Dubbed the Green Coast

By: Douglas Scott

Porto is the second most important city in Portugal. It has been dubbed the Green Coast because of its lush, grape-speckled setting on the Douro River.

In recent years, UNESCO recognised its historic centre as a World Heritage Site. It is the most important city in the heavily industrialised north west, many of the largest Portuguese corporations from diverse economic sectors, like Amorim and Altri.

The city is made of narrow streets embraced by the river's mist, shadowy stone buildings decorated with hanging colourful clothes in the windows, the cries of the local merchant women and the joyful plays of children. A city with a soul, vibrating with life.

The city of Porto is world famous for its Port, which is actually wine grapes from the Douro Valley, mixed with 170 proof brandy and aged in barrels to yield Port. Porto is the place that lent its name to sweet Port wine.

The best areas for shopping are the streets Rua de Passos Manuel and into Rua de Santa Catarina for fashion shops and jewellers and leading off Avenida dos Aliados, to the west Rua da Fabrica for stationers and bookshops.

Being the biggest city in the north, it has a vibrant nightlife. The Ribeira is the main centre for small bars and clubs that can be pretty relaxed with some around Praca de Ribeira being for students.

Mercado Do Bolhao is the main market is a do not-miss experience. Screeching, cheerful ladies offer everything from seafood to herbs and honey

The best shopping in Portugal is often at road side stands, where vendors hawk family heirlooms. The fortified wines of Portugal are justly famous, and you can find great deals. However, the more popular port is not significantly cheaper here than elsewhere in the world.

Seafood is fresh and abundant in is city. If you are brave, try the rather tasty dish, Tripas a moda do Porto, which is made of cattle entrails.

The Port Wine Museum is located in an 18th century ware house where the wines of Companhia Geral da Agricultura das Vinhas do Alto Douro were once stored. This Museum aims to be an information centre about the Port wine, motivating visitors to discover the commercial history of the city relating it to this world wide.

Cafe Majestic is the most beautiful and historic cafe in Porto, set on the city's busiest shopping street. It artfully evokes the grand era of Porto's golden age prosperity and was built in 1921. Detailed in neo-baroque style, angels and cherubs cavort on the ceiling and leaded glass shimmers.

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