Welcome to Porto

An extensive guide to Porto and Northern Portugal.

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AN INTRODUCTION TO PORTO

Welcome to MADABOUTPORTO.COM and the web's most comprehensible guide to Porto and Northern Portugal. Porto (Oporto) is in the process of being discovered by visitors. It is an ideal base to explore North Portugal or as an exciting short city break. Let us guide you through the best options for things to do, places to see, where to go, exciting day excursions, great hotel suggestions and the best tours. Take advantage of booking online to save yourself precious time and money on your holiday. Your trip starts here.

For those who like Port and Portuguese wines, the city is well known. Porto's history goes way back to Roman times and beyond. Its location at the mouth of the mighty Douro river has elevated the city's importance as a trading hub over the aeons and is one of Europe's most charismatic cities. From across the river, one perceives the mishmash of colourful medieval houses, churches and monuments clinging to the hillside on the opposite bank.

Porto's vibrant Ribeira district by the quayside has gained UNESCO World Heritage status, preserving the city's medieval character. Tall colourful buildings overlook a maze of narrow cobbled lanes filled with the smell of grilled food. Porto is also home to monuments by renowned architects such as Gustave Eiffel's Dona Maria Bridge and Nicolau Nasoni's Clerigos Tower. It's also the birthplace of Prince Henry the Navigator.

The centre of the city sports more 18th and 19th-century architecture with some 20th century thrown in for good measure with more hustle and bustle. Narrow pedestrianised streets are home to some interesting shops and cafés. Apartment stores, big labels shops, exclusive hotels and restaurants can be found on the Avenida da Boavista. A major artery that bisects the city and terminates at the coast where's you'll encounter the oddly named Castelo do Queijo (cheese castle). Porto's magnificent Casa da Musica can also be found in the area, a twelve-storey, irregular-shaped building. The Foz do Douro is the district that lines the western Atlantic coast and sports fine beaches, promenades, restaurants with impressive sunsets for evening strolls.

TOP DISTRICTS

World Heritage Centre

The beautiful medieval UNESCO protected area of Porto.

Baixa (Downtown)

Porto's vibrant and exciting downtown.

Vila Nova de Gaia

The opposite bank of the Douro river home to the famous Port lodges.

Foz do Douro & West

The Western part of Porto where the city meets the sea.

Port Lodge

PORT WINE

In a class of its own, Port is a unique fortified wine style hailing from the spectacular terraced vineyards of Portugal's Douro Valley. It has inspired imitations from many of the world's wine regions, but much as with Champagne, none of the competitors can match a top vintage Port. This unique wine style derives its flavour, strength and sweetness from interrupting the wine's fermentation with the addition of a strong spirit.

Right up until 1987, a wine could only be labelled Port (or Vinho do Porto) if it had been aged here at Vila Nova de Gaia. The EU had a hand in extending the demarcation through the Douro wine region. However, Port wine is Gaia's heritage and some 60 Port lodges still clamber up the steep hill and is a major draw for Oenophiles. About two dozen lodges are open for tours and tastings on weekdays and Saturday.

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THE COSTA VERDE

The term Costa Verde, meaning "Green Coast" is the name of a tourist area covering the North-West coast of Portugal. Extending all the way down from the Spanish frontier in the North to 20km South of Porto. The coastline is largely unspoiled by mass tourism with long stretches of golden sands. Atlantic waves in certain places make ideal conditions for water sports, drawing surfers, kite-surfers and windsurfers alike.

The areas beauty extends far inland from the coast to more mountainous terrains, encompassing old ancient villages and historic cities. This area was the birthplace of Portugal and contains many historical and interesting monuments. Cities such as Braga, Guimarães and Porto maintain their original medieval infrastructure. Coastal towns such as Caminha, Viana do Castelo, Esposende and Vila do Conde are famed for their fishing heritage and historic seafaring traditions.

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Costa Verde
Eating out in Porto

EATING OUT IN PORTO

One thing you can be sure of is the number of places to eat in Porto, ranging from small family-owned tascas, Art Nouveau cafés, reasonably priced restaurants to Michelin star fine dining. The new generation of Portoenses is more adventurous with their dining preferences than their more traditional forebears. The last decades have seen a profusion of new and exciting influences appearing on Porto's menus. That said there are still several obligatory customary local dishes found in most establishments awaiting your discovery.

As with most parts of Portugal Fish is a popular mainstay in restaurants, along the Cais da Ribeira quayside a dozen largely touristy fish restaurants can be found under the arches, with more modest places hidden in the back streets behind. The belly-busting Francesinha (“little Frenchie”) is a layered sandwich comprised of steak, sausage and ham between toasted bread, covered with melted cheese and a peppery tomato-and-beer sauce. The local speciality is tripas (tripe), cooked à moda do Porto (stewed with chouriço and white beans), which has given the locals the nickname of Tripeiros. Another typically Portuense dish is the Caldo Verde, a thick vegetable soup served with a slice of choriço on top.

