48 hours in the land of Sardines: A weekend in Porto, Portugal

I can`t really explain why it took me so long to go to Portugal. As a Brazilian living in Spain, this should be the perfect country: As close as it gets and they speak my native language. Also, I pass through Lisbon`s airport at least twice a year on my way to visit my family back home. But for some reason I never had the time to spend more than a couple of hours in this beautiful country… Until I decided to accept my Portuguese friend Tiago`s invitation to spend a long weekend in Porto, Portugal, the land of Sardines and the most charming riverside city! 

Porto portugal
Boats, the Luís I bridge on the Douro River and the old town of Porto, Portugal.

We spent a few days in a country house before going to the city, so in the end, I had a little more than 2 days to explore the city. I’m glad to say that since Porto is not really a big city, in two days you can have a pretty good idea of the city and its charms…


The panoramic view from up in the historic center looking at the Douro river.

I am not going to give you an organized route of what to see in Porto for two reasons:

1) I didn`t follow one, I hardly ever do when traveling – I prefer to discover the city as I go, to get lost in it, with a couple of reference points just not to waste time;

2) I did this trip before having the blog so I didn`t write down the places that I saw (shame on me, I know… This won`t happen again!). Tripadvisor will give you a good list of places to see and can be used as a base guide, but I chose to focus on wandering around the coloured streets of the old town and watching the sunset by the river with a glass of Porto wine in hand, and the result was a great one as you will see in the pictures here!

Porto Portugal
This was my chosen place to watch the sunset while tasting Porto wine… Not bad, right?

As an architect (yes, besides being a photographer, I`m originally an architect) Porto is an impressive city. With some amazingly preserved examples of baroque and Portuguese colonial buildings, like the churches with the typical white and blue tiles, my eyes – and my camera – where having a great time. This kind of architecture one can only find in Portugal and some former colonies like Brasil (Minas Gerais and Parati would be a great example of that in my home country).

Santo Idelfonso
A typical example of Portuguese architecture with the tiles and the baroque traces. The church of Santo Idelfonso.

Porto, Portugal
Panoramic views of the city with the omnipresent Torre dos Clérigos tower in the distance.

On my first day exploring Porto I didn`t have a great weather, it was cloudy so I chose to explore the city centre, do some shopping and visit the famous Lello Bookstore (it appears on one of the Harry Potter movies) and the Center of Portuguese Photography (a former jail that is now the headquarters of a kind of Disneyland for photographers – their camera`s collection is to die for!).

Old cable cars, the way to move around Porto`s downtown area!
Old cable cars, the way to move around Porto`s downtown area!



I always like to bring home a souvenir, but the special kind. In Porto I had to buy some ceramic sardines to decorate the house. They are a typical yet unique piece, and they come in different designs, some signed by recognized artists. I loved it!
I always like to bring home a souvenir, but the special kind. In Porto, I had to buy some ceramic sardines to decorate the house. They are a typical yet unique piece, and they come in different designs, some signed by recognized artists. I loved it!


Luckily the bad weather gave in in the late afternoon and I had a glimpse of blue skies and a beautiful sunset. Photography tip: Cloudy days usually turn into beautiful sunsets, the clouds adding some texture to the colorful sky…


Porto, Portugal.
A beautiful sunset from the bridge of Luís I. Those clouds made all the difference!


Wanna learn more easy photography tips for great travel photograph? Check this post! 


The Douro river separates Porto from Gaia. On the other side of the river, you`ll find the wine cellars… Where you can not only taste the famous Porto wine but learn about its history and how it is made. It is really easy to get there: All you need to do is cross the Luis I bridge.

Gaia, Porto, Portugal
Crossing the Luís I bridge is the city of Gaia, on the southern bank of the Douro river. Aren`t those boats amazing?


At night my friends took me for drinks in this really traditional and yet kind of alternative place called Adega Leonor. I was surprised to find out that Porto is one of the main Erasmus city and thus, full of students. That means… Some crazy parties! And really cheap drinks (like a beer for 0,50 euro!). After the first place, we went to another one called Armazem do Chá (translation: the Tea Warehouse.) I did find some hot drinks there, but not exactly tea… Sadly the place is closed now. The place is now called Adega Sports Bar and it`s from the same owner as Adega Leonor.


Adega Leonor
Adega Leonor, a place to have cheap beer and drink on the street. Relaxed and fun as well.


Armazén do Chá
Now that is what I call a hot drink…

Next day, hangover-free (I was careful the night before) I woke up to a beautiful day. Time to grab the camera and go photograph some more. The old town with its beautiful little buildings and a lot of colors was my destiny. To make the day even brighter, wondering around the streets I found this view:

Porto, Portugal
Such a happy picture!!!


Porto, Portugal
A festive neighborhood and a happy “portuga” dog. My mood was great!

One of the most famous icons of Porto is the Torre dos Clérigos (Clérigos Tower), a baroque monument that is part of the Clérigos church. Built in 1763 it is 75 meters high and was once considered the tallest building in the city. You can go up there, but I’ll warn you: It takes almost 250 steps to get up there… (No. I didn`t go up, laziness got to me).


Torre dos Clérigos
The Clérigos Tower, with Portuguese style buildings on the back. Don`t you just love those colors?

I finished my tour with a different view of the city: From a boat. There are a lot of companies that will take you on tours through the river, and the view is beautiful… I highly recommend doing this, my tour was a short one but the opportunity to see the city from another point of view is unique.

Porto, Portugal
Sun in my eyes, crossing the Douro River all the way after the Luis I bridge!


Porto, Portugal
The city of Porto seen from the river. This view is worth the boat ride!


Porto, Portugal
View from the Gaia, on the other side of the river Douro. This bridge is a beautiful metallic structure and its part of Unesco`s World Heritage.

This was my last day, sadly I had to leave the next morning, but I couldn`t miss the chance to have a great local dinner and try the famous Portuguese grilled sardines with some Vinho Verde (green wine, a local wine, fresh and delicious). I plan on going to Lisbon this summer so stay tuned, more Portuguese adventures coming soon on Guiri Insider!

Are you also planning on visiting Lisbon? Then check this post!

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48 Hours in Porto, Portugal: The Ultimate Insider`s guide!

Showing 6 comments
  • Two Texans Traveling

    Really enjoyed reading…thanks for sharing

  • Tracey

    Amazing and helpful blog post! Your pictures are incredible. You have made me very excited for my visit to Porto in July 🙂

    • Vick Fichtner

      Hi Tracey!

      I’m really glad you liked it and I hope you have a great time in Porto!!!

  • Jerry WHITE

    Where did you eat those Sardines my wife loves them.

  • Britt Feingold

    I plan on visiting in November for a few days!!!! Great Read!!! Thanks!!

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