Porto, happy people's getaway
A city both creative and dynamic, Porto unveils its charms and heritage along the Douro River. With displays of Romanesque and Baroque architectures, the city that was awarded best European destination on multiple occasions will fulfil your cravings for culture, history and blazing colours.
There is an old saying in town: "Lisbon plays while Porto works". It has lost its meaning in our day and age, but as the second largest city in Portugal, Porto still owes its development to the trade of textile, cork and of course Porto wine.
For the last few years, Porto has experienced unprecedented cultural, artistic and touristic growth. With some 200,000 inhabitants, it has been elected best European destination a number of times. This dynamic exhilaration is particularly palpable in the historical centre, especially on the Rua Galeria de Paris, the trendiest district. Buildings long left in a state of neglect are now being restored and turned into sumptuous hotels travellers are fond of. In the city's newest districts, all around the old town, you will discover the Casa da Música, a new-fangled venue designed by Dutch urban planner Rem Koolhaas. Also of major interest is the Contemporary Art Museum (Fundação de Serralves), conceived by celebrated local boy and contemporary architect Álvaro Siza.
Omnipresent azulejos on the façades of historical buildings are one of the reminders that the Cidade Invicta (the 'undefeated city') never forgot about culture and traditions. You will discover the story behind the famous drink conceived in the Douro valley, sheltered by the Marão mountains, in the town of Vila Nova de Gaia on the other side of the river - heartland of the greatest wine producers. Several sun-filled grape varieties are used to produce different kinds of Porto wines: White, Ruby, Tawny, Late Bottle Vintage (LBV) and Vintage. Do not leave town before trying these typical nectars… as long as you drink in moderation, of course. Here, port wine and food pairing is essential and makes for a terrific way of trying out local specialities.
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© Text and photography courtesy of EnVols