The most beautiful sights in Porto: Breathless through the streets of Porto

Do you know this place that you immediately take to your heart? A place you've never been to, but one you instantly fall in love with because of its warmth. Such a place is Porto. When traveling to Portugal, the country is quickly associated with Lisbon, bizarre rock formations and hot surf spots. The city of Porto has been a popular insider tip among individual travelers for some time, because Lisbon's little sister is a great cinema for travel lovers.

But I admit it: since I had never been to Portugal before traveling to Porto, I really wanted to go to Lisbon in the beginning! This wish came about after talking to friends who were doing a semester abroad in Lisbon. There is a lot more going on in Lisbon, it is more colourful, more diverse, more beautiful. But at the time I wanted to fly, there were unfortunately no suitable flights in my area. So my better half and I looked around for an alternative and quickly came across Porto. And our curiosity was immediately piqued. The flights were booked promptly and the journey could begin.

Exploring Porto on foot: A walk along the Douro

Already on arrival we experienced a surprise: the city, described as Portugal's rainy and slightly morbid, welcomed us with blue skies, sunshine and pleasant temperatures of over 20 degrees in the middle of December. Our expectations of strolling through a melancholic, mysterious, gray city that can only be described in a novel by Carlos Ruiz Zafon were not fulfilled, but we really got into the Mediterranean holiday mood. We couldn't believe our luck! Every time I land in a city that is by the sea, I want to see the sea as soon as possible. It has now become a ritual.

Equipped with my camera, I first went to one Walk along the river Douro, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean. "You've only really been where you've walked." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said. And he's right about that, I think. I love exploring new areas on foot and walking for miles: leisurely but consistent. There is nothing better than exploring your surroundings on foot. Although I almost reached my personal limit in Porto... But more on that later. In any case, I will never forget this walk along the Douru.

The Farol Molhe do Douro: Porto's small but beautiful lighthouse

The sun was just about to set, bathing the landscape in a hazy golden light. Like walking through golden fog. Porto's second landmark could be seen from afar: the small old one Lighthouse, who is lashed daily by surreally high waves. This sight is eerily beautiful and captivates walkers, fishermen and travelers every day. This moment was particularly beautiful because we were in the midst of local fishermen: hardly any tourists, the scenery as original and authentic as a guest could wish for. Of course we were watched curiously by the fishermen. My blond hair, in particular, seems to have attracted a lot of attention. Apparently not that many blondes had made their way to the lighthouse that day *laughs*. But joking aside: I have seldom felt so balanced and comfortable in a new environment as I did on the Douro.

Sunset in Porto

How peacefully and naturally the river flowed into the ocean, how relaxed people looked at the river and the sea. For me it was a moment of life. But one scene in particular touched me when we finally arrived at the lighthouse. An elderly woman with tired and sad eyes was not deterred by the high waves and headed straight for the lighthouse on the jetty. She walked around the lighthouse and looked out to sea as if remembering or saying goodbye to someone. When she came back after a while, she had tears in her eyes. What I immediately noticed about her were her striped colorful socks. As melancholic as that moment was, her colorful socks put a smile on my face. It immediately made me think of Lou from JoJo Moyes's Half a Year. 

How can you not immediately fall in love with people who wear colorful striped socks, regardless of their age?

The jetty to the Porto lighthouse

Even if it was only a fleeting encounter at the lighthouse in Porto: it is this lasting impression of a city, its people, the moments in their lives. 

That's what counts for me, not thinking about what's missing, but realizing what's there.

Livraria Lello e Irmao: Porto's famous and beautiful library

The next day was also filled with sunshine and an infinite number of new impressions. Our first port of call was the bookstore Livraria Lello e Irmao. Did you know that this famous bookstore is said to have inspired JK Rowling to write her series of novels about Harry Potter? At least that's what many Portuguese claim. JK Rowling lived in Porto for three years and is said to have often visited the bookstore at that time. And there are actually many parallels to the book in The Pearl on the Atlantic: Be it the students who wear traditional black cloaks or the magical, almost fairytale-like atmosphere of the medieval streets in the city.

