For one of the oldest cities in Europe, Porto is remarkably forward-looking.
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.
Porto's pleasant climate makes it a great place for outdoor activities year-round. As a coastal city, it's a great destination for fans of water sports, with various beaches within easy reach of the city centre. Matosinhos Beach is a particular favourite of surfers, and thanks to the predictable nature of its waves it's a great place for beginners to learn to surf. Surf'in Monkeys is a popular and professionally run Matosinhos surfing school, offering a wide range of classes and courses for surfers of all abilities.
Like many historic European cities, Porto wasn't designed for cars, and its narrow streets are much better suited to other forms of transport. The good news is, this means a cycling tour is a fantastic way to get to know the city. Biclas & Triclas is a bike shop on the banks of the Douro River where you can either rent a bike and explore on your own or book a guided tour. If you choose the former, the owners can still give you detailed maps and directions to help you plan your route.
Staying in Porto more than a couple of days? It's surrounded by some excellent days out, all within an hour or so of the city.
Wine-tasting at Vila Nova de Gaia
The best place to try Porto’s famous port wine is not the city proper, but rather Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the Douro River. Here, historic port producers line the river in picturesque villas, where they still produce the wine and host tasting sessions.
Explore the wilderness of Peneda-Gerês National Park
A little over an hour’s drive to the northeast of Porto lies Peneda-Gerês National Park, a beautiful region of forests, waterfalls and canyons perfect for exploration and with some excellent wildlife-spotting opportunities. Popular activities include hiking and wild swimming in the park’s lagoons.
Experience historic Braga
Just 45 minutes’ drive north of Porto lies Braga, another historic city with origins that go back thousands of years. Like Porto, it’s renowned for its beautiful churches; the most impressive of these is Bom Jesus do Monte, sitting atop a huge stairway over 100 metres high.