The Ultimate Guide to an Adventure-Packed Weekend in Porto, the Gem of Portugal

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Weekend in Porto

Originally crafted by National Geographic Traveller (UK).

Nestled at the confluence of the Douro River, adorned with scenic bridges and charming houses cascading down the slopes, Porto has become a hot spot for wanderers in the past few years. Many tourists are drawn by the city’s venerable port wine cellars, the labyrinthine streets punctuated by baroque architecture, and quaint cafes in the maze-like Ribeira district. But let’s not forget the allure of the great outdoors. Thanks to its riverfront vistas and coastal locale, Porto offers a smorgasbord of outdoor activities, ranging from paddleboarding and kayaking to the thrill of bridge climbing and cruising on e-bikes. Here’s your ideal blueprint for a weekend filled with adrenaline and aesthetics.

Day One

7 a.m.: Greet the day with a brisk six-mile jog via Porto Running Tours. The early morning hour allows you to experience the city’s historical core, its narrow lanes and panoramic viewpoints, in hushed reverence. And after the 90-minute jaunt, you’ll feel fully justified in devouring a pastel de nata (that heavenly Portuguese custard tart) for breakfast.

12 p.m.: Snag a gourmet sandwich on-the-go from A Sandeira do Porto, conveniently located near São Bento station. Meander through the labyrinthine streets of the Miragaia area, making your way to Jardins do Palácio de Cristal. This paradise boasts blooming camellias, lush wooded areas, and terraced lawns adorned with fountains, all overlooking the sprawling arm of the Douro River.

3 p.m.: Remember the arching bridge you spied from the gardens? That would be Ponte da Arrábida, stretching an impressive 1,600 feet over the Douro River toward Vila Nova de Gaia. Elevate your adrenaline by strapping into a harness for a 40-minute guided climb up the bridge, which grants jaw-dropping vistas of historic Porto and the mighty Atlantic.

7 p.m.: Cap off your day with a two-hour kayaking excursion at Afurada Marina, situated on the opposite side of the bridge. As nightfall approaches, indulge in some ocean-fresh seafood at Armazém do Peixe, a tastefully converted fishing warehouse.

Day Two

10 a.m.: Kickstart your morning with stand-up paddleboarding. The Paddling Center at Douro Marina offers both introductory sessions and longer excursions. You’ll paddle along while enjoying panoramic views of Porto’s iconic bridges and the Ribeira district’s collage of pastel-colored homes.

1 p.m.: Head to Graham’s Port Lodge for a three-part port wine tasting, followed by lunch at Vinum. This modern, glass-fronted eatery is seamlessly integrated with the original 17th-century wine cellars and offers culinary gems like Ria Formosa oysters and Trás-os-Montes beef, all set against a backdrop of the river.

3 p.m.: To tap into Porto’s vibrant art scene, saddle up on an e-bike from Blue Dragon Tours. Ride around to marvel at the city’s most striking street art installations. Hills? No problem—you’ll breeze by captivating pieces like Bordalo II’s ‘Coelho,’ a gigantic rabbit sculpture made of repurposed waste.

6:30 p.m.: Board a tram to Foz do Douro, where the river kisses the Atlantic. If the sun’s shining, take a pre-dinner dip. Alternatively, nurse a porto tónico (a blend of white port and tonic) while lounging on the deck at Praia da Luz beach bar.

8 p.m.: For a dinner straight out of a Portuguese grandmother’s kitchen, visit Tentações no Prato. This unpretentious, traditional tasca offers comfort food classics like bolinhos de bacalhau (salt cod fritters) and arroz de feijão (rice with beans).

Practicalities

For your stay, consider booking at M.Ou.Co Hotel, an oasis of minimalist elegance in the artsy Bonfim neighborhood. Not just a hotel, this spacious establishment also features a concert venue and a saltwater pool. Room rates start at €105 (£90), including breakfast.

To subscribe to more quality travel advice from National Geographic Traveller (UK), click here. (Available in select countries only).

So, ready to lace up your adventure boots and give Porto the weekend it deserves?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Weekend in Porto

What activities are covered in this weekend guide to Porto?

The guide covers a variety of activities aimed at adventure and culture lovers. These range from early morning runs and kayaking to wine tasting and exploring local street art.

