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Portugal's second-biggest city, Porto has a brawny beauty all its own. Built on granite bluffs above the Rio Douro, its heart is a tangle of World Heritage-listed lanes tumbling steeply down to a medieval waterfront. It's hard not to be wooed by Porto's atmospheric riverside, dotted with old port-wine boats, pinched lanes and shadowy archways.

In a city where the most obvious sights are its six bridges (four modern, two nineteenth-century, all spectacular), the fascination of Porto lies more in its day-to-day life.

Porto was known in Roman times as Portus Cale (the "sheltered port"). Porto’s status as European City of Culture in 2001 was the signal for a massive urban redevelopment, and Porto's streets and squares have subsequently been turned upside-down in a flurry of construction work, including the provision of a new metro system and tram lines. Many of the city's historic buildings are being restored, particularly in the riverside bairro of Ribeira – now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Central Porto is perhaps best regarded as the sloping Avenida dos Aliados, the commercial hub of the city, with Praça da Liberdade at its southern end; just around the corner (reached via a pedestrian underpass) is São Bento train station, with the partially pedestrianized Praça da Batalha behind here. The streets leading off Avenida dos Aliados are the city's major shopping areas: to the west, the busy Rua da Fábrica with its stationers and bookshops; to the east, Rua de Passos Manuel, which runs into Praça D. João I, and beyond into Rua de Santa Catarina with its upmarket fashion shops and jewellers.

South of the landmark Torre dos Clérigos, a labyrinth of medieval streets and seedy alleyways tumble below the , or cathedral, down to the waterfront Cais da Ribeira, which is lined with restaurants, bars, clubs and cafés. Here, the lower of the two tiers of Ponte Luís I runs across the river to Vila Nova de Gaia (just Gaia to locals) the home of the port wine lodges across the river. The other main points of interest are all to the west of the centre, particularly the religious art collections of the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis, and the old streetcars at the riverfront Museu do Carro Eléctrico. The main outlying target is Porto's world-class Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, though trams and buses also run along the river to the former fishermen's suburb of Foz de Douro on the coast, or down Avenida da Boavista to the city's largest park, Parque de Cidade, and beyond to the stumpy seaside Castelo de Queijo.

Usefull Links:

Porto Map with main touristic atractions (Via Michelin)

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