Positioned at the mouth of the Douro River, whose surrounding landscape is Unesco-listed, not only is Porto the gateway between Europe and the Atlantic, but it is also responsible for giving both Portugal and its world-famous fortified wine their names.
While Porto holidays will no doubt include sampling some of the many varieties of port and other excellent local vintages on offer, you will be delighted by just how much more there is to discover in Portugal’s second city. Centuries-old architecture and rustic wine cellars line the banks of Porto’s Douro River, giving the city an old-world charm, while the influence of the student population and an innovative bar scene lend a contemporary vibe to the city centre.
It’s easy to while away daytimes on holidays to Porto wandering the cobbled streets, stopping from time to time to snack on salt cod appetisers and traditional ‘francesinha’ (meat sandwiches covered in melted cheese and a tomato and beer sauce). In the evenings, make like the locals and potter around boutique shops full of handmade crafts and antiques, before settling in to soak up the night’s music and entertainment on either side of the river. For a change of perspective, seek out great views from the Dom Luís I bridge or Gaia cable car, and drink in the spectacle of Porto in all its beauty.
Dom Luís I Bridge
This iron suspension bridge is one of six connecting the two sides of Porto across the Douro River. Walk across the top of it for panoramic views.
São Bento railway station
Frequently voted one of the most beautiful railway stations in the world, São Bento has lofty 20th-century walls featuring more than 20,000 colourful, decorative tiles.
Historic wine cellars
Porto is home to more than 50 wine cellars, many of which offer tours and tastings of the region’s world-famous port, the history of which goes back around 260 years.