The Algarve and Lisbon are two defining cities of Portugal. However, Porto is an up and coming treasure that rivals both cities. The town has no shortage of laidback locals, historical landmarks and touches of the modern world. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Porto is to be savoured and enjoyed with its understated excellence.
Where is it?
Porto sits the crown of Portugal and is perhaps the source of all its cultural riches. As a northern port town, it once hosted a place buzzing with trade and commerce amongst European tradesmen. As a result, it is one of the oldest European centres and today attains a busy and populated atmosphere.
What is there to do?
There is no better way to take in Porto’s neighbourhoods then wandering the centuries old streets. Note that even ground and symmetry are not a friend of Porto. Instead, Porto rewards you with cobble stone streets, hillside slopes and winding alleyways ready to take you to the next location.
The Douro river splits through Porto and compliments the town’s easy going atmosphere. Quaint boat rides are ready for you to take in the views and witness the town from a different angle. You can fully appreciate the colourful buildings sitting on the hillside.
Next is Riberia, conveniently translating to riverside this is the medieval district in Porto. Tourists are drawn to the bright coloured buildings stacked to face the river. Rocking by the banks are the charming sailing boats that you will find dotted across the Douro river. Here is hot spot with plenty of bars and restaurants for a chance to try Portuguese cuisine.
The Church of Sao Francisco, or St Francis Church, is a standout to the Porto area. From the outside, this 14th century church deceptively appears like a quaint, old church. The inside, however, tells another story. The exceptional interior is adorned with baroque décor and have visitors turning in awe. This small but mighty church will whisk you away into Porto’s fascinating past.
Next to the St Francis Church is the Palacio da Bolsa. This enchanting building was built in 1842 and sits on the ruins of St Francis Convent which was destroyed during the Liberal War. This building was once a chaotic stock market, but today is admired for its outstanding neoclassical design. The marble staircases will take you to an illustrious drawing room fit for royalty and diplomacy. The Alhambra inspired design include gold leaf beaming from the walls.
If there is anywhere that knows how to wine and dine, then it’s Porto. The locally produced sweet, red Port wine has existed for centuries. As a result, there are plenty of wine lodges and fantastic opportunities for wine touring in the green pastures of Portugal. There is nothing better than finishing the day with a glass of Port wine, sea wind and the sun setting across the North Atlantic Ocean.
Want to experience Porto for yourself? Discover Travel Talk Tours small group tours here.