|Porto, the country´s second largest city, is full of interest. Rich of History, this is a city of traditions where ancient roots have been preserved with pride. Yet, this is probably the most creative and innovative place in Portugal, very impressive modern arquitecture lives close to the old quarters: the fabulous Casa da Musica ("Music Hall") or the Contemporain Museum of Serralves are good exemples.
The Cathedral area deserves to be explored, with its various monuments, such as the Renaissance church of Santa Clara, and the densely populated quarter of Barredo, which appears not to have changed since medieval times. The riverside quarter of Ribeira is also delightful, with narrow streets, typical houses and picturesque life-style: it has been recently restored and now includes fashionable restaurants and bars. Equally lively and colourful is the market of Bolhão, where you can buy almost anything, but more elegant shops can be seen nearby, especially the jewelleries and leather goods shops in the Baixa (down-town).
Porto affords many other attractions, monuments and museums, as well as a cultural agenda which has been steadily improving. With a well-known gastronomy and hospitable population, it is also the starting point to explore the river Douro in an unforgettable journey upstream.
Right next to Porto, you can visit in Vila Nova de Gaia, by the Port wine lodges with their characteristic red roofs emblazoned with well-known names, and over fifty companies based in narrow streets are engaged in blending and ageing the famous drink. Some of them offer guided tours so that visitors may see how Port is made and taste different samples, or you may choose to take a river cruise along the Douro. The whole district is filled with prosperous towns, as commerce and industry thrive there, but you can drive along many calm roads with wonderful views over the river or enjoy a rugged and still unspoilt coastline.
Matosinhos, on the suburbs of Oporto, is in spite of its industrial port, renowned for its gastronomy based on seafood and also popular for its coastline of small beaches enclosed by rocks beaten by the sea. Matosinhos also boasts of a valuable patrimony visible in monuments such as the Monastery of Leça do Bailio, the first headquarters of the Order of Hospitallers in Portugal and with a 14th century fortified church exhibiting Gothic arches and a beautiful rose window.
Along the coast of Porto, you will find holiday resorts like the cosmopolitan beach of Espinho and its casino.
The ancient town of Póvoa de Varzim received its charter in 1308 and has developped over the ages from a poor fishing community to a resort popular for its sandy beaches and amusements, including a casino which animates the local nightlife.
Inland, there is the quaint charm of Amarante, with 17th century mansions with colourful balconies of painted wood and overlooking the river and famous for a kind of sweet egg pastries called "papos de anjo" (angel bellies).
View the Porto & North region Brochure.
Points of Interest:
Closest golf courses: the 6-hole of Quinta do Fojo, the 9-hole of Miramar, Oporto in the South, the prestigious Estela in the North (25 minutes drive), Amarante inland and Vidago Golf Course.
Casa da Calçada Relais & Châteaux Hotel with special golf packages to play on golf courses from north Portugal.
Porto - The Ribeira and D. Luis Bridge
Estela Golf Course
Gaia: view of the Ribeira at night