A granite metropolis opened to the world
The name of the city - Porto - clearly shows that this is a deeply maritime city. Therefore, it was influenced by the British entrepreneurial spirit, establishing privileged relations with this Empire around the export of generous Douro wine.
This is the centre of an area that stretches from Póvoa do Varzim to Vila Nova de Gaia in the coastline to the more distant councils of Amarante and Marco de Canaveses, the second most populated district in the country, covering an urban coastline and a rural interior. The inland of this area also includes Trofa, Santo Tirso, Ermesinde and Maia.
Crossed by Douro, Ave and Tâmega Rivers, Grande Porto is one of the must-see Portuguese regions, offering worth-visiting diversified beaches and interior zones, especially the historical centres.
The city of Porto, the capital of the North, concentrates the main tourism highlights, and became increasingly recognised abroad. Firstly, the riverside zone was classified UNESCO World Heritage Site. Later, with Porto 2001 - European Culture Capital - the long wanted light rail network began to work. Nowadays, Porto has a true landmark of modern architecture, the House of Music / Casa da Música, which is one of the most photographed places of the city. Apart from the football victories that have changed the name Porto, usually related to wine, this city is a reference in the tourism world map, attracting numerous visitors all year long.
Two key-zones emerge on both sides of the river. In Gaia, an increasingly developing city, Port wine cellars still prevail. The coast has been well-preserved and the light rail circulates here as well. A coastline bike path connects the lively Gaia quay (which is also an area of terraces and night life) with Espinho, 15 km south. Matosinhos is located in the opposite direction, the land of Leixões Port and fresh fish with a renewed coastline road to discover. We must also bear in mind the fishing art tradition of Póvoa do Varzim, along with the simple patience of "bilros" laceworks of Vila do Conde. A last word to Amarante, land of writers and poets with a beautiful historical centre by the Tâmega river.
It is a fact that tripes and the "francesinha" (typical Porto sandwich with meat, smoked, fresh sausage, and melted cheese on top, served with a spicy sauce) are typical dishes of Porto, however there are also other gastronomic specialities in the region: an immense variety of rice-based dishes, in the coastal cities; roasted dishes and lamprey, especially in the interior, providing long tasty meals.