Is this itinerary family-friendly?

While the activities in this guide are generally more adventurous and might suit adults or older teens better, you could certainly adapt them to be more family-friendly. For example, you could opt for a shorter, family-friendly kayaking route or enjoy the parks and gardens at a leisurely pace with younger children.

Where can I get the best views of Porto?

For the best views of Porto, the guide suggests climbing the Ponte da Arrábida bridge and visiting the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal. Both spots offer panoramic vistas of the city and the Douro River.

What are the food options mentioned in the guide?

The guide mentions a range of food options from gourmet sandwiches at A Sandeira do Porto to traditional Portuguese dishes at Tentações no Prato. For seafood lovers, Armazém do Peixe is a must-visit.

Where is a good place to stay in Porto according to this guide?

The guide recommends the M.Ou.Co Hotel located in the creative Bonfim district. It’s not just a place to sleep but also includes amenities like a concert venue and a saltwater pool.

What are the transport options for getting around Porto?

The guide suggests walking, e-biking, tram riding, and even kayaking as ways to explore Porto. Specific companies like Porto Running Tours and Blue Dragon Tours are mentioned for guided experiences.

Is there any focus on local culture?

Yes, the guide includes activities like wine tasting at Graham’s Port Lodge, dining at a traditional Portuguese restaurant, and exploring Porto’s vibrant street art scene, offering a good mix of adventure and local culture.

How much should I budget for this weekend?

The guide gives an idea of cost only for the hotel stay, which starts at €105 (£90) per night. Depending on the activities you choose, and dining preferences, you’ll need to budget accordingly.

Are there any opportunities to experience local art and creativity?

Absolutely, the guide suggests an e-bike tour with Blue Dragon Tours that focuses on the city’s most exciting street art. This is a great way to feel Porto’s creative pulse.

Can I subscribe to get more such travel guides?

Yes, the guide was originally crafted by National Geographic Traveller (UK), and there is an option to subscribe to their magazine for more quality travel advice. It is available in select countries only.

More about Weekend in Porto

  • Porto Running Tours
  • A Sandeira do Porto
  • Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
  • Ponte da Arrábida Bridge Climb
  • Afurada Marina
  • Armazém do Peixe
  • Paddling Center at Douro Marina
  • Graham’s Port Lodge
  • Vinum Restaurant
  • Blue Dragon Tours
  • Foz do Douro Beach
  • Praia da Luz Beach Bar
  • Tentações no Prato
  • M.Ou.Co Hotel
  • National Geographic Traveller (UK) Subscription

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8 comments

TravellingTrish August 29, 2023 - 12:15 pm

Gotta say, this guide ticks all the boxes. Activities from morning till sunset and options for foodies, adventure seekers and culture vultures. Kudos!

Reply
AdventureJunkie101 August 29, 2023 - 4:31 pm

Man, this makes me wanna pack my bags and head to Porto like right now! Who knew there was so much to do beyond sippin’ port wine. A sunrise run? Count me in!

Reply
LocalLuisa August 29, 2023 - 5:03 pm

As a Porto native, gotta say this captures the spirit of the city well. though I’d add a few more hidden gems if i were writin’ this. But hey, not bad for a tourist guide.

Reply
WaterSportsWilly August 29, 2023 - 5:13 pm

Kayaking and paddleboarding in the Douro River? That’s what I’m talkin about. Adventure + scenic views = perfect weekend. I’m sold.

Reply
ArtsyAlan August 29, 2023 - 5:49 pm

Love how this guide isn’t just about the typical touristy stuff. Street art tour by e-bike sounds rad. Anyone else here tried Blue Dragon Tours? Any good?

Reply
FoodieFran August 30, 2023 - 1:06 am

OMG, that gourmet sandwich place and seafood spot sound delish! And wine tasting on a terrace? Yes please. I’m gettin’ hungry just readin’ this.

Reply
ChillChad August 30, 2023 - 3:10 am

tram ride to Foz do Douro for a sunset port tonic? That sounds like my kind of evening. Can’t wait to do this itinerary for real.

Reply
BudgetBenny August 30, 2023 - 5:45 am

Any idea how much all these activities might cost? sounds awesome but my wallet’s kinda on a diet right now lol.

Reply

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