Porto, Portugal

The coastal city of Porto is known for its port wine production, stately bridges and a rich collection of cultural attractions. Most of the old part of Porto has a distinct 18th Century architecture with Baroque Churches and stately Neo-classical buildings. The historical heart of Porto is the medieval UNESCO World Heritage Cais da Ribeira riverside district with its labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets, restaurants, cafés and brightly painted merchant houses. Praça da Ribeira, the riverfront square is a popular and vibrant meeting place with a young and friendly vibe.

Spanning across the River Douro and connecting Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia on the south bank is the 19th Century Ponte Dom Luís I Bridge, one of the most iconic structures in the entire country. From the top of the bridge, you will see some of the most impressive views over the entire city. The bridge also has a lower level, which is better suited for pedestrians, especially if you have a fear of heights!

The riverfront along Vila Nova de Gaia has some of the most irresistible promenades and is easily reached on foot by crossing the Ponte de Dom Luís I. The town's landscaped quayside is fringed by a long line of stylish restaurants and cafés and is also the main departure point for numerous Douro River cruise boats. For an intense look over the area why not take the Teleférico de Gaia or cable car to the top.

When in Porto the historic city centre is best explored by the famous local vintage trams. This will enable you to take in most of the city’s cultural landmarks and sites. The city tram tour is a favourite amongst visitors especially in the summer months.

Porto has some great museums to visit including the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis (National Museum), which has an outstanding collection of Portuguese art spanning the 16th-20th Centuries, the Fundação de Serralves Museu de Arte Contemporânea, (Contemporary Art Museum) and the Centro Português de Fotografia (Portuguese Centre of Photography), where exhibitions tend to focus on both vintage and contemporary Portuguese photography. The Casa da Música (Music House) is the place to come and check out as it caters for all types of musical tastes from Classical and Fado to Hip Hop and Jazz.

There are some special Churches to enjoy including the city’s 12th Century Sé Cathedral. This imposing site has the appearance of a fortress with beautiful 13th Century rose windows and Baroque cloisters with sky blue Azulejo tiles. The panoramic view from the terrace over the Old Town streets and the sleepy River Douro is a great curtain raiser and primes the senses for what lies ahead. Don’t forget before leaving to see the Cathedrals dazzling store of gold and silver held in the Treasury. Other Churches to visit include the São Francisco Church, known for its lavish Baroque interior with ornate gilded carvings and the palatial 19th Century Palácio de Bolsa, formerly a stock market that was built to impress potential European investors.

The Torre dos Clérigos Tower sits imposingly into Porto’s skyline like a monumental needle. This is the city's most visible landmark, sitting at 75 metres tall. This historic landmark is a must thing on your to do list provided you have a strong pair of legs to climb the 240 steps to the top of the tower. However the reward at the top is a breathtaking panorama of the Douro River, the coastline and the distant Douro Valley.

Porto is also a city famous for both wine and port, so before leaving why not visit one of the many producers in the Douro Valley or Vinho Verde closer to Porto. The wine cellars, offer different bottles to sample and there are many cellars to choose from. Gastronomy is another scene to involve yourself into while here as some of the country’s best restaurants are situated in Porto. Known for its comfort food they cater for everyone including serving vegetarian Francesinhas! Porto is definitely a city to thrill your tastebuds and your heart and will not disappoint.

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