All that WE DID for Last Year’s Porto, Portugal Group Trip!
Discover parts of yourself, in Portugal. Even when you’re a part of a group.
Last year was incredible, our group was intimate, small, all ages and one fantastic experience for all. Every day was a new discovery around the corners of beautiful Picturesque Porto, cruising down the Douro River and Magnificent Braga, Portugal. Take a look at our incredible 8 Days to Love Portugal Group Trip. This trip was specially created and crafted day by day by our group leader, photographer and admirer of Portugal Paulina Fadrowska. Who’s heart, love and soul is from Portugal.
Why Porto? From across the Rio Douro at sunset, romantic Porto, the country’s second-largest city, looks like a pop-up town. A colourful tumbledown dream with medieval relics, soaring bell towers, extravagant baroque churches and stately beaux-arts buildings piled on top of one another, illuminated by streaming shafts of sun. If you squint you might be able to make out the open windows, the narrow lanes and staircases zigzagging to nowhere. Porto’s historic centre is the Ribeira district, a Unesco World Heritage Site where tripeiros (Porto residents) mingle before old storefronts, on village-style plazas and in the old houses of commerce where Roman ruins lurk beneath the foundations. On the downside, here and in other parts of the city centre stand many dilapidated early-20th- century town houses, left to crumble as the young and moneyed flee to the sprawling suburbs by the sea. Culturally, Porto holds its own against much larger global cities. The birthplace of port, it’s a long-running mecca for wine aficionados. Riverside wine caves jockey for attention in nearby Vila Nova de Gaia, with scores of cellars open for tastings.
Tchau (bye) Chicago and Bom Dia to beautiful Porto, Portugal.
Arrival in Porto, Portugal
When you drive into Porto, whether it’s your first or 20th time, there is this feeling of charm, enhancement and incredible excitement that overcomes you. A scene out of a movie just playing in front of you. From the beautiful Douro River or the 5 bridges of Porto your eye becomes mesmerized at every angle. We took 2 taxis to arrive at the beautiful and chic Descobertas Boutique Hotel, a 7 Night Stay in 5-Star Accommodation throughout your trip just feet away from the Ribeira-Rio Douro (Douro River) & Ribeira Square in Porto, Portugal and the action.
Our group enjoyed cocktails with a taste of the modern spin on steaks and this location truly delivered. Service was stellar, the food was incredibly fresh, seasoned and served in perfect portions. The ambiance is right for any occasion. Ricardo and Pedro were very attentive, knowledgeable and honest on what’s the best to order. We loved the option of choosing your salt to flavor your steak, who knew what a difference it made. We really recommend the eggplant as a side it’s definitely not your typical style and will surprise your taste-buds. There’s a view of the Douro River and Gaia outside and beautiful decor inside. Overlooking the river RIB BEEF & WINE Restaurant’s trendy, cosmopolitan-style hotspot is known for national and international DOP meat, Chef Rui Martins’ menu focuses on Tomahawk Irish Black Angus and Rib Eye and home to a Mixology Bar and DJ Hub. #welcomedinner toast rocked.
After dinner we strolled the Douro River and explored the Ribeira nightlife.
Our first day enjoying beautiful Porto, starts with an incredible #breakfast with so many great options from Descobertas Boutique Hotel, the coffee is made as you order it, fresh and plentiful options for those who enjoy meat and for vegetarians. Let’s get packed for this incredible walking tour ahead of us.
Walking Porto City Tour
Sightseeing of beautiful Porto focuses on seeing the historic and most iconic sights to see of Porto. Discover this city that “perches over the river, made of old houses that seem to huddle each other and that prolongs from the river quay till the sea”. Enjoy the old palaces, the robust churches, the most emblematic neighborhoods, the people of Porto and the most picturesque corners that the city has to offer.
9am We walked from our hotel to the main Porto Cathedral, where our first meeting location was for our upcoming walking Porto tour. Our guide Fernando was so passionate about his homeland that this tour was full of laughs, knowledge and a lot of sightseeing from all heights. We took a coffee and Natas break in between and go to learn about find the best Francesinhas in Porto. 😉 You’ll have to come with us in June to find out!! Watch below for a walk back into time, São Bento railway station.
We stopped for a quick bite for Lunch at the delicious BUGO Art Burgers, homemade and incredibly delicious. BUGO Art Burger. Located in the street of the art galleries of the city, BUGO Art Burgers Restaurant will change your mind on the concept of a Hamburger. It was a perfect lunch before we set out to see peacocks, panoramic views of Porto and enjoy an afternoon in the Park.
Located on the oceanfront this little hidden is a must see for a panoramic view of the beautiful beaches of Porto, and interesting spin on Portuguese cuisines.
The Day is all about exploration and seeing Porto and Villa Nova De Gaia from different heights. The bus tour allows you to hop and off through-out route. We suggest to stay on and take notes of where you’d like to explore more and on the 2nd time around hop off and hop back on to see more. You’ll receive a ticket to Calem Wine Cellars to try Porto Wine.
