The second-largest city in the country, Porto, or Oporto, as it is also known, has been inhabited for over two millennia. A bustling, modern city, with lots of historic buildings and monuments, you can wander in any direction in this wonderful place and constantly discover something new and fascinating. If in between your exploration of the city, you feel the need to catch your breath and just soak of the pleasant and mild atmosphere that adorns the city, then we’ve got a few suggestions for you.
Boat trip and wine tasting on the Douro
The city is perched on the mouth of the mighty Douro River, which flows through the fertile landscape of Northern Portugal. Vineyards have populated its riverbanks and valleys since the earliest settlements of the region and the sweetest wine that is produced here is today one of the most popular dessert wines across the world. Once upon a time, when the river was the quickest mode of transportation, the freshly-produced port wine was put in barrels and shipped downstream to Porto on the iconic Rabelo boats, which can still be seen moored along the harbour-front of the city. Next, to these old-fashioned vessels, you’ll find numerous tour boats that offer day-trips up the river. Going on one of these will reveal the beautiful green paradise that surrounds the city, and stops at quaint villages and vineyards for a bit of wine and food-tasting should definitely be included.
Visiting the Livraria Lello bookshop
Going to a local bookshop might not sound like the most exciting thing on the travel itinerary, but in Porto, you’ll find one that will truly knock you off your feet. The Livraria Lello bookshop has been a local fixture for over a century and apart from having a wide range of books on display, it’s the interior design that really draws in visitors. The shop's iconic wooden staircase stands in the middle of the shops and gracefully leads bibliophiles up to the second floor. The building is a stunning mixture of Art Nouveau and Victorian Gothic, and among the shop's many patrons and admirers, J.K. Rowling is said to have come here frequently, when she lived in Porto and was still working on the early chapters of Harry Potter.
(Source: WikiCommons. Image by Alegna13)
Built a decade after its British namesake, this steel and glass-plated palace outlasted its larger sibling by almost 20 years, before it was demolished. In place of the large Victorian structure, the impressive, modernist Rosa Mota Pavilion was constructed. Today the dome-shaped building hosts concerts and exhibitions among other cultural events; it even houses a permanent multimedia library. The park that surrounds it has retained the name of the Crystal Palace as a tribute, and visitors can stroll through the green gardens or gaze across the old town that slopes towards the mouth of the Douro.