The city, which gave its name to Portugal, has retained its popular character. A lively, vibrant metropolis, its history is intertwined with that of the river, linked to the vineyards that have made it so famous and prosperous.
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Montpellier - Porto
From 31/10/2021 To 26/03/2022No direct flight from Montpellier for this season
From 28/03/2021 To 30/10/2021
300 km from Lisbon, Porto will seduce you with its discreet charm. The Romans called it Portus, the port. Because the city first developed at the mouth of the Douro, on a granite hill. The historic centre, Ribeira, a UNESCO World Heritage site, testifies to the past with its steep alleys sloping down to the river and to Baixa (the lower town). Clothes drying on the balconies, retro shop windows and vintage bars... the atmosphere is picturesque. Fading facades stand next to magnificent baroque buildings, creating a certain magic tinged with saudade, that strange blend of sadness, nostalgia and hope. With its beautiful avenues, squares and cafés, the upper town dominated by City Hall is a shopping Mecca.
To blend in with the local scene, just follow the footsteps of the friendly Portoenses. Forget about high heels, though, as the cobblestones are often uneven. Above all, don’t hesitate to push open the church doors weighed down by their talhas douradas, the gilded wood carvings of a dishevelled baroque style. You’ll find many surprises on the way, some quite unexpected; such as Lello bookshop with its enchanting decor, the interior of the train station, its walls covered with azulejo tiles or the Palacio da Bolsa inspired by the Alhambra in Granada.
The city is even more enticing to explore when you stop to sample the local fare: in the old coffee houses where you can enjoy sardine dishes, when you discover the best delicatessen products around the covered market, where you can taste the hams and cheeses. Not to mention the terraces of Cais da Ribeira or Café Majestic to enjoy a glass of vinho verde wine. With a bit of luck, the atmosphere will be enlivened by a "tuna", bands of black-caped students who perform traditional songs.
On the other side of the river, the tile-roofed warehouses of Vila Nova de Gaia shelter the great houses of Porto. In the past, wines produced on the farms (quintas) in the Douro Valley were transported in flat-bottomed boats (rabelos) to the ageing cellars in the city. Today, they transport tourists to visit the cellars: Graham's, the Queen of England's valued supplier, or Porto Cruz, whose terrace opens onto the Douro. On the menu: trade secrets, the discovery of old vintages and of course tasting!
Porto is also forward-looking. Design shops and art galleries line Miguel Bombero Street. Fans will also be able to visit the Serralves Contemporary Art Foundation, located in a large park. Its building, sober and luminous, houses edgy collections. In the same park, Art Deco enthusiasts may prefer the Casa de Serralves. Finally, presiding over Boa Vista Avenue, the Casa de Musica, designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, dazzles with its asymmetrical façades of glass and steel. To complete the discovery of bold architecture, take a break at DOP, a chic restaurant in Rui Paula, one of the leaders in new Portuguese cuisine.
Sites and landmarks
The thousand-year-old cathedral (Sé), which resembles a squat fortress, perched on a hill.
The church of Clerigos with its rich baroque decor and tower (75 m) which has become the emblem of Porto
The Sao Francisco church with its exuberant wooden sculptures dripping with gold
Dom Luís I metal arch bridge (1886) spanning the river Douro, to be crossed by foot
Lello bookshop (1869) with its amazing carved shelves and wooden staircase
The Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace) and its Arab Room with rich Moorish decor
The Sao Bento railway station (19th century), its walls entirely decorated with azulejo tiles depicting the history of Portugal
Bolhao market, whose hall is filled with colourful shops and stalls
Explore the fragrant gardens (eucalyptus, jasmines...) home to the Serralves Foundation and the Casa de Serralves
- The Douro and Port Wine Institute, to learn all about the region's rich beverages
- World of Discoveries, telling the story of Portugal's great discoveries, with models and maps, before going on a Disney-style boat ride
- The Soares dos Reis museum, for its paintings, earthenware, antique furniture...
- The military museum, unveiling 12,000 figurines and a collection of weapons
- April 25 : Carnation Revolution Day, celebrating the overthrow of the Salazar dictatorship (1974)
- 10 June : National Day of Portugal, day of the death of the poet Luis de Camoes
- 23 June : Feast of Sao Joao, Porto's most revered saint. Music, dancing, fireworks...
- 5 October : Republic Day, commemorating the fall of the monarchy and the creation of the republic in 1910
- October : Porto International Puppet Festival
- December 1 : Independence Day, to commemorate the restoration of Portuguese independence in 1640, after 80 years of Spanish domination
- To live at the pace of the locals try taking one of the rickety trams that criss-cross the city (especially line 1). To be combined with the Guindais funicular for a panoramic view and a cable car crossing of the river.
- The narrow valley of the Upper Douro has been shaped by man for more than 2000 years. Villages built on the sides of the mountains and terraced vineyards... this majestic landscape is classified by UNESCO. You can go by train (to Pinhao), doing the return trip in the day.
- Next to Porto, Matosinhos was the largest sardine port in Portugal. There are still some canneries and restaurants where you can enjoy grilled sardines à la plancha. You can get there by metro or bicycle via the chic district of Foz do Douro, where the Douro meets the Atlantic.
- Bacalhau (cod) - dried or salted, boiled or roasted, it is part of Portugal. They say there are as many ways to cook it as there are days in the year!
- Caldo verde - potato and cabbage soup with slices of sausage
- Veal tripe, Porto style - a local speciality, to be tasted with beans
- Frango piri-piri - grilled chicken, coated with a sauce of olive oil and chillies
- Feijoada - Portuguese hot pot, made from pork and black beans
- Queijo da Serra - the most famous Portuguese cheese made from sheep's milk
- Pastel de nata - the perfect dessert, delicious flan in a puff pastry, to be enjoyed warm and sprinkled with sugar or cinnamon.
- Port wine of course, sweet and highly alcoholic (19 to 22°)
- Vinho verde produced in northern Portugal, light and sparkling (white, rosé or red)
- Ginja (typical of Lisbon) is a liqueur made from ginja berries
- La Sagres is the most famous Portuguese beer