Porto, situated in the north west of Portugal and the second largest city after Lisbon, is fast becoming a popular weekend break for many. Just two hours from London, it’s a hop, skip and jump to this UNESCO listed destination.
So, how do you while away your time in this place? Well, wine tasting of course! The region is famed for the production of Port. There are numerous tasting tours of all the big name Port producers such as Crofts, Taylors, Ferreira as well as smaller producers. I actually ended up buying an extra suitcase to carry back all our purchases (around 19 bottles of Port).
Porto has so much else to offer too, with its narrow streets and quaint little restaurants, down to the buzzy Ribeira district along the banks of the Douro River. The best way to see all the sights this city has to offer is to do a city tour including a cruise up the river under the six bridges spanning the Douro. We paid a visit to Sao Francisco Church with its ornate gilded interior which was just stunning. The city is also famous for its tiles on old buildings which are so unique and colourful as they seem to depict a story of times gone by. However, the most striking was the Sao Bento Railway Station as the whole atrium of this station tells the story of Portugal in blue and white tiles. Not surprisingly, it is known as the most beautiful train station in Europe.
When the hunger pangs start – after all that walking around! – get prepared to gorge on a Francesinha sandwich. Of course “sandwich” is a loose term; it’s more like a delicious artery attack! A toasted sandwich stuffed with various meats, melted cheese all over and then doused in a traditional “secret spicy sauce” accompanied by a glass of tawny Port. Other recommended restaurants are O’ Paparico for fine dining; Restaurante Escondidnho for traditional Portuguese fare in an elegant environment; and O’Golfinho for the famed Francesinha sandwich.
By Diane Bilimoria, London