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Porto Itinerary; Day 1 Of My 5 Night Northern Portugal Adventures

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Porto Itinerary Day 1 is All About Food & Sleep

I’m in Portugal! I’ve just gotten off a 7-hour direct flight from Toronto to Porto. I left at 10:50 pm Toronto time and have arrived at 10:30 am. Thanks to a relatively good sleep on the plane I am ready to explore the second largest city in Portugal. I expect I will be eating plenty of egg custard tarts called Pasteis de Nata but other than that I am completely open to discovering everything and anything I may find. Day 1 of my 5 night Porto itinerary is completely free of plans. It is an exploration day and it is time to get out and explore.

Porto Itinerary Day 1 exploring Matosinhos

Porto Itinerary Day 1 exploring the streets of Matosinhos

The first stop after my plane lands is to the Eurostars Oporto. An Airport hotel located in the northern part of Porto. Transfer from the airport to the hotel was pre-arranged as part of the Europe Your Way Air Canada Vacations package I selected. I hate landing in a city and then paying a fortune just to leave the airport.

I chose the Eurostars Oporto as the first stop of my Porto itinerary for two reasons. My first day in Portugal is going to be a light one as I need to adjust to the different time zone so I figured a hotel that was a short drive from the airport (15 mins) and easy access to the highway for my first full day in Portugal was a smart decision. The second reason was that this hotel was close to the town of Matosinhos which has an amazing beach and a Michelin starred restaurant.

Here’s a tour of my room at the hotel. No view but I am only planning on catching up on my sleep here so I’ll save the views for the next few nights. Decent WiFi, comfortable bed, breakfast included and a very modern bathroom and shower. Two thumbs up.

With my bags dropped off and settled in my room it is time to explore Matosinhos with my travelling companion. A short drive towards the ocean where we park the car and then get out to walk our way around.

The first place I spot is a cafe and bakery. I have just had to have an espresso and a Pasteis de Nata. 

Pasteis de Nata at a cafe in Matosinhos

Pasteis de Nata at a cafe in Matosinhos

Back onto the cobblestone streets. If you are expecting bland and boring you would be wrong. Portuguese sidewalks are a work of art and I highly recommend you look down. Called calçada they are handcrafted with designs that vary from geometric to portraits.

Exploring Matosinhos on foot and admiring the lovely sidewalks

Exploring Matosinhos on foot and admiring the lovely sidewalks

We make our way to Matosinhos Beach. Unfortunately, it is quite overcast so the beach is nearly deserted with only a few surfers braving the chilling North Atlantic waters.

A nearly deserted Matosinhos Beach in Portugal

A nearly deserted Matosinhos Beach in Portugal

There is a sculpture on the beach memorializing Portugals worst nautical disaster called Tragédia no Mar (Tragedy at Sea). Fishing is such a big part of the diet and industry of Portugal and this piece helps to remind us all about the price paid by these mariners so that they could feed their families and village.

Tragédia no Mar sculpture at Matosinhos Beach Portugal

Tragédia no Mar sculpture at Matosinhos Beach Portugal

A bit more wandering on foot and we have decided to grab an early dinner. The timezone change and effects from flying during the night are starting to kick in. I generally prefer my first day on a trip to be casual and relaxed so that I can acclimate myself to the time/city yet still see enough to make me happy.

For dinner, we are headed to Restaurante Os Lusíadas. Known for itself seafood I figure that even though I am not a big fan of most seafood I should at least give it a try. And why not do it on the first night. If I love it I will order it again. If not then I know to try something else.

Restaurante Os Lusíadas in Matosinhos Portugal

Restaurante Os Lusíadas in Matosinhos Portugal

We almost have the whole restaurant to ourselves as we are eating fairly early for most Portuguese. It is just 6 pm and while they may not eat as late as the Spanish, most restaurants don’t really get busy until 8 pm or later. A pro tip if you want to secure a table at a popular restaurant.

Our meal starts with a very traditional Portuguese soup called Caldo Verde. This version was a tad salty for me but it is a nice way to start off the meal. Next was the main course which was served to us tableside. I ordered the Á Broa. A Cod loin baked au gratin in the oven served with sliced potatoes baked in eth same dish. To top it off we drank some wine. Lots of wine. This is a red wine from the Vinho Verde region northeast of Porto from the Quinta das Almas winery.

How’s that for a first meal? Will I order seafood again? Absolutely but I may stay away from Cod and other fish and instead try some Octopus which I’ve heard the Portugues cook very well.

It’s now only about 8:30 pm but I’m exhausted. Travelling has set in and I need to crash. Back to the hotel for a great sleep so I can wake up early and hit the road for my first full day in Portugal.

Day 2 Porto itinerary looks to be epic.

  • Drive to Amarante to explore the city
  • Drive to Peso da Régua for lunch at Castas e Pratos restaurant
  • Drive through the Douro Valley Region
  • Enjoy a Douro river cruise between Régua and Pinhão
  • Drive and check into Morgadio da Calçada


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Disclosure: General

Thanks to Air Canada, Air Canada Vacations and Tourism Portugal for hosting this adventure. All views & opinions expressed are 100% my own

About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.


  1. Marc,

    Very excited for your Douro River cruise! Also nice to see you drinking a red wine from Vinho Verde. A lot of people think it’s just a fizzy, light white wine when Vinho Verde is actually a diverse wine region.


    • I remembered your advice and specifically asked to try a red from Vinho Verde. It was delicious and I even stayed at a winery in the region. That’s on my Day 3 story to come

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