Porto & Northern Portugal Destination Guide
Porto is known as Portugal’s “second city”. It is located on the slopes of the Douro Estuary. The city is cosmopolitan and lively, undoubtedly a preferred choice for many travellers to Portugal. The city centre is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is easy to see why due to its fortified walls, grand churches and cathedrals as well as National Monuments. The riverside promenade is full of trendy restaurants and bars as well as quaint little cafes. The Cais da Ribeira also has magnificent views of the Luis I Bridge, pastel-coloured houses, buskers and street performers.
Visitors can explore the 12th-century cathedral with its cloisters and religious monuments, or the Ribeira district, which runs along the Douro river. Ribeira square is a UNESCO world heritage site. It has a three-storey fountain built in the 17th century and adorned with Portuguese coat-of-arms.
The Gothic church of Sao Francisco is definitely worth visiting. It was built in the early 15th century with the most intricately carved wood panels, gilded woodwork, vaults and pillars. Just next door you will find Palacio da Bolsa, Porto’s old stock exchange with its neoclassical façade and sumptuous interior. Perhaps most interesting are the tours offered by the Port manufacturers, located on the south bank in Vila Nova de Gaia. The historic centre is a must-see, with Avenida dos Aliados Main Square as the focal point, lined with incredible architecture, trees and a water feature in the middle.
Besides the wealth of incredible architecture, landmark buildings, museums and art galleries, visitors can also indulge in the local gastronomy and wine. The locals are known for their warm hospitality and the streets are lined with little cafes and restaurants where you will be treated to the local Port wine, served with cheese and the alheira sausage, native to northern Portugal. Venture a little further out from the city and beautiful countryside awaits you. There are mountains and rivers with beautiful gorges cutting right through them. The coastline is vast with utopian sandy beaches and azure waters right up to the border with Spain. The Peneda-Geres National Park is particularly popular for hiking and nature walks. It is located in the Minho region, an area world-famous for its production of embroidery and pottery as well as other arts and crafts.
Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport is located just 11km from the city centre.