First impressions of Porto in four postcard-perfect images

First impressions of Porto in four postcard-perfect images

I’ve always skipped Porto on my way somewhere else in the North, always promising myself that one day I had to stop at the 12th Century city and explore it properly. 

But, somehow, I never did until now. When I began to cover Fantasporto, I knew I couldn’t (once more) not set aside some time to explore the city.

If someone asked me to sum up Porto’s first impressions into postcard-perfect images, this would be my top four. 

The weight of the city

I tend to see cities as people. It’s really easy to pinpoint one or two features of a city that could describe a person.

There’s a masculine sense to Porto, and it stands tall and firm, unshaken by other’s opinions or influences. It is what it is.

All its History, color, architecture is right there for you to explore, without the need to dig deeper or to find hidden treasures around every corner. The walk up from Campanhã train station was rewarded with my first sight of the Cathedral.

View from the top of Dom Luis bridge | 4 postcard perfect images: first impressions of Porto.
View from the top of Dom Luis bridge

The famous "francesinha"

Before leaving for Porto, I read about the city, and one word always popped up: “francesinha.” 

I had read and heard a lot about them but never tried one before. I remember saying that I didn’t have to go to Porto to have one, but everyone insisted that it wouldn’t taste as great as it did in Porto. They claimed the sauce was the pièce de résistance.

Upon arrival, I sent out a tweet and suddenly had more options than I had time to explore in barely three days (unless that’s what I’d have for lunch and dinner). 

On my last night, I (finally!) had one at Lado B, a cafe near the coliseum (right next door to the famous and crowded Café Santiago) that claims to have the best “francesinha” in the world! 

I don’t know if it’s the best, but it was good. And on the plus side, they also serve a vegetarian option.

Francesinha at Lado B | 4 postcard perfect images: first impressions of Porto.
Francesinha at Lado B

The weather

Friends and family advised me to dress for extreme cold and rain. I checked the weather in advance, and all I saw was sunshine and average temperatures of 22°C for that week.

Either something was wrong with this forecast, or Porto was dying to meet me. I’d rather think it was the last option because the weather turned gray, cold, and foggy the day after I left.

While I was there, despite the predictable low temperature early in the morning and later in the evening, there was nothing but sunshine and blue sky every day. Trust me, it was harder to leave Porto behind like that.

Jardim da Cordoaria | 4 postcard perfect images: first impressions of Porto.
Jardim da Cordoaria

The architecture

UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, Porto’s historic center is a live Art History lesson. This is where my geek side exploded in awe of every single detail I’d stumble upon around the city.

My ultimate favorite was the two architecture periods, side by side: the Mannerism transitioning into early Baroque of the Carmelitas Church and the late Baroque transitioning into the Carmo Church’s Rococo style.

Sao Bento train station in Porto
Sao Bento train station in Porto

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