First Impressions Of Porto

Photo Credit: Zoutedrom (Flikr)

I got to visit the city of Porto recently in Northern Portugal whilst attending ‘Travel Bloggers Unite’ conference. I’ve been meaning to visit Porto for a long time now, so it was nice to finally make an excuse to go there! These were my first impressions…

Cheap as chips!

Portugal in general is a bit cheaper than most other western European countries. In the north where Porto is situated it is cheaper than the rest of the country. As I was attending a conference for 3 days in a row, I was often hopping in taxi’s back and fourth to the conference venue (where normally I would just walk or take public transport when travelling). As it turned out taxi’s in Porto are exceptionally cheap for Western Europe. For a 15 minute-ish ride each day it would only cost me €4. In any other European city you would expect to pay at least double that, if not more. Hostels were also quite cheap. I saw a lot of prices starting at €10 a night in a dorm room. Like Lisbon, Porto has some really top notch luxury hostels, so you really do get value for money.

Less tourists

The main tourism that comes into Portugal flocks mostly to the Algarve region in the south if the country and to the capital city Lisbon. Porto is a city so it will always have some tourism or international visitors of some sort, but it is certainly a lot less so that it’s southern neighbours. This was reflected in the fact that not everyone could speak English – a positive in my opinion. You really felt like you were in a real Portuguese city, not somewhere that just exists to serve paying tourist customers. This really allowed you to see Portugal from more of a local’s perspective which was a big plus. Also, the people of Porto in general I found to be exceptionally friendly!

Unique old town architecture

The old town in Porto down by the river is truly unique. I haven’t quite seen anything like the architecture there in Europe before. I wish I’d had a bit more time outside of the conference to really go down with my camera and get some more shots because it was so picturesque and full of individual character. I think the old town alone is worth at least a day trip to Porto on your European travels.

Bolhao Market

I found this fresh food market by surprise while going for a wander near where my hostel was. It turned out to be real highlight from my trip to Porto. Bolhao market is a fresh food market held in a large two tier building in the city centre. You’ll get everything here from freshly baked bread, home made sweets, fruit, vegetables, meats, plants, flowers, and even some household goods. There’s a nice little cafe inside too where you can have your lunch. The lively atmosphere and fresh produce in this market was one of the best I’ve ever experienced in Europe. It is also a fantastic place to speak with local Portuguese people.

Overall I really enjoyed my short trip to Porto. If you were looking for a cheap base in Western Europe or a place to learn about Portugal this would definitely be an option I would recommend.

– If you liked this article you may also enjoy reading my first impressions of Lisbon.

9 Responses to “First Impressions Of Porto”

  1. Claire says:

    Porto sounds great Jane!

  2. I was at TBU and didn’t get a chance to catch up with you, but I was impressed with the city as well. I live nearby in Spain and have been to Portugal countless times, but my first trip up north was memorable, and I can’t wait to get back and explore more (and drink loads of port!)

  3. Porto seems like a good tourist destinations. It’s just near Spain where I am now. I’ll try my best to visit it when I go to Portugal next month.

  4. Gavin Harvey says:

    Porto sounds great and it’s making me think that I shouldn’t always stick to Southern Portugal in future. It’s definitely nicer to visit somewhere a bit more authentic and less touristy. The food market definitely appeals!

  5. Cheap and devoid of crowds of tourists…sounds like a great place to be, which is good to know. Did you find anything unusual in the food market? One of my favorite things when traveling is to seek out an indescribable local delicacy.

  6. Gayla says:

    I visited Porto for the first time last year and can’t wait to go back! Visited Lisbon, Faro and Tavira, as well, but Porto is easily my favorite. The people there truly are so welcoming and hospitable. Somehow I missed the Balhao market. Definitely will make a point to go there next time. Thanks for the tip!

  7. Ed Rex says:

    Great to hear you taught this place is amazing!

    I’ll be heading there in late May so thanks for the confirmation that I know it’s gonna be a great place to stay.

    Did you go to Lisbon and the Algarve as well?


  8. Richard says:

    Wicked blog btw … I’m thinking of 5 days in Porto for the school holidays in February – my little boy Noah seems very excited by the pictures of trams!


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