I always have a long list of cities to visit. For this break we were away during February half term and we were torn between Antwerp and Porto. We were looking for a buzzing city which both ticked but, after a bit more consideration, the milder climate of Porto swung it for us.
I bought Wallpaper’s Porto guide and amongst the guesthouse and hotels was Casa 1015. I duly enquired about availability and thankfully it fitted within our dates. Casa 1015 is in Foz and, at the time, we thought we might regret being further out of the city but this ended up being serendipitous. We were within a five minute stroll of sandy beaches and great restaurants.
The first night we ate at Praia da Luz and it was a warm 19 degrees at around 6pm. Bobby and I drank sangria whilst Stanley happily amused himself playing in the sand. I turned to Bobby and said, take a deep breath and soak this up…
We’d hoped for good weather but we’d packed everything from rain-jackets to shorts. The local area is a mixture of beautiful grand buildings interspersed with more modern facades and the occasional house in need of a bit of TLC. Just like in Lisbon the homes featured decorative tiles. The cost of living is less than our home city of Norwich in the UK and so we could afford to use Uber to get around. It was excellent value for money and made things much easier. Stanley is almost six and whilst not in a pushchair he can’t match how far we could walk, so not having to rely on public transport meant we could see and cover a lot of ground.
The following day the sun was shining so we headed to the tidal pools of Leça da Palmeira and watched the Piscina des Marés (by architect Alvaro Siza) fill up. We packed Stanley’s watercolours and he peacefully painted whilst we watched and listened to the waves crash.
Later that day we explored the Serralves Museum which showcases contemporary art. We saw work by Anish Kapoor, Joana Vasconcelos and Veit Stratmann as we walked around the gardens.
The pink art deco casa is like something from a Wes Anderson film.
As a family we love art outdoors – far more than when it’s confined by four walls. With it being such a beautiful day we bypassed the inside gallery and went for dinner at Restaurante Casa D’Oro – we arrived in time to see the sunset. The food was as good as the view.
Locals informed me that the engineers who built the bridge lived in the house/turned restaurants. It’s across several floors and comprises of formal and casual dining.
Stanley has been obsessed with transportation from a young age, so we took the tram (an original from the 1930’s) and also the cable car (despite my fear of heights). I can’t disagree though, it’s a great way to see the city. Once at the top we walked across the The Dom Luís I Bridge. We did that both day and night, and the views are spectacular!
We took a short trip along the river by boat. Just under an hour, this was definitely a highlight for Bobby (having grown up by the river in the Broads and now owning the Water Cabin). I was keen to see the city from a different perspective. I understand there’s also Port tours which sound great!
Whilst we waited, ‘Stanley the sketcher’ enjoyed drawing the bridge.
Being the second city, Porto’s arts scene in smaller in comparison to Lisbon. We walked the recommended route and Stanley in particular appreciated the street art where we found a little precinct and bought a few gifts.
Having an appreciation for architecture I was keen to see the Casa da Música. We didn’t see/hear any shows but we did enjoy brunch in the restaurant.
Food always plays a big part on our trips and we stumbled across two finds, one was when we ate al fresco at a restaurant next to Hard Club, a music venue. There was an arts and crafts fair on when we went. The other was a food hall near the cable car. It was really relaxed and the three of us ate from different counters.
We just love informal eating as family, it also means we get to try a bit of everything!
We were genuinely sad to leave Porto. I’m not sure we’ll be able to fit in a return this year, perhaps next. I’ve already ear marked a hotel (inland) that has an infinity pool over-looking the river. It looks very special.
I don’t hide my love of Portugal. The weather is superb, the food is delicious. I think it’s probably less commercial than Spain and represents excellent value for money for families. I couldn’t recommend it enough as a country.
And at this point, I hadn’t mentioned this trip was to specifically celebrate our ten year anniversary. We started dating in Barcelona, so felt it was fitting to be overseas to celebrate together, along with Stanley. And this photo was taken by the boy himself!
Porto gets a really big thumbs up from us, so if you’re considering it, do go and explore. We are hoping to get away in the UK over Easter and then Bulgaria for our summer holiday, unless I stumble across anywhere in the meantime!
Words and photos by Fiona Burrage
Restaurante Casa D’Oro
Praia da Luz
Things to see/do
Ryan Air, Stansted