Waterfront restaurants, attention-grabbing buildings and old-meets-new skylines are the headliners on city breaks to Porto.

Portugal’s second city

As far as city breaks to Portugal go, Porto is one of the big players. It’s the right-hand-man to the capital, Lisbon, and rules the roost in the north of the country. But while Lisbon lives life in the fast lane, Porto pootles along at a more leisurely pace. The focus is on centuries-old architecture, cosy wine cellars and plenty of good food, with dashes of modern living filling in the gaps.

Clear-cut culture

Shopping, sightseeing and snacking all come with a side of character here. Well-trodden cobbles run along the centre of the fashionable Rua Santa Catarina street, while Avenida dos Aliados has architectural gems everywhere you look – the clocktower-topped Câmara Municipal town hall is a standout. For something with a less urban vibe, the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal botanical garden brings sculptures, fountains and manicured hedgerows to your itinerary.

Beaches and boats

Porto’s known for its city rep, but it knows its way around a beach day, too. The city brushes shoulders with the sea, so you’ve got plenty of sandy stretches within walking distance. They range from sunbathing specialists, like Praia de Carneiro, to coastal walking spots like Praia de Gondarém. If you’d rather float than flake out, boat trips along the Douro River take you beneath the grand Dom Luís I Bridge and past the riverside restaurants of the Ribeira area.

Treats and tipples

The people of Porto are seriously passionate about their grub, so you’ll have no trouble ordering some local favourites around the city. For your meat and cheese fix, practically every café will have a francesinha sandwich on the menu – this carb-filled snack is on the saucier side and comes with a fried egg plonked on top. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, custardy pasteis de nata tarts are the must-try (yes, like the ones in Nandos, only way better.)

At a Glance

  • Take in the ornate tiled interiors of Sao Bento Station
  • See the city’s grandest architecture on Avenida dos Aliados
  • Munch on a signature francesinha sandwich

Best time to go to Porto

Porto might not be the sort of destination where you’re baking in the sun every day, but it gets its fair share of warm weather in the middle of the year. Temperatures hover around the mid-20s from July to August, plus these months (and June, too) are the driest of the year. There’s more chance of a downpour if you decide to visit between October and December, while January clocks in the lowest average temperatures – it can drop as low as 6°C.

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