Best for history: The Sé and Aliados
Some of Porto’s oldest and most atmospheric streets are tightly knitted into the slopes below the Sé, Porto’s ancient cathedral which looms high above the Douro. The Sé district is home to the Paço Episcopal, the ornate palace of the bishops of Porto, and some of Porto’s most impressive churches including the Igreja de Santa Clara and Igreja de Santo Ildefonso. It’s also where you’ll find the fabulously tiled São Bento train station. Meanwhile Aliados is where you’ll find the city’s grand civic buildings.
Quirky, vintage vibes: Pão de Açúcar. This 1940s Art Deco hotel, whose former guests include fado diva Amália Rodrigues, boasts an amazing spiral staircase and a collection of historic fairground bumper cars.
Film-themed fun: Rivoli Cinema Hostel. A bright, airy townhouse with smart movie-themed dorms and double rooms, plus an outdoor roof terrace.
Best for riverfront wandering: Riberia
A hotch-potch of tall, colourful houses tumbling down to the Douro, the Ribeira (riverside) district was the heart of medieval Porto and is today protected by UNESCO World Heritage status. Undeniably attractive, its riverbanks are lined with bars and restaurants, while the winding backstreets harbour some of the city’s most historic buildings and are great for getting lost in.
River views: 1872 River House. Fantastic views over the Douro from its comfortable rooms, plus a fantastic location right on the riverfront. The free coffee, tea and beer during the day is the icing on the cake.
Good value with style: InPatio Guest House. A bargain for the location, this cosy guesthouse has stylish, well-designed rooms tucked away in a tranquil patio.
Riberia © ESB Professional/Shutterstock
Best for browsing and shopping: The Baixa
A lively, bustling district that is fun to wander around, the Baixa is where you’ll find some of the city’s most interesting sights. It’s home to the ornate Igreja do Carmo church, famed for its dazzling azulejos tiles, and the towering Torre dos Clérigos, Porto’s best vantage point. The city’s university is also here, along with a good clutch of cafés, bars, clubs and shops. Amongst these is one of Europe’s most visited bookshops, the over-the-top Livraria Lello, where JK Rowling gained inspiration for her Harry Potter books.
Great location meets boutique style: Flores Village. On the fashionable, pedestrianized Rua das Flores, this eighteenth-century townhouse has been converted into a stunning boutique hotel with a hidden garden at the back. The rooms are spacious and modern – some with views over the city – and there’s an atmospheric pool, secreted in the villa’s former wine cellars.
Igreja do Carmo © Allkin/Shutterstock