/Palatial, palatable Portugal: a long weekend in Porto and the Douro

Palatial, palatable Portugal: a long weekend in Porto and the Douro

Try the local dish, the Francesinha

I wish I could say this tasted better than it looked, but the jury is still very much out for me. The Francesinha sandwich originates from Porto, and consists of bread, sausage, ham, meat, cheese and is then coated in a sauce that looks like gravy but is beer and tomato based. It’s certainly not the healthiest of meals, and some touristy restaurants charge a premium for it, but go local and don’t pay too much as chances are, you’ll find it a bit heavy.

The dish dates back to 1953 when a local returned from travelling around Europe and wanted to make a croque-monsieur a bit more Portuguese – I’ll let you be the judge on whether the French dish or the Portuguese one is your favourite! It’s also worth noting that the McDonalds in Porto, while not stocking the Francesinha, is one of the most stately in the world and worth a quick look at!

The Clérigos Church tower looking down on the book shop queue

The Clérigos Church tower looking down on the book shop queue

Visit Livraria Lello bookshop (or don’t!)

This beautiful bookshop with the iconic staircase is perhaps Porto’s biggest indication of the over tourism that will eventually consume this city. Portugal has rightly won its place on the international tourism stage in recent years, but many of the incredible places in the country haven’t been discovered by the masses, which means crowds bottleneck at key attractions and this library is one of them. It’s become so busy now, in part due to JK Rowling, that you must buy a ticket and queue, sometimes for hours, to get in.

The ticket once inside can be exchanged for a book, but sadly the owners had to take this step as their store had become a staircase photoshoot room, and no longer a bookshop. I skipped it, as I didn’t want to dedicate a chunk of my long weekend in Porto to waiting in line.

Head to the top of Clérigos Church

Just across the square from the bookshop is the Clérigos Tower, part of the ornate church. The tower is one of the icons of the city and if you like your views from high above, be sure to take the staircase to the top for some great views across Porto.

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