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Explore The Hidden Gems Of Foz do Douro, Porto’s Best Neighbourhood

There’s nothing worse than getting sucked into tourists traps, especially when everywhere looks so. damn. pretty. The Foz do Douro is especially known for these traps. If you ask the average person from Porto for recommendations in this area, chances are they will respond with something like “I wouldn’t know – it’s too expensive over there!”

Foz do Douro is situated in the western part of Porto, where the Douro river meets the Atlantic Ocean. Double waterfront location?! You read that right – that means the people living in this area make serious bank. Foz do Douro is the most affluent neighbourhood in Porto, but considering how stunning this part of the world is, it’s rightfully so.

Whilst it’s expensive, no trip to Porto should be complete without visiting the neighbourhood of “the Foz” at least once. And with a bit of prior planning and some tips on where to go, there’s no reason why you can’t experience this slice of heaven on a backpackers budget.

Below are some of the hidden gems in Foz do Douro for a truly authentic experience that won’t break the bank, as recommended by Tripeiros (Porto locals).

Museu and Parque Serralves

 

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Make use of that student card and visit the cultural institution of Serralves. If you’re into both contemporary art and Instagrammable locations, then this is the place for you! The museum features artwork from the late 1960s to present, and afterwards you can walk amongst the lily ponds, rose gardens, and fountains in the 18-hectare park.

Not sold yet? There’s a giant candy pink art deco house, too.

Opening hours: 10am to 7pm

Entrance to museum and park: AU$23 (€15 – there’s a 50 percent discount for students, too)


Foz do Douro dining

 

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Foz do Douro has countless restaurants, from high end Michelin-starred establishments, to the family-run typical eateries that serve only traditional Portuguese food… basically, a lot of fish.

When it comes to the cheap and cheerful places,  it’s hard to go wrong. My advice is to make a visit to the fishing neighbourhood of Matosinhos, which is situated right next door to Foz do Douro. On a summer’s day, you’ll most likely see men grilling sardines out the front of restaurants to lure you in. Trust your instincts (and your sense of smell). Go for the restaurant that catches your eye and ask your waiter to serve you whatever is the catch of the day.

And if you don’t like Portuguese food? Well, I don’t understand you. But in all seriousness, if for you’re looking for something different, Restaurante Ichiban is reasonably priced place for outstanding Japanese food. And trust me when I say that Japanese food in Portugal is so damn good!

If you really feel like splurging on a nice meal (hey, you’re in the Foz after all), you really can’t go wrong with Pedro Lemos or Cafeina for a memorable experience and fine Portuguese cuisine.


Foz do Douro beaches

Foz do Douro

Image: Karim Sakhibgareev

Whilst the water certainly is chilly due to the Atlantic ocean, it’s no secret that Portuguese beaches are truly breathtaking. They might even rival the beauty of Australian beaches… but only just.

Although there are a few beaches in the area, most of them are quite rocky, and therefore not so pleasant for a lazy day on the sand. Matosinhos beach is a beautiful place for a relaxing day by the sea, and there are plenty of surf schools situated nearby if you fancy tackling those famous Portuguese waves. The Porto City Park is nearby, so that’s also worth checking out while you’re over there.


Try Portuguese pastries at a pastelaria

 

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No trip to Portugal is complete unless you’ve tried countless Pastel de Nata’s (what we call “Portuguese tarts” down under) to understand, appreciate and assess the differences from each place you visit.

The Portuguese love to read the paper over a coffee and treat at their local pastelarias, which makes pastry shops the perfect place for people watching. Although the pastel de nata is by far the most famous sweet of Portugal, there are countless buns, rolls, cakes and more for you to try, with everything usually being made in-house.

If sweets aren’t your thing, there are plenty of savoury treats that you would typically find at a pasty shop in Portugal, such as bolinhos de bacalhau (codfish cakes – there’s that seafood again) and my favourite – rissóis de camarão (shrimp rissoles). Avoid ordering these at breakfast to avoid looks of bewilderment, the Portuguese are strongly against this, in my experience.

Paparoca da Foz is known in the neighbourhood for it’s pasteis de nata, and because of their location being situated riverside, you can enjoy a waterfront view for half the price of a similar seaside location. Muito bom!


The nightlife

 

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One of the best areas for summer nightlife in Porto is in Foz do Douro – an area known as Molhe. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from to enjoy a caipirinha while watching the sunset, but we highly recommend going for Caipicompany Molhe.

And best of all, one of the most famous and oldest clubs in Porto is right across the road: Industria. International DJs often play sets here, so if your budget doesn’t allow for coverage charges then continue to enjoy the nighttime atmosphere on the boardwalk of Molhe.

Check out Qantas flights to begin your adventure in Portugal.

(Lead image: Nata Lisboa Porto / Instagram)