Porto extends for about 10 kilometers on the north bank of the Douro river to its mouth in the Atlantic. Around 214.000 inhabitants live on 41,4 square kilometers (2021 census). Porto is the second largest city in Portugal after the capital Lisbon. The historic center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
Cathedral Sé - Paco Episcopal - Museum of Sacred Art and Archaeology
History in a nutshell
People settled at the mouth of the Douro as early as 1.000 BC. Greeks later established a trading post, followed by Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Spanish kings. The Greeks called the post "Kalos" (beautiful), the Romans called it the trading port "Portus Cale". In the 11th century Porto first became the capital of the province of Portucalia and was then the capital of the Kingdom of Portugal until 1260.
Economy and Transport
More than 1,7 million people live in the Porto metropolitan area in an area of 21.000 square kilometers. The region is considered a powerful business and industrial location. Important sectors are the textile and leather industry, but technology and knowledge-based areas are becoming increasingly important.
During the Roman occupation, the cultivation of wines on the Douro began. In the 17th century, port wine became the region's best-known commodity: wine from the Douro area, named after the city of Porto. Today, Porto and the city of Vila Nova de Gaia on the southern bank of the Douro form the center of port wine production.
Porto's port wineries
Port wineries on the Douro
Porto has a modern airport and good rail connections to all regions of Portugal. There is a metro and a good bus transport network for the city area and the surrounding area. Three surviving tram lines from the 19th century now serve mainly as tourist attractions.
Worldwide trade in the entire region is handled by the largest Portuguese overseas port, Port de Leixões, in Matosinhos.
Education and culture
The State University of Porto was founded in 1911. The number of students is currently around 28.000. Two private universities, a polytechnic institute and the art school ESAP - Escola Superior Artistica do Porto - are based in Porto.
Palace of Arts
University of Porto - Natural Science Museum
Porto's museum scene is diverse. Examples of this are the National Museum, the Museum of Modern Art of the Serralves Foundation, as well as the Port Wine and Tram Museums.
Theaters and concert halls also play a prominent role in Porto. The Casa da Música concert building, designed by Rem Koolhaas and Ellen van Loon, was inaugurated in 2005. After a short time it became one of the city's attractions because of its extraordinary architecture.
Information for Crusaders
Porto is a destination for ocean and river cruise ships.
Ocean-going ships dock at Matosinhos at the mouth of the Douro on the Atlantic. In Port de Leixões, ships are handled at the Norte and Sul terminals. The way to Porto by public transport is good. There is a fast metro connection and a convenient bus connection.
Leixões Port Cruise Terminal
Leixões Port Cruise Terminal
The smaller river boats travel up the Douro and dock on both sides of the river in the center of Porto or in Vila Nova de Gaia on the other side.
Porto is a city that is easy to discover on foot. The route from the Ribeira embankment to the historic center climbs quite steeply. For this, the visitor is rewarded with overwhelming views of the houses, the bridge Ponte Dom Luis I and the Douro with the old port wine warehouses.
Ponte Dom Luis l
Porto is rich in representative buildings and squares. We report on this in detail in our article: Porto tourist attractions.
And for downtime, the parks are ideal as green oases, as are the cafés and restaurants on the banks of the Douro and in the alleys of the old town.