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PORTO IS ...

• The second largest city in Portugal, after Lisbon.
• A city with a long history; founded over 2,000 years ago, its historic centre was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
• Home to around 215,000 citizens, though the metropolitan area has a population of 1.7 million.
• A port city which is one of western Europe's most popular tourist destinations.
• Twinned with Shanghai, Bordeaux, Macau, Luanda, Nagasaki and Vigo, among others.

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WHERE IT IS

Situated on the estuary of the river Douro in northern Portugal, Porto's western suburbs extend to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. The city is around 420km from Madrid, about 5,300km from New York and just shy of 11,000km from Tokyo.

STADIUM

Stadium plan
Stadium plan©Getty Images

• Opened in 2003, the Estádio do Dragão has a capacity of 50,033 and is staging its first major UEFA final.
• Built for UEFA EURO 2004, it held the tournament opener between Portugal and Greece, as well as three other group stage games, a quarter-final and a semi-final.
• Lionel Messi made his Barcelona debut, aged 16, in the 16 November 2003 friendly against Porto that marked the venue's official inauguration.
• Lines A, B, E and F link the Estádio do Dragão metro station to destinations such as the city centre and international airport, and the venue is also served by taxis and bus routes 401, 700, 800, 801, 806 and 7M.
• The 'Dragão' was the first European stadium to receive GreenLight certification from the European Commission for its commitment to reducing energy use for lighting.

GETTING THERE

By air: Over 11 million travellers a year pass through Porto's Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, located around 11km from the heart of the city.

By road: The A1 highway is the big southern approach, while travellers passing through via Guimaraes take the A7 and then A3. The A4 heads east from the city to Vila Real and Braganca, and then on to Spain.

By rail: Porto has a direct link to Vigo, while connections to the rest of the Spanish and French rail systems can be made in Lisbon.

MOVING AROUND

Porto viewed from the River Douro
Porto viewed from the River Douro©Getty Images

Walk: The centre of Porto is easy to navigate by foot.

Public transport: The metro system is the most popular way to get around, but buses also serve the city and go all the way out to the furthest suburbs.

Taxi: If a taxi has a green light, it can be hailed easily enough, and there are taxi ranks at some of the bigger hubs to make matters easier. All licensed cabs must have a visible meter to show charges, with rates calculated by time and distance travelled.

Bike: Bicycles can be hired easily from a number of locations in the city centre. There are some great cycle paths along the Douro, from Ribeira to Foz, or from Vila Nova de Gaia to Afurada and beyond.

WHERE TO STAY

Porto has plenty of places to stay – budget hostels as well as hotels. See useful links below.

WHAT TO SEE

For culture: The 76m-tall Clérigos Tower is the most important feature of the Porto skyline; opened in 1763, it was conceived by Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni, and offers a brilliant panorama of the historic centre – provided you can face the steps.

The picturesque Ribeira neighbourhood
The picturesque Ribeira neighbourhood©Getty Images

For atmosphere: Ribeira is the place to go. A maze of medieval alleys that zigzag up and down to the Douro river, it offers access to the Ponte de Dom Luís I and the port-wine lodges across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia.

For fresh air: Designed in the 19th century, the gardens of the Palácio de Cristal (Crystal Palace) are close to the city centre, and offer eight hectares of luxurious greenery with astonishing views over the river.

EATING AND DRINKING

Porto is a great place to learn to eat the Portuguese way; two city favourites are Tripas à Moda do Porto (Porto-style tripe) and Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá, a casserole of salted cod, potatoes, eggs, olives and onion which is eaten across the country.

The Francesinha – literally 'little French girl' – is the most famous popular local snack to try if you are eating and walking: a sandwich which includes several meats covered in cheese and a special beer-based sauce.

The world-famous Port wine is made along the banks of the Douro and is the dessert wine of choice throughout the city.

FOOTBALL IN PORTO

Founded on 28 September 1893, Porto are one of Portugal's 'Big Three' alongside Lisbon rivals Benfica and Sporting CP; all three sides have figured in every Liga campaign since its establishment in 1934. Porto have won 28 league titles and are the most decorated Portuguese club internationally, having won the European Cup/UEFA Champions League in 1987 and 2004, as well as the UEFA Cup/Europa League in 2003 and 2011.

Porto's local rivals Boavista were founded on 1 August 1903 and are the most decorated Portuguese club outside the 'Big Three'. Their 2000/01 success meant they joined Belenenses as the only non-'Big Three' outfit to have won the Liga.

GET OUT OF THE CITY

The Douro Valley, pictured from Peso da Régua
The Douro Valley, pictured from Peso da Régua©Getty Images

The Douro Valley is famous for vineyards and beautiful landscape. Most day trips start off at Peso da Régua, where you can get a bird's-eye view of the valley. From there, a cruise up the river on a traditional Rabelo boat is recommended.

A 50-minute drive south takes you to Aveiro, the 'Portuguese Venice', while to the north is Portugal's third-largest city, Braga, famous for its baroque buildings and churches. Guimaraes, also just one hour away from Porto, is another UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, often referred to as the 'birthplace of the Portuguese nation'.

YOUR PORTUGUESE PHRASEBOOK

English is reasonably widely spoken, but a few polite words in Portuguese may be appreciated ...

Hello – Olá (oh-LAH)
How are you? – Como vai? (KOH-moh VIGH?)
Please – Por favor (poor fah-VOHR)
Thank you – Obrigado (oh-bree-GAH-doh)
Goodbye – Adeus (ah-DEH-oosh)

USEFUL LINKS

Visit Porto: http://www.visitportoandnorth.travel/
Lonely Planet:
https://www.lonelyplanet.com/portugal/the-north/porto
Porto portal:
http://www.porto.pt/home
Porto Airport:
https://www.aeroportoporto.pt/
Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porto
Portuguese Football Federation (FPF):
https://www.fpf.pt/

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