Porto is nestled along the northern bank of the Douro River, that flows into the Atlantic Ocean within the city’s boundaries.
The city has a prime geographical location, with a vast communications network and excellent connections to other parts of Portugal and to Europe. Both the Douro Valley, birthplace of the world-famous Port Wine, and Galicia, in Spain, are just over one hour’s drive away.
In less than an hour, you can also find other spectacular landscapes, ranging from woods, mountains and lush nature reserves to picturesque villages and idyllic beaches.
Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, which provides air connections to the world’s principal cities, is just 15 minutes from the city centre.
Porto is recognised for the genuine character of the local people and its tradition of welcoming visitors. The city’s key attributes include its rich cuisine, accompanied by renowned wines from the Douro region.
Our biggest popular festivity is the night of São João, on June 23, when revellers release hot air balloons, hit passers-by on the head with plastic hammers, and offer vases of sweet basil decorated with traditional poems.
Porto is also known for its love of camellia trees, a species from Southeast Asia that is already considered to be part of the city’s heritage. In 1849, the poet Giosuè Carducci visited King Charles Albert of Sardinia, who was exiled here, and described Porto as “a river flowing among camellias”.
Due to its long Atlantic coast, the district of Porto offers excellent natural conditions for practising water sports. Portugal is part of the world surf route and hosts major international events.
Arts and culture are part of the local DNA. The city has always been a pioneer in the development of new artistic languages and expressions. The art of cinema was born here. Many Portuguese literary giants lived here. And some of the internationally-best known architects are from Porto.
The area of the city of Porto has been inhabited since prehistoric times, occupied by the Romans, Iberians, Celts, Swabians, Visigoths and Moors. During the Roman era, “Portus Cale” was an important territory on the commercial route between Braga and Lisbon.
The city’s importance as a maritime and commercial centre intensified in the 14th century and, in the following centuries, the city of Porto had one of the country’s biggest shipyards. It was only in the late 17th century that production of Port Wine in the Douro region became a pillar of Porto’s economy, stimulated by rising demand from England. The prosperity of the wine trade made it possible to finance renovation of the old city.
Historically, Porto is recognised for its fight for independence and love of freedom. It was in Porto that the 1820 Liberal Revolution began, which rapidly spread, without resistance, to other urban centres in Portugal. On January 31, 1891, Porto hosted the first republican revolt and first attempt to overthrow the monarchy and establish a Republic in Portugal.
The richness and diversity of our architecture is world famous.
From the medieval to the contemporary, in Porto you will find the works by notorious architects and engineers: Nasoni, Gréber, Eiffel, Seyrig, Marques da Silva, Edgar Cardoso and, of course, the three Pritzker Prize-winning architects: our own local architects, Álvaro Siza and Souto de Moura, and the Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas.
It’s easy to find green spaces and gardens in Porto.
Our City Park, near the ocean, is Portugal’s biggest urban park, with more than 200 acres.
From the romantic gardens around the Crystal Palace, you can enjoy the beauty of the Douro River. And Serralves Park harbours 44 acres of formal gardens, woodlands, a farm and a contemporary art museum.
The Historic Centre of Porto has been classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and, in 2020, Porto was considered to be the World’s Best Travel Destination. Portugal has also been ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit as the world’s third safest country.