Bom Ano Novo! (Happy New Year!)

A boat lazily kicks back on New Year’s Day in Porto, Portugal

Why did we go to Portugal…in January?

We had two weeks off–where could we go? When my boyfriend and I started looking for a tourist destination we could explore for a few days that was outside of Spain, we had lofty criteria of a perfect destination. Our dream city:

  • wasn’t insanely cold in winter (No way, José to snowy Switzerland)
  • had cultural offerings (No way, José to party-hardy Ibiza)
  • wasn’t too expensive, (No way, José to pricy Paris…and prettymuch every other destination we wanted to visit)

Where does that leave two grad students on winter break? Portugal, of course! With daily lows comparable to Madrid’s own, inexpensive lodgings as well as a rich history seeped in wine, our trip to Porto fit the bill perfectly.

Riverside–the Douro, that is

It was actually my second trip to the Portuguese town, and I got to revisit some fav local experiences as well as dabble in new ones. One highlight was getting to ring in the New Year’s Eve with other revelers, a live music concert, and fireworks. Below you can see a quick rundown of our trip:

Wishing each other “Bon ano novo!” as fireworks flew in Plaça da Liberdade

Crossing the Ponte Luis I bridge to neighboring Gaia in thick morning fog


Strolling both sides of the Douro River

Snapping a million photos on a Douro River cruise

Traversing the city’s lively neighborhoords

Taking in colorful façades

Hanging out with the locals

Seeing Gaia and the river at night

Whew! And I haven’t even told you about visiting the port wine caves yet…

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  1. I loved my first whirlwind visit to Porto during TBU – it was wonderfully quirky and romantic at the same time! Can’t wait to return…and love that they say happy new butt**** bahahaa I am a child!

  2. Cassandra

    Haha! Happy new YEAR to you, too, Cat 😉

  3. I went to Lisbon for the first time in January and loved it so much I returned in June with my brother to explore more of Portugal.

    Great photos.

    After reading your posts and a few others, I would love to return and go on a Douro cruise! I didn’t even think about it when I was there, assuming it would be really touristy.

  4. Cassandra


    Re: Douro cruise–it is certainly touristy, but worth it. No matter where we turned, there was a new and exciting view. Supposedly the cruise takes you straight to a port wine cave, but unfortunately we went cruising on Jan 1 and all of the bodegas were closed.

  5. Portugal seems to be one of the most popular places for people here (in Germany) to visit now! Maybe I will wait until the weather is a little warmer so I can go to the beach, although Porto looks beautiful all year round from your pictures!
    I hope you had a great New Year’s!

  6. Cassandra

    Interesting, I didn’t realize Portugal was a popular destination for Germans, too!

    Speaking of beaches–you know how on trains there are images of pregnant mothers and people with canes to represent reserved seating? In Porto, the trains had images of these two things, as well as a man with a surfboard!! Must meant that there are plenty of great waves to be caught along the coast 😉

  7. Wow, Porto looks amazing! I’ve only heard good things about it, so I’m not surprised.

    By the way, Ibiza’s not just parties – I was shocked to find out that the city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Um, not that I actually went when I was there….I was too busy partying. :p

  8. Cassandra


    I would love to check out Ibiza, the weather in January alone is tempting !

  9. I will keep this in mind for a cheap trip!

    I need to make plans for Semana Santa; unfortunately, Mario can’t go as he isn’t off, but I’m thinking a solo trip or maybe someone will join up with me!

  10. Cassandra

    You should definitely keep it in mind! You could also visit most of the top Porto attractions in a 2.5 or 3-day weekend.

    I’ve been daydreaming about Semana Santa destinations myself–it’ll be here before we know it!

  11. Love Portugal! But never made it to Porto! Only southern Portugal, Lisbon, and Sintra. I’m making a new list for when I go back, keeping your blog post in mind!

    • Cassandra

      Terrific, Michi! Hope you guys get to go–after you roam about Ireland for a bit, of course 😉

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