Oporto with its vineyards of the Douro river in Portugal
It is the second time I came here but this time, instead to discover Portugal by car, it has been done by train. From Vigo (Spain, the ticket costs 14,75 euros each), we took the Wednesday morning train to reach Porto (Portugal), the travel was nice and pleasant with a beautiful blue sky of August. In about 2h15, we arrived at the Porto Campanhã train station. If you want to know our preparation, read Portugal, a trip from north to south, Oporto to Lisbon by train.
The good point is that the metro station is located at the same place at the train station so from here, we took the metro to the ipo station where our Hotel Ibis Porto Sao Joao (rua doutor plácido da costa, 65 euros per night with breakfast) was waiting us.
The hotel is just next to the metro station, located at the rooftop of the mall, there is a special lift inside the mall. The first time we didn't know, so we walked around the mall and we entered by the outside hotel parking. The room is simple and nice, with air conditioning and a bathroom.
The metro system is quite simple, there is a unique and personnel ticket called "andante" that we needed to recharge it with a number of travel. When we bought the first time our ones, the guy charged us 1 travel in each card, the cost of "andante" is 0,60 euros and the trip from the campanhã station in zone 1 to the ipo station in zone 2 costs 1,20 euros.
So we had our "andante" of zone 2, the only thing to do is to recharge it if there are no more travels left in the card. We can do it in any ticket machine, and if we wanted to go somewhere else farther than zone 2, we just bought a new ticket.
The other good point is that the ipo station is on line D (yellow line) which crosses the city from south to north, so it took us about 10 minutes to reach for instance the sao bento station (downtown).
During 4 days, we just walked in the city with the help of a map discovering the bridge built by Gustave Eiffel called Ponte Luis I, the nice tiles of the Sao Bento train station, the Bolhão market, up to the Two Clerks tower, the gomes teixeira square with its lion fountain and its carmo/two carmelitas church, both side of the Douro river (ribeira de gaia with its wineries and its flea market and cais da ribeira with its wall of the ribeira shelters and its boat tours), the cathedral, the liberty square and the avenue of the City Hall and most of the downtown things. We skipped the Café Majestic and the Livraria Lello because we didn't want to do the huge line and most of the churches (not very a fan). In the city, you should not miss the sunset from the top of the Eiffel's bridge and go up to the top of the Two Clerks tower for a 360 degrees panorama view.
To eat, the downtown is quite expensive, including the area of the Two Clerks tower, the cheaper area we found that is not far away from the downtown it is the area around the Bolhão market. The best is to order a menu but only from 12h to 14h and for dinner, we had to eat before 20h, if not, the only restaurants open very late are in the downtown. The only place that I recommend it is the restaurant Taparikas (rua de santo ildefonso 61 - meats/fishes are grilled on volcanic stones).
We took 1 day to do the Douro river by train from the Sao Bento to Pocinho (last station, the ticket costs 13,30 euros) . Taking the morning train of 9h10, we arrived at 12h36 but there is one trick, only the first 3 wagons will arrive to the destination. We didn't know about it until the ticket controller told us that once the train will arrive to Regua, we had to move but we didn't wait, we moved before because if not, the best seats will be taken. The first trip section is totally landscape (seating on the left side are the best). Then from Pala, seating on the right side to enjoy the Douro river then from Ferradosa (the last 5 stations), it is on the left side.
Pocinho is a small village that there is nothing to do and with a landscape quite dry. Moreover, the station is far away to the river but hopefully we just waited 40 minutes for the first train to go back. We did a stop at Pinhão (the ticket costs 4,70 euros and the trip lasts 1 hour) to lunch at the restaurant Veladouro (the food was good served in a big portion, all grilled), just near to the river (to go there, from the station, go left then left again at the first street (you should walk under the train bridge). Our train back to Porto was at 18h20 (the ticket costs 10,85 euros). To kill the time, we just relaxed but you can do a boat tour, swim in the river, visit a winery and/or the village.
We bought all tickets in the Sao Bento station, tickets can be bought directly in the train with the ticket controller but it will cost you 2 or 3 euros more. If you plan to do it, my recommendations:
- It is not worth to go until the last station, the best will be to stop at Pinhão but if you want to continue, get down to Freixo de Numão (the before last station, at least the river is close to the station)
- Pinhão is the last big village, the landscape after this village is more brown than green
- Regua is a much bigger village located before Pinhão but you will have less chance to get a free seat for your way back
After 4 days in Oporto, time to continue our Portugal trip to Aveiro with its stripe houses of Costa Nova.