Character and charm just ooze from Portugal’s second-largest city built on the hillsides overlooking the mouth of the Douro river; so much so in fact that the city centre has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Evidence of its 2 000-year history can be seen in the city’s varied architecture, from Romanesque and Gothic to Renaissance and Baroque. Porto’s centre is a veritable living museum with inspiring monuments, beautiful plazas and a maze of tiny, winding cobblestone roads lined with azulejo-clad houses.
First stop to kick start your Porto itinerary should be a visit to the Ribeira neighbourhood on the banks of the Douro river. It’s an incredible spot to people watch and for picturesque sundowners. Visit the old town and its medieval buildings. Climb the Torre dos Clérigos, an 18th-century bell tower with 225 steps for great views of the city, see the Sé Cathedral or head to the Mercado do Bolhão, a traditional market of fruits, vegetables, fish and meat. Enjoy a short cruise upriver and admire the stunning landscape or take a port wine tour and visit the various wine caves. The cellars are located in Vila Nova de Gaia, a five-minute walk from Riveira across the Douro River. A trip to Portugal would be incomplete without indulging in the amazing cuisine. The residents of Porto are called tripeiros (tripe eaters) on account of their love for the local Tripas à moda do Porto dish. Alternatively opt for one of the bacalhau (codfish) dishes, or the Francesinha (a lethal toasted meat sandwich drowning in cheese and a spicy sauce.
Your cruise ship will dock at Leixões in the neighbouring city of Matosinhos and it’s as easy as walking a short distance to the metro station to gain access to the city centre.