As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Porto is known for its rich history in trading...
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 echo as far back as the city's Roman inhabitants. 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.
Despite its history, Porto has become a very modern city in recent years and the residential areas down by the scenic waterfront - the Ribeira - attract both local young professionals and tourists. The Ribeira 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?
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 it 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 cafés throughout the city selling the local favourite, espresso coffee, and gorgeous homemade pastries.
If you're looking for hotels in Porto you are likely to be spoilt for choice...
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. 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.
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 allow you to get just about anywhere you want throughout the day.
Things move fast in this vibrant city, so slow down and make sure you take in the sights...
There's an awful lot to see and do, but here are our top five to help you make the most of your stay in Porto...
Top five attractions
The stunning architecture of this world famous museum is as much a work of art as the pieces it displays inside; it is a stunning sight to behold. Don't miss the huge grounds, which also hold a wealth of artistic treasures.
This wonderful old part of the city, with its intimate alleyways and medieval architecture, looks as though it has seen better days, but the crumbling facades and peeling paintwork make up the character of this remarkably colourful place, which is often hailed as 'the soul of Porto'.
More like a giant fortification, this imposing building was where King John I married Princess Philippa of Lancaster and ascended to the English throne. Some parts of this magnificent structure, which is well worth a private tour, originate from the 12th century.
Dom Luis Bridge
This showpiece bridge opened to a fanfare in 1886. It was the longest iron arch in the world and, opening a year before work started on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, became a huge tourist attraction. Make sure you take the pedestrian walkway for unrivalled views of Porto.
Mercado do Bolhao
Head for Rua Sa da Bandeira in the city centre where you'll find Porto's lively market. It sells everything imaginable, from fresh produce to housewares, but the real experience lies in sitting back and listening to the flamboyant fishwives frantically selling the catch of the day; it's unforgettable.
Let the loveliness of Portugal wash over you as you take in Porto's highlights...
There's almost too much to do in Porto, so let us help you with three great events...
Carnaval; February/March: Fun fairs, costume parades, street parties, music, dance, eating and drinking all take to the streets just before Lent. Although not the biggest Carnaval event in Portugal, the people of Porto give it their all in the name of sheer celebration.
Balloon Racing; March/April: The skies above Porto fill with colour during this leg of a series of spectacular balloon races. The balloons begin their ascent at dawn and float over the city to deliver one of the most surreal yet beautiful sights you're likely to see in Porto.
Noites Ritual Rock; August: Rock music fans make the annual pilgrimage to the Crystal Palace Gardens for a festival featuring the finest rock talent that Portugal has to offer. Nearly every big Portuguese rock band got noticed here at this remarkable gathering of musical talent.