Porto

Portugal’s second-largest city, Porto has an unmistakable charm.  Located in northern Portugal, where the Duero River meets the Atlantic Ocean, this hub for 1.7 million residents (including the Metropolitan Area) provide UNESCO designated places and ancient culture.

Port Wine is named in dedication to the city, as the metropolitan area is home to many vineyards and wineries.  These wineries ferment their grapes with a unique process.  Numerous establishments can provide a good port, and many are located in the town of Gaia, just across the Douro River from the old town section of Porto.  Gaia also provides a little nightlife for those who enjoy a little local atmosphere.

The Old Porto section of town contains many cobblestone streets closed to vehicular traffic.  Many sites here have centuries of history contained, as the whole section of town was named for its cultural significance.

Highlights of Old Porto include:

Oporto Cathedral:   The oldest structure in Porto, the Se do Porto started building in 1110, and completed in the 13th century.  In the following centuries, additions were made to the cathedral, which now makes it look like it was fully designed in the Baroque era.

Palacio da Bolsa:  An architectural masterpiece, this neoclassical palace was built during most of the early 19th century.  Of particular note is the dramatic Arab Room, with high ceilings and Moorish influences.

Many free standing sculptures, monuments, and water fountains are found in Porto and specifically in the old town.  Included in this is a defensive barrier wall that was set up by the Ancient Romans. This dates back to the 11th century.

Sitting on the Atlantic Ocean provides Porto a milder Mediterranean climate.  Summers have warm but not hot temperatures (July high of 25 degrees Celsius, lows of 15 degrees) and mild winters (January high of 13 degrees Celsius, lows of 5 degrees) with heavy rains.  Porto receives over 125 centimetres of rain annually.

When travelling to and around Porto, consider car hire at Porto Airport as this is the closest airport to the city, located about 11 kilometres away.

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