In Depth

Soulful city: A guide to Porto

Old and new collide in the narrow cobbled lanes and hip hillsides of this Portuguese city

With new Monarch flights starting from Luton, Birmingham and Manchester, it's easier than ever to reach Porto. The home of port wine, Portugal's enchanting second city also offers a winning blend of austere architecture and cutting-edge design, plus buzzy bars and beaches, just up the Douro river.

What to see

Porto is bursting with beautiful structures: blue-tiled churches here, Eiffel-designed bridges there. Be sure to gasp at twin-towered Se do Porto cathedral – and climb to its mesmerising miradouro (lookout) – and nearby Sao Bento station's blue-and-white azulejo tiles. Then, for more modern kicks, admire Casa da Musica, a concert hall hewn from stark white concrete, and the Serralves, Portugal's finest contemporary art museum.

Take some time out

On the Douro's southern shore is Vila Nova de Gaia (aka Gaia) and the original old port lodges of companies like Cockburn's and Croft. Tasting and walking tours are available, but for slicker sampling cross back over the river to Vinologia, whose port flights are as heavenly as they are educative. Don't swallow? Fat chance.

Where to shop

A glut of design-focused, multipurpose spaces have materalised in recent years, most hawking desirable handmade products. Lobo Taste and Scar.ID are two such, while newly arrived Armazem is an old wine warehouse turned cafe, gallery and shops, selling everything from vintage clocks to chic handbags.

Where to eat

Petiscos (Portuguese tapas) are available in most bars and restaurants, but the classic snack is something saltier. 'Being so near to the sea, Porto is famous for its fish,' says Margarida Ribeiro, an editor of gastro website Porto Tasty. 'I suggest Taverna do Sao Pedro: it's a very traditional seafood restaurant that few tourists know.'

Where to drink

A bookstore focused on art and cinema by day, Candelabro transforms into a smoky bar after-dark, although many guests congregate on the pavement just outside. It's the kind of place that is effortlessly but unpretentiously hip: everyone's friendly and welcoming. Bottles of Super Bock beer cost only a few euros and DJs play late on weekends.

 
Where to stay

Porto's chicest residents clink pink port and tonics at The Yeatman's suntrap rooftop, set on a hillside above the city. Inside, this five-star hotel affords its guests an extensive spa, an equally extensive wine cellar and fine dining.

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