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Porto

Located in northern Portugal on the banks of the Douro river, the city of Porto (sometimes called Oporto) is truly a visual delight. A Porto city break is full of superb sightseeing, lovely food and wine and all-round rich travel experience.

Porto is utterly romantic as the riverbank is lined with beautiful old buildings leading off into tiny streets and ancient piazzas adorned with wonderful monuments and landmark churches. Hailed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, the old Ribeira District is a historic marvel. One of the oldest European cities, Porto was an outpost of the Roman Empire, so the city is steeped in history. You'll find architecture encompassing medieval, romanesque, gothic, neoclassical and romantic styles on your holiday in Porto.

Porto is an experience of the medieval and modern living happily side by side. The city is very hilly with old houses carved into the steep cliff face and labyrinth stone steps leading up and down, so stout shoes and a brave heart are essential for a great walking tour! Old traditions are retained in Porto, elements largely forgotten in other European cities and a genuine Bohemian spirit still exists.

If you enjoy food, a holiday in Porto is made for you! Renowned as the culinary star of the entire country. Local residents are known as "Tripeiros" or tripe eaters so naturally, a speciality of the region is tripe, but bacalhau (salted cod) and fresh fish like sardines and daurada (sea bream) are utterly delicious. Another famous food is the "francesihna" (literally translated as the little French lady), a mouthwatering sandwich, voted one of the 10 best sandwiches in the world. Eating out is pretty reasonable and there are superb restaurants from cheap n' cheerful student cafes to upmarket eateries.

Sampling port wine for which the city is world-famous is a must when visiting this vibrant city. Visit the wine caves at Gaia across the river and buy some souvenirs to take home. A bottle of Sandemans or Fonseca is always a welcome gift. Try a river cruise too as the Douro really is the lifeblood of Porto and makes the city a commercial and maritime success. A cruise is very pleasant in this semi Mediterranean climate and a day on the river highlights the wonderful buildings and different districts.

Porto is a city that has a modern heart that thrums to an alternative beat. The brilliant "Casa de Musica" (House of Music) is a marvellous piece of building art; the Museu de Arte Contemporanea pays homage to minimalism and Rua Santa Catarina with its trendy boutiques all attract crowds too. 

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