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Porto: Portugal’s Hidden Gem

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

The north of Portugal is almost totally ignored by international visitors who concentrate, perhaps understandably, on the south of the country. However this is to ignore a particularly beautiful part of the world and the immensely attractive city of Porto. Among Porto’s many charms are a world heritage city centre, a fantastic restaurant and late night bar scene as well as easy connections to the rest of Europe.

Porto Portugal River

Photo by aromano

The world heritage site centre of the city is undoubtedly beautiful; many visitors suggest more so than Lisbon, but it is also very hilly and so can be tiring to walk about. However, visitors should not let this put them off as the feast for the eyes beats the fatigue of the feet and there is always a restaurant or bar waiting around the corner with a reviving coffee or aperitif. Porto has a range of museums but by far the most interesting is the Serralves modern art museum on Rua D.João de Castro.

One of the main attractions of southern Portugal is the climate. However, in the height of summer this can become oppressively hot and leave many tourists sheltering in whatever shade they can find. Porto, with its more northerly location has a slightly milder climate which is less blistering in summer, making the city an ideal location for a mid-summer break in the sun while ensuring that you can still go outside during the hottest parts of the day. In winter Porto is still much warmer than most European cities so it is a year round destination.

The variety and quality of the restaurants in Porto mean that the food is another excellent reason to explore the northern regions of Portugal rather than the south. As is often the case wherever many tourists gather, restaurants in the south have generally either tried to provide the type of food English or German tourists are used to at home or else become an exaggerated parody of what a ‘typical’ Portuguese restaurant should be. Porto is famous for excelling both in terms of the quality and quantity of its food which has usually been freshly pulled from the sea or field.

Visitors can get more of a feel for the region surrounding Porto by taking a day trip out of the city. Most popular with visitors are river cruises along the meandering course of the Douro into the interior of northern Portugal. The river passes through some awesome landscapes and most cruises will include a wine tasting stop where you can try varieties of the famous Port style. Alternatively (or additionally) visitors can visit one of the many beautiful beaches dotted along the coast, most a short drive from the centre of the Porto.

Hotels in Porto

Hotel HF Ipanema Porto RoomHotel HF Ipanema Porto
Average Price: €55
Average Rating: 8.5

Hotel Ibis Porto Centro RoomHotel Ibis Porto Centro
Average Price: €55
Average Rating: 9.0

Hotel HF Ipanema Park - Porto RoomHotel HF Ipanema Park
Average Price: €57
Average Rating: 8.2

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5 responses to “Porto: Portugal’s Hidden Gem”

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  1. Graça Barbosa says via Facebook:
    August 23rd, 2011 at 18:09

    I live in Porto for more than 20 years and I’m still in love with it!

  2. Kerry Wargo says via Facebook:
    August 23rd, 2011 at 18:16

    visited Porto for a few days last spring and LOVED it. wish i had more time there!

  3. Giuseppe Lodi says via Facebook:
    August 23rd, 2011 at 18:59

    O Porto no coraçao…

  4. Wojciech Gajdi says via Facebook:
    August 24th, 2011 at 14:23

    maybe one day…

  5. Henry Gomes says:
    September 28th, 2011 at 21:44

    I was born and raised in Porto until I moved to the U.S. and I still miss it terribly!


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