Porto is unmistakably beautiful - a hotbed of crumbling grandeur, creativity, culture, home to Port wine and host to happy. Portugal’s second largest city, Porto is tucked up on the north-western corner on the banks of the Douro River, sandwiched between the Atlantic coastline and the wondrous Douro Valley.

Stacked merchant houses painted in bubble-gum tones scramble for attention amidst the terracotta rooftops, soaring bell towers, graffiti street art, antique book stores, grand piazzas and a foodie scene that dots the 'i' of life in the slow lane. What makes the atmosphere so intriguing, apart from the obligatory azulejo-clad facades that dominate Porto, is its layers of architecture; a curious menagerie of styles from the medieval districts Ribeira, Miragaia and Massarelos to the gestures of the Baroque that peek through the parks framing the elegant houses of Arts & Crafts. Modernity peppers the scene too with Álvaro Siza Vieira’s crisply minimalist Museu de Arte Contemporânea and Rem Koolhaas’ daringly iconic Casa da Música. Pop across to Vila Nova de Gaia using one of the countless bridges that span the Douro River, including the famous Dona Maria Pia by Gustave Eiffel, for a perfect spot of Porto voyeurism – Port & tonic in hand.

Porto – an intoxicating blend of style, smiling faces, heritage and imperfect beauty.

Portugal’s Puerto Sereno, found. 

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