If you only have 72 hours to spend in a gorgeous seaside town, normally I would suggest that you choose which particular 72 hours you spend there very carefully. However, after visiting Porto, I can imagine that any spent here would be bliss.
In saying that, we did strategically (or luckily?) happen to have our time in Porto over the Festa de São João do Porto (Saint John of Porto Festival). This truly was an amazing experience. It is the most important night of the year for this town.. even more so than New Years!
Jump to the end for some specific information on the festival and some pictures. If you’re visiting Porto outside of the festival, you can still enjoy my ‘Top STAY, SEE, DO, EAT, DRINK, PLAY – All Year Round Things to Do in Porto, Portugal’ below.
Pilot Hostel 10/10
This place is fabulous.
The staff are super helpful and friendly (and even get amongst the party on their nights off sometimes).
The atmosphere is great – you get a welcome drink to try some Porto Port and free shots for everyone in the bar when the bell rings at 10pm each night. There is a large outdoor area, a bar of its own, it is super close to everything you want to see and the common area is a great place to relax, party or meet new people depending on the time and day of the week.
I booked through Hostel World however here is a link to their website to check them out.
Bell Tower View
Our first day in Porto we decided to take in the view from the Clerigos Tower. It is a Baroque Tower that is part of the Clerigos Church. It costs 5 euro to enter the museum and climb up to the top but the view is amazing. It was a little cloudy and rainy our first day but just added an extra element to the beauty of the city!
– Rua Sao Filipe Neri, Porto 4050-546, Portugal – €5
Walk to the Beach
The walk to the beach from our hostel was actually about an hour and a half. But I didn’t mind. Wandering the streets of a new city is half the fun for me and will likely have its own section in each of my travel recommendations posts!
Walking through the streets of Porto, down to the river and then following it along to Gondarém beach in the beating sun without sunscreen and water is not advised. But with, I would definitely recommend it. It’s a beautiful walk beside the ocean where you can see the boats coming and going, old Portuguese men fishing from the shore and just feel some of the ambience of this gorgeous town and how the locals live thier lives.
– Av. do Brasil 561, 4150-153 Porto, Portugal – € free
Wander the Streets
As above… This goes without saying. Just walk around, get lost, smile at the locals, stop in for a beer or an ice cream somewhere along the way. I always discover something fantastic when I do this.
– € free
Now, we spent the Sunday sleeping until 3pm and even then, the remainder of the day we were extremely hungover! Yep, the festival was THAT good.
It also meant that we didn’t get to use our vouchers for the free Port tasting that the Hostel gave us when we first arrived.
We had tried the Port in a few different bars and, as a welcome drink at the hostel, but I would have liked to have done the tasting!
There is a whole area in Porto when the port is made. I would suggest wandering down there for a look and doing a few tastings for sure! If you have the time (or can function better on a hangover than we could).
Check out this post which names 5 Port Tours Not to Miss in Porto.
– Just across Puente Luis I. Click the map for a custom search. – € various
Francesinha (Portuguese croque-madame)
Portugal’s Signature Dish! I recommend sharing this. Go for the vegetarian option if you don’t like 4 different types of meat smothered in sauce and cheese. Very heavy meal.
- Bolinhos de bacalhau (potatoes, bacalhau (codfish), eggs, parsley, and onion)
- Caldo Verde – Typical Portugese Soup (Cold)
- Rokoes a Moda Do Minho
– €8 per person
The area near Pilot Hostel was a great place for us to start each evening. Porto is a great place to bar hop.
I would recommend starting at my friend’s bar – Original Bar – for some VERY good drink prices, Portos BEST Caipirinha (Brasil’s national cocktail) and some delicious tapas and relaxed atmosphere to warm you up. Also, the service here is great. Say hello for me!
Afterwards, I would wander the whole area. Links to maps and a few locations below.
Some of the guys who were staying at our hostel did a boat cruise (they were there for a bucks weekend and quite the characters – all 30 of them).
If you have the time or the desire this could be something to look into also. We actually saw them on the water while we were walking to the beach and it did look like they were having the time of their lives out there. #FOMO
Festa de São João do Porto (Saint John of Porto Festival)
If you can, time yourself to be in Porto for this festival. I know it has just occurred, which means waiting another 12 months to go to Porto.. I wouldn’t recommend that either! Get yourself to Porto as soon as possible, you’ll see what I love about it and plan to return anyway.. so make that return trip for the next São João!
So a couple of things you need to know about the festival. You need one of these:
If you don’t have one then you will probably look something like this guy the whole night while everyone bashes you on the head with theirs hahaha.
Also – be prepared for crowds. We happened to stumble across a cute little balcony bar where we watched the fireworks while trying to fight the crowds and get down to the beach. I wish I was a little less tipsy and could remember where it was exactly and share the secret with you. Sorry!
Thirdly, have fun, smile, enjoy the free music and concerts and the fabulous and friendly attitudes of the locals on the amazing holiday!
I have more posts and videos of European festivals! See how my time at Feria de Abril de Sevilla was here – https://kellielee.com.au/la-feria-sevilla/
Also, let me know in the comments what you’re favourite festival is in Europe!
If you need any more recommendations or advice on any locations – comment, email, follow me on Instagram and/or subscribe to my blog!