Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal, is sometimes dismissed as Lisbon’s business-minded sibling. But underneath its commercial and industrial surface, there flourishes a lively scene for the arts, food and music amidst Art Deco buildings and a UNESCO World Heritage-designated historic core.
Take time to visit the port wine cellars where the city’s famous export is blended and stored. Then explore a turn-of-the-century bookstore, the neoclassical Stock Exchange Palace or the sprawling arts complex.
Tumbling from the newer sections of the city down to the banks of the Douro, Porto’s oldest quarter, Ribeira, can feel contemporary one minute with starkly modern galleries and chic bistros and ancient the next with narrow alleyways strung with laundry lines and worn stone stairways connecting the cobblestone streets. Wander the neighborhood, from more commercial strips to residential back streets where old ladies chat and children bobble soccer balls. Down by the Douro at Ribeira Square, the streets open up, the sky is blue and cafés set their tables and chairs out on the plaza, eager to serve you. This is no stern, humorless, all-business city. Porto knows how to relax and enjoy life.