My Blind Date in Porto

Porto en rivier de Douro

This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch) Português (Portuguese (Portugal))

My blind date in Porto…..I hesitated for a long time about whether I should tell you this story 😉 but today I decided to just go for it because this “blind date tour” is actually too much fun not to share with you. Today we will visit some beautiful places in the surroundings of Porto and a few just outside the historic city centre. So, sit back, relax and relive this enjoyable adventure with me.


It’s July 2018 and this isn’t normally the time of the year I would choose to travel to Porto but this is “different”. I have a blind date, the first in my life!  Well.. to be honest, it is not completely “blind” but the fact is that I have never seen the mystery man live.  Besides, in every photo of him a pair of dark sunglasses steal the show. Personally, I think eyes are very important for a good first impression, so we’ll wait and see what emerges….. .

I know you want to ask how did I get this blind date – well, it’s a long story but I’ll try to keep it short!! I read my horoscope occasionally for fun and to be honest I never take the advice very seriously. This time, however, a bit of urgent advice came along more than once “I should start dating online”. It actually was repeated so regularly that I started thinking, maybe it’s a sign!!!😊 I’m not really into this kind of internet-dating but, maybe I should just sign up for 1 month?

Porto – River Douro

So that is what I did. Of course, after a few days, I had more than enough of this whole dating system. A large number of strange, particularly impertinent questions and proposals from mostly “obscure” man was filling my in-box. After 3 days I decided to mark my account “inactive”. Just right at that moment, my future blind date (let’s call him Sergio) pops up. Sergio speaks Portuguese, English, and Dutch, now that sounded interesting and, it was interesting!

After long telephone chats, the time has come and I am going to meet him in Porto. At the same time, I can use the trip as an opportunity to see how the renovation works of the flats are getting on. Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. I didn´t have to spend a lot of time on the apartments as both building sites were abandoned 😞 .

Will they ever be habitable?? 🤔

Livraria Lello

I meet Sergio in front of the famous “Livraria Lello”. If you are ever in Porto I recommend you visit this very special and very beautiful bookstore. The red staircase shown in the famous Harry Potter films is a copy of the staircase in this shop. Nowadays you have to buy a ticket to visit the bookstore but if you buy something in the shop, the ticket price is deducted. Believe me, it is not difficult to find something beautiful or interesting here.


We decided to have a coffee in the pastelaria next to the bookstore and finally, he takes his sunglasses off. A moment of relief…. a pair of very friendly and tranquil eyes appear. Phew!! Soon we decide to leave the city and do some touring in the area. We start at a Port wine house in Vila Nova de Gaia on the other side of the Douro river. There are many Port wine houses to be found here and in one of my previous articles I already wrote in detail about Taylors (click here for a link to the article) . There are over 50 Port wine houses in Vila Nova de Gaia, including Sandeman, Ferreira, Offley, Calém, Kopke and Croft, to name just a few. Almost all of them can be visited but be sure to book in advance.

Rabelos at the quay in Vila Nova de Gaia


We attended the whole audio tour and at the end, we enjoyed a tasting of different Port wines and some delicious cheese. Not a bad start! During this very informative tour I also learn all about the famous “Rabelo Boats” which are always moored at the quay.  These funny “Rabelos” are boats without a keel and were used to transport the barrels of Port wine. These barrels were transported from the vineyards in the Douro valley to the Port wine cellars in Vila Nova da Gaia. No fewer than 12 sailors were needed to manoeuvre these boats safely across the river. If you have enough time it is also very interesting to visit these vineyards along the Douro river. More information can be found in my article -Magical Douro Valley. (click here for more info)

Port wine – Porto Cruz

Praia da Miramar

We leave the Douro area and drive on towards the beaches of Vila Nova da Gaia. These 17 beaches are situated just south of the city of Porto and many of them have a “blue flag”. All these beaches are worth a visit, but today we stick to “Praia da Miramar”.

A beautiful vast beach with comfortable wooden walkways, which run along the beach and through the dunes. This is also the beach where you will find the “Capela do Senhor da Pedra”. This is a hexagonal chapel from 1686 that stands on a rock in the sea. Originally, this was a place of worship and pilgrimage for pagan cults who later converted to Christianity.

Capela do Senhor da Pedra

Walking in this pure sea air makes you hungry so it’s time for lunch. We go to “Areal Praia” where we enjoy a delicious seafood dish and a glass of vinho verde. The view is stunning.

