Porto at a glance
Very much a waterside city, colourful Porto rises steeply from the River Douro which lies at its heart. Impressive bridges, including the Ponte Dona Maria designed by Gustave Eiffel, crisscross the water while traditional boats glide serenely beneath. Nearby the Atlantic Ocean beckons, where the upmarket suburb of Fos offers a seafront stroll between crashing surf and verdant palm trees.
The city itself is an intriguing mix of the traditional and the industrial, with medieval alleyways threading through a UNESCO World Heritage site where imposing churches with opulent gilded interiors abound. Meanwhile on the other side of the river in Gaia, the port houses extend tours and tastings of their tawny and ruby wines. Highlights of modern architecture include the iconic Casa da Musica, and the Serralves museum which attracts visitors as much for its lush parklands as its impressive contemporary art collection. However, in Porto beauty can be also found in the most ordinary of places, from the neo-gothic Lello bookshop to the stunning azueljo ceramic tiles showcased in Sao Bento railway station.
Perfect if you’re looking for:
- Diverse architecture
- Picturesque setting
- Gastronomy and wines
Porto is easily walkable, although the steepness of the streets may encourage visitors to utilise the extensive public transport system which includes the metro, buses, trains, trams, funicular and even a panoramic elevator. Travellers can buy an ‘Andante’ card which covers all modes of public transport. Another option is to hire a bike and cycle along the riverside boardwalk to the sea, or take to the Douro on a boat trip.
Shopping in Porto
As well as the usual high street names and designer labels, Porto has a collection of cutting-edge design shops, for both clothing and interior design. Some stores are destination in themselves, such as Livraria Lello with its stunning staircase and stained glass ceiling, and A Vida Portuguesa with its 19th century building and exquisitely packaged wares.
Dining in Porto
The gastronomic scene has really taken off in Porto, and delicious options can be found throughout the city, from the Michelin-starred Yeatman down to traditional eateries serving large portions of tasty ‘home-style’ cooking for low prices and bakeries and pastelerias selling the ubiquitous Portuguese ‘nata’ (custard tarts). Many cafes and restaurants have stunning river views.
A visit to Porto would not be complete without a taste of perhaps their most famous export, port wine, whether sampled in a hip bar, fine dining restaurant or direct from one of the big-name port lodges.
Must-try local dishes:
- Francesinha – a toasted sandwich along the lines of a croque monsieur, filled with various meats such as pork, steak, cured and fresh sausage, laden with melted cheese and drenched in a thick, beer-based sauce.
- Tripas – tripe stew is culturally significant for Porto inhabitants, who are nicknamed ‘tripeiros’ from when the 15th century city dwellers survived on the dish while higher quality meat was sent to nourish the conquistadors.
- Local fish – as you’d expect from a city so close to both river and sea, excellent fish dishes are widely available, both fresh and the dried and salted bacalhau (cod).
Get your tailor-made city break itinerary
Osprey Holidays can create a fabulous short break to Porto designed completely around your needs. We can arrange whatever you need, including:
- All travel and transfers on days of your choice
- Accommodation from our handpicked range of Porto hotels, to suit your budget and requirements
Our award-winning team can provide expert advice and recommendations, from general questions to tiny details. Contact us now for your tailor-made itinerary.
- Important information
Population 230,298 Languages Portuguese Currency Euro Visa Information No visa required for EU citizens
- Average temperatures
(monthly highs °C)
- Distance from airports
Porto Airport 12 km
- Railway stations
São Bento Train Station Porto-Campanhã