Dating back more than 700 years, ancient Matosinhos sits on the Atlantic coast of Portugal. These days it is home to the port of Leixões, which welcomes luxurious liners at its architecturally striking terminals. Follow the curvaceous exterior of the South Porto Cruise Terminal to take in panoramic views, then marvel at its beautiful spiralling interior. Restaurants, souvenir shops and the golden sands of Matosinhos Beach are all a stone’s throw from the port. Soak up some sun as you rest awhile, or head south to view the 17th century Fort of São Francisco do Queijo and the She Changes sculpture, known locally as the anemone.
A short trip from the port of Leixões takes you to nearby Porto, Portugal’s second largest city. A charming destination filled with medieval structures, hilly backstreets and a characterful past, the historic centre is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Take a stroll through the Ribeira district to get a feel for Porto’s important commercial heritage. Gaze up at the colourful townhouses lining the Douro river as they watch over lively market stalls touting local wares. Duck through stone archways to explore the winding labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways until you reach the bustling Praça da Ribeira. Take to the lofty heights of Dom Luis I Bridge to admire how the spirited old quarter fits into the captivatingly crowded cityscape. From this iconic iron wonder stretching across the Duoro to Vila Nova de Gaia, you’ll spot the monumental Clérigos Tower soaring above red-tiled rooftops. Hewn from granite in the 18th century, the 75 metre tall Baroque bell tower of the arresting Clérigos Church offers sweeping views to those willing to climb its 240 steps.
For more extraordinary examples of Porto’s medieval treasures, visit one of the many religious structures. The intricately carved, gilded interior of the Gothic Church of St. Francis is a spectacular masterpiece, while the foreboding exterior of the city’s oldest building, Porto Cathedral (Sé Catedral), conceals serene Baroque cloisters adorned with decorative azulejo tiles. Within the Neoclassical Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa) you’ll discover the beautifully decorated Arab Room and, at the opposite end of the design spectrum are the minimalist Music House (Casa da Música) and the Contemporary Art Museum (Museu de Arte Contemporânea).