 26.06

As anticipated in the post on the organization of this trip, for the first part of our tour we decided to move relying on public transport, and although it may be a choice that involves more travel, counted times and races with many suitcases below, it's it was comfortable, not complex at all and the best possible decision to avoid traffic, difficulty in finding parking and narrow streets.

Porto, Fiume Douro, Portogallo
Porto - fiume Douro

FOLIAS DE BACO, PORTO

Once we landed in Porto, to reach the center we took the metro E directly from the stop at the airport, getting off at Trinidade (€ 2.60 each, for the ride, for a journey of about 30 min), arriving at the hotel with about 10 minute walk on foot. Once we had our things settled in the hotel we went out on foot downtown to eat something, inaugurating our food and wine tour in Portuguese delicacies with the Folias de Baco restaurant. If you want to know more about what to eat and where in Portugal, here is the link for you.




Sunday 27.06

Pasteis de Nata su Azulejos, La Mantegaira, Porto
Mantegaira - Pasteis de Nata

Our first real day at Porta started with a nice breakfast, which could only be based on Pasteis de Nata, one of the typical Portuguese sweets, a real delight. I ate at least 3-4 every day, a real drug. Just down the street from our hotel we found the Mantegaira (click here to read more about these typical sweets), where you can see how these delicious cream-based sweets are prepared at the price of € 1.10 each. After that, we passed in front of Perola de Bolhao, a very old and very famous shop of Portuguese specialties, and then we headed towards the Muralha Fernandina to set out in the Guindais district. From here, along a considerable number of stairs, entering these colorful and super typical alleys, with a splendid view of the Douro river and the Dom Luis bridge, we reached the bank of the river, crossed this magnificent bridge and enjoyed a nice walk on the opposite bank, in Vila Nova de Gaia, on the Avenida de Diogo Leite, enjoying the view over Porto and the Ribeira.

Here, by chance, we came across Casa Portoguesa do Pastel Bacalhau and entered, completely captivated by the beauty of this place that looks almost like a bookshop, until we realized that they were selling these gigantic cod croquettes with a delicious heart inside. of cheese. True works of art, which are absolutely worth the price of € 5 each! Click here to find out more.


Entering the narrow streets to reach the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar we met the Half Rabbit of the famous artist Bordalo. It's a very famous work of street art made with waste, which you will surely have seen online or in some photos. It's a mural/sculpture of a giant rabbit placed on the corner of a building: the artist has voluntarily left half of the work with the original colors of the materials used, nets, metal, road signs and pieces of plastic become eyes, limbs and ears.

Ponte Dom Luis, Porto, Portogallo
Porto - Ponte Dom Luis

Once you reach the Mosteiro, you will enjoy a splendid view of Porto and the Douro River from above and from there you can return to Porto via the Dom Luis bridge at the top, arriving directly in front of the Cathedral of Porto. From here we kept on the left, along the characteristic Rua des Flores and Rua dos Mercadores, which with their typical colors and balconies will really make you breathe the culture and colors of Portugal. Continue to Praca da Ribeira, one of the most famous and typical places in Porto; here you can find many places where you can nibble something and where to drink especially in the evening.


Vinhas d'Alho, Fiume Douro, Porto, Portogallo
Vinhas d’Alho

We stopped to eat something along the river in Vinhas d’Alho, a very nice and simple place, outdoors, on the banks of the Douro (also read the post on what and where to eat in Portugal). After lunch we headed towards the Mercado Ferreira Borges, very suggestive, all in red metal and then we went to the Palacio de Bolsa, which we had read a lot about on the internet but which in the end we did not visit because you can only enter by reservation with the guide , but the hours were not comfortable for us, so if you want to go, study it better and consider € 10 each. At this point we walked towards the Jardin do Palacio de Cristal and de los Sientimientos: they are quite far from the center, but in a half hour walk calmly we arrived there. Perhaps it's more comfortable with a bus, it depends on how fit you are and how you prefer to move: we like to walk and we have decided to enjoy the city and the streets in this way. The gardens are splendid, full of peacocks, and quiet corners in which to rest for a few minutes and enjoy the view over the city.

Azulejos de la Igreja do Carmo, Porto, Portogallo
Igreja do Carmo

Going back to the center, we passed the splendid Igreja do Carmo, with its walls covered with Azulejos, one of the symbols of Porto. One of the must-see stops in Porto, it's impressive and wonderful, as well as Livraria Lello. Unmissable, but very popular with tourists, the queue to enter was quite long, but smooth, since the visit is limited to 30 minutes each. The ticket costs € 6, but if you do it independently online it will cost you € 5, which will then be discounted by any purchase of books inside, because the library is not only exhibition as I initially thought, but it is an actual shop with books in all languages ​​and some very special and beautiful editions. Absolutely recommended!

A few meters from Livraria Lello you will also find the Torre de Clerigos and the Fonte da Porta do Olival.

