Porto was the start of a one week visit to Portugal (which included Lisbon) and we were glad we started from here. Porto is beautiful and we loved it. We travelled over the Christmas period and it was blissfully quiet. The downside is that many of the businesses were closed but we found that we were still able to do and see everything we wanted to. The historic centre is a UNSECO World Heritage Site and we spent a day just strolling up and down the hilly, narrow cobblestone streets exploring the town and its many attractions. It was great not competing with the crowds and the weather was cool, sunny and calm.
We spent a day ticking off the main city attractions including the Clérigos Tower, Livraria Lello bookstore, Porto Cathedral, São Bento Train Station, the Café Majestic and McDonald’s (considered the most beautiful in the world!). We then rested the legs and took the historic tram which provides a slow rickety scenic tour from the city all the way to the North Atlantic Ocean.
If you walk across the Ponte Luizi there are stunning views of Porto from the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar. The Ponte Luizi (or Dom Luis bridge) is only one of the famous beautiful bridges which crosses the Douro over to Gaia. At its construction, its 172 metres span was the longest of its type in the world.
The 6 Bridge Cruise is also a popular 1 hour excursion but this wasn’t operating while we were there.
We spent a day exploring the famous Douro Valley wine region described as one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world. The landscapes are breathtaking in places. Douro Valley is really mandatory for anyone who visits Porto. There is nearly 2,000 years of winemaking history in the region so it’s worthwhile going with a tour with a well-informed guide. Of course, port wine, (one of Portugal’s internationally famous exports) is named after Porto. Being off-season there was only one other couple so essentially it was as good as a private tour. The tour includes visits to wineries, a boat tour on the Douro River and a splendid a la carte lunch. There are various options to explore the valley – by river cruise or by train. However by land offers you more flexibility for where you can stop and visit some of the historic sites.
If you would like more information about this destination please do not hesitate to contact me.