48 hours in . . . Porto, an insider guide to Portugal’s splendid second city

These are unusual times, and the state of affairs can change quickly. Please check the latest travel guidance before making your journey. Note that our writer visited pre-pandemic.

Old world charm – with a burst of new world energy

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Long regarded as Lisbon’s quieter sibling, Portugal’s second city is currently undergoing a magical moment of rejuvenation. Centuries ago, British merchant ships would cluster in Porto’s medieval harbour to ferry the region’s eponymous port wines back home. Now, the city’s river banks are crowded with hip new bars and cool pavement restaurants. Helping drive Porto’s transformation is its resurgent cultural scene, from world class concerts at Casa de Musica to exciting art exhibitions along Rua de Miguel Bombarda. But this ancient metropolis is not about to tart itself up and pimp itself out for the tourists like so many other popular European destinations. Portuenses love their old world ways too much to give them up. So staying put are the city’s cobbled streets and beautifully tiled churches, its lazy lunchtimes and touching friendliness. In short, what’s on offer is the best of both worlds.


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