Restaurant Areal Praia

In the summer you can get to these beaches by using the free “VW-buses”. You can find them on the quay in Villa Nova da Gaia. They are so cute these VW-buses! For more info click here :

Mercado Bom Successo

In the meantime, I have found out that Sergio is from Porto but has been living in the Netherlands for 25 years. Surprise, surprise, we swapped places 25 years ago! Sergio is the head butler of an embassy in The Hague. Yes, he really is, that is no joke, he is a professionally trained butler…. I didn’t believe it at first either. So, Mr butler is an excellent host and he shows his skills during our trip.

We drive back to Porto where we visit the “Mercado Bom Successo”. I had heard about this market before but had never been there. These old market halls have been transformed into a place where you can find all kinds of fancy restaurants and bars, all with their own specialities. Especially at lunchtime, it is a buzzing place.

Well, what else to do than eat and drink again 😀? Sergio asks me what kind of food I like. Well, eh……that’s almost everything, I say, a little embarrassed, but he is clearly pleased with that answer and a little later he returns with two portions of “O Forno do Leitão do Zé. These delicious sandwiches are filled with Leitão (suckling pig) from the spit.

Oh my, that was delicious and you know I won´t say no to a glass of champagne either. If you ever visit this market, try this,  definitely a must.

Santa Maria da Feira

By now it is late afternoon and I assumed that this means also the end of our “date” but nothing could be further from the truth as Sergio has another very pleasant surprise up his sleeve. That evening we are going to visit the biggest medieval festival in Portugal. 

This event takes place every year (at least if Corona doesn’t spoil it) in Santa Maria da Feira. Santa Maria da Feira is about a 40 km drive from Porto and it is absolutely worth the effort. I have enjoyed every minute of it. There was so much to experience, to see, to buy and to eat. It really feels like going back in time.  A nice circumstance is that there are very few tourists and that is a quiet relief after Porto.

A little tired (because I got up at 03:30 that day) but satisfied I return to my hotel and can look back on a memorable day.

Day 2:

Luckily my blind date has not yet had enough of me, so we decide to add another day. This post would be far too long if I described this day in full, so I will just pick out a few interesting places.

Palácio do Freixo

Our first stop today is Palácio do Freixo, a beautiful baroque-style palace located on the Douro River.  The palace dates back to 1742 and has recently been turned into a luxury hotel. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to admire the interior unless you pretend to be a guest and quickly pass by the reception with a very convincing “Bom Dia” and a confident walk 😉 .

A strange sight is the old mill that stands right next to the palace. For a while the Palace was owned by a company that built this grinding mill right next to the beautiful palace. Today the old mill is part of the hotel and boasts 87 rooms!

Lunch at Restaurant/Pizzeria Casa d’oro

I would be lying if I said that the food here is top quality but it is also not bad at all. It is a rather simple restaurant in a unique location.  The restaurant is located under the Ponte da Arrábida and in the 1960s it was used as the supervisor’s house during the construction of this bridge. The building is partly located above the water of the Douro river and the view from here is absolutely magnificent.

You can also climb (organised) over the arches of this enormous bridge. This seems to me like a fantastic experience and it is definitely on my “to do” list. More information about climbing this bridge can be found here.

And if you don’t feel like climbing, you can always opt for a helicopter flight. I am totally obsessed with helicopters, so I’ve already crossed this activity off my list.😉 It was a magnificent experience! For more information about the helicopter flight please click here.

Galeria de Paris

In the afternoon we visit Matosinhos and the beaches at Leixões, north of Porto. I promise that I will tell you more about these places in another article. The last stop for today is in the centre of Porto, the “Rua da Galeria de Paris”. If you ever stay in Porto this is the place to go for a nice dinner or just a few tapas with a drink.  The nights in the “Galeria de Paris” are buzzing and the atmosphere is very friendly.

You will find many good restaurants here but I would like to share one of my favourites with you, “Tapas na Boca”. Nothing tastier and more convivial than sharing delicious tapas with each other. They have a great variety and the quality is fantastic!  Try, for example, the Batatas Bravas, Cogumelos ao Alho, Chouriço de Porco Preto and the Gambas ao Alho. Add a nice bottle of Planalto wine from the Douro and the evening can’t go wrong!

And now the time has come to say goodbye.  Oh…..? You want to know what happened to the butler? Well, I won’t get too much in detail about that 😉 It didn’t turn into a “love” relationship but these 2 unforgettable days and the beginning of a friendship were absolutely worth it!

And then there is some good news, it has turned out that the apartments are finally habitable! After a very long “battle” in which my patience has been severely tested, the time has finally come ……. Shortly, the flats in Porto will be ready for rental. So soon more news from Porto ❣




This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch) Português (Portuguese (Portugal))


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