Portugal

Alternative Porto guide

alternative Porto
(Last Updated On: 22/06/2019)

I was really looking forward to my return to Porto! From my previous visits there I remembered the city as an incredibly beautiful one but also kind of edgy and with an unique soul. This time I was hoping to discover more than just amazing architecture and picturesque streets – I was excited to see alternative Porto and enjoy it to the fullest. And even if I didn’t have as much time as I’d have loved to I still did pretty well and the second biggest Portuguese city made it even higher to my list of favorite destinations. If you’re planning a trip there (highly recommended!) here is my alternative Porto guide!


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alternative Porto

Gallery Hostel Porto

From outside it looks like a random building but inside it’s a true gem! Located in the old, typical Porto house, Gallery Hostel was one of the prettiest accommodation I’ve ever stayed in! From the moment I came in I could see every single detail was well thought and altogether they made a perfect place with a charming vibe. It didn’t feel and look like a typical hostel but something more luxurious yet in still with an affordable price. The place is spacious, bright, with lots of flowers and art hanging on the wall. There’s even a small cinema!

Gallery Hostel Porto
The 6 bed dormitory I stayed in was also one of the biggest rooms of that kind I’ve seen and so very functional. I slept like a baby and even if the room was full both nights I wasn’t bothered even once with fellow travelers. In the morning one of the most amazing breakfast was waiting, the variety of food was really impressive (there was even a scrambled egg!) and kept me going for most of the day (or at least for the whole free walking tour that is offered in the hostel)

Gallery Hostel Porto
I was constantly impressed with the Gallery Hostel and couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay in Porto. No wonder it made it to the list of luxury hostels of Europe – it is a well deserved spot! If you think of visiting Porto this is the best accommodation you can get there!

-> Check out the price and details of Gallery Hostel in Porto! Click here! <-

Gallery Hostel Porto

Rua Miguel Bombarda

The street where Gallery Hostel is located – Rua Miguel Bombarda – is a pretty special one. That’s where most of the newest contemporary art galleries and hip hangout spots in Porto can be found. Couple of times each year there’s an event called Simultaneous Openings – one Saturday all the galleries premiere new work, making the street bustling with life. I was lucky to be in Porto on one of these days and it was pretty amazing! Even at late hours the galleries, vintage shops and fancy bars were full of people seeking art and fun. Gallery Hostel hosted one exhibition as well! This event was probably the best surprise of my time in Porto and I really wish I had more time to visit all of the galleries!

alternative Porto

Portuguese Center of Photography

For years, until 1974, this 18th century building served as the prison. Now it is a pretty exceptional Photography Museum. There’re few temporary exhibitions (during my visit some were better than others) as well as a permanent one, showing history of cameras. But the best thing about the place is definitely the location – when you keep in mind the history of the building the whole experience of visiting the Museum goes to a different level. The thick, cold walls and high ceilings give a perfect scenery to some black and white pictures. No matter if you’re into photography or not this is a place not to miss in Porto! A bonus: the entrance is free!

alternative Porto

Harry Potter

Did you know that a lot of places and details of Harry Potter were inspired by Porto? I didn’t and finding out about that was the biggest surprise of my stay there! Students of the local university wear capes very similar to those described in the books, the Lion’s Fountain looks just like the one in Hogwarts and the overall feeling of the city – dark and gloomy – feels just like the books. But the most known HP related attraction is the little bookstore – Lello and Irmao. It is often called the most beautiful bookstore in the world and that isn’t far from the truth as the place is just stunning! Wooden finishes, twisting stairs and arches and high bookshelves make it look so incredible it’s hard to believe this place actually exists! Just one tip: try to avoid the bookstore on the weekends, it’s way too overcrowded!

Harry Potter Porto

Harry Potter Porto

A Sandeira

This was the best sandwich of my life, so good I was close to missing my flight! A Sandeira is a tiny place, hidden in one of the Porto’s backstreets and so easy to miss but it hides a true treat for the taste buds. For only 5€ you can get a daily menu which is a soup, a sandwich and a drink of the day. I choose the one with feta cheese, basil and olives and oh my, it was a pure heaven! Clearly everything else they serve at A Sandeira is really yummy too as the place was bustling with people (I was lucky to get the last free seat there, joining others at their table). Even now, two months after my trip to Portugal, I still remember this incredible taste!

alternative Porto
alternative Porto
If you feel like having something more typical for Porto try to get Francesinha. The sandwich is full of meat (few kinds) so not really my thing but a friend of mine who was there with me confirmed it really is as good as everyone says. The best place to try that one is Cafe Santiago!

