Porto, Portugal

Travel Blog

Consultant Review: Porto, Portugal

Jan 15, 2017

Located in Southwestern Europe and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal is a beautiful country filled with charming port towns and quaint inland villages.

How do you get around?

Porto is a very walkable city, though hilly (so bring comfortable shoes). The city center (Ribeira district) is compact with beautiful old buildings and famous churches and historical sites dotted all around, so I would definitely advise getting around on foot. I would also recommend taking the funicular if you down by the river, to take you back up to the top of the hill. And finally, if you have walked over the famous Ponte Luis I bridge from the Porto side to the Gaia side (north of the river) then you can take the cable car, the Telerférico, down to the river side where the Port Houses are. The views are fantastic and it saves you a long steep walk down!

What was your favorite beverage?

Porto is, of course, the home city of Port – so we spent some time enjoying the fantastic Port tasting at various Port Houses. Sandeman’s VIP tour (only 16 Euros) was amazing, with a small group tour of the caves and then a private tasting afterwards. 6 small tasting glasses of Port doesn’t look like a lot, but it packs a punch! Also, it sounds strange but the ubiquitous Port & Tonic is a must taste! Enjoy it overlooking the Douro River on a hot day!

How about your favorite meal?

There are a lot of quite restaurants along the river, these are quite touristy but I would maybe recommend going for one lunch (or just for a drink) to enjoy the views. Further into the warren of winding medieval streets you will find so many fantastic independent restaurants, bustling with locals and visitors alike. One top recommendation is the Cantina32 for a great Portuguese Tapas meal, make sure you make a reservation! A tip: the Portuguese eat late, it will be busy with diners up to 11pm or even 12pm! So if you want a great atmosphere try to get onto Porto time and eat later on in the evening!

What was your favorite activity?

Port tasting is my top activity in Porto, but two other activities. The first is quite busy with lots of other visitors to the city, but it gives you a great sense of the city and beautiful views – taking a boat trip along the Douro River on one of the traditional wooden Rabelo boats. Porto is protected as a UNESCO world heritage city, so you can imagine the scenery is gorgeous. The second activity would be if you have a little more time; there is a beautiful Lido Swimming Pool hewn into the rock, at a beach just outside of the city named Piscina das Mares. The architectural design is really amazing, and it’s a great place to cool off on a hot day. The waves of the Atlantic are crashing right by the pool, with locals both on the beach and in the lido just relaxing and socializing after work! What's your FAVORITE HOTEL?

The Intercontinental Porto is super centrally located, with great views from some of their rooms overlooking the Praca da Liberdade. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful and the hotel is in an old palace so there are some beautiful touches. It is also a Virtuoso hotel, so complimentary breakfast and a fabulous room upgrade set us up for a great vacation!

Becky Kemp

Becky is the Team Leader at our Madison Avenue Travel Associates store in New York City.