After my magical time in Montenegro last year I got to explore a little of another country I had never been to before – Portugal! I’ve going to share some of my adventures with you over the next little while, starting with some of the exploring I did in Porto. The first of my Porto Exploring posts takes us through the neighbourhood of Riberia, across the river to try some port and into Livraria Lello!
Riberia and Gaia
A visit to Porto wouldn’t be complete without spending some time wandering through Riberia, the medieval neighbourhood along the riverfront. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is an incredibly popular tourist area for good reason.
The collection of colourful, interesting buildings is a sight to behold and the whole area is packed with cafes and bars. Wander through the side streets and take in views round every corner, in particular the impressive bridges. I loved spending time just meandering around, stopping for a drink and taking about a million photos.
The Gaia side of the Duoro is also well worth a visit. Not only does it mean you get to cross one of Porto’s famous bridges, but you get some spectacular views back towards Porto as well. We crossed the top of the Luis I Bridge, which is almost 45 metres high and was a windy, but amazing, way to get a birds eye view of both sides of the river. A wander on the Gaia side was well worth doing as well!
If you’re crossing over to Gaia then you definitely want to be visiting some of the famous port cellars. Sure, it’s not technically in Porto but I feel like that’s just a technicality. There are bars and port cellars lining the main street, but there are also plenty more tucked in to the back streets and up the hill, so you could really spend hours exploring them.
Some of them have been there for hundreds of years too! We were recommended to head up to Graham’s Port Lodge, where instead of doing a formal tasting we ordered a few ports to share as well as some snacks and sat out on the terrace. It was a gorgeous spot to sample some of their range, and to discover that I did infact like port! We followed it up with a visit to a couple of others as we worked our way back towards the bridge.
I learned so much about the making of port, and discovered just how refreshing a porto tonic could be on a hot day, so it was a success all round!
Livraria Lello is technically a bookshop, but it’s definitely not your regular bookshop! It is more than a hundred years old and has been named one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world, and for good reason.
It’s an intricate, stunning building in Art Nouveau style with gothic details, stained glass windows and murals on the wall. One of its drawcards is definitely the incredible wooden staircase, and it doesn’t hurt that it is said to have inspired the staircase in Hogwarts after JK Rowling spent time living in Porto. It’s an incredibly busy place to visit and it comes with an entry price (which is redeemable on any purchases) but it seriously is worth adding to your to-do list.
Seriously, look at that staircase! I can see why JK Rowling may well have used it as Hogwarts inspiration!