To the east of the center is the railway bridge Ponte Maria Pia, designed by Gustave Eiffel from 1876 to 1877, which, however, has now been taken out of service. The bridge is often confused with the two-storey Ponte Luís I in the center of the city. The rails lead to Campanhã, a railway station outside the city center, which is the starting/end point of the main railway line in Portugal, Linha do Norte. From here, the cities south of Porto Aveiro, Coimbra and Lisbon, as well as Braga in the north of Portugal can be reached directly.
A few steps away from Árvore do Mundo, there is another vegan-friendly restaurant called Duas de Letra, located at the Jardim de São Lázaro. A little further to the east there is even a vegan-friendly accommodation, namely the Canvas Atelier Hostel (booking.com with 15 € discount), where we stayed two nights. They were not only kind enough to get us soy milk and vegan margarine for breakfast, but even organized a vegan dinner party. In addition to the good location, the stylish decor, the chic bathroom with bathtub, the balcony, the shared kitchen and the cozy dining room speak for themselves.
Address: Rua Barão de Sao Cosme 264, Porto
A little further outside, namely in the north-eastern suburb of Rio Tinto, next to the shopping center Parque Nascentre is the completely vegan VGood. It’s a café and a shop at the same time, and on Friday evenings even serves the local dish of Porto: a vegan version of Francesinha. For those who don’t know it: It’s pretty much the most unveganst dish you can imagine. Toast with ham, Linguiça sausage, beef steak or roasted beef and cheese, sometimes topped with a fried egg. So if even that is possible to veganize, what isn’t?
Address: Rua da Ranha 378, Rio Tinto
Day trips from Porto
Porto is an excellent starting point for various day trips in Região Norte and Região Centro. Braga and Guimarães are not even at 50 kilometers as the crow flies, and also a trip to Aveiro and Coimbra is worth it.
Braga, with its many churches and cathedrals, is considered one of the most religious cities in Portugal and additionally has the probably most beautiful staircase in Portugal, the baroque staircase Via Sacra to the Bom Jesus do Monte. It is the second-largest city in Northern Portugal after Porto.
Guimarães, on the other hand, is not particularly large in terms of population, but as the birthplace and first capital of Portugal and the “cradle of the nation”, is of great importance to the country. The Council of the European Union has declared the city the European Capital of Culture 2012. Since 2001, its historic center has been a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The canal town of Aveiro is a little further from Porto, but not less worth seeing. In addition to a beautiful, compact old town and free bike hire, the “Venice of Portugal” provides a great vegan offer.
Also the university town of Coimbra can be reached in about one hour from Porto by train. With the University of Coimbra founded in 1290, the city is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities, which became a World Cultural Heritage in 2013. In 2003 it was Portugal’s capital of culture.
Even the capital Lisbon can be reached by train in less than three hours. If you take, for example, the train at 9:47 am from Porto-Campanhã station to reach Lisbon at 12:30, you’ll have about seven hours time until one of the last trains runs in the opposite direction at 8 pm to be back in Porto at 10:52 pm.
Oh, and if anyone tells you that in Portugal there is no or only expensive plant milk (we have read and heard it before): That is not the case. Also here, there is – like in every major European supermarket nowadays – a huge selection. In the Portuguese supermarket Continente, we have even found the cheapest soymilk on the Europe trip so far – for 62 cents per liter (on offer, otherwise 79 cents).