Porto is Portugal's second-largest city and a great location both for city breaks and for longer holidays to explore the north of the country. In 1996, the city's medieval historic centre was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is also popular for its architecture and gastronomy and as the home of the fortified wine named after it - port.
Set inland on the banks of the Douro River, the city of Porto is served internationally by the recently renovated and expanded Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport (OPO) and is a sophisticated blend of the modern and the traditional. It boasts a shopping area of quaint, old-fashioned boutiques alongside modern brand names, the modern concert hall 'Casa de Musica' and a number of architecturally significant cathedrals and churches. Baroque influences have left buildings and bridges covered in gold and other ostentatious decoration, with striking tiled walls and carvings next to modern architecture.
The lively and atmospheric Cais de Ribeira waterfront area is full of bars and eateries and is the centre for nightlife, with great views across the river and its numerous bridges. As a historic trading centre, Porto still contains lots of picturesque mansions and other historically important buildings built on the profits of trade, such as the riverfront port wine houses of the Cais de Gaia. These are open to visitors for tours and tastings. You could also take a boat trip along the river for a better view of the scenery.
Within the city of Porto car hire may not be necessary but there are a plenty of interesting day trips if you do have access to transport. If you are a fan of port, visit the vineyards outside the city. Famous names such as Cockburn's, Graham's and Sandeman all run significant estates in the Douro valley and surrounding areas for production of port wine which you may be able to visit.
You could also venture further afield to the baroque city of Braga, the medieval World Heritage city of Guimaraes or even the famous Spanish pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela.
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