On the opposite bank in Vila Nova de Gaia, there's a mix of traditional fish eateries and international restaurants and bars, such as; Spanish tapas, Indian and Italian restaurants, Brazilian churrascaria and Irish pub can be found. The cheapest meals tend to be found in the city centre centred around the university district in the Baixa centred around the Praça da Batalha. For a very local experience, you can find a cheap lunch at the Mercado do Bolhão market, such as grilled sardines.

Regional Cuisine    Restaurants    Cafés

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TOP DAY TRIPS FROM PORTO

Amarante

Spanning the banks of the Tâmego, Amarante dates back to the stone age.

Aveiro

The canals of Aveiro has earned the town the title of "Venice of Portugal".

Barcelos

The birth place of the rooster legend and Portugal's national symbol.

Braga

The capital of the Minho, Braga offers it's visitors a vast number of sites to visit.

Espinho

Popular seaside resort of Espinho with miles of goldern sand.

Guimarães

This preserved medieval town is the birth place of Portugal.

Pinhão

The incredibly beautiful town at the heart of Port country.

Vila do Conde

A historic nautical town with long stretches of beach.

TOP TOURS

Inside Amarante Tour

Inside Amarante Tour

Come discover Amarante and let yourself be enveloped by the stories, traditions and flavours that the town has to offer you. Let yourself be immersed in this historical town. Its history begins in the stone age and the Roman period. Here too, is the influence of Saint Gonçalo and the French troops during the Napoleonic wars. Amarante itself has a religious image, perhaps for its monumental convent of S. Gonçalo bathed by the bucolic Tâmega River or its majestic baroque churches and its beautiful and magnificent S. Gonçalo bridge. The discovery of great personalities such as Amadeu de Souza-Cardoso, Teixeira de Pascoaes or António do Lago Cerqueira is equally irrefutable. Discover Amarante with a local guide who will be honoured to present you his home.

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History and Culture Tour of Braga and Barcelos from Porto

History and Culture Tour of Braga and Barcelos from Porto

Ideal for travellers with limited time in Portugal, this nine-hour tour of Braga and Barcelos provides a comprehensive historical overview of Northern Portugal. From Porto, you’ll head to Braga to visit ancient attractions such as the 14th-century Castle of Braga and the Arco da Porto Nova. Discover the historic centre of Barcelos, famed for its colourful ceramics and medieval monuments, and delve into the town’s artistic heritage at the Centro do Artesanato de Barcelos. Lunch and hotel pickup and drop-off in Porto are included on this small-group tour, limited to six people.


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Douro Valley Tour (Amarante, Pinhão and Peso da Régua) with Wine Estate visit

Douro Valley Tour (Amarante, Pinhão and Peso da Régua) with Wine Estate visit

Get to know one of Portugal’s most treasured regions during this full-day tour to the Douro Valley. See the historic landmarks in Amarante, before visiting the city of Peso da Regua. See where the barrels of port wine was loaded onto the Rabelo boats. Then cruise down the picturesque roads to Pinhão. Learn about the winemaking process throughout the day and sample wines from various vineyards in this premier wine region.





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TRAVELLING TO PORTO

Porto Airport
Portuguese Trains
Rede Expressos

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National roads indicated as EN, IC and IP are free whilst others have tolls. Locals will use the Via Verde automatic toll device and have dedicated lanes going through the toll gate – you'll need to avoid these. Other than that Portuguese highways are well maintained and a joy to ride on. The A1 Lisbon, linking to the Algarve; A3 Valença and the Minho, A4 Amarante and Trás-os-Montes, linking to Bragança; A28 to Cerveira and the A29 to Aveiro. Some of these highways are to be paid at the end of the trip with the ticket that must be collected at the beginning of the highway.

If arriving in Porto from outside it's advisable to park in the outskirts of the city and use the metro system to travel to the centre and add the ride on one of Europes newest transport systems to your trip experience.


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• Linha de Aveiro (urban) Train Timetable

• Linha de Braga (urban) Train Timetable

• Linha de Ermesinde (urban) Train Timetable

• Linha de Guimarães (urban) Train Timetable

• Linha de Marco de Canaveses (urban) Train Timetable

• Linha de Douro (regionais) Train Timetable

• Faro - Lisbon - Coimbra - Guarda - Viana - Valença (intercidades - via Campanhã)
Train Timetable

CP Website

• Rede Expressos: Website Rede Expressos run comfortable coach services across Portugal connecting most major towns and cities.

• Transdev: Website Transdev have bus services in central and northern Portugal.

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