The stunning capital of Portugal’s northern region
Porto is Portugal's second city, with a historic centre that has gained UNESCO world Heritage site status. The original Latin name of the city ‘Portus Cale’ is where the country got its name from. Porto also gave its name to one of Portugal's most famous exports, port wine, which is produced in the area. Porto's history dates back to the fourth century; it prospered over the centuries as a commercial port straddling the Douro River. The historic waterfront area known as Ribeira, meaning ‘little river’, was the scene of a Napoleonic invasion in the early eighteen hundreds, but is now a popular tourist area with restaurants, bars and café terraces overlooking the river. The medieval buildings, spectacular views and friendly locals all combine to give Porto its wonderful charm.
Porto holidays offer something a little bit different for fans of Portugal’s popular Algarve region. This stunning northern city has a wonderful culture and heritage that can be a welcome change to the usual beach holiday in Portugal, not to mention a fantastic excuse to indulge in a bit of port wine tasting.
When to Go?
Porto’s Mediterranean climate of hot summers and very mild winters is perfectly suited to the wine and port production in the region, but it is also well-suited to the tourist industry, with the summer sun heating things up to a balmy 25-30 degrees. The winter, while still mild, is wetter than the southern Algarve region, so May to September is the ideal time to go.
How to get there?
Flights to Porto are easy to come by if you live in the London area, with Ryanair offering Porto flights from Stansted, easyJet offering flights from Gatwick, and Portugal’s national airline TAP flying to Porto from both Gatwick and Heathrow. Ryanair offers the only services outside London, with flights to Porto from Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol. The airport is officially called Francisco de Sa Carneiro International (OPO), and is six miles from the city centre.
Porto's many attractions include the National Museum Soares dos Reis, named after a famous local sculptor, which houses an extensive collection of artwork by some of Europe's best artists. For fans of the local port wine, the Solar do Vinho do Porto is a classy tasting room housed in a mansion house. Nearby are the beautiful Crystal Palace gardens, a serene environment with great views of the Douro River. Here you can also find the Museum of Romanticism, containing a collection of 18th century art. Contrasting the beautiful old buildings of Porto, the Casa de Musica is a striking geometric concert hall designed by Rem Koolhaas and opened in 2005.