Whatever style of food you’re after and whichever time of the day you choose to indulge in it, Porto is ready and waiting with an incredible supply of great grub and gourmet eateries to serve it in. World-renowned chefs have flocked in from all over the globe to add their names to the city’s ever-growing list of haute cuisine locales. Everywhere you turn you’ll find a fantastically mouth-watering array of tasting menus, craft breweries, gastro pubs and high-class brunch spots.
Despite its popularity as a tourist destination it is still possible, and highly recommended, for visitors get a glimpse of the Porto’s quieter, more local side. Best explored through the winding old alleys far from the centre of town, you’ll be surrounded by a gentile, laid-back atmosphere. Take a moment to listen to the tavern murmurs over an evening glass of wine, gaze at the warm golden light reflecting off the terracotta-coloured tiles and enjoy the chime-like tinkle of a small courtyard fountain flowing in the quiet. While many might call this the ‘real’ Porto, it is actually just one facet of the seaside city’s myriad personality, but definitely a side to be enjoyed nonetheless.
One thing that you can expect on a holiday to Porto is spectacular views. You can admire sweeping views of the Douro River from the quayside walkways, as it winds its way slowly under the white arches of the Dom Luis I Bridge. Or indulge in a lazily late brunch with the dazzling accompaniment of a mid-afternoon sea vista. Better yet, grab yourself a bottle of the finest Porto wine in the evening and head for a distant hillside to watch the sunset over the city skyline and see the city lights twinkle into life below. No matter what you decide to do, you can be sure there’s a view to go with it.
While much of Porto’s appeal lies in its ye-olde-worlde-style buildings and ancient walkways, the city has nevertheless attracted a number of distinctly modern visionaries who have brought Porto’s architecture into the 21st century with a stunning array of contemporary builds. The Museu de Arte Contemporânea thought up by the mind of Álvaro Siza Vieira is a key example of this. The spaceship-like structure with its red carpet walkway winding its way to the entrance, sits as a monument to modernity on the jutting cliff edge of Porto, enticing visitors with its artwork and its panoramic views of the city, the sky and the sea.
The home of the world famous after-dinner tipple port, this city is always ready with a good time and an excitingly decadent cuisine. But culinary delights aside, you simply can’t depart your Porto holiday without trying a glass or two of the area’s namesake. Originating in the lush green Douro Valley and with a drop or two of local spirits mixed into it for good measure, this sumptuous treat can be enjoyed on its own in the summer sunshine or with a hot dessert beside a roaring fire in winter. Port aficionados recommend sampling the vintage at its birthplace in the 260-year-old cellars of Ferreira.
The beating heart of Porto’s historical centre, the Sé do Porto or Porto Cathedral is a stunning construction which may look like any other Baroque building from the outside but which is, in fact, an absolute treasure trove of intricate artwork you’ll be absolutely astounded by. Wander idly through its arched walkways, taking in the church’s peaceful serenity and Romanesque features. Inside, you’ll be treated to carved interiors of such an ornate quality that it seems impossible to believe they were created in the 14th century.
For any fans of the Harry Potter franchise, the city of Porto has a particular draw in the shape of the Livraria Lello. During her early career, renowned author J.K Rowling is reputed to have been teaching English as a foreign language in the city centre. Moreover, J.K Rowling frequented the stunning local bookstore of Livraria Lello so often and enjoyed it so much that it became the inspiration for the Hogwarts Library in her books. With its carved ceilings, winding staircases and cathedral-like feel, it’s easy to see how this could be a magical attraction for both J.K Rowling in the days of her writing and for modern visitors doing a tour of the city.
The temperature in Porto is moderate, with sea breezes and ocean waters keeping visitors from overheating during the height of summer. For the warmest and sunniest weather however, visitors should head to Porto between May and September as these months almost guarantee excellent temperatures and clear skies. This period is also the most popular, as with the warm weather comes a host of fabulous outdoor activities, including festivals, attraction openings and water sport competitions.
If you hold a British Citizen passport or an EU National passport, you don’t need a visa to enter Portugal and are visa exempt for 90 days. For the latest information on travel regulations, visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/portugal/entry-requirements.
The currency in Porto is the Euro (EUR).
In Porto, the language spoken is Portuguese.