In September 2017, I had a chance to visit Porto, Portugal. It’s a beautiful city–Portugal’s second largest after Lisbon–known for its bridges and port wine. I didn’t sample their wine, but I explored the city and saw all its majestic bridges! I did that while riding on a bike.
Rent a bike in Porto, Portugal
Renting a bike in Porto is easy. I simply opened Google Maps on my phone and searched for bike rental shops. After reading reviews and comparing costs, I decided on going with Biclas & Triclas, which is on the bank of the Douro River. I was able to rent a bike online, specified the pick up time, and showed up there the next day. Sweet and easy!
Get a Map and Ask for the Best Places to Visit
Pablo, a friend who also attended the same meeting I was in decided to join me. It made the exploration doubly fun. Before setting off, the owner of Biclas & Triclas briefed us on the nice places to visit, where to get lunch, and where the bike paths were. We hit the road and went to the general direction of the city. There was no uphill pedaling for us. It was all flat roads as long as you stay on the paths near the river and along the beach.
Interesting finds on the way to the beach.
The ride to the beach wasn’t really a long, smooth one. We had to stop several times because there were so many sights to take in. We saw a huge anchor by the riverbank, and a couple of non-working cannons. We also rode our bikes on the path of the tram, but thankfully, it as never fast and we got plenty of warning when it came. It was a bit difficult to bike on cobblestone, though.
Prepare to be Cold and Wet at the Intersection of the River and the Ocean.
The ocean met Douro River in an awesome splash of waves! There was a wall of breakwater to prevent the tide from coming in, but we went to the lighthouse and basked in the splash of the ocean waves. The crash and the din of the waves soothed me. I remembered my history lessons about how Portuguese explorers first opened the way to the east before Spain, Britain, and the United States built their navies.
In front of the lighthouse, there was a fort. The bad tourist in me kicked in and I didn’t really know the name of the fort, but it was still an imposing building, a reminder of glories long past. We continued biking northward, exploring the city of Porto and what it had to offer.
Statues, a castle (or prison?) on the beach, and an Octopus lunch!
We saw lots of statues, resting area by the beach, several restaurants right on the waterfront, and lots of people walking. I was feeling cold, but there were several ice cream stores open along the waterfront. It’s also amazing how many tourists there were, some of them were even carrying huge backpacks. Backpackers. I’m glad I left my bags at the retreat house we stayed at. I don’t wanna be carrying a bag while biking on the streets of Porto.
Finally, we found our lunch destination–Restaurante Olhinhos do Polvo. Nobody could miss the huge octopus symbol in front. I ordered a grilled octopus that tasted pretty much like an adobong pugita. I ordered an ice cold Portuguese beer to go with it and the soreness of my feet all went away.
See a lot of tiles, multi-patterned tiles on house walls.
After lunch, we went back to the riverfront to return our bikes. It took us a total of 5 hours to explore the city by bike, eat lunch, and return to the bike shop. On the way back to the retreat center, we saw several more sights.
Let me warn you, though. If you intend to walk along downtown Porto, expect lots of hills! Pablo and I had to rest while climbing steep steps and hills. At least we got to see the iconic tiles on many of Porto’s houses. On one of the side streets, I even saw a car that looked like Mr. Bean’s.
When we arrived at the retreat house, I felt hungry again. But alas, it was time for me to go. I had a flight to catch and the airport was pretty far from where I stayed. My next stop was Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal. I had a 16-hour layover, which was more than enough for a quick visit and exploration.