Destinations / City Breaks / Porto
Located in northern Portugal on the banks of the Douro river, the city of Porto (sometimes called Oporto) is truly a visual delight. A Porto city break is full of superb sightseeing, lovely food and wine and all-round rich travel experience.
Porto is utterly romantic as the riverbank is lined with beautiful old buildings leading off into tiny streets and ancient piazzas adorned with wonderful monuments and landmark churches. Hailed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, the old Ribeira District is a historic marvel. One of the oldest European cities, Porto was an outpost of the Roman Empire, so the city is steeped in history. Marvellous architecture abounds and you will experience medieval, romanesque, gothic, neoclassical and romantic styles on your holiday in Porto.
Porto is an experience of the medieval and modern living happily side by side. The city is very hilly with old houses carved into the steep cliff face and labyrinth stone steps leading up and down, so stout shoes and a brave heart are essential for a great walking tour! Old traditions are retained in Porto, elements largely forgotten in other European cities and a genuine Bohemian spirit still exists.
If you enjoy food, a holiday in Porto is tailor-made for you! Renowned as the culinary star of the entire country, local residents are known as "Tripeiros" or tripe eaters! Naturally, a speciality of the region is tripe, but bacalhau (salted cod) and fresh fish like sardines and daurada (sea bream) are utterly delicious. Another famous food is the "francesihna" (literally translated as the little French lady), a mouthwatering sandwich, voted one of the 10 best sandwiches in the world! Eating out is pretty reasonable and there are superb restaurants from cheap n' cheerful student cafes to upmarket eateries.
Sampling port wine for which the city is world-famous is a must when visiting this vibrant city. Visit the wine caves at Gaia across the river and buy some souvenirs to take home. A bottle of Sandemans or Fonseca is always a welcome gift. Try a river cruise too as the Douro really is the lifeblood of Porto and makes the city a commercial and maritime success. A cruise is very pleasant in this semi Mediterranean climate and a day on the river highlights the wonderful buildings and different districts.
Don't discount a holiday in Porto as being dusty or boring though as the city has a modern heart that thrums to an alternative beat. The brilliant "Casa de Musica" (House of Music) is an insanely marvellous piece of building art; the Museu de Arte Contemporanea pays homage to minimalism and Rua Santa Catarina with its trendy boutiques all attract crowds too. Again, Porto shows the diversity and universal appeal.
Did you know...?
Portugal is named after Porto
Gustave Eiffel designed one of the bridges over the Douro
Port wine comes from Porto and the Douro Valley
Top Reasons to Visit Porto
- Porto’s Unique Architecture
- Porto’s Food, Drink & Shops
- Porto’s Neighbourhoods
Porto’s Unique Architecture
Torre dos Clérigos: Porto’s most iconic landmark was built during the first half of the 17th century. With a height of 75m, the 225 steps that lead up the tower are worth climbing, as the view you’ll be rewarded with is impeccable.
Architectural masterpieces: Porto sparkles with architectural masterpieces at its best. Check out the 19th-century building that hosts Stock Exchange Palace, the stunning Café Majestic with a Belle Epoque atmosphere or the modern Serralves Museum of Modern Art and its beautiful gardens.
Azulejos around the city: For more architectural art at its best, discover places where azulejos are used to embellish façades.The cultural mosaics can be found in the Estação São Bento (train station), the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso and the Igreja do Carmo (two churches).
Dom Luis I Bridge: Another one for great views. This bridge built in the late 19th century connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia across the river. It has two decks, a lower one for pedestrians with fear of heights. Great spot for a selfie.
Porto’s Food, Drink & Shops
Lello Bookshop: Don’t google it, don’t even read about it! Just go. A must for every book lover, for everyone who’s into Harry Potter. For people who still see the magic in the world. One of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. JUST GO!
Pancakes at O Diplomata: With a choice of 6 different batters (oreo cookie, blueberry or chocolate to name a few), it’s the best place in Porto (or the world?) to go for pancakes. From sweet pancakes to savoury, your heart will be satisfied.
Sandeman Museum - Cellar: Spending a couple of days in Porto without seeing a Port Wine cellar is like Mickey Mouse without Minnie: it just doesn’t feel right. Learn about the history of the Port Wine and finish up with a glass or two.
Shop local, sustainable and handmade: Coração Alecrim is a store offering all things local, handmade, vintage and sustainable. Its range varies from clothing to accessories, decoration, plants and even furniture. It has the most stunning and instagrammable door in the city.
Cais da Ribeira: The riverside district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ribeira is chaotic, colourful, fun, hip, unique – it’s all you can ask for and more. Wander and get lost, try out all the restaurants you can find and let the world pass by.
Foz: Foz means beaches. Foz also means markets, cafes, restaurants and a beautiful promenade. The Sea Life Porto and the Serralves gardens (including the Museum of Contemporary art, of course) are located in Foz. A great feeling of being away from the city.
Porto Airport Transfers & Weather
Airport: Porto Airport
The best way into Porto is the metro, which goes directly from the airport. Approx. 30 minutes journey Departing every 20-30mins, it takes approx. 22mins and costs €2.60 per journey.
You can also get your own private transfer which takes approx. 30mins and costs approx. €24pp return based on 2 people sharing.
* Prices and times for transport from the airport are subject to change