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Porto Portugal – A Holiday & Vacation Tourism Guide

Porto is a fascinating and vibrant city that is rapidly becoming one of Western Europe’s most respected tourist destinations. The city boasts an extensive history, interesting tourist attractions and a buzzing nightlife. There is a lot to see and do in Porto and the city will appeal to a wide range of different visitors.

Porto is a historic and varied city, from the warren of narrow streets that make up the ancient Ribeira district through to the grand plazas of the Avenida dos Aliados. The region is famed for the production of Port, which is still stored in the vast cellars that stretch along the banks of the mighty Douro River. This guide will provide an introduction to Porto and links to further detailed tourist information.

Highlights and Main Attractions of Porto, Portugal

The Ribeira district – The oldest district of the city which is filled with ancient houses, narrow cobbled streets and numerous family owned restaurants, cafes and bars.

Port cellar and port tasting tours. These informative tours of the vast cellars provide an insight into the traditional brewing process and a chance to sample some of the finest Port vintages.

The great nightlife of Porto, catering for all ages and preferences; from late night restaurants serving fine food through to trendy clubs that are open until the sun rises.

The Douro River, which is the scenic backdrop to Porto and is crossed by magnificent bridges and the route for relaxing boat tours.

Historically, the port barrels were transported along the Douro Valley by the Rabelo boats

Why Visit Porto for a holiday?

Porto is ideally explored as a city break destination but is also a convenient base from which to explore northern Portugal. Whilst Port wine still remains Porto’s most famous export, life here is anything but aged. The city is truly vibrant and visitors can be assured of a great nightlife, daring restaurants and a blossoming cultural scene.

The statue of King Pedro IV in the Praca da Liberdade

The city has an extensive history and this is reflected by its World Heritage protected old town, baroque churches, characterful winding streets and abundance of tourist attractions. The city is very proud of its famed sweet alcoholic drink and Port is still matured and bottled in the vast cellars located along the riverside.

How long to stay in Porto?

Porto is ideal as a long weekend destination and the city can be fully explored in two days. This provides one day to explore the Ribeira and the historic centre, while the second day provides time to discover Vila Nova de Gaia, the Port cellars and the southern side of Douro.

The magnificent Dom Luis I Bridge connects Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia

There are sufficient enjoyable day trips in the Porto region that a holiday can be easily extended to 1 week. Suggested day trips include Guimarães (the birth place of Portugal), Braga (a deeply religious town), Aveiro (a pretty canal town) or a cruise along the Douro River to the heart of the vineyard growing region. Those looking for more of a relaxing holiday could spend time on some of the great beaches surrounding Porto at either Espinho or Matosinhos.

Porto’s Setting

Porto is Portugal’s second largest city after Lisbon. The city is set on the northern bank of the Douro River, which gives rise to the dramatically undulated landscape and makes for spectacular vistas. Whilst the city itself is located inland from the Atlantic, there are also glorious beaches just a short train ride away.

When to visit Porto?

Based on the weather Porto is best visited from April through to September. The peak tourists season aligns with the school summer holidays but unlike the Algarve or the Lisbon coastline, there is less of a manic summer rush.

The average weather of Porto

The winter months are unpredictable but the north of Portugal experiences significantly more rain than Lisbon and the Algarve. As Porto is a major city, restaurants, bars and hotels remain open all year round and do not shut during the winter months, as happens with the tourist towns.

Getting to Porto

Porto and the north of Portugal are served by Porto airport, which is 14km to the north of the city. Porto airport is a major international airport and there are direct flights covering the whole of Europe. Porto is a popular destination with the low-cost airlines and bargain flights can be found, which makes Porto great as a last minute or city break destination. For a guide to Porto airport please click here.

Porto Airport is modern, well organised and easy to fly from

Travel from the airport to the city is very easy as it is connected to the metro network. There are departures every 20-30 minutes and the Line E (violet) metro line is direct to the city centre. A single fare costs €1.85, and the metro fare is charged to the re-usable Andante card, which costs €0.60 for the initial purchase. A taxi fare from the airport to the city centre will be €20-30.

Is Porto and expensive destination?

Porto is a great value destination; food and accommodation costs a fraction of the price of many other popular city break destinations. Hotels are generally cheaper than most other European cities but to secure the best prices accommodation should be booked well in advance. Entrance fees to all of the major tourist attractions are reasonably priced and food is good value. Overall, Porto provides a good value holiday destination but accommodation and flights should always be booked well in-advance.

Porto metro is the best way to travel from the airport

Will Language be an issue?

English is also widely spoken by those who work within the tourist industry. Tourists with only English language skills will not experience any language barriers. All transport hubs, including railway stations, metro and airports also have full English translations and signposting. When dining out, most restaurants and cafes in Porto have English menus and, if not, waiters are always happy to translate.

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