Although my first day in Porto had been pretty great, I knew I’d missed a lot. [Mostly due to my own inability to navigate, but still.] So on my second day, I made it a point to hit up some of the stops I’d missed before.
I started with something easy: Livraria Lello. For the low, low price of 4€, you get to stand in line for two hours, yay! In all seriousness, this old-timey bookstore recently became a major tourist attraction in Porto because of its association with JK Rowling, who used its unique interior design as inspiration for aspects of Hogwarts in Harry Potter.
Basically, I went inside so you wouldn’t have it.
Although the interior design is definitely beautiful, I wouldn’t say it’s worth the ticket price or the lines. However, if you want a fairly interesting souvenir to commemorate your time in Porto, it might be worth your while. The 4€ ticket price gets deducted from any purchase you make while inside, so while it doesn’t quite make up for the long lines and heat stroke, it’s definitely something to consider.
Tip: You have to buy your ticket from the store next door before going to stand in line by the entrance.
After buying a book, I headed over to the nearby Praça de Lisboa, a slick, minimalist, ultra-modern park situated on top of a series of café’s and shops. It’s the triangular thing.
It was such a picturesque day that it felt nice to just sit and relax, and I felt the tension start to drip off of me. Eventually, however, I mustered up the willpower to get off my ass and walk down to the river and the Luís I Bridge.
After spending the past few days in the Baixa district, which is beautiful but fairly industrial/residential, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the Ribeira side of town. This is the Porto you see in postcards, and there’s definitely a reason: the colorful buildings lining the water’s edge and the steel arches of the Luís I are basically Instagram eyecandy.
The Ribeira area feels like a small waterfront town, separate from Baixa and the rest of Porto. Okay, I mean, no small waterfront town would have quite so many tourists, but still.
The walk through the city to Ribeira is all slender cobblestone roads cutting at odd angles through flower-laden and brightly painted little buildings. You could turn a random corner or go down a flight of stairs and find yourself in someone’s courtyard, or catch a local doing their laundry, or stumble across a tiny Portuguese restaurant.
The waterfront itself is the main even, though, with a river full of fish [something you never see anymore] and the bridge arcing gracefully across the Douro. I definitely recommend making the pilgrimage across the Luís I to see Porto from a different angle, even if you’re not going to Vila Nova de Gaia to taste-test the port wine. [Which if you are, I hear Taylor’s €12 self-guided winery tours are excellent.] Also, while I didn’t have the time to try this out myself, I hear that catching the sunset from the pedestrian-only upper deck of the bridge is a must.
After drinking in the sights, snapping way too many pictures, and watching some local kid take a dive off the bridge while the onlookers cheered him on, I met up with some friends I’d met in Lisbon and had a lovely last dinner in Portugal. At a fast-food pizza place, but still.
After that, it was back to the hostel for me, to pack up and get some shuteye before my early flight the next morning. For all of you savvy budget travelers out there, Uber is by far the best option to get to the airport at an awkward hour, and usually costs less than €15.
And that was it for my stay in Porto, and the end of my time in Portugal. I feel like I slept maybe fifteen hours total throughout the entire week, but if anything, that coupled with how energetic I was really tells you how much I loved my stay in this beautiful, cultured, sunny country.
What are some of your favorite cities in Portugal?