Whether you come for the wine, the rich history or the sunshine, Porto, in the north of Portugal, makes a fantastic city-break destination. The city, set on the hills along the edge of the Douro River, is the second largest in Portugal and offers a unique mix of old and new for all travellers.
From the minute you arrive at Sa Carneiro Airport, just 15km from the city itself, you will be drawn in by Porto's beauty and culture. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Porto is known for its rich history in trading and many of the majestic buildings and mansions set along the river are reminders of the wealth that this city once had. Take a wander through the cobbled streets and winding narrow passageways of the Old Town and you will discover stunning baroque-style churches, neat little squares and architecture that echoes as far back as the city's Roman inhabitants.
Despite its history, Porto has become a very modern city in recent years and the residential areas down by the scenic waterfront, Ribeira, attract both local young professionals and tourists. The Riberia is a fantastic place to visit or stay, with many Porto hotels based here and it has become a lively area full of stylish bars and restaurants. You can stroll along and see many beautiful bridges spanning the river, including the famous two-tiered Luis I bridge and the Dona Maria Pia. For a touch of romance, why not catch a ride to the sea front on the 1930s wooden trams that still run today?
If you're looking for hotels in Porto you are likely to be spoiled for choice as there are so many options to choose from, covering all kinds of budgets. For large, contemporary hotels it is best to look at the modern areas of the city such as the Riberia. However, if you prefer something more intimate such as a B&B or family-run guesthouse you can find some interesting accommodation in the more historic areas.
Choose hotels in the Old Town and you will be close to an array of cute shops and independent stores, as well as having the stunning Porto Cathedral on your doorstep. The cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in the city and has a Romanesque façade, baroque-inspired internal features and dramatic Gothic cloisters. The building was thought to have been initially constructed back in 1110 but has been added to over the years, making it an amazing piece of Portuguese architecture, not least for the beautiful views over the rest of the city from its roof terraces.
There are plenty of other must-see attractions too, such as the amazing Casa de Musica concert hall that is a stunning piece of modern design. Sports fans will also appreciate a visit to the Dragao Stadium, home to FC Porto. If you enjoy trying the local tipple, don't forget that Porto is home to the country's best export, port wine. You will recognise many famous names, including Graham's and Cockburn's, which have wineries based here and many offer tours of the premises and taster sessions. One of the best is the Sandeman's winery tour.
Aside from the port, the Portuguese love to eat and drink so there are many restaurants offering local delicacies to try. As with much of Portugal, Porto is a great place to find fresh seafood, although is probably more traditionally known for its tripe dishes. Locals also like to drink coffee socially so you can expect to find a number of coffee shops and cafes throughout the city selling the local favourite, espresso coffee and gorgeous homemade pastries.
Whichever Porto hotels or area of the city you decide to look at, remember that Porto is a bustling city and parking is at a premium so always check with your hotel if you are planning to arrive by car. And if you don't fancy bringing your vehicle, don't worry - the city has an excellent bus, tram and metro system which can allow you to get just about anywhere you want throughout the day.
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