Porto’s charms have been consistent for centuries, due to its UNESCO heritage Old Town and world-famous Portuguese wine trade. The ocean cruise port of Leixões is actually in neighboring Matosinhos. Most cruise passengers do excursions to Porto to check out the bustling café scene on both sides of the Douro River, as well as the historic center of Ribeira on the southern hillside. Those who just want a mellow beach day remain in Matosinhos.
What We Love
Clérigos Church: Walk up the narrow streets through the heart of Old Town to get to this landmark. Entering the church is free, and for a few Euros you can access a tiny museum and take the 240 steps to the top of the tower.
Rua de Santa Catarina: Stroll this pedestrian street for great shopping — and people-watching. Pop into a café between stops at local shops as well as international chains.
Best Known For
Sunsets: Take a river cruise for views of the pink and gold sky from various vantage points — or just walk the riverbanks and join the photo-snapping crowds.
Port Wine: The most famous port wineries in Portugal have public tasting facilities on Gaia just a few steps back from the riverbank. Most have working storage cellars open for tours.
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Who It's Best For
Oenophiles: Even if you don’t love port, a fortified, sweet wine, the other wines of Portugal are delicious, varied, and wonderfully inexpensive.
Pedestrian Explorers: Porto is a great walking city — compact, full of shops and restaurants, and easy to navigate. The funicular will take you from the bottom of the Douro to the hillside Old Town, but you can also walk the bridge.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
You May Huff and Puff: Old Town Porto is very hilly. Don’t get lost in the winding old streets and staircases after dark.
Stay Alert: The Douro riverbank draws a noticeable amount of hawkers and gypsies. Gaia is quieter but less sketchy, especially at night.
Lena Katz is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Brides.