5 reasons to visit Porto and the Douro Wine Region on the same trip
In recent weeks, the city of Porto in Portugal won the award for Best City Destination in the World 2022 at the World Travel Awards, the “Oscars” of tourism. The small city in northern Portugal beat out popular destinations such as New York, London and Dubai.
At this point, surely you are trying to understand why this award was given and why you should visit Porto. So, we’ll give you the reasons why and also offer you an important tip to make your experience complete – a visit to the Alto Douro Wine Region.
Follow the Douro River from Foz to Trás-os-Montes and live a city and country experience, all in just one trip. Enjoy the best this region has to offer and get to know a piece of Portugal. Know the reasons to visit Oporto and Alto Douro Wine Region.
1. A high-quality gastronomic and wine experience
Portuguese gastronomy is, by many, considered one of the best in the world. Porto’s cuisine is no exception. If you plan to visit Porto and have not yet included experiencing the flavors of the city’s typical dishes, then we recommend you do it as soon as possible.
The “Francesinha” is the “must eat” for any tourist visiting Porto. It is a sandwich consisting of different meats, cheese, egg and coated with a special sauce that you won’t find anywhere else. There are several restaurants and taverns scattered throughout the streets of Porto where you can taste this famous dish, but these are the places that have the most consensual recipes.
You can’t let your visit to Porto go by without eating the traditional “Tripas à Moda do Porto”. This typical dish of the city, besides pleasing the palate, carries with it a strong piece of history. Several centuries ago the people from Porto were forced to use the meat offal left over in the city to feed themselves, unaware that they had created a delicacy. Moreover, this very dish gave the “Tripeiros” nickname to the people of Porto. Dare to try this combination of intense flavors on your visit to Porto!
Last but not least, the wine. Visiting Porto and Alto Douro Wine Region and not tasting the famous “Port Wine” would be a beginner’s mistake. We recommend a visit to the cellars located in Vila Nova de Gaia, on the other bank of the Douro River, but don’t stop there. For a 360 gastronomic experience, travel to Douro Vinhateiro, a region classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There you can witness the origins of Port Wine and taste it in the best estates. We reveal below how you can get there.
2. Memorable visits and stays in the Alto Douro Wine Region
If you are currently designing your itinerary for the weekend in Oporto, you cannot forget to include a visit to the Alto Douro Wine Region. Although this region is located 135 km north of the city of Porto, both the journey and the destination will make every second of your time worthwhile.
The Alto Douro Vinhateiro is located in northeastern Portugal and has about 26,000 hectares full of idyllic scenery from which the best portugueses wines are made. Interestingly, it is the oldest regulated wine region in the world! It was certainly not by mere chance that in 2001 UNESCO awarded this region the status of World Heritage Site.
With this in mind, there are many reasons to visit the Douro Vinhateiro (Wine Growing Douro). First of all, because you will have the opportunity to contemplate the magnificent Douro River through the many viewpoints in the region. From there you will be able to marvel at the vast vineyards and terraces on the banks of the Douro. Then, you can visit the region’s estates and experience the famous wine tasting in loco. In addition, if you visit the Douro Wine Region in September/October, you will be able to experience the harvest season and, who knows, participate in the grape-picking.
Definitely, there are strong reasons why you should visit the Alto Douro Vinhateiro. To get there from Porto you can do it three ways – by car/bus, by train, or by cruise. This last option is one of the most requested by the thousands of tourists who visit the Alto Douro Wine Region during the year. Take advantage of the unique opportunity to sail up the Douro to the best estates in the region!
Upon your arrival, you will have premium private transfers available (Jaguars and/or Mercedes) to transfer you from the pier to your stay. In addition, a pleasant wine tasting as well as a wine pairing meal in a signature restaurant awaits you. Need more reasons to visit the Alto Douro Wine Region?
3. Eye-catching panoramas and pleasant green spaces
Porto is an urban and metropolitan city, but at the same time it has places that make you fill your eyes. To begin with, the Ribeira do Porto area. It is one of the most “instagrammable” places and once you are there you will understand why. The landscape of the Douro River in front of you, with the Port wine cellars on the other bank and the D. Luís Bridge right next to it is something you should enjoy at least once in your life.
Also, for a more panoramic view of the city, we recommend climbing the iconic Torre dos Clérigos. You may not find a better vantage point for the city of Porto than this one. After that, we suggest you take a 15-minute walk to the Crystal Palace Gardens, where you will again be able to admire the Douro River and the Arrábida Bridge. Everything together with the green of nature and the peacocks and ducks that live there.
Finally, for lovers of green spaces, we recommend a visit to Serralves Park, the Botanical Garden of Porto, the City Park and also the Jardim do Morro, on the Vila Nova de Gaia side, but soon after passing over the upper deck of the D. Luís Bridge.
4. Vast cultural, historical, and architectural heritage
For a long time the city of Porto has been sought after by people from the four corners of the world for its historical, cultural, and architectural wealth. The “Invicta” city – title given due to its invincibility against invasion attempts in the 19th century – was even European Capital of Culture in 2001.
To begin, we suggest a pedestrian crossing of the D. Luís Bridge, designed in the 19th century by Gustave Eiffel, the same engineer once responsible for the construction of the Eiffel Tower. Then, you can feast your eyes on São Bento Station, one of the most emblematic places in the city. After leaving the station, very close to you, you will have the Avenida dos Aliados, the Torre dos Clérigos, and the Sé do Porto. All of them spaces that will be relevant in your visit to Porto.
If you want to do some shopping during your visit to Porto and feel the bustle of the city’s commercial area, we recommend you go through Rua de Santa Catarina and also go to the traditional but renovated Mercado do Bolhão. Along the way, stop at the Café Majestic and delight yourself not only with the menu, but also with the beauty and refinement of the space.
Finally, we strongly recommend going to the Lello Bookstore, especially for architecture lovers, as it is a space that leaves anyone open-mouthed. Furthermore, just below the bookstore, in the Galerias de Paris, you can enjoy the nightlife that the city of Porto has to offer, with lots of bars and discos open daily.
5. Affordable, safe and hospitable city
The city of Porto is full of reasons to be visited by everyone. Regarding transport accessibility, the city is inserted in a metropolitan area of over 2000 km2. In addition, Porto’s airport is located 20 minutes by car or 40 minutes by subway from the center of “Invicta”. If you wish to leave the center of Porto, you can also use the train. All this at an affordable price.
Along with transport affordability there is also affordability. It is true when they say that Porto is one of the cheapest cities to visit. In 2021, the barometer “City Break Cost Index” ranked the “Invicta” city as the seventh cheapest in the world to visit. Another strong reason to book your stay and visit Porto.
As for safety, according to the 2021 “Global Peace Index”, Portugal is the fourth safest country in the world, which makes Porto one of the safest cities to visit. Besides, the people from Porto are known as friendly and hospitable people, always ready to help all their visitors.
So, all these reasons have already made you book your visit to Porto and Alto Douro Vinhateiro, right? Don’t wait for a good time, because all times of the year are excellent to make this trip. Visit Porto and visit the Alto Douro Wine Region!