Perfect pre-Christmas trip

news: Perfect pre-Christmas trip

Other important attractions include the 12th century Sé Cathedral, once a Romanesque building, and the magnificent São Francisco Church with its striking gold encrusted interior. The Convent of Santa Clara also boasts one of the richest interiors in Portugal. The church, and especially the high altar, is a golden glory of carved woodwork. Constructed in the 12th century, the little Romanesque church of São Martinho da Cedofeita is the oldest in the city. Some historians date the church from the sixth century, due to a tablet over the door attributing it to Theodomir, King of the Visigoths.

Cruise the river of gold

A relaxing cruise is included in the excursion, giving you the chance to explore the Douro Valley’s River of Gold, one of the Iberian Peninsula’s scenic gems, endowed with panoramas that stretch to Spain. Flowing nearly 600 miles through both countries to the Atlantic, the once wild Douro is now one of Europe’s most unspoiled, beautiful rivers and you’ll glide past steeply terraced vineyards, hillsides dotted with white manor houses, ancient villages and royal hideaways.

Port tasting

UNESCO has also declared the vineyards of the magnificent Douro Valley as a World Heritage Site and, therefore, it’s no surprise that one of the ‘must dos’ in Porto is to try the wine. One of the best places to do this is in the Port Wine Institute, Rua Ferreira Borges, 27, 4050-116 Porto Tel: 222 071 600. It’s a great place to go to sample the many types of port in a comfortable living room atmosphere.

Alternatively, or in addition, cross the spectacular two tiered Dom Luís I bridge and explore Vila Nova de Gaia, the true home of port wine. Over 50 port producers are located within the narrow lanes where the wines are aged and blended. Here, visitors can tour the world famous lodges, which bear familiar household names such as Taylor’s, Grahams, Cockburns and Sandeman. Of course, the highlight of the tour is the obligatory wine tasting session at the end.

PDM verdict:

Portugal’s second largest city successfully combines a modern vibrant energy with an atmosphere of unpretentious historical charm. Perfect for a short break.

Photos supplied by Algarve Images