Portugal City Travel Guide: Porto
Much is made of the contrast and rivalry between Porto and Lisbon - 'Lisbon shows off, while Porto works' - and the two port cities are the centre of the urban and commercial life of the country.
Giving its name to the nation, Porto dates from Roman times, prospering during the age of Portugal's overseas expansion as explorers and adventurers sailed to South America, Africa and Asia and its city merchants developed the lucrative port wine trade with England in the seventeenth century.
With a typical 'work hard, play hard' port atmosphere, Porto makes an excellent base to explore the beautiful Duoro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are luxury cruises available on the 65 cabin Douro Queen which was built in nearby Viana do Castelo. In the city itself attractions include the Praça da Liberdade, the fortress-like Sé cathedral and port tasting at the wine lodges south of the river in Vila Nova de Gaia, now also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The historic center of the city by the River Douro, the Ribeira, is another UNESCO listed area. Highlights here are the Casa do Infante (Tel: 222 060 400) reputedly the birthplace of Henry the Navigator and later the customs house of the city, the Igreja de São Francisco (Tel: 222 062 100) with an austere Gothic exterior and stunning baroque interior, the ornate, neoclassical Palacio de Bolsa (Tel: 223 399 00), once the city's stock exchange, and the riverside Praca da Ribeira. The 19th century, two-tiered Ponte de Dom Luis I which crosses the River Duoro to Vila Nova de Gaia here is a symbol of Porto.
Further north of the Ribeira is the Parisian-style Avenida dos Aliados, the transport hub of the city with the imposing train station at Sao Bento and various bus stations spread around the boulevard. Sights in this central area include the 76m tall Torre dos Clerigos and the Igreja dos Clerigos both designed in the 18th century by Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni. The 19th century wrought-iron Mercado Bolhao is the central produce market with fish and meat, vegetables and flowers.
Interesting Porto museums include the Electric Tram Museum (Tel: 226 158 185) which houses a collection of restored trams, the modern Port Wine Museum (Tel: 222 076 300) and two excellent art galleries: The Museum of Contemporary Art (Tel: 226 156 500), 4km outside the city center and the Museu Nacional Soares Dos Reis (Tel: 223 393 770).
The Casa da Musica (Tel: 220 120 220) designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, in Boavista, is Porto's most inventive new building. Opened in 2005 the concert hall met with wide critical acclaim and has become a new icon of the city.
Porto enjoys some lively eating and drinking - the local delicacy is tripe - and you can sample 100s of varieties of port wine at the upmarket Solar do Vinho do Porto. There's a thriving club scene too, though many are situated outside the centre. Take a night bus.
23th June. Popular Saints' Festivals or "City Festivals". St.
John's Eve traditionally attracts large crowds to Ribeira, from which
typical "rugas" throng through streets singing and dancing all
© Oporto Municipal Council's Tourism Department
Municipal Tourism Offices
The official city card that offers free admissions and discounts!
Around 19 daily flights to Lisbon from Francisco Sá Carniero airport, 20 km NW of city. Porto Metro Line E connects to the airport and there is also the AreoBus to Avenida dos Aliados in the centre of Porto.
Porto's metro system runs both underground in the city centre and above ground in the suburbs. There are 5 lines: Line A (blue), Line B (red), Line C (green), Line D (yellow) and Line D (violet). Purchase a rechargeable Andante card for use on the metro, tram, bus and funicular and validate it before you get on.
InterCity trains start from Campanha Station 2km east of the centre.
From Lisbon take the A1 highway north - 304km.
40+ minutes to the airport by AeroBus.
City bus terminals are in front of Sao Bento Station, at Praca da Liberdade and Cordoaria. Bus tickets can be bought on the bus or at newspaper kiosks.
Trams (which are historic trams) accept only Andante Tickets (same as metro do Porto).
Barco Rabelo & Cais do Porto © Oporto Municipal Council's Tourism Department
Barco Rabelo & Ponte de Luis © Oporto Municipal Council's Tourism DepartmentFeatured Hotel
Tiara Park Atlantic Porto Hotel
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Classic view of Porto © Oporto Municipal Council's Tourism Department
Ryan's Irish Pub
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Porto and the River Douro
Local football teams
The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.
Read a brief history of Portugal