Anyone visiting Porto for the first time immediately feels the distinctive pulse of a city that is not only the capital of the northern region of the country, but also the main trading centre of the whole North Iberian Peninsula. Traditionally known for its port wine business, the region is currently home to a great many Portuguese industries, especially textiles, footwear, furniture and automotive components. Its commercial prowess is bolstered by infrastructures such as the port of Leixões, which deals with 25% of the country's international trade, and Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, recognized as one of the best in the world in the category of trafficking up to 5 million passengers a year, and whose numerous low cost flights to Europe have brought increasing vibrancy to the city.
The beauty of its historic centre, declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO, together with modern buildings designed by acclaimed architects, including Siza Vieira and Souto Moura, give the city of Porto a special charm. Moreover, its pleasing atmosphere, excellent cuisine and range of cultural and recreational activities, at competitive prices, have made it the target of praise for publications of international repute such as Lonely Planet.
To discover Porto is to find as many surprises as one of the oldest cities in Europe can provide. From enjoying the light mist during an early morning walk, which, on sunny days, gives the city a bluish tint; to having lunch at the Praça da Ribeira, hand outstretched to pigeons and seagulls who go there to make company; or even to watch the sunset from one of the café terraces along the esplanade at Foz, with the scent of sea air. Later on, after dinner at one of the traditional restaurants, a coffee in a bar before ending the night in a bar or in one of the city´s clubs.
Porto is one of the oldest cities in Europe and Portugal one of the oldest countries in the world. This is why Porto is a gem of a city characterizing the spirit of the Portuguese people.
Nabila As'ad, alumni of the Master in Services Engineering and Managment, wrote on her blog "9 Reasons Why You Should Pack Your Stuffs and Go to Porto. Now!". Give it a look!
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In the city also known as Invicta, there is a café on every corner. Porto boasts hundreds of bars, especially in the old quarter and the most traditional neighbourhoods, and where the nightlife often only ends the following morning.
In recent years, Porto has seen a revival in its downtown nightlife
The night usually gets going at Restaurant Café Ancora D' Ouro, known as O Piolho (The Louse). This café is a favourite meeting place of university students and one of the city's oldest. The walls are filled with messages from successive generations of students who passed by there.
Night-time haunts include bars such as Radio, Tendinha dos Clérigos, Plano B, Pitch, Maus Habitos, among others.
In Porto, access to exhibitions, concerts and shows is relatively easy. Many of these events are free or subject to reduction through discount cards, such as a student card or young person’s card.
Porto has also been the stage for a growing number of rock and alternative music shows, as well as various festivals. Optimus Primavera Sound in June and "Noites Ritual Rock" in August, are two examples of major festivals held in Porto.
In addition, the Coliseu do Porto, Teatro Sá da Bandeira and Teatro Passos Manuel are superb venues for musical or theatrical performances. To these joined in 2005 Casa da Música, designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and now the city´s main concert hall and an iconic symbol of modern, cosmopolitan Porto.
In the field of fine arts, there are many interesting attractions in the city, the main one being the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, designed by architect Siza Vieira. Serralves is a cultural institution of worldwide repute whose mission is to raise public awareness of contemporary art and the environment. It achieves this through the Museum of Contemporary Art, which serves as a multidisciplinary centre; the Park, which besides being a site of natural heritage hosts educational and environmental events; and the Auditorium, which is a centre for reflection and debate on contemporary society.
Porto stages many international festivals covering areas as diverse as tango, puppetry, short films, theatre, organ and multimedia. Of particular note, there are two large scale festivals with international scope:
Porto offers a very broad film program, from cinemas showing films on commercial release (in shopping centres) to those showing films of a more independent and alternative nature. Most of these cinemas open their doors from 2pm, and the larger venues hold sessions at midnight and from 2am at weekends.
Porto´s Cineclube and the Cineclube do Norte hold special sessions, often at the Rivoli theatre or at Casa das Artes, which are also venues for some Fantasporto sessions.
