Straddling the mouth of the Douro River, the splendid city of Oporto holds such architectural importance that the entire historic center has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. A great place to begin your exploration is Praça da Liberdade, a lengthy public esplanade lined with graceful 19th-century buildings. You’ll find the city has no shortage of marvelous churches, from the imposingly fortified Porto Cathedral to the graciously appointed Clérigos Church, whose soaring bell tower offers panoramic vistas over the city’s picturesque red-tile roofs.
In the 1906 Lello Bookstore, prepare to be swept away by elaborate art nouveau features including a sinuous double staircase and a luminous stained-glass skylight. But what’s a visit to Oporto without sampling its signature export, the fortified wine that shares the city’s name. Tour one of the illustrious cellars dotting the Douro’s southern bank, where port is crafted just as it has been for centuries, and savor exquisite samples of the sweet libation. When evening comes, take advantage of Oporto’s reputation as the best place to eat in Portugal, perhaps choosing among the delectable cod dishes for which the city is renowned.
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