By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]
In this travel feature, Paulo Silvestre takes readers on a guided tour of the best places to visit in Portugal. Paulo provides inside information and useful tips to assist you in planning relaxing trips and enjoyable days out. You’ll discover the best of Portugal and enjoy celebrating its unique culture! Paulo holds a degree in Media Studies and his hobbies include playing in a band.
Known as Portugal’s second main city, Porto has given its name to both the well-known port wines and the nation itself, Portugal, being a derivative of Porto’s Latin name, Portus Cale.
Sitting on the northern bank of the River Douro, Porto is a city which everybody should consider visiting.
Porto is distinct by its maritime inheritance. The citizens are known as Tripeiros (tripe eaters), apparently a reference to the tradition of giving the best cuts of meat to the departing sailors while leaving the leftovers, such as the tripe for the people of Porto.
The power of the Portuguese bourgeoisie merchants and many English traders can be seen nowadays in the distinctive cultural identity of Porto. The phrase ‘o Porto é uma nação’ (Porto is a nation) is still commonly heard among its inhabitants.
The city of Porto’s mountainous geography can make walking particularly arduous; it is not odd to find houses that are built into the cliff face that overlooks the river, reachable by flights of steps cut into the stone itself. Regardless the exhausting nature of walking in Porto, it is usually preferable to drive. Porto has a diverse road system including slight cobbled streets.
An alternative to driving is the new and growing metro light rail/subway which allows visitors to easily and quickly get to the majority of the city.
Key areas to visit include the old town which was awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1996. Other spots of interest include the Ribeira, the part of the city close to the river and its matching part in the city of Vila Nova de Gaia, on the opposite bank of the Douro River, where the Port Wine cellars can be found.
Porto also boasts the world famous Modern Art museum at Serralves, as well as the Casa da Música (House of Music) concert hall in the Boavista area.
A delight of Porto’s commercial legacy may be found at the Mercado do Bolhão, a conventional market of fruits, vegetables, fish and meat, in the centre of the city.
To get to the best view in Porto, take a walk across one of the six bridges spanning the Douro to Gaia which gives outstanding views of the city and the Douro River.
Visiting or holidaying in Porto will give you an exciting experience that you will not forget in one of Europe’s greatest provincial cities.