Porto boasts several theatres and concert halls, including the Teatro Rivoli, Teatro São João, Teatro Carlos Alberto and the Coliseu, which is the largest venue in the whole northern region of the country. In addition, there are smaller venues where various theatre companies put on shows, such as Seiva Trupe or Tear, as well as many musical and entertainment groups.
In 1998 the University of Porto opened its own University Theatre, in Campo Alegre. Ateneu Comercial and Palácio da Bolsa are also used for shows, especially musicals.
São João (St John´s) is the liveliest of Porto’s festivals and is one of the most important popular cultural events in Portugal.
On the night of June 23, the whole city takes part in this great popular festivity until dawn, walking the streets, in high spirits, keeping up the tradition of patting anyone passing by on the head with plastic hammers. Sardines are eaten, the sky is filled with mini hot air balloons and there are bonfires, serenading and dancing in the streets of the old quarter. At midnight, the River Douro plays host to a stunning fireworks display, and on the following day is the setting for the traditional regatta of rabelo boats.
To help you know the city of Porto better, a student from the Doctoral Course in Digital Media developed TravelPlot, an interactive tourist guide consisting of several platforms: an iPhone application, a website, a map, live events and social networks (YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest).
Discover Porto through a genuine "treasure hunt"!
Despite the big increase in prices after the introduction of the Euro, Portugal continues to be a country with a relatively low cost of living compared to some of the countries in the European community. And for a city of its size, Porto has one of the lowest costs of living.
Food costs are approximately ¤200 per month, and accommodation prices may vary between ¤150 and ¤450 per month for the rental of a room, while a studio or 1 bedroom apartment will cost between ¤400 and ¤900.
The best way to travel around the city is by bus or metro. A bus ticket costs ¤0.90 (if purchased in advance) or ¤1.50 (if bought inside the bus). The metro consists of 5 lines which, by connecting with other means of transport, make it easier to travel around Porto. A monthly metro pass for 2 zones costs about ¤30.
Founded in the twelfth century, Portugal is one of the oldest nations in Europe , and its people are descended from several origins : Phoenicians , Greeks, Carthaginians , Romans , northern Europeans and Mauritanians.
Located in the far southwest of the continent, Portugal is a country of conquerors, men and women of vision, who spread their language and customs around the world. Leading the way in opening up the world during the Age of Exploration, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to sail to Africa, the Far East and the heart of South America.
Today, Portugal is a modern, developed nation and member of the European Union since 1986. It harmoniously combines age old traditions with a modern approach to innovation, entrepreneurship and international partnership.
Although best known for its beaches and great weather throughout the year, Portugal is also rich in mountains, green plains and many other magnificent landscapes. These geographical features enable the pursuit of a great many activities both in the city and in the countryside, including water sports, mountaineering and even winter sports. Portugal is seen as the best country in the world for surfing, and its perfect waves attract surfers and the most prestigious international competitions for this sport.
Portugal has a cuisine as rich and varied as its landscapes and heritage. Savour both the taste of a grilled fresh fish, or a delicious Portuguese stew with a succulent mixture of flavours from its meat and vegetables. Your kitchen should never be without an excellent Portuguese olive oil, and to accompany your meal there are great red and white wines from the whole country. For dessert you can indulge in our tempting sweet dishes, and you must not forget to try the traditional pastel de nata.
All these unique features combine together in perfect harmony when mixed with one of our greatest treasures: the pleasure of welcoming guests. Portugal is in fact one of the best countries for receiving tourists: in a study by the World Economic Forum, the hospitality and friendliness of the Portuguese put it in 7th place in a list of 140 countries.
From the north to the south of Portugal you can see a change, not only in the landscape but also the eating habits, customs and traditions. Thus travelling within our country can be a fascinating experience and increasingly easy to achieve. There are numerous means of transport covering every inch of the land: plane, train, bus, and if you want to have greater freedom in schedules, car rental agencies.
Porto is also a privileged city since from it you can easily get not only to cities like Santiago de Compostela or Vigo, located in Galicia, but also to many European destinations through low-cost airlines and an international bus network.