Hotels in Porto, Portugal
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Let beautiful Porto charm you
Porto, in northern Portugal is a beguiling second city with numerous hotels. Rising steeply from the River Douro near its Atlantic outflow, Portugal’s picturesque City of Bridges surrounds a medieval World Heritage Site. The city’s core offers eye-catching baroque and gothic architecture. Porto also boasts culinary delights and public art plus popular parks and beaches. After experiencing Porto’s distinctive wine cellars, you can follow the trail of locally-produced port by taking scenic train rides or boat cruises to see vineyard-lined valleys upriver. Furthermore, Harry Potter fans can visit the haunts that inspired author J.K. Rowling when she lived in Porto.
Extraordinary food and wine
Port wine is Porto’s signature product. This famously fortified tipple produced in the Douro Valley is brought downriver for aging and storing in barrels in Vila Nova de Gaia’s magnificent riverside cellars. At night they are illuminated by signs name-checking producers like Croft, Sandeman, Cockburn’s and Taylor’s. Situated across the landmark Ponte de Dom Luís I bridge, which is one of six bridges in Porto, many of the port cellars hold tours, tastings and sometimes melancholic fado folk music performances. The quayside can also be accessed by cable-car from Jardim de Morro metro station for a bird’s eye view of the terracotta rooftops. The port trail continues inland with river cruises or rides along the Douro railway line from Porto’s mainline stations. Lasting roughly three hours each way, the rail journey is frequently listed among Europe’s most scenic trips, particularly beyond Régua where the line closely hugs the riverbanks. This wine-growing region’s microclimate supports estates or quintas with vineyards clinging to precipitous hillsides. Some double as boutique hotels offering wine-tastings. Foodies will love Porto. Even the city’s tripeiros residents are nicknamed after food because they became creative with tripe so that better meat was saved for explorers and traders starting long voyages in Porto in its seafaring heyday. Don’t forget to try a francesinha. Porto’s favourite snack is a towering sandwich containing pork, bacon, sausage, steak, cheese and egg all smothered in a zingy tomato-based sauce. Meanwhile, sweet-toothed travellers can enjoy yummy pastel de nata egg custard tarts in Porto’s bakeries.
Explore architecture and Porto’s artistic side
Choose a downtown hotel to be near Porto’s fantastic architectural delights. Stately Liberty Square in Baixa brims with fine 18th and 19th century buildings, while lavish São Bento Railway Station is adorned with blue-and-white azulejo tiles depicting scenes from Portuguese history. Founded in the 12th century, Porto Cathedral occupies a terrace overlooking the riverside Ribeira neighbourhood, characterized by charming buildings and narrow alleyways. Downhill there are more extravagant structures like the soaring Torre dos Clérigos. Elsewhere, the angular Casa da Música concert hall in Boavista is a modern architectural highlight. Harry Potter enthusiasts can follow in the footsteps of J.K. Rowling in Porto. The author reportedly took inspiration from her favourite downtown haunts as she wrote the boy wizard saga’s first instalment while she lived in Porto in the 1990s. These include the 1920s art nouveau Café Majestic in Rua Santa Catarina and the Livraria Lello bookshop in Aliados, which has a notable staircase that supposedly inspired one in the books. Museumgoers will love the Museu da Misericórdia do Porto with its collection of religious art, while the stunning Igreja de São Francisco church on Praça Infante Dom Henrique square features a staggering baroque interior festooned in gold leaf. Nearby is the neoclassical Palácio da Bolsa, holding guided tours of its exquisitely-decorated Arabian Hall ballroom.
Parks and beaches
Porto’s parks and gardens are perfect for relaxing or keeping fit. Offering terrific river and city views from a rocky outcrop above the Douro, the elegant Jardim do Palácio do Cristal is among the prettiest. This botanical garden in the Massarelos neighbourhood combines pristine lawns, palm-flanked paths and graceful fountains. Follow the salty ocean breezes to upscale Foz do Douro on the coast. This neighbourhood features the Jardim do Passeio Alegre garden and the pretty Farol de Felgueiras lighthouse overlooking the Douro estuary. At the coastal end of Avenida da Boavista is Portugal’s largest urban park. Parque da Cidade boasts lakes plus walking and cycling trails. It’s perfect for unwinding or having a picnic. Beachgoers can enjoy bathing spots along the coast near Porto like Matosinhos, which has multiple metro stations plus restaurants serving freshly-caught fish and seafood. Sandy beaches abound in this coastal suburb. However, bathers will notice that the Atlantic Ocean tends to be chillier than the Mediterranean. Vila Nova de Gaia, located south of the Douro, possesses fine sandy beaches of its own along its stretch of coastline.
Porto loves the beautiful game
With two big clubs, Porto has divided football loyalties. Crowned as European champions in 2004, FC Porto is the city’s oldest club. Meanwhile, city rivals Boavista FC were league winners in 2001. Fiercely-contested Porto Derby meetings between the two are known as O Derby da Invicta. The extensive public transport system of buses and metro trains makes it easy for visitors to attend matches and experience Portugal’s passion for football, wherever their hotel is. FC Porto’s Estádio do Dragão stadium in the eastern Campanhã neighbourhood has a metro station and occasionally hosts concerts. It also houses an impressive club museum. Boavista FC’s Estádio do Bessa XXI ground is near Francos metro station in the western suburbs.
Price rangefrom NZ$25to NZ$8,135
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