Why go to Porto (Leixoes)?
The second-largest city in Portugal is known for its wine and eclectic mix of architecture
If you're considering a pre-cruise stay in Lisbon, it's a three-hour journey; budget your time
Porto is located at the mouth of the Douro River, and included on virtually all itineraries here
Porto (Leixoes) Cruise Port Facilities?
The establishments lining the Gaia waterfront are fairly modern and, as such, generally preferred by locals. Tourists typically visit the traditional "tascas" (taverns) found in Porto. The Port warehouses virtually all offer guided tours and tastings. Taylor's warehouse (see "lunching") has a delightful restaurant with a garden and terrace overlooking Porto. Across the river, Ribeira is liberally peppered with lively cafes, bars and taverns ideal for a refreshing drink and light tapas.
Good to Know?
Porto locals clearly can easily handle heights -- walking across the top tier of the Dom Luis I bridge appears to be a stroll in the park for them. If, however, you prefer to keep your feet on more solid ground, steer clear: The walk is undeniably scenic, but even for somebody who rarely notices heights, it is quite disconcerting being a lofty 146 feet above the Douro. Similarly, some people find the gondola ride unnerving, particularly those with little experience riding such lifts.
Another thing to be aware of is the local beer: Brewed just outside of Porto since 1927, Super Bock is the most popular beer in Portugal. However, a Super Bock Classic (lager) weighs in at a hefty 5.7 percent alcohol by volume and is typically served in a pint-sized bottle, packing quite a punch. Don't say we didn't warn you!
On Foot: Vila Nova de Gaia is easily navigated on foot, as is Ribeira. Much of the city is cut into the steep shore, however, so the least tiring way to explore Porto thoroughly on foot is from the top (by the cathedral) down. It is possible to take a gondola from the Gaia waterfront up to the top level of the Dom Luis I bridge, which you can walk across (although you should have a good head for heights!). From there, you can walk into Porto and descend from the cathedral, strolling down along streets lined with tiled buildings sporting immaculate Art Deco shop facades; or take a ride down to Ribeira with a little funicular. Alternatively, buy a ticket to ride the funicular up from the Porto side of the Dom Luis I bridge to the Avenida dos Aliados.
By Metro and Bus: Porto has an extensive metro (light rail) and bus network, which can be used for getting around town and for trips into the suburbs. Tickets can be purchased at metro stations and aboard the bus by cash or, if you're planning to make full use of the public transportation system, you can purchase a reusable Andante card for .50 euro, which can be charged with credit. Visit www.metro-porto.pt for a full map of the metro network and timetables and www.stecp.pt for information about the bus routes.
By Tram: Porto has a heritage tram line, first constructed in 1895. Only two lines remain open today, Numbers 1 and 18, both of which operate with vintage tram cars. No. 1 is a particularly pleasant ride, as it follows the riverfront all the way to Foz. Buy tickets from the tram driver.
By Taxi: Taxis are fairly easy to find in Porto, but it is wise to book a cab if you're looking to depart from Gaia. They are inexpensive, but ensure that your driver turns on his meter at the start of your journey. Reliable companies include Raditaxis (+22 507 3900) and Taxis Unidos (+22 502 9898).
Transport from/to the Airport: Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport, or simply Porto Airport, is located seven miles north of Porto's city center. The metro provides an efficient, inexpensive and quick (20 minutes) way of getting to central Porto. Public buses also run to destinations in Porto but are slower, while private shuttle buses make multiple dropoffs and pickups for a higher fare. Taxis are numerous, trustworthy and -- at approximately 20 to 30 euros for an airport transfer -- relatively inexpensive.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
Portuguese is the local language. English is fairly widely understood, with French appearing to come more naturally to locals than Spanish. A few handy phrases in Portuguese will always enamor you to the locals though, so try these:
Hello/good morning: Bom dia (bom DEEa)
Good afternoon: Boa tarde (boa TArday)
Please: Por favor (Per fevUUr)
Yes/No: Sim (sim) / Nao (now)
Excuse me/Pardon: Com licenca (com liSENza) / Perdao (perDOW)
A beer please: Un cerveja por favor (oon serVEdja per fevUUr)