Portugal has been on our list for a long time now and since we have only spent a night in Lisbon, we knew we needed to go back and check out more of the country. After doing some research, Porto and the Douro Valley seemed like the perfect fall destinations and when our friends who are from Porto assured us that it is quite kid-friendly, we were sold!
I must say, we have been to a lot of beautiful cities, but I think Porto may be the most photogenic city I’ve ever seen. Between the beautiful tiles, colorful Ribeira houses, and the wide Douro River, this place is absolutely a photographer’s dream!
We stayed at Cardosas Boutique Apartment and could not have been happier with our stay. We arrived at our hotel on our anniversary, which I had mentioned when we booked because we were looking for a babysitter for one night so we could enjoy a dinner out. We were so surprised upon check-in to be greeted with rose petals on the bed, a bouquet of fresh flowers, the most delicious chocolate cake, and a small bottle of port. What a way to celebrate! The apartment itself was spacious, centrally located, and beautifully decorated. Sarah, the property manager, also babysat for us one night and she could not have been sweeter. A gem of a place that we would highly recommend!
We had never done one of the Hop on/Hop Off bus tours, but since the things we wanted to see were a bit spread out and it was super cheap, we decided to give it a try. The kids loved it and we were happy it included discounted admission to the Sea Life aquarium.
On our first full day we had fun exploring all the beautiful architecture of the city. We hit all the main sites including the Ribeira district along the river, the Sao Francisco church, and the Se cathedral. Mostly though, we just enjoyed wandering and seeing beauty around every corner!
The beautiful Sao Francisco church
Loved the colorful Ribeira neighborhood
The picture above is of a rabelo boat, a traditional Portuguese boat built to haul people and cargo, specifically the port wine that the town is famous for. The boats are now used to carry tourists instead, but they are still beautifully made.
And oh my-all this gorgeous blue and white tile! Love! ❤ <3<3
Another beautiful spot is the Sao Bento railway station. There are 20,000 hand painted tiles in this station depicting important moments in Porto’s history.
There are stunning views from the Se Cathedral!
After a busy day of seeing some beautiful sights, we were ready for a bit of a rest. Luckily there was an outdoor market happening right outside of our apartment along with a little cafe where we were excited to try port tonics (my new favorite drink) made of muscatela port and tonic. Delicious!
Speaking of delicious, we enjoyed some great food in Porto-highlights were our dinners at Tasco and Cantina 32. We went to Tasco the night we had a baby-sitter and really enjoyed it. Helpful tip–Cantina books up like crazy, but they open unofficially at 6:30 pm and you can come grab a table if you don’t stay too long. A perfect option with the kids! And finally, don’t forget to try the famous local pastry when in Porto-pastel de nata. I may have eaten my weight in them because they are sooooo good! The best ones we had in Portugal were at a little cafe next to the bookstore Lello.
On Saturday we hopped on the bus and headed out towards the ocean! The morning started out drizzly, but turned into a gorgeous, warm fall day. We spent the morning at Sea Life aquarium, which was quite small, but the kids enjoyed it. Then we had lunch down by the ocean before heading back downtown for some afternoon port tasting. We like to include a little something for everyone when we travel! 😉
Amazing views on the drive out.
The Hop On/Hop Off tour also included free port tasting at a few different cellars so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sample some. All of the port houses are on the other side of the river, across the Dom Luis bridge in Vila Nova de Gaia. There’s also a little playground right next to the river on that side, so it was a good place to stop after our tastings to let the kids burn off some steam.
After the tastings, we took the cablecar back to the top half of the bridge where we stopped for some breathtaking views and then it was just a short stroll back to the apartment.
On our last morning, we visited Lello, the famous bookstore that inspired J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series. This little shop must be amazing without the crowds, but unfortunately word has gotten out and it is so packed you can hardly even browse without being knocked out by a selfie stick. Even in spite of the crowds, I am glad that we got the chance to pop in and take a peek.
We are so glad we had the chance to explore the gorgeous city of Porto! We were sad to say goodbye, but it was time to pick up our rental car and head to the scenic Douro Valley.