One in a while, a new holiday hotspot pops up from nowhere to become the most-talked about getaway destination that year. Generally, this would be somewhere rather out of our budget like the Maldives, or recently, Reykjavic. But as it happens, we’re in luck: anyone who’s anyone is heading to Porto, which, for us Brits, is virtually on our doorstep.
Affordable, stunning and totally unique describes the city of Porto perfectly. But just in case you need further persuading, here are nine reasons to book that flight…
1. The scene
In every sense of the word. Beautiful views greet you from the moment you step off the plane and a dry by the River Duoro is nothing short of breathtaking. But when it comes to the city’s activities, there’s plenty to keep you busy. From bustling nightlife to chilled afternoons exploring the cobbled streets, Porto is what you make it.
2. The architecture
You could travel the world and never see quite so many stunning buildings in such a small place. Where to start? The São Bento train station is very different to the ones we’re accustomed to, and so worth the visit, since it’s considered one of the most beautiful stations in the world. Pretty tiles panel the entrance, showcasing history of the north of Portugal. Of course, the many churches, including the gothic Igreja de Sao Francisco, must be mentioned, and the stunning waterfront buildings.
Whether it’s historic buildings or something less conspicuous but just as beautiful, the best way to disover Porto’s beautiful buildings is to get out on the streets and enjoy them.
3. The history
Porto’s historic centre is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and there are plenty of references to historic events across the city, which dates back to roman times. From the cathedral with its Romanesque choir to the neoclassical Stock Exchange and the more traditional Portugese-style church of Santa Clara, there’s more than enough to mesmerise history buffs.
4. The drink
Can you really call yourself a wine lover before a visit to the home of Port? Probably not, but one thing’s for sure: you’ll never settle for anything less than a tawny 10 again! The fortified wine is the pride of the city – and with good reason. Be sure to bring some back in your suitcase!
5. The weather
Of course, as Brits, weather is one of the main reasons we decide to leave the country; and Porto doesn’t disappoint. Slightly warmer than the UK, but generally mild enough to feel comfortable in, the city benefits from warm summers and cool, rainy winters. Not quite as warm as the Algarve or southern region, but more than pleasant enough for a day’s exploring.
6. The location
It takes just two hours and ten minutes to fly to Porto from London with TAP Portugal – around the same amount of time it would take to reach Manchester on the train. It’s a 3-hour drive from Lisbon, so you could easily tick two cities off your must-visit list if you’re staying for any length of time. The city is right by the coast, and their beaches are beautiful (and not too busy), so the phrase ‘best of both worlds’ has never been more apt.
7. The locals
The city of Porto has a welcome feeling of calm. Unlike its bustling neighbour, Lisbon, Porto is easy-going and relaxed – mostly thanks to the friendly, upbeat and welcoming locals. Expect to be welcomed by everyone you meet – from waiters, to hotel staff and wine makers. They’re the perfect people to teach you about the secrets of the city, so be sure to stop for a chat.
8. The landscapes
From the Duoro Valley (well worth a boat ride to visit) to the stunning Dom Luis bridge, Porto’s natural and handmade beauty combines seamlessly to create a landscape that you can never capture quite as beautifully on camera. You can certainly try though, if you’re brave enough to go to the top of one of the bridges!
9. The streets
Perhaps an unusual reason to visit a city, but Porto’s cobbled, narrow streets seemingly lead to somewhere new every time you venture down them. Back streets bring you to quaint, traditional house in meditterannean colours. Turn the corner and you’ll be greeted by a stunning cathedral, or a beautiful train station. Walking through Porto’s streets is like living your childhood adventures – a real treat and full of excitement. Pack your comfy shoes, though – you’ll be amazed at how many miles you manage to cover.
TAP Portugal flies from London Gatwick to Porto 12 times a week, prices start at £121 return including all taxes and surcharges. For further information, visit www.flytap.com or call 0345 601 0932.