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If you are looking for traditional Portugal you’ll certainly find it in Porto, along with the 50 or so wineries producing ruby-red port. Unlike the decadent capital of Lisbon, Porto is an edgier city with a much slower pace. Conde Nast Traveller describes it well “To wander the old-town neighbourhoods of Vitoria, Ribeira and Miragaia is to enter a time tunnel in which clog-makers jostle with tin-beaters, sewing-machine repairmen and other practitioners of long-forgotten trades.”

The best-known part of Porto is the medieval neighbourhood of Ribera that secured World Heritage status. The River Douro is the most dominant feature in the city and it won’t take long to spot the rabelo boats traditionally used for the transportation of port. Cross the river to Gaia to see where the original port families set up shop. You’ll find plenty evidence of the British influence here – Taylor, Sandeman, Croft and Cockburn for starters. Port was the first demarcated wine appellation in the world. Don’t forget to visit the Stock Exchange and San Francisco church, if you like gilded Rococo. Also amazing is the art-deco Serralves Museum of Modern Art where you can sip tea and enjoy the wonderful gardens and meadows.

For great vistas head to the gardens of the Palacio de Crystal. Designed in the 19th century they offer fountains, paths & some of the best views of the Douro River and Gaia.

Wherever you are in Porto, you’ll find many references to Infante Dom Henrique de Avis who is better known as Henry the Navigator, the Portugese explorer and prince. He was the first of Portugal’s great explorers and was born in Porto. If you’d like to know more about him or Porto’s history you must visit Portugal’s best know bookstore Livraria Lello. It was a favourite haunt of JK Rowling’s when she lived in Porto and it’ll woo you too. Round off the trip with a bit of modern – at the House of Music by Dutch architect Koolhaas.


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