Porto, or Oporto, is Portugal’s second largest city and is the capital of the North-West. It is the commercial and business hub of Portugal, but is not lacking in beauty, history and culture. Indeed, it was crowned the 2001 European Capital of Culture and since then the council have injected vast sums into cultural restoration and construction projects.

They city itself is built into the granite cliffs that surround the mouth of the River Douro and is incredibly picturesque. It is made up of various different areas, Roman, Gothic, Baroque, Neoclassic and Renaissance, as the city has adapted and grown over the centuries.

Perhaps most famous for its role in the genesis of Port wine, Porto still maintains its reputation as a cosmopolitan trading centre of Port amongst a smorgasbord of other goods.


Porto Cathedral is one of the city’s finest landmarks, based in the old district. The Cathedral is 800 years old and was renovated during the 18th century, the two influences resulting in an incredible piece of architecture. It also boasts a famous Gothic cloister. Open all year from 9-12.30pm and 2.30-7pm.

Porto has a wide sandy beach, which is a great way to escape the heat of summer. Be careful when swimming, the sea can get very polluted and there are lots of rocks.

If you like historical churches, you’ve come to the right place. You can’t step a foot in Porto without seeing a cathedral or Igreja. One of the best is Igreja de Sao Francisco, a Gothic church beautifully gilded with gold leaf. Underneath the church are a museum and catacombs, which are worth exploring.

To sample Porto’s namesake wine, go to the Port tasting at the Port Wine institute on Rua Ferrerira Borges. The place offers a wide range of Port to try in a friendly, casual atmosphere.

Palacio De Cristal, (Crystal Palace) makes another great day trip. Located in Boavista, a tourist-friendly city, this pretty park has stunning river views. The art deco gardens of the Fundacao Serralves are another must see, with the famous modernist Museu de Arte Contemporanea.

If you’re feeling energetic, to get the best view of Porto climb the 240 steps of the Torre dos Clerigos. This is a beautiful 18th Century tower from which you can see the whole city, from the Romanesqe Se in the west to the beach at Foz where the river runs into the Atlantic.

If you’re a sports fanatic, you’ve come to the right place. Porto has a famously good 18-hole golf course and two football stadiums. It’s also home to northern Portugal’s only cricket club, the oldest European cricket club outside of the UK.

There are several public swimming pools in the Constituicao region. The Formula One Grand Prix was held here twice during the 1950’s, and reconstructed in 2005.

For cinephiles, a good time to visit the town is over February and March, when the International Film Festival takes place, Fantasporto. The festival attracts around 110,000 film goers, and features everything from amateur productions to big-screen movies.


One of Porto’s best shopping districts is in Boavista, less than five miles from Porto, where you’ll find many upmarket boutiques and high street shops. Also head to the Rua de Catarina in the main downtown area of the city. Shops in Porto normally stay open till 7pm, but have a siesta from about 1-3pm.

If you explore the backstreets of Porto you’ll come across a wide variety of antique shops tucked away, selling curiosities that date back hundreds of years.

Nightlife and Eating Out

One of the local specialities which you have to try (for the name, if nothing else) is a kind of sweet egg pastry called “papos de anjo” – angel bellies. As a port, Porto naturally does a lot of seafood, but the menus are varied and cater for all tastes.

Indeed, the locals are great meat-eaters and are affectionately known as los tripeiros – literally, the tripe-eaters. This goes back to the 14th century when they helped the army to conquer Ceuta by giving them all the decent meat and keeping only the tripe for themselves. The tradition has stuck and nowadays one of the city’s most traditional dishes is “tripas a moda do Porto.”

Two of the best districts for nightlife are Foz and Ribiera, the old district. You’ll find bars to suit literally any musical palette – go to Cave in Ribeira if you like your trendy, commercial music. Occasionally they have chart-topping bands playing there, so keep your ear to the ground.

Foz has a great club called Industria, frequented by the young and wealthy of Porto. This is a good place to end up after an evening of bar-hopping around Foz.

For a relaxed drink over stunning views of the Duoro, go to Solar do Vinho do Porto. A converted manor house, Solar is now a sophisticated lounge specialising in local Port.

Those after a wild night of frivolity should boogie on down to Swing, a disco off Rua de Julio Dinis. Swing plays popular techno and dance from the 70’s and 80’s, and attracts a diverse clientele, both straight and gay.

Tourist Information

City Council Tourism Office, 25 Rua Clube dos Fenianos, 4000-172 PortoTelephone: +351 223 292 470Fax: +351 223 323 303Email: turismo.central@cm-porto.ptWebsite: www.portoturismo.pt

Open Monday – Friday 09.00-17.30Weekends and public holidays, 09.30-16.30


Fly to the Francisco Sa Carneiro, aka Pedras Rubras International Airport, just north of Porto, and get to the city via taxi, only 6 miles from the city central. Alternatively take advantage of the good bus system, and if you’re going to Porto in a few years time you’ll be able to use the metro, which is in the process of being built.

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