Porto City Breaks
The city of Porto is located in the north of Portugal, at the mouth of the River Douro. Rich in history, the city offers numerous monuments to visit, as well as superb landscapes to discover during your Porto city break.
Start your visit to Porto by soaking up the atmosphere around the city's Ribeira district. Medieval streets lined with picturesque buildings, intriguing shops, street cafés and elegant architecture are the order of the day here. Set close to the banks of the Rio Douro, this part of Porto has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The area's narrow streets open out onto the Praça da Ribeira, where you'll find wonderful townhouses, waterfront cafés and a fantastic selection of eateries. Spend time listening to live music in the square or book a trip on one of the many river cruises that leave from the nearby jetties.
Art lovers should try and make time for the National Museum Soares dos Reis while in Porto. Set within the 18th-century Carrancas Palace, the art museum houses a varied collection that includes paintings by a number of Flemish and Dutch artists, along with jewellery, sculptures, ceramics and glassware. For those with more contemporary tastes, Museu Serralves is home to an excellent collection of modern art.
Take a tour around the historic Palácio da Bolsa with its magnificent ballroom and grand décor, and find time to step inside the impressive Porto Cathedral. The religious building has its origins in the 12th century, although numerous alterations have taken place over the years.
Relaxing in the city many cafés and restaurants is a big part of a visit to Porto, and the Ribeira district is one of the most popular parts of the centre when it comes to eating and drinking. Start your evening off with a cool drink at Ribeira Lounge Restaurant & Cocktail Bar before sampling some beautifully fresh shellfish at the nearby Restaurante Mercearia.
Wine Quay Bar offers fantastic views out across the Douro, along with an excellent selection of quality wines and light bites. Essencia Restaurante Vegetariano is located to the north of the city centre and specialises in a wide variety of healthy and imaginative vegetarian dishes.
The best places to visit: to visit the city during your weekend in Porto, start by walking in the old town and admire the azulejos (the name of the blue glazed tiles) that decorate the walls. Three frescoes are particularly impressive: the one at the Capela das Almas on Santa Catarina road, the cloister of the Sé and the station of São Bento, close to Avenida dos Aliados. These superb tiles will be one of the highlights of your city break.
Must-dos: to enjoy the charm of the city during a short stay in Porto, the most important thing is to mingle with its inhabitants. Take time to visit the market: the Mercado do Bolhão and Rua do Almada, another lively little shopping street. Visiting the city’s numerous wine cellars is also an obligatory stop-off. Make sure you walk a lot during your weekend in Porto so you don’t miss out on any sights. Many magnificent facades and azulejos are not signposted but are well worth a look! At night, go to the Ribeira waterfront on the banks of the Douro to discover the city’s nightlife.
Far from the tourist monuments, a weekend in Porto can be the chance to discover the welcoming heart of this city and its traditions. Many typical taverns are dotted around the city centre. You will be initiated into Portuguese cuisine, which is generous and flavoursome, and fado, a melancholic song specific to the region. The mouth of the Douro offers many different landscapes depending on whether you follow the Atlantic coast or venture inland. Your stay will surely be etched into your memory!
The historic city centre must be your first destination during your weekend in Porto. The Torre dos Clérigos, more than 701 metres high, offers an unforgettable panorama on the entire city. The Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace), São Francisco Church and the Cathedral (Sé), which sits atop a real labyrinth of narrow medieval streets, are some of the obligatory visits.
There is no shortage of ways to get around the city, as you’ll see during your weekend in Porto. The recently built metro system is the simplest way to get around the city. The bus is an enjoyable alternative, even more so because the fares are good value (expect to pay €1.50 for a ticket). To discover the city during your short stay in Porto, take the tramways, which are very picturesque.
Make the most of your weekend in Porto to discover Portugal’s delicious cuisine. In the little city centre taverns, you can taste dozens of ways of preparing cod, the national symbol. You can also try fried octopus and sardines, or fritters served with lemon or garlic sauce. Meat lovers should hunt out the churrasqueiras, grills where meat is cooked over a wood fire. On the menu: rib of beef, skewers and picanha, a very tasty piece of beef originating from Brazil.
When we talk about Portuguese gastronomy, we immediately think of cod – “bacalhau” in Portuguese. Indeed, you’ll notice during your stay that the Portuguese are great fish lovers: cod, grilled sardines, fried octopus, etc. The other local specialities are caldo verde (green cabbage soup), cozido (an assorted meat stew), and bife à portuguesa (Portuguese-style steak). During your weekend in Porto, don’t miss out on the pasteis de nata, little custard tarts from Lisbon
To set off for a weekend in Porto, opt for late spring (April and May) and early autumn (September); the temperatures are mild then, but the city is more affordable as there are fewer tourists. If you want some time on your trip to discover the region’s beaches, then the summer months are most recommended. In winter, there is a high amount of rainfall, but the temperatures are still pleasant, which means you can visit the city in favourable conditions.