From stunning churches to the home of port wine: The top reasons why every tourist should head to Porto for a vintage break

  • Porto is easy to reach from the UK, being just over a two-hour flight and short taxi ride from the airport
  • From elaborate buildings, churches and artwork to river tours along the Douro, there is plenty that captivates
  • You can t come to Porto without tasting its famous fortified wine and in Gaia, you can take a tour with a tasting

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Porto is an easy weekend break. It s little more than a two-hour flight from the UK, followed by a 30-minute cab ride. The city tests walkers with several steep ascents, but there are funiculars, trams and taxis. Look out for the elaborate tiling (featuring dandyish cherubs) on the side of the Carmo and Carmelitas churches and at the grand Sao Bento station. Here are the top reasons why you should head to Porto for a vintage break.

Romantic: Porto is Portugal s second largest city and home of port wine, with colourful buildings lining the Douro River

ART: The Serralves Park, a ‘ 8 ( 6) taxi ride from the city centre, will delight children. There s a maze, rose garden, giant spade sculpture and pink Art Deco villa with fountains. On Sundays, between 10am and 1pm, entry is free. The Contemporary Art Museum costs extra, serralves.pt1.

ARCHITECTURE: The lofty Clerics Tower (250ft) only costs ‘ 3 ( 2) to climb and offers rooftop views over the city to the mouth of the Douro river, torredosclerigos.pt2.

WATER WONDERS: A 50-minute boat ride from Gaia priced ‘ 10 ( 7) will ferry you under Porto s six bridges one of which, Maria Pia, was built in the 19th century by Gustave Eiffel, of Paris fame.

BEACH WITHIN REACH: Flop on Gaia s sands, four miles from the city.

EAT: Sao Nicolau, off the busy Cais Ribeira. Sit outside and you ll glimpse the river.

Inside, it s frenetic, but fun. Fish is a speciality. O Gaveto, in Matosinhos beside the sea and a 20-minute taxi from the city, is known for its sensational seafood, ogaveto.com3.

DRINK: You can t come to Porto without tasting its famous fortified wine even if you try the Chip Dry with tonic and mint (a fashionable, if frowned upon, option). At Taylor s, in Gaia, you can take a tour with a tasting. Grapes are still handpicked and trodden for four hours by foot. Tours cost ‘ 5 ( 3.60). Bottles start from ‘ 14 ( 10) up to ‘ 250 ( 183) for a vintage, taylor.pt4.

The intricate detail of the walls and ceiling at the Sao Bento railway station is worth visiting when you are in the city

Carmelitas Church on the left, decorated in the Mannerist and Baroque styles with Carmo Church on the right

City lights: Night view of the port wine ships at Vila Nova de Gaia at River Douro in Porto

SHOP: The main drag is SantaCatarina, but it s busy and commercial. Instead, try Armazem on Rua de Miragaia a selection of shops in an old Customs building with an art gallery and tapas bar. Trendy Espaco 7, 133 Rua do Teatro in Foz, by the sea, sells clothing and handbags and has cafe dining.

SPLASH OUT: The swish Yeatman s big draw is its views over Porto from all 82 rooms (and bathtubs).

The flamboyant hotel is in Gaia, the shadier side of the river where port is stored before being shipped. Watch the curving river Douro at dawn and dusk as the light catches the city. The hotel has a Michelin-starred restaurant and a spa offering vinotherapy.

Rooms cost from ‘ 200 ( 146) a night with breakfast, the-yeatman-hotel.com5.

SAVE: The guesthouse Favorita on Rua Miguel Bombarda, behind the National Art Museum Soares dos Reis has a garden and rooms from ‘ 60 a night ( 44), including breakfast, pensaofavorita.pt6.

TRAVEL FACTS: Plan your own Porto break

Scott Dunn7 (020 8682 5080) offers weekend packages to Porto, including the Yeatman hotel, flights and transfers.

BA flights from 100 return.

References

  1. ^ serralves.pt (serralves.pt)
  2. ^ torredosclerigos.pt (torredosclerigos.pt)
  3. ^ ogaveto.com (ogaveto.com)
  4. ^ taylor.pt (taylor.pt)
  5. ^ the-yeatman-hotel.com (the-yeatman-hotel.com)
  6. ^ pensaofavorita.pt (pensaofavorita.pt)
  7. ^ Scott Dunn (scottdunn.com)

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