The Ocean

A short bus ride away can take you to a completely different world – the the Ocean beach. The scenery around is totally different than in Porto’s downtown, it’s much calmer and suburban alike – perfect for relax. The beach itself isn’t maybe very wide but it surely is beautiful, with waves crashing into the rocks. It’s best to visit the place in the evening to witness a sunset – if you’re lucky it can be as pretty as what I’ve seen!

Porto the Ocean

Viewpoints

Porto location is the best possible – the city is spread on the hills sharply getting down into Duoro river. Therefore the city has so many amazing viewpoints, each of them offering a breathtaking panorama. I can’t decide which one was my favourite: the one from Torre dos Clerigos, from the end of Rua de Sao Bento da Vitoria, from in front of the Cathedral or maybe from Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar in Vila Nova de Gaia. One thing is certain – no matter from where Porto looks phenomenal from above!

Porto viewpoints
Porto viewpoints
Porto viewpoints
Porto viewpoints

Street art

Before going to Portugal I knew Lisbon has an exceptional street art scene but I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Porto. And to my big relief it turned out also this city has a lot of great works spread on the walls all over the city. I didn’t see any big murals but these small pieces were pretty cool as well and gave a certain edge to the overall look and feel of Porto, fitting with the rusty houses just perfectly. It really wasn’t hard to spot a street art in the city, it was just about everywhere!

Porto street art
Porto street art
Porto street art
Porto street art

I’ve used Spotted by Locals Porto to find most of these places recommended by locals in Porto. They publish (100% offline) apps & blogs with up-to-date tips by city loving locals in 57 cities. Here’s a map with all the places I wrote about:

PLAN YOUR TRIP TO PORTO

With over 15 years of independent travelling I’ve learnt which websites and services are the best when planning a trip. I always use and trust following websites:

Flights – I search for the best deals on either Momondo or SkyScanner. Both search numerous sites to find the best offers. I also really like the “everywhere” option when searching for the flights as it often gives me the inspiration, if not for this trip then for the next time.

Accommodation – I always book my accommodation thgrough Booking.com. They have really good deals (especially with their “Genius” program that you become a member of after few reservations) and in most of the cases, if you plans change, you can cancel the reservation without any extra costs. I also value them for a really good customer service that I had to use few times. Check the best deals on accommodation in Porto here

Insurance – I never travel without the insurance as you never know what might happen on the road (I’ve learnt my lesson). I can recommend World Nomads that offer the insurance dedicated to travelers just like you and me. Check the insurance options for your trip here!

Guide books – I do like reading a guide book before and during the trip. Depending on the destination I usually buy either Lonely Planet or Bradt. You can get your guidebooks for Portugal here.

Day tours in Porto – I do go for a day trips when I travel as often they are the most convenient way to see the place that save you time and money. Click here to see and book the best day tours in Porto.


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Note: I was a guest of Gallery Hostel but all of opinions are my own, like always, and I totally recommend you the place, it’s pretty awesome!

There are some affiliate links in this post which means I earn a small commission from every booking you make through my blog. It’s at no extra costs for you but helps me run this website. Thank you!

love, kami 2

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30 Comments

  • Reply
    Sam
    29/05/2015 at 09:50

    I’m kicking myself for not having made a side trip to Porto while we were in Lisbon! We definitely have to get there at some point. Zab loves photography galleries, we both love contemporary art and who doesn’t love a good sandwich?! I think this post has laid out our perfect day in Porto for when we (eventually) make it there!

    • Reply
      kami
      19/06/2015 at 21:50

      Then you really need to go back as Porto seems like a perfect city for you guys! But well, do you really need any more reasons to return to Portugal? I don’t think so! :)

  • Reply
    Emi
    29/05/2015 at 10:18

    Porto has always intrigued me. Thanks for this.. bumps it up!!

    • Reply
      kami
      19/06/2015 at 21:51

      You’re welcome! You definitely should visit it, it’s such a fascinating city!

  • Reply
    Danuta/boliviainmyeyes
    29/05/2015 at 15:25

    Wow, the bookstore looks amazing! Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply
      kami
      19/06/2015 at 21:53

      It was pretty incredible indeed! :)

  • Reply
    Natalia | Biegun Wschodni
    29/05/2015 at 16:08

    Kamila w swoim żywiole! Niemal widzę Twój szelmowski uśmiech na widok tych wszystkich pomazianych ścian (o matko, jak ja nie lubię tzw. street artu!). Za to księgarnia Harrego Pottera bardzo, bardzo mi przypadła do gustu. Chętnie orządziłabym sobie salon w tym stylu ;)

    • Reply
      kami
      19/06/2015 at 21:54

      Oj ja też nie lubię jak jest pomazane nijak i bez celu! Ale perełki w Porto dało się znaleźć, i to niemało :) a księgarnia i mnie zachwyciła!

