Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

48 hours in Porto Portugal

By Monday, April 02, 2018 , , , , ,

O Porto. O sweet wine. The magical port of Portugal is the second largest city in Portugal, the first being Lisboa of course (read my Lisbon travel review here). Spend some time here exploring the old district of Ribeira, which dates back to the Middle Ages, take in the architecture and winding streets in the UNESCO World Heritage square, and of course, sample all that sweet liquor that Porto has to offer, preferably by the Duoro River. 
Day 1: Start in Ribeira and be prepared to get lost in the historical labyrinth.  
For sights, you could check out the Porto Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace (Sé Do Porto), the latter is the religious centre of Porto.  
I was fascinated with the São Bento train station, considered one of the most decorative of European stations. Illustrative blue and white azulejos tiles depict significant scenes of Portugal's history. Story was that the city waited for a long time to build the station, on the site of the Convent of São Bento da Avé Maria as there was still 1 living nun in the convent. The convent was quickly demolished once she passed.
For refueling, there are plenty to eat in the Ribeira District. For breakfast, let's indulge in something sweet. Leitaria da Quinta do Paço is known for their divine eclairs which are filled with the lightest Chantilly cream in those airy choux pillows. I felt like i've sinned but boy do they taste sooooo ethereal. The chocolate one was light (it was a chocolate icing), and lemon was tart and refreshing but balanced by the light sweetness of the cream. They actually makes a really good breakfast! Balance that guilt with their hearty sandwiches if you must. 
We had dinner at Jimão Tapas e Vinhos, which specialises in small Portuguese plates. The octopus with black pasta was a standout for us, also order the gambas, and give that avocado with bok choi a go too. The charming restaurant gets packed so do make a reservation. Ask for the table upstairs that overlooks the peaceful streets of Praça da Ribeira. 
Other restaurants that you could consider visiting are Taberna Santo António, Taberna do Largo, Tascö and others that The Culture Trip has recommended. The Mercearia do Bolhão also has some food options available (visit the wine shop there)!
Day 2: Get high on Port (if you haven't already)
Head over the iconic Ponte Luis I Bridge that spans the Douro River and cross over to Vila Nova de Gaia, the home of Port, for a port wine education. If you don't know where to start, check out Porto Walkers, a tour company that is run by Porto locals only. 
We visited 3 wine lodges and sampled too many drinks. My prior knowledge of port was limited to Graham's Port wine. But on this tour, we learnt about the different types of Port (white, ruby (aged in bigger barrels), tawny (aged in smaller barrels); blended Port (everything else), vintage Port (single year Port, only selected years), Late-Bottled Vintage (LBV), and Colheita (vintage tawny Port aged for more than a decade).
On the tour, we visited Ramos Pinto, who was founded by a controversial man who understood the appeal of sex in selling alcohol. Then we headed to Quinta Santa Eufêmia, which serves a lighter but longer lasting Colheita. 
We ended the tour on the rooftop bar of Ponta Cruz after a massive tasting of more ports in their tasting room. 
We were told you see the best sunsets here. Get a Cruz Rosemary, which is a white port-onic. You'd be surprised at how refreshing it could be, and not too sweet as well. 

Grab a bottle of whatever you like while you're on the tour. We hear the 2011 Vintage is one of the best. For vintages, you gotta finish up in 3 days. For the blended Ports, you can savour it over 6 to 8 months. 
Before or after all that drinking, dig into the heart attack that is the francesinha. The devil's croque madame this is, filled with cheese, ham, sausage, steak and topped with an egg and a slightly spicy gravy. Order one to share before 2 - 3 person. 
Cafe Santiago and Cervejaria Brasão are popular local spots. Well we had ours at Santiago and tbh, it was a rather underwhelming sandwich. 
May i recommend that you head over to Casa Guedes for a humble but out of this world pulled pork sandwiches that only costs 3.20€ a pop. Do not be surprised by the long line outside and be ready to wait for this and make sure you don't stop at one. 
A sweet ending again with the world's best chocolate cake (self-proclaimed) by Carlos Braz Lopes. The cake is definitely not the best i've eaten but it was dark, and light enough to be satisfying. Give it a try if you have space. 

If you're visiting Portugal, I highly recommend a stop over at Porto, and if you have a bit more time, a day or night in the Duoro Valley to sample their wines (yes it's more than just Port). More on Duoro Valley in a bit!

XOXO
Travelerintransit

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