Centuries ago, British merchant ships would cluster in Porto’s medieval harbour to ferry the region’s port wines home. Now, the city’s riverbanks are crowded with pavement restaurants, and the old town neighbourhoods of Vitoria, Ribeira, and Miragaia hum with artisan shops and long-forgotten trades.
Spend a weekend here and also enjoy the nearby Douro Valley – undoubtedly one of Portugal’s most beautiful corners and the old regulated wine-growing region in the world. The dramatic landscape is so beautiful it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2001.
Saturday Morning: Exploring Porto
To prepare for all the pavement pounding ahead, amble over to Manteigaria for some Pasteis de Nata. Synonymous with Portugal and delicious;y moreish, they are the perfect start to your day. Next, make your way to Bolhao – the main market of the city, where cheerful vendors sell everything from seafood to herbs and honey. Situated east of Avenida dos Aliados, the market is open weekdays until 5 pm and Saturday to 1 pm. Next, wander on down the pedestrianised Santa Catarina street until you reach the Church of St. Ildefonso. The exterior provides a wonderful example of the ornate blue azulejo tiles for which Porto is rightly famous.
LUNCHTIME: Order the ‘Terylene’ slow-cooked marinated pork sandwich and a glass of sparkling Tinto Bruto red at Restaurante Flor dos Congregados.
After a leisurely lunch, your private guide will meet you for a walking tour of the rest of the city. Enjoy weaving through the beautiful cobbled alleys towards the Church of Sao Francisco, a stunning Gothic church known as ‘the cave of gold’ thanks to its dazzlingly opulent gold leaf interior. Next journey to the Stock Exchange Palace to admire its neoclassical architecture.
You can not travel to Porto without trying its eponymous port wine, and your final destination is one of the famous port houses for an afternoon of tasting. That means heading over to the exquisite wine cellars for an introduction to Port wine, Vinho Verde, as well as some of the country’s lesser-known appellations.
DINNER TIME For those looking to push the boat out, The Restaurant (with two Michelin stars at The Yeatman hotel) cannot be beaten. It is renowned for its fish dishes and extensive wine cellar.
“A petiscos tasting dinner combines many small dishes that showcase the country’s rich heritage.”
Sunday Morning: To the Douro Valley
This morning after a leisurely start, leave the city for the countryside. Experience the beauty of the Douro Valley in style, cruising along the river in your own private boat. Admire the incredible scenery en route and stop for a traditional lunch.
LUNCHTIME: Settle down at a table on the outdoor terrace of Cozinha da Clara; the views of the vineyards and Douro far below are breathtaking.
After a scenic lunch venture to a local winery, Quinta do Crasto – a family-owned estate producing wines and port, located in Gouvinhas right in the Douro Valley. The property boasts 135 hectares, 75 of them covered with vines, and enjoys exceptional conditions for the production of wines and olive oils of the highest quality. Finally, break up the drive back to Porto with a scenic train journey. The Douro Valley boasts a historic train that travels directly along the bank of the Douro River between Tua and Regua, through spectacular landscapes.
DINNER TIME: Enjoy the flavours of Portugal with a petiscos tasting dinner. Located in one of the most charming streets in Porto, Mercearia dar Flores opens its doors to food lovers looking for a local gourmet experience.
WHERE TO STAY
From a decanter-shaped pool and the 25,000 bottle cellar to the grape pip treatments at its spa, this stylish family-owned hotel revolves around wine. It has two restaurants (one with two Michelin stars) and mesmerising views over the city.
WHAT TO EAT & DRINK
Pasteis de Nata, and White port with tonic
Enjoy this 2-night trip in Porto from £1,450 per person.
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