For those in the know, Porto is a sumptuous hotspot for foodies and wine enthusiasts. For the unfamiliar, it’s a hidden gem veiled by the shadows of Lisbon and the glamorous Algarve. But to get off the beaten track in Portugal, this is the place to be. The city and wine-making region of Porto is undoubtedly one of Europe’s best-kept secrets, and we can help you customize the perfect tour to uncover its unique treasures.
Bursting at the seams with Portuguese high culture, the finest Port wine, and outstanding food at every price point, Porto is now fast becoming a top destination for cultured travellers. This compact city is easy to explore on foot, and the UNESCO-listed historic centre is embellished with painted houses that look like they belong on a postcard. Full of baroque churches with ostentatiously decorated exteriors, elaborate buildings dripping in gold, and a maze of medieval alleys, the streets are as grandiose as it gets. If you’re looking for luxury abroad, make Porto your next stop.
Discover the Michelin star restaurants, the exciting street food markets, and the city’s world-class wine cellars.
Ribeira, the Porto’s historic centre, will lead you down a pretty promenade by the river. This is where you’ll be able to see the pastel-painted merchants’ houses and uncover the best cafes, bars and restaurants all with views overlooking the water. The hole-in-the-wall tascas can offer you an authentic taste of Portugal at the most affordable prices, and will give you an excuse to rest your legs after a walking tour in this undulating city. Built on two massive hills rising up from the Douro River, there’ll be some steep inclines as you explore. But as it’s a great place for a food and wine tour, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to stop.
Relax at Parque de Serralves, a stunning sculpture park located four miles west of the centre which is home to an art museum. Walk around the Baixa area to take in the quintessential azulejo artwork that adorns the buildings. Or get an eyeful of the city’s seafront section at Foz do Douro. Further north, there’s a better beach at Matosinhos, also known for its sumptuous seafood restaurants. Take a wine and seaside bike tour and cycle there, or hop on a metro and get there in less than half an hour.
If you’re here for wine-tasting, cross over the Louis I bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia for what feels like an endless row of Port cellars. The oldest Port wine house is Kopke, and the Burmester Museum and Wine Cellar are not to be missed if you want to combine history with tasting experiences.
Although it’s a popular year-round destination for foodies and wine enthusiasts, Porto is one of the wettest cities in southern Europe. The climate is moderate, so summer temperatures are high but still comfortable and the ocean breeze help to keep you cool. Winters tend to be wet, as does early spring. The best time to visit for sunshine and warmth is from May to September.
If you do decide to travel in winter or early spring, don’t let a little rain put you off. Despite having more precipitation than other parts of southern Europe, the weather is still significantly better than the north – and there are plenty of Port wine cellars and stylish wine bars to cosy up in.
The wine in Porto is predominantly Port as the name suggests, with the three main families being white, ruby and tawny. Grown on the terraces of the Douro, Port wine is a part of the oldest demarcated regions of the world. This has been the case since the Companhia Geral da Agricultura das Vinhas do Alto Douro (General Agricultural Company for the Vineyards of the Upper Douro) was formed in the mid-1700s.
Across the wider Douro Valley, vineyards develop grapes for a number of table wines, including some rare varietals that are near impossible to get your taste buds on anywhere else in the world. This is one of Europe’s still-undiscovered wine regions, making it a wonderful gem for those who are enthusiastic about trying something new. This is because as recently as the late 19th Century, the upper reaches of the Douro Valley were difficult to get to for tourists.
The quality of reds, whites, and even the rosés are recognized across the borders. And today, production is split between fortified wine and non-fortified wines. Some areas outside of the city to mention are Pinhão in the heart of the region, where the most high-end vintage Port can be found. As well as Cima Corgo, the largest of the Douro's three sub-regions, accounting for almost half of the valley’s wine production.
For exploring the Douro Valley, Porto makes a great base. Home to stylish hotels and charming boutique houses with ornate exteriors, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to luxury accommodation. Some of the best neighbourhoods for staying in or near include the charming and historic Ribeira, the quaint and arty Baixa, the coastal area of Foz do Douro, and the authentic residential stretches of Miragaia. We also recommend staying in the foodie city of Lisbon if you want to make the most out of your trip.
There are so many places to eat and drink in Porto. Some the best cafes, bars and restaurants can be found lining the riverside, and there are endless stretches of wine cellars where you can sample the city’s best Port wine.
If you want to enjoy an exclusive Port tasting experience, let us arrange a private visit at the Wine Library & Terrace where you’ll be guided by your own sommelier.
Wine Paths curates customized travel experiences to luxury Porto. To find out more about our food, wine and sightseeing tours, get in touch with local expert João.