Big City Charm: Visiting Porto, Portugal

Source: Katherine LaGrave/Wall St. Cheat Sheet

Source: Katherine LaGrave/Wall St. Cheat Sheet

Though Porto has largely been relegated to secondary status after its bigger sister Lisbon, it has big city charm. Today, there are several reasons to visit a city both historic and modern. One of the oldest European centers, it is currently one of the major urban areas in Southern Europe.


Historical artifacts and documentation place the earliest activity in Porto at the 4th century — not too shabby. Among other notable periods in the city’s timeline, it has served as an important commercial port, stronghold in a military alliance between Portugal and England, and a key foundation for Portuguese shipbuilding. Due to its historical significance, Porto was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. The Porto Cathedral, completed in the 13th century, remains the city’s oldest surviving structure.

The Douro River

The Douro is one of the major rivers of the Iberian Peninsula, and old Porto is located along its outlet. To many, Porto’s waterfront evokes old-world charm. Here you’ll find cobblestones, medieval relics, colorful buildings, and a bounty of outdoor cafés – all kissed by sun. Enjoy the Douro River in one of two ways: sit at a café and watch boats float past, or take a boat tour and view the city from the water. Got time? Try both.