And things get really magical in the Lello brothers’ bookstore. The Guardian awards “Liraria Lello e Irmao” third place in the category “Most beautiful bookshop in the world”, while Lonely Planet even put the bookshop in first place among the most beautiful bookshops in Europe.

The Art Nouveau building from the 19th century still enchants the flood of visitors from all over the world. However, don't be put off by the long line at the entrance. Because as soon as you walk through the door, you enter a magical, incomparable place. Of course, the bookshop is a tourist magnet, but the visit is definitely worth it. You've probably seen Kevin Alone in New York. Despite the books, "Liraria Lello e Irmao" is reminiscent of the fictional toy shop from the film. Browsing in such a great atmosphere is much more fun than in the usual local bookstores.

Porto's historic old town: The Ribeira with its world-famous Ponte Dom Luís I bridge

Many photos and impressions later, we continued on foot along the Douro to the "Ponte Dom Luís I" bridge, which connects the city of Porto with the port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia connects. It is located in the historic center of the city, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. This neighborhood will too Riverside (Portuguese for "river bank") and with the waterfront promenade ("Cais de Ribeira") offers the perfect place for long walks along the Douro. Here you will find numerous restaurants, souvenir shops and also the famous one port wine boats, which the locals call barcos rabelos.

Built by Gustav Eiffel's students Arthur and Maurey Teofilo Seyrig, the bridge is 385,25 meters long Ponte Dom Luis I as a landmark of the city and belongs to World Heritage Site. It owes its name to the reigning King Dom Luís I (it was opened on October 31, 1886).

Take the cable car from Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia for port wine tasting

With tired feet we decided to take the cable car. The trip was quite cheap and the tickets included a tasting of the famous port wine. Incidentally, the cable car also offers a perfect view of Vila Nova de Gaia, the center of port wine production. We were able to relax in a rustic winery with live music and a fireplace.

The famous historical tram in Porto

So far, no minute has been like the other in this lively and vibrant city. It is particularly noteworthy that almost all sights are within easy walking distance. Our feet burned after the three-day hike, but it was definitely worth it. Due to the many new impressions, one even sometimes forgot that one had been on one's feet for so long. Otherwise there is the subway and of course the famous historic tram, which is visually almost identical to the train in Lisbon but has the advantage over its big sister city that you don't have to queue as long to ride it in the off-season.

The most beautiful cafes and restaurants in Porto

By the way, Porto is not only the city of port wine, but also of cafés. Although there are also many restaurants, cafés predominate in Porto. And almost every café is unique and individually decorated. There are many hip and very cheap cafes near the university, like this one Embaixada do Porto where you can enjoy analog photography and vinyl records over coffee, wine or tea. The café is a fusion of a shop selling stylish Polaroid cameras and record players and a bar with occasional events. There was an alternative market near the café, which offered not only old records and regional handicrafts, but also incredibly delicious vegan pumpkin cupcakes.

Francesinha: Porto's national urban dish

In the restaurants, preference is given to serving fresh fish and seafood. Bacalhau (pronounced: cod) is offered on almost every corner. If you are really brave, you can try the city's national dish "Francesinha" (Editor's note: not for weak stomachs and nerves!), which can be eaten in almost every restaurant. Those who prefer it sweeter must definitely try the delicious pudding tarts Pasteis De Nata taste that can be tasted on almost every corner.

Porto has captured my heart. Maybe because I saw so many scenes there that touched me: like the elderly man who was strolling through the streets of Porto with a bouquet of flowers and I secretly wondered who the beautiful flowers were for. Maybe because it reminds me of so many other cities and is so unique in this symbiosis. Sometimes it's Lisbon, sometimes Paris and very often it's a smaller version of Barcelona. And yet it is very different. I'm in love. Do you want to fall in love too? Then pack your suitcase and pay a visit to the pearl of the Atlantic! Before your journey starts, you can get a few impressions here in advance: