Do you prefer Lisbon or Porto? It is a tough call. We spent equal time (aka a day) in each city. Although we explored more in Lisbon we both felt a better vibe in Porto. Perhaps it is the more relaxed, laid back atmosphere that the vibrant river front city offered. Maybe it was the port.
The downtown, center of Lisbon is not bike friendly so we opted for a walking tour. Gonçalo, our Warm Showers host, suggested an awesome walking tour including the safest spot in front of a bike store to lock the bikes. We started from there and then walked up and down and up and down the ancient cobbled roads from one miradouro to the next. The streets were relatively uncrowded although the vendors were clearly setting up for the evening festivities. June is a month of festivals and the streets of Lisbon become thick with people. We ended our walking tour in the Alfama district – the place to go after dark for good food, wine and music.
We took an early morning train up to Porto. The trains are easy to navigate and bike friendly. The three hour trip to Porto was pleasant. Finding our lodging in Porto was easy enough as the Rio Douro made an obvious handrail. We spent the afternoon exploring the waterfront on the south side – the Vila Nova de Gaia – of the city. To say that port wine is everywhere in Porto is understatement! The port cellars populate the south side of the city and are popular tourist destinations.
The water taxi made for a simple and inexpensive crossing (1 euro) to the popular Ribeira district. We found a lovely cafe on the second tier of the river walk and watched the kids diving off anything with significant height (the dock or the bridge) into the river. A small alcove offering shots of port in chocolate shot glasses grabbed Janet’s attention. Janet enjoyed a glass of local Tawny port followed by a shot of sweet port in chocolate. Yum!
We strolled back along the steel bridge in time to watch sunset over the city. I could imagine hanging out in Porto, writing, reading and drinking port. Now that sounds lovely.