With fascinating cultural attractions, historical sites, great shopping and numerous bars and restaurants, holidays in Porto will keep you busy...
Porto is a commercial hub and a major urban area with a population of 1.3 million. Its waterside position has meant that it has a long trading history which has paid for the construction of many mansions and other impressive buildings. Porto also has a rich cultural tradition. A European Capital of Culture in 2001, the city is recognised worldwide for its various attractions.
Flights to Porto will introduce visitors to one of Europe's oldest settlements, dating back to the Roman Empire. The city was declared to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The ancient medieval borough, the Cais de Ribeira district, is situated within 14th-century walls. It is found on the waterfront in the city centre and is one of the most picturesque parts of town. Narrow streets and alleyways are lined with bars and eateries where visitors can sample local delicacies. The area's brightly coloured houses, busy harbour and bridges over the river afford views that make the area unmissable for any sightseer. Visitors can even take boat trips to see the scenery from the river.
Beyond the ancient walls, there are many architectural highlights to be seen. A variety of architectural styles contribute to Porto's charm, from medieval and baroque to modern designs. Among the city's oldest surviving structures are Oporto Cathedral, the Church of Cedofeita and the Igreja de São Francisco. Tourists also flock to view the vast beauty of the Stock Exchange Palace (Palacio da Bolsa), the São Bento Train Station and the Crystal Palace gardens, while the Casa da Musica, Porto's major concert hall, is perhaps the most recognisable architectural icons of the city today. Finished in 2005, it has drawn international acclaim for its design.
Porto is also ideal for shopping and has a reputation for unique jewellery, fashion and footwear. From traditional products to modern items, shoppers will not be disappointed. Quaint shops sit alongside contemporary brands and shoppers can pick between open-air markets, boutiques and 'centros comerciales' (shopping centres) all over town.
Perhaps Porto's most famous product is port, which has long been associated with the city. Port is a fortified wine which is produced exclusively in the Douro region and is named after the city due to its role in producing and exporting the beverage. Many famous brands are associated with Porto to this day such as Graham's and Cockburn's, which was established in 1815 and has been a major brand ever since. Visitors can immerse themselves in this history with various winery tours, such as the one at Sandeman at Vila Nova de Gaia, a name that has been around since 1790.
Flying from the UK, Porto flights take approximately two and a half hours. Its ease of access makes it ideal for a weekend city break or as a base from which to explore the rest of northern Portugal as part of a longer holiday. With a climate of dry, warm summers and mild winters and as one of the best value destinations in Europe today, it is little surprise that more and more people are choosing to explore Porto.