The historic center of Porto rises up on the north bank of the Douro River, a pretty jumble of church spires, wrought-iron balconies, and colorful facades. The area around the Ribeira riverfront (the waterfront on the main city-center side) was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. The Douro River is spanned by six spectacular bridges, one of them designed by Gustave Eiffel back in 1877. The port-producing suburb of Vila Nova de Gaia, on the south bank of the river, is easily reachable by bus or taxi. A few miles northwest of the center, where the Douro meets the Atlantic, spreads the elegant residential suburb of Foz. Porto's city center is compact, with most of its attractions within walking distance. Note that it is quite a maze of alleyways, backstreets, passages, and dead ends, so expect to get lost at some point—that's just part of Porto's charm.
WHEN TO GO
For the driest conditions and best temperatures, visit Porto in summer. The best month is July, when the high temperature averages in the high 60s.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Francisco Sá Carneiro airport is seven miles north of the city (351-229-432-400; www.ana.pt/portal/page/portal/ANA/AEROPORTO_PORTO). Since there are no trains or shuttle buses, the best way from the airport to the city center is by subway (Pedras Rubras; 351-225-081-000; www.metrodoporto.pt/pagegen.asp?SYS_PAGE_ID=873878). Rental cars and taxis are also an option; a typical taxi fare to the city center will cost you about $20. If you decide to navigate on your own, directions from the airport to downtown Porto can be found at ViaMichelin's website (www.viamichelin.com)—just be aware that this website still refers to Porto's airport by its former name: Aeroporto de Pedras Rubras.
Porto Tourist Office
25 Rua Clube dos Fenianos
Tel: 351 223 393 470
Fax: 351 223 323 303
Open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
For additional tourist offices in Porto, visit www.portoturismo.pt/index.php?m=4&s=1