JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CAMILA ALDRIGHI FROM PORTO, PORTUGAL!
Camila Aldrighi is a graphic designer, a collage artist, a content producer and a volunteer for animal rights. She is an Italo-Brazilian living in Porto since she came there to do a Master’s in Graphic Design and Editorial Projects which had Porto as the subject of her thesis. Porto is the first city she has lived in without her family, so it has become hers in a way. It has been a process of rebirth for her in which she rediscovers herself every day at the same moment that she discovers some of the streets and places of Porto. Find about all her adventures in Porto and elsewhere on her blog Maracujá Roxo (in Portuguese).
Porto, a coastal city in the northwest of Portugal is the second largest city in the country after Lisbon. The entire city is built on two massive hills rising up from the Douro river. It is quite popular for its Port wine (especially red) which is also one of Portugal’s most famous exports. Like the champagne comes from the Champagne region in France, real Port wine (fortified), comes only from Porto in Portugal.
It is said that back in time this commercial city used to be clogged with foreign traders (mostly British) who came to buy wine. Due to a gap in the local pronunciation and non-native understanding, the word ‘Oporto’ was born. The city is still referred to as Oporto by some.
This city has its own sounds, tastes, colors, textures, smells and experiences. The locals say that Porto is not a city, it’s a feeling. So, let’s feel it together?
What is the best time to visit Porto?
Besides the Winter, when Porto is rainy and windy, every other season gives Porto its unique characteristics.
Spring is when you start to celebrate the end of a season of humidity to see lots of local flowers like Camellias and Magnolias everywhere. In the Summer, the city is crowded and both the river and the beach make the perfect relaxation scenario. In the Autumn, the city is pure inspiration and poetry. Everything turns to earthy tones and people start to take off all the comfy clothes out of the closet.
Which is the most convenient and favored transport of Porto?
Definitely your feet! (laughs)
In Porto you can find many modes of transportation: from trains (to nearby and other cities), metro, taxis, buses, “eléctricos” (similar to an old tram), lots of tuk tuks and alternative touristic transports.
Most of the buses and the metro are connected, making them the perfect transportation from the airport to the city. If you’re arriving by dawn, you probably should take a bus because the metro opens at 6am. And if you’re coming with a bunch of bags and if more than 2 people, probably a taxi would be a better option.
What are the top three must visit places in Porto?
Luiz I Bridge – This is basically the “Mom, I’m in Oporto” place. This bridge is the first thing you’ll see in most of the videos and photos about Oporto and definitely the first place you should visit when you get here. The lower level is made for cars and pedestrians and the upper level is now used by the metro and by pedestrians. Fun Facts: 1) Until 2003, you would find pictures of cars where today the metro passes by; 2) Until 1920, to go to Vila Nova de Gaia or to come to Porto you needed to pay tolls.
Clerigos Church and Tower – The Clerigos complex is something you should consider visiting if you want to see the city from its higher point. You can spot the tower anywhere you are in the city, because it was used as a guide by the ships when arriving at Cais da Ribeira. It’s almost 240 steps that keep you from one of the nicest views in Oporto.
São Bento Railway Station – This is definitely the best way to arrive in Oporto. The trains that arrive and depart from São Bento just go until the Minho region and they cover a 60km area radius. The wall tiles of the station, made by João Colaço, revisit some of the most important parts of the history of Portugal and its aspects. Before or after your photoshoot (this is the perfect spot), keep observing the wall tiles and trying to discover the meaning behind them!
What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from Porto?
There are some cities in a 60km radius distance that you can visit and learn more about Portugal’s culture. They can be reached by one of Porto’s railway stations, São Bento or Campanhã.
Braga is a charming city located just 50km north of Porto. It has a lot to offer with plenty of churches, incredible food and rich history. It is home to the oldest Portuguese Cathedral and the Motherhouse of the Benedictines, the Monastery of Tibães. Although, Braga is full of historical monuments, churches and museums, it is also one of the youngest regions in the entire Portugal. It was the first Portuguese city to be made the European capital of youth in 2012 and was also elected as European capital of sports in 2018. University of Minho in Braga is considered as one of the best universities in the country. Do visit Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga, the most impressive religious sanctuary of Portugal.
From Braga take a bus to Guimarães which is the easiest way to get between the two. Find the timetable here. Guimarães is a historic city located in the district of Braga. It is also regarded as the birthplace of Portugal because the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques was born here.
Around 75 km south of Porto is a picturesque town with its boats and stripped houses called Aveiro. Set along a salt water lagoon, Aveiro is an undeniably attractive destination near Porto. Visit the salt pans at Ecomuseu Marinha da Troncalhada and try ovos moles, the local delicacy made of egg yolks and sugar wrapped in rice papers/thin wheat crust.
