Porto is a lovely city that almost entirely revolves around water….and port. While it takes a back seat to Lisbon, Portugal’s larger capital, Porto is one of those gems - calmer, smaller and a lot less touristy
Nestled at the convergence of the Douro River and Atlantic Ocean, the city is divided into many diverse neighborhoods.
The Ribeira, or old city, is a maze of hilly, meandering streets. While it’s definitely desirable to explore by foot, you’ll need to be in good shape to climb and descend the narrow, cobble-stoned streets filled with four- story, balcony-clad buildings and multitudes of churches from centuries ago. At night, the area seems to come alive, as buildings, boats and bridges light up and cascade reflections onto the river below.
Gaia, on the other side of the Douro, is home to dozens of name brand port houses, the places where Porto’s claim to fame resides. While you can spend hours sipping some of the city’s finest blends, the thing to do is to dine along the river and savor the views.
On the westernmost fringe of town, in Matosinhos, life revolves around the ocean. Here, it’s all about the beach, alfresco dining and fresh fish.
Somehow, wherever you happen to be in Porto, there seems to be a certain sense of serenity. Maybe it's because the city is surrounded by water, maybe because it's subdued by port.