Best things to do in Porto
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Framed by the sea and the mighty River Duoro, Porto is Portugal´s second city and home to one of the most beautiful old towns in Europe, historic churches, gardens and Port Wine. Here are 8 best things to do in Porto:
1. Visit the port house of Vila Nova de Gaia. One of the main reasons people initially consider going to Porto is because of the Port Wine. If you’re a wine lover, you absolutely must take some time to visit the Port houses. Used entirely to store aging wine and welcome visitors, there are literally dozens of Port houses along the banks of the river and up into the hillside. You’ll find Calem, Kopke, Sandeman, Quinta do Noval, Ramos Pintos, Vasconcello’s, etc. Unless you really want to take the hike up to Graham’s, Taylor’s, Offley’s or Cockburn, there are plenty to visit on lower ground.
2. See a Fado Show. Fado is a traditional Portuguese style of music and it’s a great way to immerse yourself in the culture. A great way to combine #1 and #2 is to visit Calem Port house in the evening for an English tour, which culminates in a 30-minute Fado show while tasting the Port Wine. There are plenty of restaurants and night spots that feature Fado, as well, such as Restaurante Tipico O Fado, where the music begins nightly around 10:30pm.
3. Eat a Francescinha Sandwich. A Portuguese sandwich that originated in Porto in the 60s by a returning French emigrant, a Francesinha is a quite decadent adaptation of a Croque-Monsieur. It’s made with bread, stuffed with wet-cured ham, fresh sausage and steak, and then covered in melted cheese and a tomato- and beer-based gravy poured over the top. It’s often served with french fries and a local beer. You can try one at almost any restaurant along the Ribiera or up near the center of the city. Try Cafe Santiago for one of the best in town.
4. Walk Along the Waterfront. North of the city is a fantastic beach and promenade that you can walk along for a couple of miles worth of seaside splendor. You can walk all the way from Vila Nova de Gaia to Matosinho, where you’ll find the freshest seafood in the city. It’s a beautiful walk and there are lots of cafes and restaurants along the way to stop off at.
5. Eat fresh seafood in Matosinho. Some of the best food eaten in Porto was at a small, but elegant restaurant on the waterfront in Matosinho, called O Valentim. We didn’t know what we were in for when we arrived, but were extremely happy with our choice to stop there for lunch. You’ll find the freshest seafood and fish in town, prepared simply on an outdoor grill with a little olive oil and salt. Delicious.
6. Eat at a Michelin Star Restaurant. It’s always a treat to have a meal in a Michelin-starred restaurant, even if it is likely to be overrated and terribly expensive. There is a lovely one-star restaurant Yeatman that is worth spending an evening enjoying. With more than seven beautifully plated dishes, all paired with local wines and Ports, it’s sure to be a memorable experience.
7. Take a Trip to the Duoro Valley. You can easily book a day trip to the Duoro to see another side of Portugal and the Port production process. Further up river is where the grapes are harvested and crushed. Only then are they brought back to Porto for the aging process. A day-long tour will take up an entire day’s worth of time, but it’s more than worth it for the glimpse at the beautiful valley and the opportunity to try some authentic and rustic cuisine.
8. Take a Duoro River Cruise. As long as you’re on a day trip to the Duoro Valley, you should definitely take a Duoro River Cruise. There is a short - to two-hour boat ride down the river. You can catch a boat from the waterfront in Pinhao. it only costs a few euros and it’s a great way to see the valley from the water, catch a glimpse of the terraced hillside covered with vineyards and see where some of the Port production facilities are located.
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