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Hillsides brimming with character cascade into the great Douro Rriver, which cuts its way through this stunning port...
Porto is Portugal's second-largest city and a great location for both city breaks and longer holidays to explore the north of the country. In 1996, the city's medieval historic centre was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s 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 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.
Getting around by car is simple if you avoid the narrow cobbled lanes, and booking Porto car rental before you arrive is always the best option to secure a great deal. You can collect your vehicle from the airport and downtown locations in the city. When you rent a car, Porto serves as a fantastic base for seeing more of this part of Portugal. Read on to discover what else you can see and do.
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Many pass through Porto on a cruise or a short-stay vacation, but don’t miss some of Portugal’s best bits – they’re just around the corner...
When you book cheap car hire, Porto is easy to navigate, but there are a plenty of interesting day trips to be had further afield.
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 to the baroque city of Braga, the medieval World Heritage city of Guimaraes or the famous Spanish pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela. It’s just a two-hour drive through some breathtaking scenery from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. Your’re rewarded with a visit to the capital of the Galicia region and one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
If you enjoy history, a 40-minute drive to the unique city of Guimaraes is a must. It remains in large part untouched since medieval times and is home to one of the most imposing castles you’re ever likely to see. It’s often overlooked by those who don’t opt for Porto car hire.
Beach lovers are also in for a treat. Portugal may be a small territory, but some of Europe’s best beaches (particularly for surfers) can be found in northern Portugal and just a short drive from Porto.