  • Reply
    Ewa
    29/05/2015 at 18:11

    My beloved Portugal! Unfortunately i spent in Porto only one day which is really not enough but I am sure when I retire I will go back to Portugal ane I will also have time to explore Porto again. I will save your guide on my hard drive ;)

    • Reply
      kami
      19/06/2015 at 21:55

      haha, do you think your computer will survive till you retire ;) ? Seriously, you should go back to Porto much sooner! :)

  • Reply
    łukasz kędzierski - podróże i fotografia
    29/05/2015 at 21:38

    I’m not a big fan of Harry Potter – I’m not a fan at all, but this little bookstore looks amazing, and it is a good reason to go there to take some pictures… thanks for inspiration.

    • Reply
      kami
      19/06/2015 at 21:55

      You would take amazing pictures in Porto! You definitely should plan a trip there!!

  • Reply
    Monika
    31/05/2015 at 08:28

    I was in Porto years ago and Harry Potter hype just started then :) I’ll definitely go to the bookshop when I visit Porto again!

    • Reply
      kami
      19/06/2015 at 21:57

      I think the Harry Potter hype is almost over now but the bookstore can get pretty crowded still (which is not so surprising as it’s just stunning!)

  • Reply
    Anna Żuchlińska
    31/05/2015 at 07:54

    W Porto zakochałam się po trzeciej wizycie, ale od tej strony nie znałam tego miasta.

  • Reply
    Kasia Zajkowska
    31/05/2015 at 09:11

    artykuł na czasie,właśnie się wczoraj zastanawiałam co ja chce właściwie zobaczyć w Porto ;-)

  • Reply
    Izabela
    31/05/2015 at 23:39

    Well, when I hear “Porto” I can’t help thinking of Vinho do Porto :) (Sorry, kind of addiction I believe ;) ).
    I must say that this bookstore simply stole my heart! I loved that twisted stairs and funny suspended bridge, but I’m afraid that it’s overcrowded all of the time, not only during weekends. Funny thing that most of the people in the store do not look for books but also make photos! Terrible tourists ;)

    • Reply
      kami
      19/06/2015 at 21:59

      I was there on the weekend and then in the middle of the week and the difference was huge! Do I need to say it was so much better on Wednesday? ;) and you’re right, 97% of the people didn’t even bother with looking at the books ;)

  • Reply
    GiselleandCody
    01/06/2015 at 18:25

    We are in Portugal right now and heading to Porto in a few days. Glad we came across your post on such a beautiful city.

    People keep telling us there is nothing to see or do in Porto but this posts proves otherwise.

    • Reply
      kami
      19/06/2015 at 22:02

      I really hope you enjoyed Porto! It’s a pretty great city and there’re tonz of things to do! What did you see there? :)

  • Reply
    Heather @ Ferreting Out the Fun
    04/06/2015 at 13:33

    I spent two weeks road-tripping around Portugal but sadly never made it up to Porto. Hope to remedy that later this year! It looks like a fascinating place to explore. And I had no idea about the Harry Potter connection!

    • Reply
      kami
      19/06/2015 at 22:03

      I perfectly understand why you didn’t make it to Porto – there’re just too many wonderful places all over Portugal! But you cannot miss it next time you’re around as Porto deserves a proper visit! :)

  • Reply
    Olek
    08/06/2015 at 19:58

    Porto is an amazing place. We were there with my family on holiday and it was one of the best holidays of my life. Reccomended to all. If you’re looking for a holiday venue – go to Porto!

    • Reply
      kami
      19/06/2015 at 22:04

      couldn’t agree more!

  • Reply
    Piotr
    11/06/2015 at 08:18

    Porto is amazing city!

    • Reply
      kami
      19/06/2015 at 22:05

      it is indeed!

  • Reply
    Tal Bright
    04/05/2017 at 17:21

    Thanks for this post! I’m going to Porto for the first time this year and it sounds like a really great place :)

    • Reply
      kami
      27/05/2017 at 09:27

      it is really great, I’m sure you will love it!

  • Reply
    Darlene
    03/04/2019 at 02:15

    I came across your Alternative Lisbon Mini Guide on Pinterest. We are also looking at staying in a couple different areas during our 2 week trip. Your articles are helpful. Porto is definitely on the list. Love the maps! Helps me to visualize the geography.

    • Reply
      kami
      05/04/2019 at 21:00

      I’m glad you like it. Have a great trip! Both cities are so amazing yet so different!

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