Porto, Portugal: the heart of the Douro Valley
Located in northern Portugal, just 15 km from the airport, Porto is continuously evolving. Originally an industrial town, Porto also offers many pleasures to the visiting tourist, not the least of which are its bars that serve the city’s delicious namesake wine. But perhaps most intriguing is Porto’s history, making this little known city a real gem worth discovering.
There is no shortage of beautiful monuments and attractions to explore. For starters, the Mercado do Bolhão is a traditional market selling fruit, vegetables, fish and meat in the friendly atmosphere that Porto is known for. Travellers can follow that with a trip to the Palácio da Bolsa (the old stock exchange), known for its Arab Room, which is decorated in the exotic Moorish revival style. The Praça de Lisboa plaza attracts tourists with the Clérigos Church and its splendid tower, both fine examples of classic Baroque architecture and motifs. And last but not least, the Sé Cathedral, one of the first Romanesque monuments built in Portugal, cannot be missed.
Cruise on the Douro
The best way to get an overall view of the city and its many UNESCO sites is to take a charming cruise on the Douro River.
Port wine tasting
This sweet, fortified wine has been made in the Douro Valley for more than 2,000 years. Some notable vineyards, such as Sandeman, Borges, Taylor’s, Ferreira and Cálem (to name a few), offer travellers tours and port wine tastings.
Though perhaps a little quieter than Lisbon, Porto nevertheless offers tourists a wide variety of nighttime venues. Most people like the picturesque Cais da Ribiera area for its many cafés, bars and restaurants.
The beaches of Porto
Although Portugal’s most popular beaches are located in the southern part of the country, Porto has its own beaches worth seeing; namely, Miramar, Aguda, Granja and Espinho.