Roving Report - Picture Perfect Porto
Not all our roving reporters get to be intrepid. Sometimes these "never-off-duty" investigators need to turn themselves into distinctly discerning detectives as was the case with a recent study trip to Oporto. To best appreciate the delights of this "city of bridges" whose historic centre became a World Heritage Site in 1966, our distinguished duo visited wineries to taste the local wine and port, toured the city in style, sampled the local sardines (an absolute must!) and enjoyed healthy hikes among the red, gold and copper-coloured vines.
Oporto is probably most famous for its port wines and most of the notable cellars are based in Vila Nova de Gaia – just across the iconic Ponte de Dom Luis – and well worth a visit. When it was built, this famous bridge (at 172 metres) was the longest of its kind in the world! The city's actual name is Porto, but when preceded by a definite article 'o' in Portuguese meaning 'the' in English, it is written as 'o Porto' meaning 'the port' in English.
Described by our detectives as "an attractive and historic city that is manageable and ideal for walking around, it's even got its own beaches, and many perfect places to pause a while and admire the views." Particular favourites were the Cais da Ribeira, the atmospheric and colourful medieval riverfront district, and the renowned Café Majestic where guests can step back into the Splendour of the Belle Epoque, enjoying the lavish Art Nouveau surroundings and one of the best cups of coffee available in Oporto!
Whilst you're pottering around the city, you might also like to visit the spectacular Lello Bookstore (Livraria Lello to the initiated). Rated no. three of the world's best bookshops, this building is truly stunning and may even seem familiar ... In the early 1990s J K Rowling used to come here to drink coffee between giving English classes and it certainly resembles the one described in Hogwarts!
The city boasts many elegant and welcoming hotels but our roving reporters were taken out to the Douro Valley and stayed at the splendid Six Senses, a superbly renovated 19th century manor house. Here they enjoyed the best of both worlds with the option to explore the bustling city and then relax in the splendour of the autumnal countryside with roaring log fires, panoramic views and visits to nearby wineries. The hotel also offers a spa and many healthy activities including yoga, forest walks, tree climbing ... and, an of course, wine tasting!
Things To Do
• Oporto is a perfect size for walking around and the pavement cafés make it a very enjoyable place to wander around exploring, particularly the Cathedral, the Palacio de Bolsa and the tile-adorned Sao Bento station.
• A visit to Oporto wouldn't be complete without a visit to one of the cities illustrious port cellars. Whether you prefer white port or red, Taylor's, Sandemans, or Croft's .... there is plenty of choice but most offer private tours and venues for dining with a difference!
• Sample sardines – and other fish for that matter – but sardines are what Portugal is famous for, especially those cooked over an open fire on the beach.
• Step aboard a scenic cruise down the Douro and enjoy a Douro Valley Wine Tasting at a local vineyard