The Gaia cable car gives great panoramas over the city's port wine cellars
Porto has a special kind of energy. It’s infused with a rickety, cosy nostalgia – yet at every turn, the atmosphere crackles with an infectious appetite for enjoying life, love… and wine.
At the heart of the city lies the River Douro, its steep banks blanketed with narrow, tawny-roofed houses, medieval stone walls and weathered church towers. On sunny days by the river, clinking cutlery blends with breezy chatter as diners tuck into Porto’s excellent cuisine – fresh octopus salad, dried cod fillets and bottles of delicious Douro wine.
Porto’s star export is port wine, and an indispensable part of any visit is a guided tour round one of the many cellars (tasting included). Just cross the Dom Luís I Bridge to neighbouring Gaia, stopping off for the unforgettable views over the city as it spills down the hillside to the riverbank.
Porto's house fronts brim with character
But there’s more to Porto than food and drink. The city abounds with architectural gems like the peerlessly atmospheric Lello Bookshop, clad in wood panels and boasting one of the most inspiring staircases you’re likely to see. And Porto’s topography means that a breath-taking view is never far away – grab a cold drink and head to Calçada das Virtudes for some of the best.
When it comes to finding your perfect place to stay, the city’s jam-packed with awesome accommodation options – you can take your pick from renovated Renaissance palaces, quaint guest houses and sleek apartments.
Porto has an irresistible old-world charm
When to go?
Porto’s at its best in summer, when glorious sunshine and an exciting cultural programme bring in the crowds. For a quieter getaway, head there in May or September – but pack a waterproof jacket, as the city’s known for its rainy climate.
Where to stay?
Cale Guest House – Porto, Portugal
This modern guest house gets rave reviews from Booking.com guests, who love the friendly staff and great breakfast. Pedro, the owner, is always keen to share tips on what to do in his hometown – and to top it off, he also serves up scrumptious ‘pasteis de nata’ (custard cakes) every morning.
Pestana Vintage Porto Hotel & Wold Heritage Site – Porto, Portugal
Located right on the river in Ribeira Square, this classy hotel couldn’t ask for a better setting. Booking.com guests agree that it’s worth forking out those extra euros for a room with a view over the river, as it really completes the Porto experience.
Seventyset Flats - Porto Historical Center – Porto, Portugal
Hidden inside an unassuming building on the waterfront, Seventyset Flats is a cosy hideaway that draws you in with its modern design and natural light. It gets great review scores across the board from Booking.com guests, who highlight the welcoming staff and river views as major strengths.