Porto See And Do
For fans of clean lines and jazzy typefaces, Porto is an Art Deco delight. The style caught on here in a big way from the 1920s onwards, and the city is full of Deco touches—on storefronts, private houses, garages, factories, and movie theaters. Most of these buildings are unrestored, however, and many architectural jewels have sunk into ugly disrepair. Cunhas is a department store ("Novelties, We Sell Cheaper" is its motto) with a huge peacock on its lovely 1930s front (14 Praça Gomes Teixeira; 351-222-001-516; open 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon–Fri, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Sat). The private garden of the Casa de Serralves, a classic example of 1930s bourgeois architecture, is a rare example of an Art Deco landscape. The 1940s Coliseu, a theater, is at least well restored (137 Rua Passos Manuel; 351-223-394-940; www.coliseudoporto.pt), but the garage opposite, which has been converted into a gallery, restaurant, and the bohemian nightclub Maus Hábitos, is in a sad state (178 Rua Passos Manuel; 351-222-087-268; www.maushabitos.com; open 10 p.m.–2 a.m. Wed, Thurs, Sun, 10 p.m.–4 a.m. Fri–Sat). Were this Miami, you'd find it listed in tourist brochures and/or converted into a boutique hotel.
Rua Fernandes Tomás
Tel: 351 223 326 024
Situated east of Avenida dos Aliados, this main market is a don't-miss experience. Screeching, cheerful ladies offer everything from seafood to herbs and honey; mornings are best.
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
210 Rua Dom João de Castro
Lordelo de Ouro
Tel: 351 226 156 500
The most successful of the city's stabs at contemporary cultural relevance is the Museu Serralves, a cultural center at the heart of a glorious garden just outside downtown. Since its inauguration eight years ago, the Serralves has become Porto's greatest attraction and probably the most influential modern art museum in Portugal. It's a theme park of modern art, with a permanent collection covering creative output on an international scale from the 1960s to today, with site-specific work by Dan Graham, Richard Serra, and Claes Oldenburg (a giant trowel stuck into the ground) dotted around the grounds. In 2006, the garden was restored to its original, 1932 octagonal design by J. Gréber.
Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays April through September; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays October through March. Closed Mondays.
Across the river, in the southern suburb of Vila Nova de Gaia, more than a dozen port-wine lodges are open for tours and tastings (most of them daily, except Sunday). For details and addresses, visit the Web site of the Instituto dos Vinhos do Duoro e Porto at www.ivp.pt and click on "Historical Center" in the "Visit the Region" section.
Alternatively, you can visit the IVDP's wine-tasting and sales center, the Solar do Vinho do Porto, which occupies an old mansion high above the river near the Palácio de Cristal. At the Solar's tasting bar, you can peruse a huge port list and sip your selections on a terrace overlooking a shady garden with box hedges and fountains—a fine place for an evening drink (220 Rua de Entre-Quintas; 351-226-094-749; closed Sundays).
Terreiro da Sé
Tel: 351 222 059 028
The formidable cathedral dominating central Porto is worth a visit for its ornate interior and its mixture of architectural styles. Despite attempts to "beautify" it in the 18th century, the cathedral retains the hard, simple lines of its Romanesque origins—though it's really more impressive from a distance than close up.
Open 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily in the summer (until 6 p.m. in the winter), except during masses, held at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Rua S. Felipe de Nery
Tel: 351 222 001 729
For Porto's best panorama, climb the 250-foot-high Baroque Torre dos Clérigos. The views from the top encompass the entire city as well as Vila Nova de Gaia, located across the river to the south.
Open 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
One of Europe's most exhilarating forms of public transportation, the Porto tramway formerly plied a network of routes across the city but now runs only between Ribeira and along the river to Passeio Alegre, in the old town of Foz, and from the Tram Museum (51 Alameda Basílio Teles; 351-226-158-185; museu-carro-electrico.stcp.pt) to Carmo. An extension of the latter—to the city center—is scheduled to open in September 2007. A tribute to the industrial excellence of an earlier age, these splendid machines (some dating from the late 1930s) not only remain in constant use by an appreciative public but have maintained most of their original fittings. The interiors are wood-paneled, with leather-covered seats and armrests. Blinds can be pulled down when the sun gets too strong, and a cord runs along the roof, connecting to a clapper and bell above the driver's head. The driver busies himself at the controls (they read "power" and "brake," in English) and gets irritated when cars and pedestrians obstruct the tracks (which is often). The car groans and creaks along the track, making its way at a moderate pace under the soaring new Arrábida bridge, and out toward Foz and the seaside.