A port wine-soaked tour of Porto

Douro River in Porto

View of the Douro River from the Palácio de Cristal

Happy 2016, all! Christmas is officially over, so I’m sad to report that the amount of Christmas market content on this blog will drop by at least 75 percent (don’t worry, though; 25% is more than enough to work with).

The holidays can be a rough time in general, and then add in FOMO from social media’s constant stream of other people’s vacation destinations, and it can get downright awful. If you’re still feeling residual FOMO doldrums, it’s time to imagine a trip that you yourself would love to take, and then plan it in as much detail as possible!

Today let’s take a look at a trip to Porto, Portugal. My brother lives there, so my dad and I headed over to spend our Christmas holiday with him (so unfortunately I was one of those people inadvertently causing FOMO, sorry!!!).

Porto sunset

Porto sunset from Vila Nova de Gaia

Porto is a seaside-town with lots of beautiful architecture and zero shortage of port wine. And given that #myaesthetic is anything that makes me resemble an old British man, I fell in love with all things port-related. I’m proposing here a short afternoon itinerary, which will require a driver, however (Porto’s kind of spread out). So have your DD on hand and let’s get started!

  • Fortify yourself with lunch: Don’t start on an empty stomach. I recommend Cafeina, located in Porto’s chic Foz neighborhood. The food here is beautiful and delicious. In fact, despite joking all week about the “Instagram Husband” video and not getting the whole taking-pictures-of-your-food phenomenon, my dad finally broke down here — over a seared foie gras appetizer.

    If you’d really like to treat yourself, head to The Restaurant at The Yeatman in Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the Douro River from Portugal. This is where all the port houses are found, so after lunch you can head right on over. The Yeatman is the only restaurant in Porto with a Michelin star, so it ain’t cheap, but it has incredible reviews.

  • Ruby, tawny, and vintage port wine

    Ruby, tawny, and vintage port wine

  • Taste all the port: Fun fact about port and Vila Nova de Gaia: once the wine is bottled (in the Douro valley, about 100 kilometers from Porto), it’s only allowed to spend one winter at the vineyard, then it gets floated down the Douro, to Gaia and its respective port house.

    Port house tours are great fun and you get to learn more than you ever thought possible about the wine. And best of all, you can do tastings! We went to Graham’s, and I fell in love with their tasting room: it looked just like a British library, complete with photos of Winston Churchill. 👍

    Other port makers include Sandeman, Taylor’s, Ferreira, and Ramos Pinto; you really can’t go wrong.

  • Walk it off: You got this.

    Livraria Lello

    Livraria Lello, bookstore of my dreams

    Of vital importance: You must see the Livraria Lello, known as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. Legend has it that JK Rowling used Lello as inspiration for Harry Potter (she lived in Porto for several years). It’s 5 Euros to get in (you can buy tickets in the stall across the street) but well worth the price of admission. And despite what I read everywhere on the internet, they were allowing people to take photos!

    Lello is walkable to a bunch of other fun sites. For instance the gardens of the Palácio de Cristal. These boast a breath-taking view of Porto and the Douro, and are perfect for photo ops. And I’d probably be whipped by all the citizens of Portugal (jkjk I’m sure the Portuguese would be perfectly pleasant to me) if I didn’t mention the TILES. The exterior of the Igreja do Carmo and the interior of the São Bento train station are famous for their tile work. Go and straight up litter Instagram with your shots.

  • Igreja do Carmo

    Igreja do Carmo — and those tiles!

    Craving a seaside walk? The promenade at Foz is gorgeous, and you’ll have a front-row view for some awe-inspiring ocean waves. You’ll also be close to the Foz Do Douro Urban Park, which is pretty and charming and all that good stuff.

By the time you finish sightseeing, you’ll probably feel lovely enough to return to wherever you’re staying and watch a Bones marathon, which is exactly what you should do. Or, you know, go out to dinner and check out the nightlife. I don’t know how you have all this energy, but whatever, you do you!

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