Perched on the Atlantic coastline in north west Portugal, and built on the hills overlooking the Douro River estuary, lively Porto is the nation’s second largest city, and home to an eclectic mix of medieval churches, fascinating museums and many examples of fine modern architecture. It’s also a busy industrial and commercial centre.
A city that’s been attracting tourists for decades, Porto is awash with countless hotels, edgy bars and excellent cafés and restaurants. Add to that a climate that is pleasant all year round (Porto has a slightly cooler climate than other Mediterranean cities due to its position on the Atlantic coast) and you can see why Porto continues to be one of the most popular cruise destinations in Europe.
Cruise ships dock at either the North or South Cruise Terminal at the commercial Port of Leixoes. The terminals are 8 kilometres and 3 kilometres from the city centre, respectively.
The North Cruise Terminal – built from wood and designed to look like a ship’s hull – is capable of receiving large groups of passengers on a daily basis. Most cruise companies that dock here provide a shuttle bus service to take passengers into town.
The new South Cruise Terminal is also equipped to handle large volumes of passengers. It is well connected to the city centre via a hop-on/hop-off bus or via the Matosinhos Sul Metro Tram stop, which is only 250 metres from the pier exit.
Both cruise terminals at Leixoes port have all the facilities you’d appreciate when docking in a new port.
- Shopping and restaurants
- ATMs and Foreign Exchange services
- Restaurants and cafés
- Internet access
- Public toilets
- Tourist Information Centre.
Both terminals are well connected to the city centre. Taxis are readily available upon exiting the port. There is also a public bus and a hop-on/hop-off bus service that takes passengers into town (near the Casa da Música).
An abundance of accommodation options can be found throughout town.
How To Get Around
Porto centre is small enough to be explored on foot. However, it’s also possible to use the city’s extensive metro (light rail) and bus network to explore the city and reach some of the outlying areas (including the suburbs). Porto also has a heritage tram line that offers passengers a pleasant ride on vintage trams along the riverfront to Foz, an area of Porto with beautiful beaches and promenades. Of course, taxis are also readily available and relatively inexpensive.
Travel times from the city centre:
- It is a 20 minute journey to the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis.
- It is a 15 minute journey to both the Ponte de Dom Luis I and the historic Ribeira distract (approximately €10 by taxi).
Currency – The local currency in Porto is the Euro (EUR). Coins come in 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, €1 and €2 denominations, while notes come in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 denominations.
Time Zone – Porto is on Western European Time (WET), which is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
Weather – Porto enjoys a Mediterranean climate with long, warm summers and short, mild winters. Daily averages during summer hover around 25 degrees Celsius, while in winter, daytime temperatures average at 12 degrees Celsius. Most rainfall in Porto occurs during winter (Dec – Feb); 150mm of rain during these months is common.
Ponte de Dom Luis I – With commanding views of the Douro River and the Old Town visible from the bridge’s top deck, a visit to the this iconic Porto landmark is an absolute must. This double-decker bridge was built by a student of Gustave Eiffel and links Porto with Villa Nova de Gaia. It was also the longest bridge in the world at the time of its construction in 1886.
Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis – Spend a few hours at Porto’s best art museum, and marvel at selections spanning from the Neolithic period right up to the present day. Housed in the Palacio das Carrancas – an 18th century palace that was transformed into the current museum in 1940 – the museum is open every day of the week except Monday. Tickets cost €5 per adult and children get in free. The museum offers free entry on Sundays.
Walk around Ribeira – One of the most photogenic spots in the city, the charming district of Ribeira is a World Heritage Site that’s steeped in rich history, culture and colourful medieval houses overlooking the quayside. Spend a couple of hours navigating its winding lanes and take a rest at one of its many atmospheric bars and cafés. Ribeira is especially lively come nightfall.