Drifting down the Douro River
Rails to the Douro River. One of the major rivers of the Iberian Peninsula, the Douro flows from its source in north-central Spain through Portugal and runs about 560 miles to its outlet at Porto on the Atlantic Ocean. Its name comes from the ancient Celtic tribal word for water. The river is wild and meandering; only certain parts of it are navigable by small river vessels. The area is beautiful and unspoiled and features a very habitable microclimate where olives, almonds and especially wine grapes are grown. Scenery along the river is picturesque, dotted by terraced hills, small towns and traditional rabelo sailing boats with their casks of port wine. The cruises of the Barcadouro are always memorable revelations for the tourists, national and foreign, that we receive on board our four boats . We became accomplices of the river, terraces and geios, farms and vineyards and three sites classified by UNESCO as world heritage: Historic Center of Oporto, Art Cave of the Coa Valley and Alto Douro Vinhateiro.
Incredible Spiritual Heights in Braga.
Braga is Portugal’s third biggest city, but don’t be fooled into thinking it is a sprawling, noisy metropolis. Braga feels distinctly provincial, a pleasant and walkable city with a 12th-century cathedral and lots of medieval churches. But the biggest attraction here is the Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary that Paulina took us to as a must see in this majestic country. The sanctuary, which is perched on a hill, has a church and gardens that can be accessed by funicular or the zig-zagging baroque staircase. Honestly, it has become one of our favorite sites in Portugal. This sanctuary is perched on a hill that overlooks Braga, affording great views of the city. There is an impressive, 600 step staircase that leads up to a church with gardens surrounding it and a pond. We recommend taking the funicular up and walking down the stairs since each landing has something to see, definitely bring your walking shoes as this has acres upon acres to explore. Braga’s Cathedral is the oldest in Portugal. It took hundreds of years to complete and reflects many architectural styles including Manueline, Baroque, Romanesque and Gothic.
Enjoy views and an incredible meal to accompany you for this treat. After our tour of the beautiful heights you’ll feast your eyes on so much more.
After lunch we enjoyed more views the most beautiful views at the top, where your mind can trick you thinking there is nothing but a ledge there, luckily Liz faced her fear and was in awe of what was in front of her.
Cont… Braga’s Historic Views
Festa de São João do Porto (Festival of St John of Porto in English) is a festival that happens every year during Midsummer, on the night of 23 June (St John’s Eve), in the city of Porto, in the north of Portugal, thousands of people come to the city centre and more traditional neighborhoods to pay a tribute to Saint John the Baptist, in a party that mixes sacred and fun traditions such as using a squeaky hammer to tap another’s head and the famous garlic cloves. During our Group Trip our Portugal group leader Paulina made sure we experienced and saw this with our eyes and hearts. It was an incredible way to end and start the day. #sãojoãoporto#sãojoão
Your Personal Day
By now you’ve mastered quite a bit of Porto, this day you are free to do as you like, hop on the yellow bus, do a little bit of shopping, sightsee, and do as your heart desires.
Don’t miss our farewell dinner at 7pm.
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Portugal has become one of the hottest travel destinations of the year. With its pristine beaches, and local night life in Algarve to the north with its beautiful rivers, enchanting cities, and delicious vineyards how could you not fall in love with Portugal! I can honestly say that our group trip to Portugal has been one of my favorite!
We had a fantastic group of ladies that were ready to dive into the culture, learn the history, and find an adventure and I can say we did all the above and more. Porto has a way of taking your breath away when you arrive in its beautiful city. The homes are exquisite with colors and painted tile throughout, no two looking the same. The river sparkling under the bridge, you cannot help but feel awakened.
We drove down the cobblestone streets to our luxury Descobertas boutique Hotel located in the heart of Porto. With their friendly service, gorgeous rooms and delicious spread of breakfast treats we were in heaven ! We were surrounded by quaint local shops, coffee houses, bars and the river just a few steps away.
We pride ourselves in immersing culture and history in our tours, we feel by allowing people to understand the history of each country we go to allows them to connect on another level. The top 3 sites that I enjoyed, and believe me I struggled to narrow it down were:
· The history walking tour with Blue Dragon Tours. We had a witty tour guide that was engaging and fun! He provided interesting facts while keeping it light and engaging for the group. After all the pastries for breakfast we all enjoyed the walk ! My favorite site of the tour was the Se de Porto Cathedral. This structure was absolutely breath taking, you could feel time stand still. Definitely a must see in Porto!
· Sailing away down the Douro River cannot be put into words the magnitude and beauty of this natural landscape! The hills, vineyards and variety of landscape were mesmerizing. Not to mention the food, wine and music were an extra perk! 6 hours on the Douro River is just incredible!
· I will say with complete conviction Santuario do Sameiro in Braga was my absolute favorite place. I remember standing at the highest point looking out and for the first time my mind and heart were completely still. I took it all in and was thankful for that moment for that silence for that peace.
Portugal will always have a special place in my heart and for our group we had so many adventures and memories together that we will forever be connected! Letsgoto.world is not just about the vacation, we are about the experience and memories and friendships we will create for a lifetime! We fell in love with Portugal and we cannot wait to share this beautiful country with you!