A continental gem well-worth discovering is the Portuguese city of Porto — with treasures far beyond its potent fortified wine, it boasts a bounty of attractions for visitors and is an ideal destination for a luxurious city break.
Promising a less predictable city break this August, Porto, in popular Portugal, guarantees the attractive combination of city culture and gourmet cuisine with picturesque river appeal. This pretty coastal city, located in northwest Portugal, is world-renowned for its stately bridges, such as the iconic Ponte Luís I Bridge, traditional port wine production and medieval Ribeira (riverside) district. An historic trading port, visitors can easily stroll the narrow cobbled streets, wander past the colourful merchants’ houses and enjoy alfresco dining at the many street cafes. Built from the wealth of merchant trade, city attractions include São Francisco Church, with its lavish Baroque interior and ornate gilded carvings, plus the palatial 19th century Palácio de Bolsa (a former stock market designed to impress potential European investors). With sites including the World Heritage-protected ‘Old Town’ district, blessed with Baroque churches and celebrated architecture, stunning views from Clérigos Church and Tower, ancient Porto Cathedral and grand Avenue of the Allies, visitors are simply spoilt for choice.
A City for all Paletes...
Beyond its world-class reputation for exporting fortified wine — Vila Nova de Gaia located on the southern banks of the Dourio River is the renowned home of Port — Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city, after Lisbon, and is one of the major urban areas of the Iberian Peninsula. Offering a fascinating and vibrant culture, it is a timeless and colourful city to explore. Boasting an extensive history, with bustling harbour views, narrow streets leading to the grand plazas of the Avenida dos Aliados, and striking hillside vistas, it’s an ideal canvas to paint, or photograph. Of course, it is the vast cellars, stretching along the banks of the mighty Douro River, that underlie the city’s wealth and Port cellar-tasting tours are, undoubtedly, a major draw for visitors. Both informative and insightful, guests can learn about the traditional brewing process whilst tasting some of the finest Port vintages. By evening, there is a plethora of nightlife with late-night restaurants, serving fine seafood and providing entertainment through the night until sunrise.
Where to Stay
Boasting a spectacular location on an elevated position in the heart of the city, with the best panoramic views of Porto, The Yeatman is a family-owned, award-winning luxury wine spa hotel known as a haven for gourmands and wine-lovers alike. With a two Michelin Star restaurant (the only one in Porto) and extensive collection of Portuguese wine, wine-themed spa treatments, contemporary interiors, central location and engaging range of activities, The Yeatman is the ideal city abode to absorb the many cosmopolitan attractions. Whether it is the nearby art galleries and museums, on-site Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa or Dick’s Bar, The Yeatman offers something for everyone.
Of course, the best way to see any city, and to truly capture its flavour, is to see it from the water. Duoro River presents an impressive backdrop to Porto and is crossed by magnificent bridges — including the bridge attributed by Gustave Eiffel. Joining a relaxing one-hour cruise is an ideal way to pass under the iconic bridges of Porto and gain a new perspective for the city. Whilst aboard, visitors can witness the traditional Rabelo boats, which used to transport the port barrels along the river, and admire the terracotta-tiled roofs of the many buildings seemingly clutching to the steep hillside.
For those with a little more time, a visit to the pretty UNESCO World Heritage-listed, Duoro Valley, provides the perfect complement to the city sightseeing. Whether you take a morning cruise from Porto to Regua and return by train in a day (the journey takes approximately 3.5 hours each way), or choose to stay in the area, the nearby winelands of the Douro Valley provide an additional reason to sample this temptingly scenic region, with tiered vineyards, local grape varieties and traditional port delivering a delicious finale to any city visit. A stay at the award-winning Six Senses Douro Valley, a beautifully renovated 19th century manor house set upon a hillside, is guaranteed to relax and revive tired legs, plus excite any spa or wine connoisseur. Overlooking the rolling vineyards and river below, this delightful retreat offers an impressive selection of health and wellbeing programmes, in addition to the vineyard tours and delectable cuisine. Guests can relax within the tranquil surroundings, admire the views and indulge — with the estate’s organic garden providing delicious produce for the regional dishes served. With sumptuous rooms, suites and villas, plus grape and wine-inspired spa treatments, guests are bound to feel pampered and are guaranteed to leave with a new appreciation for the region of Porto.
Aside from the stunning river scenery, it is often a pleasant surprise to city visitors that Porto is also surrounded by a beautiful coastline, lapped by the Atlantic Ocean. For those wishing to spend an afternoon relaxing beside the sea, there are more than 100 kilometres of fine sandy beaches to the north of Portugal. Whether it is a refreshing walk along the beach, an exhilarating watersport or a lazy seaside lunch savouring a local fish dish with wine, there is plenty to lure visitors to the coast. Even within the Porto Metropolitan Area, you can find good beaches, especially south of the Douro River. Vila Nova de Gaia, for example, is a popular area for swimming. Alternatively, fans of the surf should head north to Afife, Arda and Moledo in Viana do Castelo, where kite-surfing, bodyboarding and deep-sea fishing are all possible.
A Porto For All
From historic city sites and the attractive 83-hectare Porto City Park, to the thriving river life and coastal beaches, Porto has an abundance to offer beyond its namesake, Port. Like the fortified wine for which it is renowned, it is a city rich in colour, with plenty of depth to discover. And, at just over a two-hour flight away from London, it’s a perfect city break destination.
To discover more than Port in Porto and to book your luxury city break, please call our expert Travel Consultants.