Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city and home to many of the country’s most important exports. It’s where port wine was first stored, where travellers can find the best pottery in Portugal, and boasts some of the best seafood markets in the country. Porto’s historic city centre is an Unesco World Heritage Site and arguably one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal. Wine cellars are lined up along the river banks and restaurants and bars are strategically placed along the riverfront.
Walk through the city centre and pay close attention to Porto’s buildings. They may look faded, but their coloured tiles and murals add to their authentic beauty. Exquisite hand-painted tiles can be found on church walls and inside many of Porto’s buildings. Flights to Porto take a few hours from the UK.
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Porto is warmest in July and August when the temperature is around 35 or 40 degrees. Summer also has low humidity, cooling breezes, and little rain. Mid-September is the beginning of the rainy season, and the amount of rainfall peaks in December which has an average rainfall of 45cm (18 inches). The rain continues into May, although it eases off in March. Winters are mild.
Summer is the most popular time to visit Porto and the beaches in the surrounding areas.
If you do not mind rain, pack the wet gear and come in winter. The weather is on the cool side of mild, and, when the rain eases off in March, everything is in bloom.
The public transport system in Porto is cheap and easy, but many tourists enjoy walking or biking, especially in the old section of town, where the sights are close together. Don’t worry about getting lost in the narrow streets, just ask a resident to point you in the right direction. Buses, trams and the metro will get you around the city quickly, and the funiculars can take you from the Ribeira to the city’s centre. Local trains can take you to the outer edges of the city and to the beaches. Avoid travelling during rush hour, as public transport can get very crowded. Look for discount or multiple-trip tickets such as the Passe Turistico, bulhete diario (day pass) and the rechargeable Andante Card to save money. You can hail, call or pick up a taxi from a stand 24 hours a day.
Driving can be very difficult, thanks to heavy traffic and a maze of one-way streets. With all the transport system options in Porto, renting a car isn’t worth the hassle.