Portugal’s oldest city is not only beautiful but is crammed with things to do… here’s just a few ideas for the perfect short break...
Cross the Douro to Porto’s sister city, Vila Nova de Gaia, to visit one of the legendary port houses. Take a tour and tasting session to truly appreciate the difference between ruby, tawny and vintage. You usually have to pay but get generous glasses. Grahams is one of the most historic, and flagship of the Symington family’s many brands - pre-booking is essential. It has a very good restaurant onsite too, with stunning views across to Porto.
Porto has three tram lines, complete with beautiful historic wooden trams. For a scenic ride with a difference take Linha 1 along the banks of the Douro to Foz (10 minutes walk along the river to the coast), or for a loop of the central city take Linha 22.
And trams aren’t the only interesting form of transport. As well as a metro, river taxis and a funicular, there are cable cars too... having crossed the top level of the iconic Ponte de Dom Luis bridge to Gaia take the teleferico for a bird’s eye view.
It’s not just about the port. For an insight into local dishes, from exquisite pastel de nata (custard tart) to Portuguese fast foods, take a walking tour around the cafés, delis and bars of Porto. You’ll probably end up in places you wouldn’t have otherwise entered, and come away with a stack of recommendations. Blue Dragon city tours do a good one.
Throughout Porto you’ll see striking traditional azulejo tiles on the facade of some of the buildings, so it’s hard to believe they may be threatened as buildings get demolished or redeveloped. Get an insight into their history and status, and then have a go at painting your own, at a two-hour workshop from the tile “activists” behind Gazete Azulejo.
You’ll be in a food coma after chowing on a Franceshina. This calorie-laden giant sandwich is typically stuffed with steak, sausage, ham, then smothered with melted cheese and gravy, and served with a beer and tomato sauce. Oh, and a portion of fries on the side too. Fortunately, some places offer half portions, and vegetarian ones are increasingly found too. Rua Passos Manuel is known for restaurants offering franceshina, including the welcoming Cervejaria Brasao Aliados.
Porto's cutting edge street art is impressive in both scale and detail. Featuring well renowned international artists such as Guaté Mao, Daniel Eime, Costah and Vhils. Take a tour with a local expert or just stroll round the streets spotting what you can. Porto’s street art is big, bold and colourful.
Home to Porto’s port vineyards, the beautiful Douro Valley is an official Appellation d’Origine Controlée. The vineyards cover the steep terraced valleys, making machinery difficult to use, and the vines themselves tough. Visit port lodges and wine producers and then a cruise along the Douro river on a traditional rabelo wooden boat. You can either get there via organised mini-bus tour or by train from Porto’s highly decorated São Bento station.
Sign up today for free and be the first to get notified of new articles, new competitions, new events and more!