Destinations

Top 5 things to do in Porto

From tasting the local port wine to exploring the historic centre, here are the best experiences this Portuguese coastal city has to offer

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Dom Luis 1 Bridge

With its Unesco-listed historic centre, heavily embellished churches, bodegas, beaux arts station and sublime sunsets over the Douro River, Porto is a highlight of any Douro cruise.

Get your bearings from the double-arched Dom Luis I bridge, which joins the port houses of Vila Nova de Gaia with the riverside cafes of the old town’s lively Ribeira district. With any luck you’ll see a few robelos – traditional wooden cargo boats.

Vila Nova de Gaia

Porto is the home of port wine. For a tasting with a view, head to Graham’s, set on a ridge in Vila Nova de Gaia (reservation required).

The lodge’s heritage is told in a series of panels, artefacts and photos, while it’s hard to imagine a finer spot for tapas or petiscos than its terrace bar.

Porto Cathederal

Historic Centre

Download a map and plot a course that takes in the gilt-laden Church of São Francisco, Ribeira’s maze of backstreets and the cathedral with its magnificent altar (pictured).

Head north to the São Bento train station where the tile-clad atrium depicting battles and ordinary folk offers a broad historical storyboard. A 10-minute walk east of here is Clerigos Tower, from which the distant seaside city of Figueira da Foz may be visible.

Livraria Lello

It’s not hard to see why the 1906 Livraria Lello (Lello bookshop) inspired former Porto resident JK Rowling.

Its stunning art nouveau facade, interior mouldings, stained glass ceiling window, evocative balconied staircase and impressive haul of books make this a must-visit – just look out for wizards.

Porto Lollo

Art Hub

The official hangout of Porto’s artist community, Miguel Bombarda and the surrounding streets are home to gallery pop-ups, photo workshops, vintage clothing and emerging contemporary art.

Where there’s art, there are hip bars and cool cafes. Take tea at the artsy Roto do Cha and round off the day with a stroll through the riverside Jardins do Palácio de Cristal.

PICTURES: Shutterstock/Leonid Andronov, Zabotnova Inna, BONDART PHOTOGRAPHY.


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