You might think that Tuk Tuks are mainly used in Asian countries such as India and Thailand, but you might be surprised to hear that Tuk Tuks are a popular way to see the sites of Lisbon and Porto in Portugal! This week I went on a Porto tuk tuk tour with my friend Ginny and we concluded that it really is one of the best ways to see the city…. here’s why!
Meeting our Driver at the Cathedral
We met our lovely driver, a Portuguese student called Goncalo at the Se Cathedral. He explained a bit about the history of the area. The main pillar of the area is a replica as the original was once destroyed. It has the attachments for ‘hanging’ but they are just for show – these have never been used to actually hang anyone because the death penalty in Portugal was abolished by the time it was built….
Driving through the Streets of Porto!
Driving through the streets of Porto in a tuk tuk is really fun – the streets are hilly and cobbling giving you a bumpy ride! Our driver knew where to stop for the best old houses in the city – some stunning examples of tiles with Moorish influences. The blue tiles only really started to be a thing following the Renaissance.
Churches of Porto
On our drive around Porto we discovered some of the cities most beautiful Churches….
We next stopped by in front of Carmo Church to catch a glimpse of the beautiful number 18 tram going by. We saw Carmo Church which has a beautifully gothic carved facade and a tiled side full of Azulejos. A house has actually been built inbetween the two Churches if you look closely, because at the time that they were built there was a rule to say that no two Churches in Porto should be touching! Goncalo pointed out the best places to eat and drink in the area.
Igreja de Santo Ildefonso
We also drove past the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso – another Church of Porto with a stunning azulejos facade. This 18th Century Church near Batalha square was built in 1739 in proto-Baroque style. The featured azulejo tilework is from 1932.
Church of Souls
We also past through the main market street of Porto where you can find the Church of Souls. It’s not much on the inside, but on the outside as you can see – it’s one of the most beautiful churches in Portugal.
Along the River Duoro
After a fun time exploring the historical area, we changed direction and headed down towards the river. We were happy that our guide took us to find the Mermaid House – a link between the fishermen of Porto and the sea that brought their bounty in fish.
We followed the length of the river Duoro from Porto along to the sea and ended up in Foz. Foz is one of the best beaches in Porto and Northern Portugal and home to the affluent (a bit like Cascais in Lisbon!) Oh and while we were there, we found some beautiful toilets in the park which are also said to have inspired Harry Potter!
Crossing the Bridge to Gaia
We then drove back towards Porto and over the bridge to Gaia. We went to the look out point at Serra do Pillar Monastery and ended our tour with a glass of fine Portuguese Port enjoying the views over the Duoro.
Eating a Francesinha
When we had finished our tour our driver asked us where we would like to be dropped off, so we asked for the square to eat Francesinha! If you don’t know what this is, it’s a Porto sandwich served in sauce, covered in cheese and with an egg on top! ~delicious!