The River Douro flows West almost 900km across the Iberian Peninsula from Soria Province in Spain, forming part of the border between northern Portugal and Spain, and again West through the Douro Valley and in to the Atlantic at Porto. Surrounding these last few hundred kilometres through Portugal is the area where grapes are grown to make the internationally renowned Port wine. Even in January, Porto city is a bright, alive, interesting and reasonably in-expensive destination.

Entrance to the Gardens of the Crystal Palace

The Gardens of the Crystal Palace are idyllic. Wandering around you may be greeted by peacocks, or a flock of free roaming chickens - a source of great intrigue for one year olds. The park overlooks the Douro and provides a lovely view of Luís I Bridge.

All around Porto City are chapels and interesting buildings with bright blue on white Azulejo tile-work. A spectacular example is the entrance hall of São Bento Railway Station. São Bento is convenient to take a day trip to Aveiro, where there are canals previously used for transporting salt. The barcos moliceiros are reminiscent of Venetian gondolas, and a boat trip is an informative and fun way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Azulejo tiling, São Bento Railway Station

Around the city centre there are various attractions and interesting places to visit. Pedro Dos Frangos serves delicious chicken and chips and one portion was enough for two adults and one little person to feel stuffed! The Majestic Cafe has been rejuvenated and is now a very popular cafe. Inside is sleek 1920 style, and this is where J. K. Rowling apparently wrote some of the first book in the Harry Potter series. Livraria Lello is a bookshop with over a hundred years of history and lovely internal woodwork and stained glass. Entry requires purchase of a five euro voucher, however the cost of each voucher can be deducted from the purchase of any single book.

View over Luís I Bridge from the Bishops Palace

Across the river are many port houses, their brand signage striping over the hillside. Most provide tours and tasting. The guide from Croft’s gave us an excellent and knowledgeable presentation, and there were comfortable seats in front of an open fire.

Overall Porto was a nice place to visit for a relaxing city break with friends and family.

Inside the Majestic Cafe
Porto Cathedral
Livraria Lello
Inside Livraria Lello
Stained glass decoration, Livraria Lello
Wonderful staircase, Livraria Lello
The Majestic Cafe
Peacock in the Gardens of the Crystal Palace
Peacock showing-off it's plumage, Gardens of the Crystal Palace
Roaming chickens, Gardens of the Crystal Palace
View over the Douro, Gardens of the Crystal Palace
Porto city skyline
Porto City Hall
Architecture, Aliados
Capela das Almas
Capela das Almas
Tiled exterior of Igreja do Carmo
Church of Saint Ildefonso
Fountain of Lions, Carmo
Boat trip on the Salt Canals, Aveiro
Atlantic waves roll in, Matosinhos
Luís I Bridge, Harbourside
Barrels of Port, Crofts
Beer and bread, Pedro Dos Frangos
Chicken and chips, Pedro Dos Frangos
Delicious soup