Livraria Lello, Porto, Portogallo
Livraria Lello

Sardine alla Casa Oriental, Porto, Portogallo
Casa Oriental

I'm using a few lines to tell you about Casa Oriental, a super typical little shop that I fell in love with and that you will find practically everywhere even in Lisbon and Sintra, but it made me crazy! It's a Portuguese chain of shops that sells sardines. You will think I went crazy, but the walls are covered in these cans of sardines (expensive enough to be) all colored and decorated with wonderful illustrations. Despite Enri's protests, at the end of the trip, I managed to buy some, I couldn't resist!


The George Sandeman, Porto, Portogallo
The George Sandeman

After going back to the hotel and resting a few hours, we went out on foot again for dinner and, following the same route as in the morning passing through Guindais, we crossed the Dom Luis bridge and had an happy hour on the river bank, enjoying a wonderful sunset on Porto and the river. We stopped at The George Sandeman, the venue of a famous Port wine factory. It was one of the few places that at that time could take us for a drink without having dinner! For dinner, however, we moved a little further to the Mercado Beira-Rio: here you can choose from many stands of typical Portuguese food, mainly fish and cod in all sauces! Click here to read the post about our Portuguese culinary tour and to know what and where to eat!


After dinner we walked home, enjoying the magic of Porto at night. Total route in day 23.6 km on foot (:

Porto, Fiume Douro, Portogallo
Porto - fiume Douro


Monday 28.6

Wake up early in morning and then breakfast just outside the hotel at the Confeitaria do Bolhao, a super-typical and easy-going pastry and bakery, very popular with locals. Here you'll find many specialties both sweet and savory, to get the day off to a good start, then straight to Rua Santa Caterina, the shopping street of Porto, with a must-see at Fabrica de Nata, where I couldn't take my daily ration of Pasteis de Nata for 1 €.


We passed the Mercado Temporario de Bolhao, the temporary site of the famous Porto market, which is currently being renovated. Honestly, as long as they don't reopen the original, you can safely skip it, it's small, and nothing distinctive

Stazione di Sao Bento, Porto, Portogallo
Porto Sao Bento

At this point we kept on towards the Camara Municipal do Porto, then on the Avenida dos Aliados and Praca da Liberdade, where, if you are a fan, you will find the famous Hard Rock cafe and shop. Our last stop in the center was Porto Sao Bento, a splendid train station, all full of azulejos. At around 11 we went to retrieve our suitcases at the hotel and we walked towards the station of Vila Nova de Gaia quite outside the city: we went there calmly on foot, and we took the opportunity to see some splendid buildings, such as the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso. The journey was long, if I had to do it again I would definitely take a taxi, but we did it anyway. For more information about traveling by train, I refer you to the article on planning this trip.


Coimbra

Let's move on with our itinerary to Coimbra, a university tpwn on the Mondego river. The city is famous for its University, founded in 1290, one of the first in Europe. Today it's the largest university center in the country. Coimbra is small, we shot it well in one afternoon: everything is very intimate and close, and the site of greatest interest is precisely the university.

Biblioteca Joanina, Universidad de Coimbra, Portogallo
Biblioteca Joanina

If you are a university student, with your student card, you will be entitled to discounts for tickets.

Otherwise, you'll find the ticket office in front of the chemistry laboratory: for € 12.5 per person you will get access to the Joanina Library, the Sao Miguel Chapel, the Palacio Real and the Sala dos Capelos and the Science Museum. In our opinion, the most beautiful part was that of the Library. Entrance is allowed only with a guide, every 30 minutes, and you will be accompanied to the 3 levels: the prisons, the first level and finally the splendid second level. One of the most particular things about this library is that in the second level, between the shelves, there are bats, which help to preserve the ancient books. Access to these buildings is from the internal courtyard of the Palazzo delle Scuole, which with its tower will be visible even from afar, passing through the Porta Ferrea.


Palazzo delle Scuole, Universidad de Coimbra, Portogallo
Palazzo delle Scuole

We also dedicated an hour to a walk in the University's Jardin Botanico: admission is free, and the gardens are truly beautiful. Going back to the apartment I also point out both the New and the Old Cathedral.


For dinner we headed to the Mondego River and Largo de Portagem and here, looking for a place to eat, we came across Toca do Gato. Don't be fooled by the first impression: yes it's a super simple and easy-going place, with very few tables, the owner seems gruff and a little annoyed, but I swear he deserves everything (click here to know what we ate and why you definitely have to try this little place).



Coimbra
Coimbra

Here is our itinerary of Porto and Coimbra, the first two parts of our tour of Portugal. To find out more about our trip and understand how to best plan it, I refer you to the dedicated article. If you want to continue the itinerary, correct the next steps: - Lisbon and Sintra - Algarve If, on the other hand, you are interested in what and where to eat on your Portugal tour, click here. In case I have forgotten something or you need more information commented below, I will be happy to help you! Have a nice trip (:



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