PORTO

Food and Travel (UK) - - City Breaks -

Por­tu­gal’s sec­ond city lent its name to the wine that made it fa­mous and there’s no bet­ter time to ex­plore its en­dur­ing charm and epony­mous tip­ple, says Emily McAuliffe

Why go? With long sunny days and tem­per­ate nights, sum­mer is Porto’s time to shine. The banks of the Douro River burst with ac­tiv­ity as trav­ellers flock to cafés and bars, while oth­ers make for the parks to en­joy a rolling sched­ule of mar­kets and live mu­sic. At ev­ery turn, colour and move­ment fill the streets. Bet­ter still, it’s one of the con­ti­nent’s most af­ford­able hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions, pro­vid­ing the per­fect ex­cuse to splurge on good food and wine, in­clud­ing, of course, the award-win­ning vint­ners of the Douro Val­ley.

What to do Porto is a walk­a­ble city that begs you to get lost. In the cob­bled back­streets you’ll find wash­ing flapping from bal­conies and vi­brant street art adorn­ing the time-worn build­ings. The art car­ries through to Rua de Miguel Bom­barda, which serves as the main thor­ough­fare of the city’s arty district. From here, carry on to the pretty Crys­tal Palace Gar­dens be­fore head­ing down­hill to the river. If you’re hun­gry for seafood, take a right when you hit the Douro and jump on the tram to­wards its mouth. Catch the small cross-river boat (£1.20pp one way) to the fish­ing vil­lage of Afu­rada and fol­low your nose to the restau­rants grilling freshly caught fish on the street. Afu­rada is on the same side of the river as the port cel­lars, so set­tle in at a wine house such as Gra­ham’s gra­ham­sport.com (book­ings es­sen­tial) or Tay­lor’s tay­lor.pt for an af­ter­noon tast­ing. In the city, visit the Casa do In­fante Mu­seum, the birth­place of Prince Henry the Nav­i­ga­tor, be­fore mak­ing your way up­hill to the city’s main av­enue, Avenida dos Ali­a­dos. Tackle the 200-odd steps of the Cléri­gos Tower torre­doscle­ri­gos.pt for su­perb city views or sim­ply ad­mire the dra­matic baroque ar­chi­tec­ture from the Pas­seio dos Cléri­gos ur­ban park.

Where to stay? Luxe trav­ellers and wine lovers should head for the hills of Vila Nova de Gaia to bunk down at The Yeat­man 00 351 220 133 100, the-yeat­man-ho­tel.com one-time win­ner of Food and Travel Ho­tel of the Year. It’s home to a two-star Miche­lin restau­rant and one of the largest col­lec­tions of Por­tuguese wines in the world. If you pre­fer a more cen­tral lo­ca­tion, the In­terCon­ti­nen­tal Pala­cio

Travel in­for­ma­tion

Cur­rency is the euro. Time is GMT. Flight time from Lon­don is around 2.5 hours. The cost to car­bon-off­set is £3.25. For more de­tails visit cli­mate­care.org

Get­ting there

TAP Por­tu­gal of­fers daily ser­vices to Porto Air­port from Lon­don Gatwick. fly­tap.com easyJet also flies to Porto from Gatwick and Lu­ton. easyjet.com

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Jun das Car­dosas 00 351 220 035 600, ihg.com is another chic pick, over­look­ing Praça da Liber­dade. Equally well-lo­cated is the Flores Vil­lage Ho­tel & Spa 00 351 222 013 478, flo­resvil­lage.com which of­fers a spa­cious back gar­den and spa area that is ideal for re­lax­ing af­ter a day of sight­see­ing. For a bou­tique op­tion, try the plush M Mai­son Par­ti­c­ulière 00 351 227 661 400, m-porto.com where its ten suites are all el­e­gantly dec­o­rated.

Where to eat and drink? Porto’s gas­tro­nomic scene is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated while still keep­ing true to its roots. The city is the proud home of four Miche­lin-star restau­rants and also in­cludes a mix of tra­di­tional paste­lar­ias (patis­series) and tas­cos (tav­erns) as well as mod­ern din­ing op­tions. En­joy a can­dlelit sup­per in a home-style din­ing room at Ca­mafeu 00 351 937 493 557 where dishes in­clude juicy oc­to­pus plucked straight from the ocean. Ta­pabento 00 351 222 034 115, ta­pabento.com also serves qual­ity Por­tuguese cui­sine with a mod­ern spin. Ven­ture out of the his­toric cen­tre and book a ta­ble at Casa Agrí­cola 00 351 226 053 350, casa-agri­cola.com in the up­mar­ket sub­urb of Boav­ista. The bar area doesn’t look like much but the el­e­gant up­stairs din­ing area serves won­der­ful monk­fish and steak. To taste Porto’s sig­na­ture cock­tail, the port tonic, plus a range of do­mes­tic wines, take a seat at the al­tar at Capela In­co­mum 00 351 936 129 050, a beau­ti­ful wine bar set in an old chapel.

Time run­ning out? Check out Mer­cado de Bol­hão, the city’s cen­tral mar­ket. It’s a two-storey maze of stalls and shops sell­ing flow­ers, fish, port and ev­ery­thing in be­tween. The 19th-cen­tury build­ing is at its liveli­est on Fri­day and Satur­day morn­ings.

Trip tip It would be crim­i­nal to leave the city with­out try­ing its fa­mous Francesinha (lit­tle Frenchie) sand­wich. It’s loaded with pork, steak, ba­con and smoked sausage then smoth­ered in melted cheese and a de­li­cious tomato, beer and piri piri sauce. San­ti­ago 00 351 220 417 880, cafer­estau­ran­te­san­ti­ago.com.pt is touted as hav­ing one of the best in the city. Re­sources

Visit Porto is the city’s of­fi­cial tourist board and is packed with de­tails to help you make the most of your stay. vis­it­porto.travel

Fur­ther read­ing

Prince Henry the Nav­i­ga­tor: A Life (Yale Univer­sity Press, £18.99) tells the story of the vi­sion­ary prince born in Porto who sup­ported many of Por­tu­gal’s global en­deav­ours.

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