Why go now?
Porto is a city on the rise, tempting travellers with its pretty old town, excellent wine bars and golden rooftops. This isn’t a destination for those who want up-to-the-minute cool – this is the spot for long, seafood dinners, slow strolls through sleepy streets and a white port and tonic as the sun sets. It’s traditional Portugal at its finest, without the crowds of Lisbon or the tackiness of the Algarve. And with the addition of a new service from Monarch and a wealth of other budget flights available, it’s never been easier to get there.
Get your bearings
The rambling old town forms the heart of the city, with beautiful buildings adorned with tiles and sloping, cobbled streets. The Douro River underlines the city, with Vila Nova de Gaia just over the bridge. As both slope down towards the river, it’s not hard to find a great viewpoint of the terracotta rooftops and dreamy architecture. There are a few great spots further out of the city, but for the most part you’ll be fine exploring on foot. The tourist office (1) can be found on 25, Rua Clube dos Fenianos (00351 223 393472; visitporto.travel) and is open every day from 9am-7pm or 8pm in high summer.
Take a hike
Start at São Bento train station (2), purely to take in its incredible interior. Inside, the walls are lined with illustrative blue and white tiles, depicting scenes of former battles and the history of transportation. From there, stroll up to Liberty Square (3), past the gorgeous façades of the surrounding buildings, and head up Rua das Carmelitas to Igreja do Carmo (4), another example of a stunning tiled façade. From there, hit up the Bombarda district around Miguel Bombarda Street (5), for cool street art, galleries, vintage shops and cafés (bearing in mind most won’t open until midday).
Porto is punctuated by the Douro river (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Lunch on the run
You can’t leave town without trying a Francesinha. This meat-laden…