Travel diary – A weekend in Porto’s old town
It is late in the evening and yet an old boat is sailing the Douro River with a young couple on board. The boat sways gently on the golden yellow water, which reflects the countless lights on the promenade. We try a ruby red port. While we push ourselves deep into the lounge chairs of the café and silently watch the couple driving by in the glittering sea, we become aware of something: Our weekend in the old town of Porto is drawing to a close.
Dream on the green coast
Here in the center the cultural heart beats in the form of narrow streets and historical buildings. The old town district of Ribeira extends from the banks of the picturesque Douro to the steep hills in the north. The entire quarter was named a World Heritage Site in 1996. Reason enough to plan a weekend for a foray. It is July and we are only packing light bags. The summer in Portugal is hot and rain is not expected.
With the historic tram through narrow streets
It’s Friday just after sunrise. We go from our accommodation to the tram stop of the “Eléctrico”, which has been rumbling up the steep streets in the old town for many years. Most of the houses date from times when the area was mainly inhabited by poor fishermen. So it is not surprising that the buildings appear to be made of one piece.
The old houses often look abandoned and battered. The plaster is crumbling and some doors and windows have not been opened for a long time. There are also inhabited houses again, with clotheslines between the balconies and pigeons who want to make themselves comfortable in a flower pot. But don’t get me wrong, this state of affairs, coupled with the narrow cobblestone streets, creates this special flair that you simply have to experience for yourself.
Best food and relaxation in Porto
After walking through the streets for a few hours, we come across Praça da Ribeira further down on the banks of the Douro. A large square in the middle of the old town. This place will also occupy a place in the heart of our hearts. In addition to many cafes and restaurants, you can relax here. We hike back to our accommodation and can’t wait to return the next day.
Unforgettable buildings from several eras
Today we want to take a closer look at the many buildings. Yesterday we passed a few and the most interesting things were the great cathedral of Porto, the bridge Ponte Luís I and the Palácio da Bolsa. All beautiful buildings for which you can easily plan a day or two. When it gets dark, we go back to Praça da Ribeira to rest. We pass the bridge again, which is now breathtakingly lit. If there is anything more beautiful than Ribeira, it is Ribeira by night. Tomorrow is our last day of the weekend and the foray through what is perhaps the most beautiful old town in Portugal. We plan to go to our favorite places, eat well and end the evening on the promenade. Our longing increases until we enviously see this couple in the boat in front of us on the water, who can still discover a lot in the old town.