Porto, quite simply, has my heart.
Far too often Porto is skipped on Portugal tours and I get it – the stunning, cliffy beaches of the Algarve are hard to resist. But to me, Porto is a taste of the real Portugal. Hospitable people, rough-around-the-edges charm, a laid back vibe, history to make your head hurt, drool-worthy food and wine, Porto’s got it all. So if someone finally decides to listen to me and go there, here are some places to get started.
Head to the top of Clerigos Tower for some great views. A stone's throw from there is Livraria Lello, a stunning bookstore that inspired the library at Hogwarts. True story. Between Clerigos and Livararia Lello is Base, a quiosque-esque café in a park with a great vibe.
Walk Rua Santa Catarina for your shopping and people watching needs. Since you will need another café at this point (the Portuguese drink a lot of coffee, get with it), have one at Café Majestic. The rest of the time, stick to the regular ol' cafes. They do the trick.
Explore the streets by foot until you are down at the river and cross Dom Luis Bridge over into Vila Nova de Gaia where you will run into a bevy (pun intended) of Port wine cellars. Take a wine tour (or two or three) as it would be unfortunate to visit Porto without tasting its famous dessert wine. If you have any stamina left after the wine, walk up the hill towards The Yeatman Hotel, which will gift you with some of the most stunning views of Porto.
While I am already preparing for the criticisms of what I missed from my Porto-dwelling family and friends, this first day in Porto should be enough to sing its praises.