It was in Porto and the north that Portugal came into being as a country, which is why the region has such a rich and fascinating heritage.
This is a mountainous area with rivers, natural parks and steep, sloping hillsides covered with leafy vegetation. The granite from its mountains was used to build many of the region’s religious and historical monuments, such as the unpretentious Romanesque chapels and baroque churches.
History surrounds you when you visit the region’s castles - the castle at Guimarães was the birthplace of the nation’s founder and first king, Dom Afonso Henriques. And at the countless manor houses and palaces emblazoned with coats of arms, visitors are received with an aristocratic display of hospitality.
However, this region also owes much of its character to the great waterway that cuts it in half, the scenic River Douro, whose vine-filled valley is today classified as a world heritage site. The river was given the name of ouro (gold) because it brings the water that the sun-drenched vines rely on to produce the world-famous Port wine. But also because this was the place from which ships used to set sail in the great period of Portuguese discovery. Or perhaps the name is due to the carved and gilded woodwork of the city’s countless baroque churches.
The fact remains that this ancient city gave its name to both Port wine and to the nation of Portugal. Much of its heritage is based on shipping and trade, making it a bustling and passionate city. Porto is also classified as world heritage site. Perhaps these are the reasons why Porto finds its way into the hearts of its visitors.
There are thousand charms and corners that are worth discovering in Porto, capital of the North. Porto is one of the oldest cities of the country, and, as such, its path is sinuous and picturesque. It is a unique experience to stroll through its streets and feel the pulse of the city. Take the tram to the mouth of the river Douro and get to know the excellent beaches and the outdoor cafés, visit admiring churches and monuments and encounter the non-conformist modernism of the new contemporary buildings of architects like Siza Vieira, Souto Moura or Rem Koolhaas.
Board on a medieval journey and pound the historical center, passing by the Cathedral or the Clérigos Tower. By tram or on foot, go down to the peer and experience the feeling of making a cruise on a Rabelo boat, which sail on the river Douro. Take the opportunity to admire the six bridges of the city, visit the Port Wine cellars and taste this characteristic wine in a cosy and refined atmosphere.
Visit the Casa do Infante Museum, The São Francisco Church, the Stock Exchange Palace, the pleasant riverfront and the well preserved Ribeira and Miragaia streets. As you visit, how this historical past now shares the city with modern architecture and design like the Casa da Música and Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art.
Besides history and culture, Porto is also leisure, fun and night life. The famous streets around the Galeria de Paris Street, the cafés and its terraces, the Miguel Bombarda area or the commercial Sta Catarina Street are reference points in arts, in culture, but also in leisure and shopping.
Find out what Porto has best to offer and enjoy the numerous outdoor cafés by the sea and the excellent City Park with seafront.
The Casa da Musica, the Historical Center and the Ribeira Square, the Lello Bookshop, the Café Majestic, the Port Wine Cellars and the Monastery of Nossa Senhora do Pilar, the Guindais Funicular, Miguel Bombarda Street, Galeria de Paris Street, Cândido dos Reis Street, Serralves House, and Museum of Modern Art, the São Bento Train station , the Cathedral, the Clérigos Tower, and of course, the contagious joy of the popular festivities, the excellent gastronomy and the wine.