Today, I decided to go on a port wine tasting in Porto, amongst other things! I am a self-described wine afficiando, and I definitely would not miss this, especially in Portugal. Drinking port while in Porto is a definite must if you’re in the city, and you cannot leave until you go on a port wine tasting!
First though, I came across a cafe looked very appealing to me: Esquires Coffee Porto. The cafe was very comfortable, and the staff were so friendly! I started chatting with one of them about where I lived and to my surprise, he knew about Calgary! Here, I did some blog work, and transferred my photos onto my laptop while drinking some good coffee.
Port wine tasting in Porto
While port wine is produced in the Duoro Valley, it is called “port wine” only because they are stored in wine cellars located in Porto. From Porto, they would be transported around the world. As champagne is produced only from the Champagne region in France, port wine can only be considered port if (and only if) they are produced in the Duoro Valley in Portugal.
From doing research, I decided to visit the Croft Port wine cellar in Porto. This cellar is a little bit away from the Ribeira, so the tour groups would be smaller & less rushed. For the cost of only €10, you get the Croft Port wine cellar tour and 3 port wine tastings! A very, very, very good deal! 😀
Croft Port wine cellar tour + tasting
If you’re doing the tour solo, you need not book a reservation. That said, however, the English tours changes daily, so you’ll have to check their daily schedule. The tour started with a taste of their exclusive rosé port, which is perfect for coctails—sweet, berry taste, and refreshing. Croft is the oldest port producer amongst the port houses, and their traditions are still maintained today.
Our tour guide described the process of making port, where it was produced, and how it was stored. It was pretty enlightening, and I’ve learned more knowledge about this delicious dessert wine. We ended the tour with 2 more port tastings: a 5-year port, which is sweet & brandy flavour, and a 10-year port, which is dry with a honey taste. Very delicious, and highly recommended!
Ribeira, donuts, cafes, art and gardens
The port wine tasting was my day’s highlight, so for the rest of the day, I just decided to chill out and check out the rest of the city. From Croft, I made my way down to the Ribeira area, where you can get some gorgeous photos of Porto across the river. It was a beautiful day, and I was able to capture some very beautiful photos!
If you explore the area, you’ll also find a lot of cool restaurants, cafes, and small shops! There was a food hall by the river called Mercado Beira Rio, and there were a lot of food vendors and small markets inside. If you’re hungry and in the area, visit this!
DUH! Vegan Donuts in Porto!
Finally, I couldn’t leave Porto without visiting a shop that I’ve been following on Instagram called “DUH! Vegan Donuts“! She has a small shop in Porto, and I messaged her to reserve me some donuts (which she delightfully obliged :D). The plaza and boutique where her shop was located was so cute, and she was so friendly!
The donuts were fluffy, delicious and not too sweet—all pluses in my books. The mango basil donut was my favourite! I was unapologetic about eating two of them in one sitting right outside her shop…haha. 😆
After grabbing and eating the donuts, I visited a quaint cafe nearby called Honolulu Coffee Shop. Around this time, it was sooo hot out and I needed some coffee to power me for the afternoon. The shop was so cute, and I loved the hipster vibe of the cafe! I had an americano to go along with my last donut, then edited some photos before saying goodbye.
Art, gardens and sunsets in Porto
The Rua Miguel Bombarda is known as Porto’s art block, and there are a lot of galleries in the area, along with cafes, studios and spaces. I visited a gallery that showcased a local Porto artist, Lianor de Gaspar.
When I went in the gallery, she approached me and we started talking about her pieces on showcase. Her work was beautiful, with an emphasis on human expression and bursts of colour. There is also a lot of public art on the streets, like the one below!
Nearthe Miguel Bombarda art block was the beautiful Crystal Palace Gardens (Jardins do Palácio de Cristal), so I walked towards the gardens for a chill afternoon-evening. The gardens were actually really big, and there were a lot of different small gardens like “Gardens of Feelings” and “Gardens of Romance” with different themes.
There were even peacocks and chickens roaming around the park!
At the gardens, there were also a lot of viewpoints (miradouros) located everywhere. You’d get a gorgeous view of Vila Nova de Gaia across the river, and take some very beautiful photos (see below). I highly recommend these gardens for a lazy afternoon in Porto!
Empty buildings in Porto
On the way back to the hostel, I came across a group of abandoned houses which was fascinating because there is an interesting dichotomy between the new colourful houses and the old drab buildings.
Apparently, there are a lot of abandoned buildings in Porto because of the economic downturn in the 2000s and the landlords just could not afford the upkeep when their renters left. If you factor in the fact that not many investors were willing to invest in Porto’s real estate, this explains why there were so many empty buildings.
Sometimes you forget that you’re in a developed country when you walk through these abandoned areas & ghettos. When you’re walking through these areas, it can be smelly and dirty, and sometimes you’ll find poop on the ground. 🙁 It’s surprising because you’re in Portugal, a developed country in Europe!
Port wine tastings
As a rule of thumb, the farther you get away from the riverside, the smaller the wine cellar tours. Wine cellars higher up in the hills see a smaller tour size compared to the ones right by the river. With that said, I highly recommend Croft Port, since they are renowned for their tasty port and the price is very desirable. 😀
Eating out in Portugal
In Portugal and a lot of other European countries, a restaurant’s menu is usually shown to you before you choose to sit. That way, you can decide if you know what you want to eat. Once you’re decided, just tell the server how many people, and he/she will sit you.
When you’re paying the bill, you need not tip and you’ll be paying EXACTLY the price that was shown in the menu.