Portugal was one of the biggest surprises during my first backpacking trip through Europe. From the beaches in the South, to the fairytale land of Sintra, and the hilly stoned streets of Porto – it’s one of my favorite countries. No part of the country stuck with me though quite as much as Porto did. I couldn’t go back to Portugal without visiting my favorite city up North.
I am always happy to have a lot of things to do while I’m visiting a new city or country. But sometimes it’s nice to just be somewhere, without a long list of sites and tours to cross off. That’s what Porto is – a place to just be. It has the nicest people, charming streets, and a stunning riverside to enjoy bottomless glasses of Port wine.
Of all the things I loved about Porto, the food is at the top. From upscale, to riverside views, to sandwich shops – I made a list of the top places you absolutely can not leave Porto without eating at.
Location: InterContintental Hotel – Palacio das Cardosas / Praça da Liberdade, 25 : Porto ,4000-322, Portugal
If you want to have just one fancy meal in Porto, the Palacio das Cardosas hotel is the place to go. It’s not cheap but it has an incredible menu tasting item that gives you a chance to sample some of the cities most popular dishes.
If you are going to splurge on just one thing in Porto, I think this is the place you do it.
The outdoor patio looks out onto Liberdade Square and is a great way to people watch and enjoy the incredible architecture Porto has to offer. Inside you’ll find nothing short of an extravagant dining experience, with the highest standards of service and food quality. I couldn’t have felt more attended to if someone was fanning me with a giant leaf.
The price of the tasting menu is 45 Euros a person, not including wine. This is extremely reasonable for what you get and gives you the chance to taste what real Portuguese cuisine is. As a guest of the hotel, I was lucky to not need a reservation and showed up early enough to get a table. If you aren’t a guest, a reservation is strongly advised.
Location: 153 – 155 Muro dos Bacalhoeiros, Porto 4050-080, Portugal
With the view this restaurant has, it could serve roadkill and I’d probably be okay with it. But fortunately the food here is anything about that. After you have spent the die wandering through the tiny streets, visiting the magical book store and touring a Port wine cellar, park yourself at an outdoor table at Bacalhau.
Probably the best restaurant in Porto, this place serves up some of the freshest seafood the small port city has to offer. Bacalhau is Portuguese for Cod and is a staple in in Portuguese cuisine. If you aren’t a fish lover, you might find yourself missing out the best the city has to offer.
Even if you don’t usually order fish, be a little daring (like I was) with your food choices and order some of my favorite items off the menu.
A Sandeira Sandwich Shop
Location: Rua dos Caldeireiros 85, Porto 4050-140, Portugal
For a quick and cheap bite, you won’t find any place better than this tiny gem just tucked just around the corner from Liberdade Square. This place has a long list of unique and interesting sandwiches to try and makes for a great take away lunch in the park or sit inside the tiny shop to escape the crowds in the square.
I got a couple of these to take back to our hotel and at just 5 euros a sandwich, it’s probably the best deal in the city. As much as I love an extravagant dining experience, this made for a great cheap dinner after the two restaurant splurges I enjoyed.
Linha22 Coffee Shop
Location: Rua dos Clerigos 23, Porto 4050-205, Portugal
If you’re like me and can’t start your morning without some coffee, this is your place. Stop by Linha22 before you set out sightseeing for the day. Grab a seat inside and order um pingo and that heavenly Portuguese pastry you’ve heard so much about.
Pastel de Nata is small pie like pastry filled with a sweet and creamy custard. This is one of the most popular things to consume in Portugal, and for a good reason. In my opinion, it’s a sin to not consume as many of these as you can.