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Travel Guide: A quick tour of Porto, Portugal

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Porto, a coastal town in Portugal, is often hidden behind the more well-known Lisbon. It is a mix of culture, history, lively food and drink scene, with a lot of charm. It is well-worth a look, especially considering that it gives its name to the country and its famous alcoholic export.

Portugal’s second city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It sits in the country’s northwest corner at the mouth the Atlantic. It is a convenient option for a whistle-stop tour, as it takes only two and a half hours to fly from the UK.

These are the top sights, tastes, and experiences that you should add to your calendar.

Take a look at the photos

Ponte Dom Luiz from cable car

One of the best ways for establishing your bearings is to get up high. Porto has many options. Ponte Dom Luiz Bridge, a magnificent steel arch bridge, offers a double-decker crossing over the river Douro. It was designed by Gustave Eiffel’s disciple and is one of six bridges that span Porto’s waterway. You can choose to go up to the upper level of the bridge and enjoy the view from the Douro’s banks and clattering yellow trams as you pass by.

Jardim do Morro is a beautiful, palm-dotted park that greets you from the opposite side. It offers another great viewpoint and postcard views of Ribeiro. The charmingly crooked merchant houses, colorful terraces, historical skyline, and beautiful architecture of this ancient district are all stunning from every angle. Jardim do Morro’s tranquil green space is particularly eye-catching. Take a look at the landmarks such as the Clerigos Tower (a baroque bell tower that is needle-slim, which pierces the hilltop view).

You can glide back to the earth on unevenly-terracotta-tiled roofs. The cable car ride takes you five minutes and will take you to Vila Nova De Gaia.

Enjoy Porto

Sandeman's line of three glasses of ports

You can’t walk more than a few feet along the Vila Nova de Gaia side the river Douro and not encounter the fortified wine or city nameake. Porto’s many port wine cellars dominate the riverbank and area. Each offers tours and tastings. It is essential to sample and learn about at least one of these wine cellars.

Sandeman is a good place to start if the many options seem overwhelming. A guided tour of the museum and cellars, which are cobbled together, is led by the mysterious, caped hero associated with the Sandeman logo. It also includes a lesson on alcohol advertising history. Your sombrero-sporting guide can explain that Sandeman was among the first wine brands in advertising and labeling their product.

Port is a classic drink. But don’t forget the chic shipping container bar at the front. Here mixologists give this age-old drink a new twist with a wide range of cocktails. Sandeman Sangria and Sandeman Fizz are sure to delight your taste buds.

The Porto Cruz neighboring port house is a striking sight. The striking blue-patterned tiled facade leads to an open-air rooftop bar. Enjoy 360-degree views of the Douro’s impressive bridges on a sunny day and enjoy more of the drink with laid-back beats by a resident DJ.

Where to eat

You’ll find a microcosm in Porto’s gastronomic scene at Mercado Beira–Rio when hunger strikes. From plump prawns and pastries to cod cakes and vinho verde to cheese platters or gelato, traders have something to satisfy every taste. You can choose to sit at a table indoors, or outdoors, and let your senses guide you as you discover what tickles the fancy.

Miss’Opo is the place to go for dinner. Although this casual restaurant is also a guesthouse and minimalist clothing shop, its main draw is the creative Portuguese plates. You will have a unique experience with a single, handwritten menu. You will find the best flavours, from spicy risottos and rich Portuguese sausages, surrounded by quirky mismatched furniture and concrete walls.

It’s easy for you to spend hours in Porot or Praia da Luz. This multi-level decking and private beach allows you to take it slow. Enjoy fresh, local sardines with a zingy tomato sauce and a glass of crisp green wine while you watch the Atlantic breakers.

Take a stroll along the Douro River

Sunrise Serra Do Pilar by the Douro

Porto needs a daily Douro. Set your alarm and watch the sun rise over Porto. Begin the day by running or walking along Avenue Gustave Eiffel, in direction of the Maria Pia bridge.

As the waterway comes to life, you will see fishermen instead of tourists. Admire the whitewashed walls and beautiful early light that bathe the former monastery Serra Do Pilar with its circular church, cloister, and wall.

You can cross the Douro river by water. River taxis in Douro, modeled on the wooden cargo Rabelos that used to transport port from Douro Valley into the city’s cellars offer an efficient route to Ribeira.

Riverbank of Ribeira

Traditional houses - Ribeira

Although Ribeira’s riverbank is crowded with tourists and souvenir shops, it has a magnetic attraction. You can wander around Praca da Ribeira (a cobbled square dotted with bars and restaurants) and stop for a cup of coffee to see boats going upstream to the Atlantic or downstream to Douro Valley.

It is recommended to ascend from the water’s edge slowly with frequent breaks, as the steep cobbled streets and steps are meant for thigh-burning.

Sao Bento train station

Porto is not a place you want to leave quickly, but its train station, often cited as the most beautiful in Europe, is well worth a visit. You can forget about the departure boards and just enjoy Sao Bento’s stunning tiled entrance walls. Intricately hand-painted ceramics in blue and white glaze document Portuguese history and tell life stories. They will take you to any destination.

Use the tram

Take the tram

Take the one-rickety tram line from Ribeira, Foz for a refreshing change of pace. It takes about half an hour to complete the rattling journey that follows the riverside all the route to the beachside settlement. Foz is tranquil with its lush tropical gardens and long promenade.

Where to stay

The trendy One shotin Porto’s Uniao de Freguesias do Centro – old city – is ideal for almost everything. It is located just 650 meters from the City Market Bolhao, and 900 metres from Ferreira Borges Market. Double roos PS118 per night.

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