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Portugal‘s second city is one of Europe’s most charming. Built on a steep riverbank, a jumble of colourful medieval houses hug the calm waters of the Douro River where wooden boats bob on the surface and people spill out of its cafes and bars, more often than not with a glass of the wine that gave the city its name.

Wind your way through the cobbled streets of the ancient Baixa district, lined with baroque churches and 19th-century palaces. Porto is a hilly city, meaning there are plenty of vantage points from which to gaze out across the sea of terracotta roofs, through which bell towers and church spires poke their heads.

Arching over the river is the impressive double-decked metal Dom Luis I bridge, linking the medieval city with Vila Nova de Gaia. Here you’ll find centuries old port firms that were founded by British merchant families and are still owned by their successors to this day. For three centuries these warehouses have been producing world-famous port, and no trip to the city is complete without enjoying a tipple or two in one of its many bars.

One of my favourite things to do in my hometown, after a day of meandering through its cobblestone streets or visiting one of the Port lodges, is to head to Morro Garden and watch the sun set into the Douro. Porto stands proudly on the other side of the river, with the colourful houses and bustling streets of Ribeira in the backdrop.

Marta Da Silva
Concierge

What to do

  • Head on a Douro River cruise
  • Sample a glass or two of local port
  • Wander the scenic and historic Baixa district
  • Walk across Dom Luis I Bridge to the Vila Nova de Gaia district
  • Explore the riverside area of Cais da Ribeira
  • Dip your toes in the Atlantic during a visit to Porto's beaches

When to go

Two of the best times to visit Porto are late spring and early autumn, a time when temperatures aren't too high and there are far fewer tourist crowds than during the high season of July and August.

 
 
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