When possible, exploring on foot is our favorite way to see a new destination! Porto’s city center is very compact, but the terrain is rather hilly. Public transportation is inexpensive, clean, and efficient. Keeping all of this in mind, it is always best to check with your hotel concierge for the best way to get to any particular site of interest.
A lovely walk from Ribeira, Foz do Douro can also be reached by tram. Housed within the Serralves Foundation complex, be sure to visit the “Museu Serralves,” one of Europe’s most renowned contemporary art museums. Stroll beautiful beaches lined with quaint bars and towering lighthouses, visit botanical gardens, and dine in a Michelin-starred restaurant for a perfect day.
Porto’s traditional market has been around since the mid 1800’s, and stalls sell everything from affordable souvenirs to fresh vegetable, fish, and meat. Most lively on Friday and Saturday mornings.
Vila Nova de Gaia (or simply Gaia) is just across the Douro River from Porto. This is the real Port Wine town; it’s where the lodges of the historic port wine producers are strung out along the Ribeira, or waterfront.
They are here because in 1225, King Alfonso gave Vila Nova de Gaia town status, then quickly handed it off to the aristocracy because the bishops of Porto were charging unreasonable shipping charges on the wines. Our top recommendations: Calém Cellars (tour.calem.pt), Taylor’s Cellars (taylor.pt), and Sogrape, a local company with four cellars (eng.sograpevinhos.com).
Built in 1842 on the ruins of St. Francis Convent as a Neoclassical palace and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old stock exchange building is known for its lavishly designed interior—including ceiling frescoes, a hall designed after the Alhambra, and an abundance of art and architectural stylings.
Near the market, stop by the Majestic Cafe for a coffee or an apertif in what has been called “the most beautiful cafe in the world”. It can draw quite a crowd, so if you don’t want to wait, Café Guarany has its own history of attracting an artistic crowd, and is owned by the same people. Or, let serendipity be your guide, as quaint cafes abound in Porto!
For a hotel recommendation, please see the Pre- & Post-Tour section of your Trip Planner.
Portugal: Porto, the Douro Valley & Lisbon Hiking
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