The city of Oporto is built on steep hills which surround the mouth of the River Douro on the west coast of Portugal. Steeped in history Oporto is an ideal all year round holiday destination for visitors looking for more than just sunshine and beaches. Oporto has an amazing mix of neighbourhoods, although most Oporto holidays focus on the riverside Ribeira quarter which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The historic city of Oporto offers a vast array of architecture, a 12th century cathedral, old churches, the Maria Pia Bridge which was built by Eiffel (of the Eiffel Tower Paris fame) and once the longest arch bridge in the world, medieval alleys leading off steep cobbled streets, an old riverside quarter, waterside bars and cafes, shops, parks and gardens. When it comes to relaxing Oporto has plenty of traditional tavernas and restaurants where you can enjoy local cuisine, fish and seafood dishes along with some local vinho verde. Enjoy some shopping in the city’s traditional stores and covered market or take in some culture including art, furniture and ceramic museums, theatres and galleries.

Climb the Baroque Torre dos Clerigos for amazing panoramic views of the old city and a photographic opportunity not to be missed. Visitors climb 240 steps to the top of this iconic landmark! A holiday in Oporto is not complete without a walk across the two-tiered Dom Luis Bridge to the suburb of Vila Nova de Gaia where you will find the famous port wine lodges on one bank and the Ribeira on the other. Here at the port lodges you can sample ports from the three sub-zones of the Douro Valley, the world’s first demarcated wine region. You will also be able to buy from famous cellars such as Sandeman and Taylor’s who produce the fortified wine (port) named after the famous city of Oporto.

Families will love exploring the maze of narrow lanes which are lined with brightly coloured houses with white and blue tiled facades and balconies decked in flowers. There are lots of interesting excursions available on your bargain holidays to Oporto, including those to seaside towns, small fishing villages, small towns and villages where you can explore old monasteries, churches, castles, forts and bridges. A great day out for all the family is a cruise along the River Douro which runs through the picturesque Douro Valley with a stunning backdrop of terraced vineyards and quaint towns. Guimares is a World Heritage Site where you see some fine medieval, Gothic, Roman and Baroque architecture.

A holiday to Portugal wouldn’t be complete without a day or two on the beach. The most popular beach resorts close to Oporto are the Atlantic resorts of Foz, Vila Cha, Povoa de Varzim, Santo Tirso and Cabadelo to the north and Esmoriz, Espinho (a long golden beach with a casino) and Cortegaca (excellent for surfing) to the south.

Nightlife centres mainly on the old riverside area of Cais da Ribeira, the student bars of Cordoaria and also the more trendy bars, clubs, Art Deco cafes and smart restaurants.

Oporto enjoys long hot summers with almost unbroken sunshine between June and September. Spring and Autumn are warm with plenty of sunshine and an ideal time for cruising on the River Douro and exploring the many historical sites Oporto has to offer.

Source by Emma Healey