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Symphony World Travel - Kingswood

29th October 2019

Portugal – A city break to Porto

In March 2018 I returned from a city break to the amazing city of Porto and would like to share my experiences with you.

We were due to leave on the day that Storm Emma and the Beast from the East would bring the whole of the UK to a standstill but guess what, our BA Gatwick flight left bang on time! The forecast was pretty awful for our city break, as Portugal received all the rain that then turned to snow here in the UK, but it could in no way spoil our break and the charm of Porto. 

Porto on the River Douro

We opted to arrange for a private guide and we can thoroughly recommend this for any city break as their knowledge is a real treat. Our guide, knowing we were British, took the initiative to guide us around the city on the history of the relationship between Britain and Portugal. You may find it of interest as we did that the relationship dates back to the Middle Ages, and in 1373 the Kingdom of England signed the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, the oldest alliance in the world still in force. 

Standing at the mouth of the great River Duoro, Porto is synonymous with the fortified wine that originated here.

A visit to the Port cellars is a must

The Cellars of the great names of Porto are of British origin, names like Crofts, Grahams and Taylors Fladgate. Taylors was my personal favourite, still family owned (no shareholders) and dates back to 1692. Their port wine is exquisite and a visit to their cellars is a must. Part of the estate, which has wonderful views of Porto, is The Yeatman Hotel, a 5-star deluxe hotel with a Michelin restaurant that has to be experienced. 

Porto is a hilly labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets which meander down to the river’s edge which is buzzing with café’s, restaurants and there is a tramway all along the seafront with the most delightful trams that have come over from San Francisco, great fun. 

We stayed for 4 nights and during our visit we walked our feet off, climbed endless hills and even saw the famous bookshop that JK Rowling used to visit during her time in Porto teaching English, and the famous staircase in Harry Potter film was the very staircase of this bookshop. 

You can travel from Porto by a really efficient train service, which links many of the other historical cities and you can depart from the Sao Bento station in the centre of the city.

Standing in the main hall of this beautiful building is a bit like being inside a gigantic crockery cabinet. An experience you don’t get very often on public transport, so making it a worthy entry onto the list of transport beauties. 

I would like to end this ‘review’ by saying that Porto is one the best value cities I have visited. An example, is a really high-class Patisserie in the city centre serving 2 cappuccinos and a couple of their delicious custard tarts for a mere 4 euros (about £3.50)! 

This review was written by Simonetta Nutt, a member of the Symphony Kingswood team.

By Sue Manuel
29th October 2019