Porto sprawls along the River Douro on Portugal’s wild Atlantic coastline, its slender, multi-colored houses covered with lacy balconies. At its heart lies magnetic Ribeira, buzzing with love for life and crammed with castles, churches, and riverside walks. Sandy beaches at Matosinhos and Foz for sunny afternoons à deux are just a step away along the river. So, yes – there are plenty of romantic things to do in Porto!
1. Port Tasting
Porto (Oporto) and the Douro valley lie at the heart of port-producing country; Portugal’s famous fortified wine was stored in vast warehouses on the south side of the River Douro in Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the Dom Luis I bridge. They’re now open for tours and tastings; Taylor’s, Sandeman’s, and Graham’s are three of the grandest. Later enjoy a sundowner on the quayside overlooking the river.
2. Douro Cruising
The River Douro is spanned by six majestic bridges; see them from below on board a traditional barco rabelo (wooden cruiser) as you float gently down the river; book a night-time cruise with dinner to ramp up the romance factor. The iron spans of Porto’s most famous bridge, the Dom Luis I by Theophile Seyring, student of Gustave Eiffel, is the city’s premier proposal spot.
3. Exploring Ribeira
Porto’s UNESCO-listed old town of Ribeira is an appealing clash of soft color, blue-and-white tiled façades, and jumbled Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque architecture spread up the hillside overlooking the River Douro. Wander hand in hand through the cobbled tangle of streets at night to cosy up in intimate little bars and courtyard restaurants and share candlelit suppers.
4. Casa de Musica
Impress your partner by nabbing tickets to see their favourite artist at Portugal’s coolest concert hall, built by Rem Koolhaus and strongly resembling an upturned egg box constructed of gleaming white marble
5. Listen to Fado
Fado music is part of Portugal’s soul and is accompanied by haunting guitars, mandolins, and lutes; it can be sad or joyful but it’s always romantic. To experience traditional fado, just wander the cobbled streets of Porto at night; you’ll hear strains of music pouring from the casas de fado in Ribeira so take your pick of venues and let the music fill your heart.
Contributed by Sasha Heseltine