What is the most celebrated holiday of the year in Porto?
Definitely São João, from June 23rd to 24th!
In Porto, people commonly think that Saint John is the patron-saint of the city because of his popularity among the locals, but he isn’t! The patron of the city is Holy Mother of Vandoma. In this big party, the city becomes crowded with people from other regions; you can see the Luiz I Bridge with a fireworks show; locals doing grilled sardines (this is the smell of the city on that day); and the sky full with paper balloons that look like close stars. It’s amazing and totally worth it!
What is the most loved local food, savory and sweet of Porto?
I think that the entire Portuguese culture is a really big fan of sweets made out of eggs (the convent sweets tradition) and they are also fans of fish and pork. Tripas à moda do Porto, Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá (codfish), Caldo Verde (be careful, this is not a vegetarian dish, because it has pork in it) and specially Francesinha make the top dishes in here.
If I could choose just one, I would say Francesinha, because there is vegetarian and even vegan options to it. The city is not so vegetarian friendly but we will get there. Just so you know, I’ve done a map and distributed over the city with vegetarian/vegan restaurant options. It’s called Veg and Go and you can see the last version here.
Which according to you are the best places to eat in Porto?
Confeitaria do Bolhão – With its retro Art Deco vibe and the local atmosphere – where you can find totally affordable delicious pastry or food, Confeitaria do Bolhão is definitely one of my favorite places in town. I love to order a Kraftkorn bread (€0.40) with a freshly squeezed orange juice (€1.50) and a coffee (€0.60) but feel free to try also Tigelinha do Bolhão, their special sweet made of almonds.
Porto dos Gatos – Imagine a place with delicious vegan food, a nice staff, good internet and lots of cats! Yep, you heard it right! All the delicious cakes, coffee drinks, brownies, toasts and francesinhas have their prices reverted to a cat protection association called Vida de Gato. So, go there and give your love to some pets and have a nice moment!
Rota do Chá – When you get inside this place, you’ll be transported to a movie where each room belongs to a different director. Warm colors, rich scents, all of that zen feeling and of course more teas than you can think of – there are 300 to be more specific. Have a cup of happiness.
Where to head for shopping in Porto?
If you want to shop in a mall, I would recommend NorteShopping.
For local markets, I would recommend Urban Market (made by PortugalLovers). The Urban Market takes place either at Praça das Cardosas or at the Hard Club. It’s an outdoor market unless it’s raining, then it’s held inside. Also, the Flea Market (that happens in specific dates), Feira da Vandoma (extremely local – I love it!) and some second hand shops. Click here to know the best local markets of Porto.
Which is the local craft or souvenir of Porto?
The mini port wines or Favaítos (Moscatel wine)! But please buy those at a supermarket – it’s cheaper! There are also cork products, swallows to put on your wall or even chocolate sardines to surprise the ones who thought you were bringing traditional souvenirs.
Which are the best streets of Porto worthy of taking a stroll on?
All of them (get lost in the city – be a flaneur!).
Ok, ok, the most famous ones are Avenida dos Aliados, Rua de Santa Catarina (with lots of shops), Rua das Flores, Ribeira (old town) and Cais de Gaia, Rua das Galerias de Paris (with clubs and bars) and Rua de Cedofeita.
Can you suggest a place from where one can get the best view of the city?
Porto is a city to be contemplated, so we have lots of viewpoints where you can fall in love with the city. To see the city at sunset, Jardim do Morro or Jardim das Virtudes are my favorite places, but if you want to pay something to be in a place and have some beer, I strongly recommend Guindalense Futebol Clube or Mirajazz.
Where can one spot street art in Porto?
Pretty much everywhere you look you will find street art here in Oporto, but I would say my top 5 are: MIRA by Daniel Eime (at Miragaia); AN.FI.TRI.AO by Frederico Draw (at Luiz I bridge); Quem és Porto By ±maismenos± (at Rua da Madeira – next to São Bento Railway Station); Look at Porto by Vihls (at Look at Porto); D. Quixote by Hazul and Costah (at Rua Miguel de Bombarda – but you will find a lot more here).
Would you recommend any local apps for food, transport or hidden gems in Porto?
I write for Spotted by Locals with tips for locals – so I honestly recommend their work. In Portugal, they use an app called Zomato, there you can find the restaurants’ menu and their prices (which is good to plan within your budget). To move around (not just in Porto) I suggest an app called Moovit because it’s really precise and can help you a lot.
Do you want to give any suggestion to tourists coming to Porto?
Respect the city and its people at most, especially if you are walking through local neighborhoods. You’ll be walking in a city that is currently suffering with gentrification and some types of tourism are not very well taken by people.