Situated on Portugal’s Douro River, Oporto, also known as Porto, is the home of port wine and a principal destination on all itineraries which explore this sun-drenched waterway. It’s a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a wealth of history to explore, which can be traced as far back as the 4th century and Roman occupation, though Celtic ruins have been found in the region, showing signs of earlier settlement. During its history it played a vital role in the development of the country’s revered naval fleet and was synonymous with the age of sea exploration and today, it’s widely regarded as Portugal’s second city and an enduring destination for both ocean and river cruisers alike.
Oporto has its fair share of churches which are still in use and welcome visitors. The Church of Santa Clara is immediately recognisable thanks to its white and orange tower, but it’s the incredible gold leaf work inside that is the biggest draw for visitors, as well as a variety of Baroque, Rococo and Gothic architecture. Sao Francisco Church started off life as a convent and is another popular faith building to visit, boasting some impressive gilding and sculptures.
Indeed, considering Oporto’s distinguished heritage when it comes to the celebrated tipple, a wine tour will often be one of the excursions on offer from your river cruise line when you visit. The town is home to a number of wineries and wine cellars, where you can learn about the creation process and sample some of the wines on offer.
Oporto presents the best opportunity you’ll ever have to pick up the ultimate bottle of port for Christmas, or indeed, any other time of the year. You’ll find it in a variety of outlets, so make sure you bring plenty of spare Euros.
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