My favourite summer activity is to travel the world while trying new things and learning more about various cultures. Last week, I went on a great adventure with my boyfriend and visited a couple of different cities across Northern Central Portugal.
Starting our trip, we stayed in Coimbra, the fourth-largest urban centre in Portugal, known for its rich history, architectural evidences of European art and design, as well as lively cultural institutions.
Typical Portuguese Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and the thing that keeps you going in Portugal is your sugar intake in the morning. Usually, Portuguese people don’t eat breakfast at home; instead, they go to bakeries or ‘pastelerias’, found on every corner, to have delicious pastries and, most importantly, a shot of espresso!
University of Coimbra
Coimbra is best known for its university, one of the oldest one in the world, which attracts many international students for its reputation and many tourists for its architecture. The University of Coimbra offers long history written into its monumental buildings and cultural traditions that have been kept alive through the ages.
Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra
Located in the heart of the city of Coimbra, the botanical garden is not only a part of the University of Coimbra, but also considered to be one of the most beautiful gardens in Europe. With its enormous palm trees, a pleasant scent of flowers and tropical greenhouse, it is a perfect place to spend an afternoon at, go for a relaxing walk, or have open-air study sessions.
Our next stop was Aveiro, a city located on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Traditionally connected to the river and to the sea, it has been called the Venice of Portugal.
The main tourist attraction is a cruise along Aveiro’s channels in traditional ‘moliceiro’ boats. It is a great way to experience the beauty of the city’s water channels and learn about the culture of this city that was once a fishing village, where residents made their living from the river, the seaport, and salt production.
Azulejos are a form of Portuguese painted tin-glazed ceramic tilework. Originally, azulejos were found on the interior and exterior of churches and ordinary houses, but nowadays, they can be anywhere, for example on the interior of restaurants or subway stations. In the past, they were not only used as an ornamental art form, but also had a specific functional capacity like temperature control in homes. Today, they are mostly for aesthetic purposes.
As we were travelling, we have discovered that the most gorgeous and well-maintained azulejos are on the streets of Aveiro.
Pensão Ferro Restaurant
A day full of new experiences and explorations, it is best to end in a Portuguese way – with a bottle of delightful wine and a plate of fresh seafood.
The last city we have visited was Porto, which is the second-largest city in Portugal, located along the Douro river estuary. It entices with its medieval centre, divine food and wine, and charismatic locals.
Dom Luís I Bridge
Dom Luís I Bridge is a monumental double-deck metal arch bridge that spans the River Douro between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. After a climb, we were rewarded with an impressive vista of Porto’s landscape where the bridge plays the main role.
Majestic Café is one of the 10 most beautiful cafés in the world and certainly the most charming café in Porto. This café dates back to 1921, and throughout the history, it has been famous for its customers. In the past, it used to be the meeting point of the elite of the city – writers, politicians, and artists used to come here to exchange ideas and discuss different topics over a cup of coffee. Today, this place is known for being an inspiration for Harry Potter as when J. K. Rowling spent much of her time at the Majestic working on the first book of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when she was living in Porto.
In the Majestic Café, everything – including interior design, atmosphere, foods, and drinks – looks majestic!
French toast Majestic style is a specialty on the menu for a reason – it is just the best French toast I have ever had!
I must admit, I totally fell in love with this café – its romantic and sophisticated in style interior is the reason why I secretly dream about living in Porto.
Livraria Lello Bookshop
Staying in the magical world of Harry Potter, we made our way to Livraria Lello Bookshop. This place is another inspiration for J. K. Rowling’s writing as she was frequently visiting it while she taught English in Porto. Does this staircase remind you of something? 🙂
São Bento Railway Station
What make São Bento railway station so special are approximately 20,000 azulejo tiles composed in “paintings” and depicting the history of Portugal.
Originally from Porto, Francesinha is a traditional Portuguese sandwich made with bread, ham, sausage or steak, covered with melted cheese and a hot tomato and beer sauce.
Amorino Ice Cream
Finally, what is a summer adventure if you don’t end it with yummy and remarkable ice cream shaped into flowers? If you ever go to Portugal, you can ignore all of the tourist attractions, but never skip an outstanding ice cream place, which is Amorino in Porto.