Portugal is commonly associated with the sun-soaked shores of the Algarve and Lisbon, but head further north and there are even more incredible sights to explore, including the beautiful city of Porto. Portugal’s second city holds a rich culture which means it has been voted Best European Destination twice – and it is easily accessible in just over two hours from the UK.
Where to stay:
With its river views and spacious rooms, Pestana Porto is the ideal hotel for those looking to stay in the heart of the city. Many of Porto’s key attractions are within walking distance of this four-star hotel, which occupies part of a 16th century waterfront building.
Visitors looking for a luxurious getaway won’t be disappointed by Pousada do Porto, hotel Palácio do Freixo. Built in the 18th century, this stunning palace was declared a national monument in 1910, and offers opulence and relaxation just a couple of miles out of the city centre.
What to do:
Take in the city sights from the water with a cruise along the Douro River, which offers an unrivalled glimpse at the medieval relics and colourful houses that add to Porto’s charm.
Culture is also high on the agenda, with Porto’s historical centre listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the centre is Palacio Da Bolsa, the city’s former Stock Exchange Palace, which took 66 years to build. The 19th century building features an ornate design, and offers an interesting insight into Portugal’s royal history before it became a republic in 1910.
Pay a visit to one of the city’s oldest monuments, Porto Cathedral, which began construction in the 12th century. The cathedral’s incredible interior was modernised during the Baroque era, which is when one of Porto’s other most famous landmarks – the Clérigos Tower – was also constructed.
No trip to Porto is complete without a visit to a Port wine cellar. The city is the birthplace of the traditional fortified wines, and home to dozens of Port producers who make the drink using grapes grown in the nearby Douro valley. We visited the House of Sandeman, which celebrated its 225th birthday in 2015, and produces one of the world’s most recognisable brands of Port wine.
Where to Eat and Drink:
Bacalhau is a small restaurant that serves traditional Portugese food and wine, with a regularly updated menu. Be sure to try the Pastel de Nata Portugese egg tart pastries, which are an essential treat to sample in Porto.
As the home of Port, Porto is the best place to sample this fortified wine. Whether you pay a visit to the wine cellars or sip on a Tawny Port at a traditional Portugese Tasca, you will not be disappointed by the selection on offer.