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Portugal's second-largest city might be most well-known for its internationally famous export, port wine, but that's not the only reason to visit this easy-going European city sprinkled with ancient edifices and 2 Michelin-starred restaurants. Porto is one of the region's top vacation destinations, and it's easy to see why. Cobblestone streets wind their way down to the twinkling Douro River, while the influence of the Atlantic Ocean is ever present. Whether you're a history buff who wants to explore the city's UNESCO-listed center or a foodie looking to fill up on Porto's delectable petiscos (small plates), there's something here to attract every type of traveler.
A walkable city center and a seaside district to delight the senses help explain Porto's everlasting appeal. Those who want to soak up some sun head to the upscale Foz do Douro neighborhood, while the Historic Center of Porto pays homage to the origins of the city with its exquisite old churches and plazas like Ribeira Square.
At the mouth of the Douro River, Foz do Douro beckons with sun-drenched parks and sprawling beaches. Where the Douro meets the sea, locals come to surf and catch some rays at the region's seaside bistros. Upscale homes abound, while sightseeing destinations include the Felgueiras Lighthouse and the Jardim do Passeio Alegre.
Situated around a series of city parishes, Porto's hilly Historic Center enchants visitors with 14th-century scenery. Romanesque cathedrals like the Sé do Porto provide a look at the Porto of long ago, while the crumbling Fernandina Wall imbues the district with undeniable romance. Can't-miss sights include the Fonte dos Leões, the Jardim da Cordoaria, and the Fonte das Virtudes.
Nestled into the Historic Center of Porto, the Praça Ribeira is flanked by pastel-colored houses at the site of a former manufacturing district once known for its fish, bread, and meat sellers. Today, it's a favorite among strolling tourists who come here to enjoy the buskers along the banks of the Douro River.
From its skyscraping church spires to its winding medieval lanes, there are endless things to see in Porto. After familiarizing yourself with the city's main sights, head to the Old Jewish Quarter for the chance to drink in the vistas along the Rue de Santana and the Passeio das Virtudes while hearing about Portugal's Jewish history. Likewise, you can cross the Douro River to take in a live Fado show while sipping delicious port wine. Want to ensure you don't miss a single thing? Consider booking a full-day city tour that leads you across Porto's bridges and allows you to cross additional landmarks off your sightseeing bucket list, including the Bolhão Market, Batalha Square, and São Francisco Xavier Fort.
From treating yourself to the local tipple to day trips to soak up the unbelievable natural scenery, there are endless things to do in Porto. Those willing to let their taste buds take the lead will be richly rewarded during a small-group gastronomy tour, which invites travelers to feast on local treats like the city's signature Francesinha sandwich and Eduardinho liquor. Likewise, you can climb aboard a hybrid bike and pedal your way to an appetizer lunch and winetasting tour in an 18th-century port wine cellar. Searching for more active adventures? Consider renting a stand-up paddleboard and propelling yourself down the Douro River with the wind at your back. Finally, there's no need to restrict your travel plans to the Porto city limits. Immerse yourself in the rich tradition of port wine production during a full-day getaway in the Douro Valley, or venture to Portugal's only national park during a guided excursion to Peneda-Gerês National Park.