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The heart of the city is the Ribeira district, the rambling old town is a UNESCO World Heritage-site and is filled with ancient houses, beautiful buildings adorned with tiles, family run restaurants, cafés and bars, and sloping narrow cobbled streets. The Douro river meanders through the city, and is crossed by magnificent bridges joining Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia. Port wine is produced in this region and is still stored and matured in vast cellars in Gaia that stretch along the banks of the river Douro.
Lose yourself in Porto’s historic centre and wander along the river marvelling at the amazing buildings. See the boats pull up to the banks, carrying barrels of wine, then stop at one of the many cafés to watch an amazing sunset.
Cross the river to Vila Nova de Gaia and do a tour and tasting of one (or more!) of the many Port Houses. You will learn about the history of Port wine, its production today, the Douro Valley and see the cellars, before a tasting.
Take a bus or the metro out to Matosinhos, a fishing and port town, known for its fish restaurants and beautiful sandy beach. Fresh fish is sold in the morning market, then is grilled for you at one of the many restaurants – choose your seafood and watch them BBQ it.
Dating back to the 13th century Azulejos came with the Moors. You can see them decorating all kinds of public and private buildings, both inside and out. Some are beautiful simple tiles, others tell stories. Visit the 19th century São Bento Railway Station and see the 20,000 Azulejo tiles decorating the walls portraying scenes of Portuguese history, daily life and transportation.
Have coffee in the most elegant café in Porto. Inspired by the French Belle Epoque, this café still has the charming grandeur of the old world.
Visit one of the most magnificent book shops in the world. The neo-gothic architecture, stunning design, intricate decoration and volumes of books are incredible, but the centrepiece is the beautiful red art nouveau staircase, said to have inspired the one in Hogwarts.
Porto’s iconic dish the Francesinha is not for the faint hearted, it is a ‘sandwich’ of sorts which contains sausage, ham, beef, is covered with cheese and a special tomato based sauce with beer and piri piri hot sauce. Sometimes it comes topped with a fried egg. Bring your appetite!
Porto’s answer to the Aperol Spritz or G&T is White Port (of course!), poured over ice and topped with tonic water and a slice of citrus. A very refreshing aperitif.
Climb the 225 steps up Clérigos Tower, once the tallest building in Portugal. The tower itself is quite impressive, in Baroque style with influences of Tuscan bell towers, but the panoramic views over the city are incredible.
Visit two stunning wineries in the heart of the Douro Valley, each with sweeping views. Learn about the history and varietals grown in this World Heritage-listed region famous for its port wine production. See the valley from the river on a rabelo boat and feast on regional specialities in the village of Pinhão.
Here's a taste of some of our favourite hotels and lodges in the Porto, Portugal.
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