24 Hours In: Oporto

Put down your glass, and hit the town. Art, architecture, music and nature ... what do you want to explore first?


A good base for exploring

08.00: Wake up at the Ipanema Porto Hotel (00 351 226 075 059; ipanemaparkhotel.pt), 156 Rua do Campo Alegre, well-placed for exploring both the old and newer parts of the city. Doubles start at €115 (£82) per night with breakfast.

Just look at the view...

09.00: Take the three-minute ride on the Funicular dos Guindais (metrodoporto.pt) from the city's waterfront area up to Praca Batalha, where you will also find the National Theatre and nearby Rue de Santa Catarina shopping area. The view from the carriage over the landmark Dom Luis bridge and quaysides is stunning.

Drink coffee with the locals

09.30: You are guaranteed a great cup of coffee in any one of the many cafés that dot Oporto's streets. For a special treat, head for the Majestic Café (00 351 22 200 3887; cafemajestic.com), Rua de Santa Catarina - the 1920s belle époque interior lives up to its name. A café com leite (milky coffee and nata (Portuguese custard tart) is an addictive treat that will make you feel like one of the locals.

Flex that credit card

10.00: Time to hit the shops - there's a mix of familiar high street names, independent perfumeries boutiques and traditional handicraft shops on the Rue de Santa Catarina (viacatarina.pt).

Stories of saints and sinners

11.00: The 18th-century, Capela das Almas chapel in Rue de Santa Catarina was faced with the traditional blue and white azulejo (tiles) in 1929. The panels, by the renowned artist Eduardo Leite, depict various scenes, including the death of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Sophisticated palates required

12.00: Miguel Castro Silva is Oporto's celebrity chef and his restaurant Bull and Bear (00 351 22 6107669), 3431 Avenida da Boavista, attracts a well-heeled crowd. The food is more refined than the usual local specialities and might include lemon risotto with salmon caviar or a sophisticated warm salad of asparagus, egg yolk, truffle, potato and Parmesan.

The hall that fell to earth

14.00: Casa da Musica (00 351 220 120 220; casadamusica.com), 604-610 Avenida da Boavista, is the concert hall that fell to earth. Built by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, the space-age geometric design met with great acclaim when it opened last year. If you can't get a ticket to a performance of classical music in one of the two auditoriums, console yourself with a visit to the café and the echoing, atmospheric foyer.

An artistic impression

15.00: The permanent collection of the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art (00 351 226 156 500; serralves.com), 210 Rua Dom João de Castro, contains works dating from the late 1960s to today by Portuguese and international artists.

Take a stroll in the gardens

17.00: The green and peaceful suburb of Foz is a good place to spend the late afternoon. Stroll through the manicured Jardim do Passeio Alegre, then explore the back streets where you'll find any number of small boutiques and restaurants. Foz cemetery is home to the exposed mummy of the priest José dos Santos Ferreira Moura.

Have a fishy on a dishy

20.00: With incredible river views, D. Tonho (00 351 22 200 43 070), 13-15 Cais da Ribeira, is one of the best restaurants in Porto for local dishes as well as seafood. Expect spankingly fresh fish and accompany it with a glass, or two, of vinho verde.

Raise a glass - or two

23.00: Head for the Praca da Ribiera for a beer. There's a convivial atmosphere in the square, even at 3am. AL

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