Porto

For one of the oldest cities in Europe, Porto is remarkably forward-looking.

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Street art and contemporary architecture typify Porto as much as Gothic-baroque churches and fortified wine, while laidback locals and waterfront bars make for one very welcoming city. Throw in outdoor adventures in Peneda-Gerês National Park, and Portugal’s second city is a fantastic all-round destination.

Essential sights

The Sé

Porto's historic cathedral, the Sé, is the city's main church but is just one of several impressive places of worship in the city. It dates back to the mid-1100s, although the present structure was completed in the 18th century. Its blue-tiled Gothic cloisters are particularly impressive, as is the view over Porto's old town from the cathedral's terrace.

Igreja de Sao Francisco

The Sé may be Porto's oldest church, but it can't claim to be the city's most extravagant. That honour goes to the Igreja de Sao Francisco, a 10-minute walk from the Sé on the banks of the Douro River. It's grey, Gothic and not that remarkable from the outside. But inside everywhere you look is covered with ornate, baroque gold leaf.

Serralves

Porto's finest cultural institution, Serralves is one of the country's best museums. The main museum houses collections of modern art from the 1960s onwards, while the coral pink Casa de Serralves is a beautiful example of Art Deco architecture.

Palácio de Bolsa

One of the most impressive buildings in Porto is the Palácio de Bolsa, a neoclassical palace that used to house the city's stock exchange. Guided tours lead you through the impressive interior; the pinnacle is the ornately gilded Arabian Hall.

Sao Bento railway station

It's worth the trip out to the southeast of the city to see the beautiful Sao Bento, a 19th-century railway station famous for the beautiful azulejo tilework that covers its interior walls. Construction began in 1864, and Sao Bento remains one of Porto's main rail hubs.