The northwestern Portuguese city of Porto is characterized by hilly streets, buildings covered in multicolored azulejos, and a long history of port wine production. Polished townhouses decked out with flower boxes stand proudly beside dilapidated structures covered in graffiti, making Porto just as pretty as it is rough around the edges.
Between my first visit in 2003 and our trip last spring, Porto has experienced quite a revival. While the iron Dom Luís Bridge was previously just a handsome bridge reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower, today it plays host to sleek streetcars zipping passengers across the Douro River. Though the once-sleepy lanes of the Ribeira district are now busy with tourist activity, there is a constant in Porto’s delightful windows, which still smile down upon passersby.
From moody, grey-stone frames surrounded by delicate blue-and-white tiles to arched accents, here is a peek at Porto’s diverse windows.
Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene.
A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia.
Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.
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18 thoughts on “The Windows of Porto, Portugal”
As always, delightfully written. And, now I want to go to Portugal. ;)
Great to hear from you! Are you still exploring Southeast Asia? Portugal’s sunshine, its colorful tiles, and its scenery are wonderful. We also enjoyed the university town of Coimbra, and of course, Lisbon. I’ve also heard good things about the Douro Valley, but didn’t make it there on this trip. It’s always nice to have something to pull you back to a place. :) Hope you make it there soon, but until then, enjoy lovely Luang Prabang and beyond.
The windows of Porto are wonderful. Great to see you here again. Paul went to Porto last fall on his motorcycle and loved it. I´m sure we will both go some time. Take care.
Obrigada — thanks, Darlene! Funny, when we were in Porto there was a massive motorcycle convention along the river. We asked some locals about it and they mentioned that it was a frequent happening in town. I wonder if Paul joined in on one of those regular meet-ups? Here’s hoping you’ll soon get a chance to visit. Relatively speaking, I guess it’s not so far from your Spanish home. Hope you’re well, and enjoy the weekend.
Porto is definitely on my list. I also keep reading so many articles about what a wonderful place it is for expats. It’s certainly work exploring!
Hi Diane! Yes, Portugal does seem to be on the tourist and expat radar right now, and I can see why: lots of sunshine, neat architecture, great cultural sites, and natural beauty. Perhaps it would be a good destination for your future photography workshops or retreats? It would be a photogenic place to practice becoming PhotoFluent. :)
Beautiful photos Tricia! Went back to Europe in November and December for 2 wonderful weeks of travel. Your posts are always inspiring.
How nice to hear from you, Grace Marie, and thanks for your thoughtful words! Where did your winter travels take you? I’m guessing that Heidelberg was on your travel itinerary?
Dave and I are going to Portugal in May. Your delightful photos of the multi-colored and interestingly shaped windows, will give us something more
to look for when we arrive in Porto. We are planning a 3 day tour up the Douro with visits to the wine country. If you have any suggestions where to
stay, please let me know. Hope this letter finds you happy and healthy. Happy New Year to you and Shawn. 💞
Be well, Fran and Dave
For some reason I thought you were going to Portugal last year? You must be excited about your upcoming trip!
Shawn and I haven’t been to the Douro Valley, but we’d love to see where the grapes for port are grown. Will you be going to Lisbon?
We also enjoyed visiting Sintra (so many castles and estates to visit there!), as well as a university town called Coimbra. If you think you might be going to Coimbra, there’s an Airbnb there that I’d highly recommend.
“Obrigada” for your kind words, and here’s hoping we’ll see you in 2020.
We are knee deep in snow, Tricia. An unusual situation for us. I loved my journey to Portugal, this morning. I sipped my morning coffee and longed to get a peek inside those windows. I am shameless when it comes to glancing into open windows. I am interested in observing how people live. A million happy wishes for a wonderful New Year. Cheers Virginia
Hi Virginia, now that some time has passed (apologies for my slow reply!), I hope that your weather situation has improved. I’m glad that this post offered a comforting distraction. ;) If you were in Portugal, you could’ve paired your morning coffee with a traditional “pastel de nata” (custard tart).
Also, in the weeks since I published this, Shawn and I saw a short video on how Portugal’s magnificent tiles are made. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=If3AEwgpKXM The traditional process of making the tiles is labor-intensive, so I wonder how homeowners can afford replacements these days.
Have a wonderful (hopefully snow-free) weekend!
Dear Tricia. A custard tart with my morning coffee. That’s the ticket. When I am in Toronto, I am very close to the Portuguese neighborhood, and frequently stroll over and pick up these delicious tarts.
The spring bulbs are popping up. Come on spring. Cheers Virginia
I’ll have to ask Shawn if he ever went to the Portuguese neighborhood where you buy your custard tarts. He grew up in Toronto and speaks fondly of his childhood and how cosmopolitan the city was. Not surprisingly, many of his memories are of food and of splendid and unique aromas wafting into his home. It sounds like Persian and Indian dishes featured prominently in his neighborhood. :)
Spring bulbs are emerging there? That must mean that you’re no longer trudging through snow! Here in Croatia we’re starting to see pink blossoms appearing on the tree outside our kitchen window. Enjoy the weekend, Virginia!
The first time I visited Porto it was still with my dad in the 80s. I have been there before and the last two years ago with my mom. Much has changed over the years, although the charm has remained the same since then … but to see it well, it takes a lot of time. A week is certainly not enough. Beautiful photos, which fully capture the beauty of the place. Hugs and kisses :-)c
Claudine, it’s wonderful that you and your family have been able to explore Porto over the course of a few decades. We didn’t get a chance to visit the Livraria Lello bookstore, which is said to have inspired J.K. Rowling as she wrote Harry Potter. By chance, did you make it there? The interior and exterior architecture looks incredible! https://www.livrarialello.pt/en-us/
Hugs to you and all of the family.
Lovely captures of windows in Portugal, Tricia. Lissabon, is on top of my travel list, after watching a wonderful movie, about a great poet of Portugal, his name skips my mind at the moment. Happy traveling to you both.
Hi Cornelia, we’re always on the lookout for good foreign films, so I’d be curious to hear the name of the movie that you enjoyed. Do any of these Portuguese poets’ names sound familiar? :) https://theculturetrip.com/europe/portugal/articles/7-famous-portuguese-poets-you-need-to-know/
Hope you’re having a sunny weekend in California. :)