Porto is Portugal’s second largest city. Frequently overlooked by tourists in the past, Porto is finally showing up on travelers’ radars. The seaside town’s beautiful architecture is drawing the eyes of those interested in the city’s historical past and interesting design, which is a blend of traditional and contemporary. Porto is also gaining recognition from foodies, who flock to the city for its food scene and wine.
If architecture and design are your forte, there are an array of amazing buildings to see in Porto. Many of the buildings have the traditional azulejo tiles seen throughout the region. The blue and white tiled exterior of two churches, Igreja dos Carmelitas and Capela de Santa Catarina, is a spectacular site. Casa da Música became an iconic building in Porto as soon as it was completed in 2005. It is the only concert hall in the world with two entirely glass walls. Also a must see is Casa Fez, which took local architect Alvaro Leite Vieira twelve years to complete. The project was especially important to Vieira since he was building it to live in himself. It is definitely a different look from the tiled facades of many of Porto’s buildings.
Porto is also a hot spot for good food and wine. Shellfish cooked in a copper cataplana cooker is a specialty of the area. Some restaurants on the ‘do not miss’ list include Cafe Majestic and the restaurant Book, known for its savory polenta. For after dinner drinks head over to the beach bar Praia da Luz.
Porto has everything from hostels to luxury hotels. Some luxury accommodations include the InterContinental Porto Palacio Das Cardosas and the Pestana Palacio do Freixo. There are also some magnificent boutique hotels like Hotel Teatro Porto, and just outside Porto in Lamego, the 19th century manor house turned hotel, Six Senses Douro Valley.