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.
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.
More About Port Wine ► Visit Port Lodges ►
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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One thing you can be sure of is the number of great 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 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) 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 an Irish pub. The cheapest meals tend to be found in the city centre centred around the university district in the Baixa focused 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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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.
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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
• Rede Expressos: Website Rede Expressos run comfortable coach services across Portugal connecting most major towns and cities.