We asked a panel of romance travel gurus to nominate 20 global destinations where the romance factor is under-hyped. Our readers have been voting for the past four weeks, and the results are in! Cartagena, Colombia Romance in colorful, colonial Cartagena takes a sultry, tropical form, complete with cobbled streets, busy plazas filled with performers, al fresco dining and a UNESCO-listed walled city. Sun-kissed beaches are always close at hand at one of South America’s most seductive destinations. Photo courtesy of Thinkstock Budapest, Hungary What could be more romantic than a beautiful Hungarian city straddling the Danube, dotted with an opulent Royal Palace, Baroque Opera House and blessed with Old World sophistication in a plethora of beautiful hotels and chic restaurants? In addition to world class restaurants, glitzy boutiques and a host of historic sites including Roman ruins , Budapest offers an abundance of hot springs with a variety of bathhouses where “taking the waters” is a “must,” not only as a cure for what ails you, but as a social experience. Accommodations run the gamut of private rooms in venerable estates to luxury guesthouses in the Buda Hills, to 5-Star resorts. A collection of pubs, cafes, garden clubs and “ruin bars,” – the latter being especially trendy at the moment – offer a chic finale to the day. Photo courtesy of Thinkstock Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico Founded by the Spaniards in the 16th century, the Mexican colonial town of Guanajuato is a throwback to a kinder, gentler time. The best way to explore the historic center of this former mining town is on foot.
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A Suggested itinerary Porto is a vibrant, cultured city with a significant amount of sights, tastes and tipples to provide a perfect weekend escape. Two days is sufficient time to fully discover Porto, but tourists planning a longer break should definitely consider twinning the Porto experience with a few days in Lisbon, to get a great taste of tradition and modern Portuguese life. This guide will provide a flexible itinerary for 2 day tour of Porto, including; the best districts and sights to make the most of this laid back city.
Ribeira and the Douro Riverbanks To get a traditional taste of Porto, it is recommended to spend the first day around Ribeira and the Douro River. This will take in the famed Port cellars and visitors should not miss out on taking a Port tasting tour. This undulating area is best explored on foot, but tourists can hop on the metro if needed. Morning and lunch in Ribeira Ribeira is one of the oldest districts in Porto dating back to the Middle Ages. Situated on the northern bank of the Douro River, this area is characterised by narrow, winding streets and crammed with restaurants and cafes all housed in the traditional architecture.
This square was once encapsulated by the ancient city walls but now provides a good central point from which to explore the charming arcades. This feat of engineering has stood since and was created by a partner of Gustave Eiffel; the wrought iron work resembles the detail used in the famous tower. The city is proud of its heritage and Port production is still the heartbeat of modern life.
All of the major Port producers continue to age their wines within the vast cellars of the district and most a dotted along the Avenue de Diogo Leite. These jostle for tourist trade and it is worth looking around before selecting a tour.
17 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Porto
But although its ancient roots have been preserved with pride, a modern and lively commerce makes it a thriving city and its traditional importance as an industrial center does not diminish the charm and character of its old quarters or even of the newer and busy avenues, shopping centers and quiet residential blocks. The Cathedral area deserves to be explored, with its various monuments, such as the Renaissance church of Santa Clara, and the densely populated quarter of Barredo, which appears not to have changed since medieval times.
The riverside quarter of Ribeira is also delightful, with narrow streets, typical houses and picturesque life-style: Porto affords many other attractions, monuments and museums, as well as a cultural agenda which has been steadily improving.
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If you can see this, your browser does not support iframes! The path is very rough, steep and narrow and passes between exceedingly thorny bushes. It should not undertaken by anyone unsteady on their feet. If continual care is not taken it would be easy to sprain an ankle on the loose rocks and stones, or lose one’s balance and possibly causing other serious injury. So walkers are advised to wear suitable footwear and leg covering clothes. HISTORY The sheltered natural inlet of Porto Timoni with its narrow entrance undoubtedly has a history of providing protection for ancient mariners from storms and pirates.
Another smaller bay inside the inlet off to the left on photo below would ensure that an anchored ship was unseen from the open sea.
City escapes ~ Pottering around Porto, Day 1 & 2
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Because the perfect solution to a rainy day — or any day — is a shopping mall. Preferably the biggest one with a decent food court. That lead us to Norte Shopping in Porto. Open from 10 a. It is still short 5 min walk from here. Norte Shopping is a fine and huge shopping mall in Porto which looks a bit out dated from the outside but is really pleasant inside. A wide variety of shops and entertainment is geared to make all family members happy.
An indoor playground with a cool tunnel slide, toy stores, electronic stores, drug stores and a pharmacy, some more exclusive shops I strolled between Euro salad bowls and tea sets I could not afford to break at this fancy porcelain place , all the high street clothing chains but with a good balance to Inditex fashion dominance and an upstairs food court, as well as a big basement supermarket with a bakery.
And a cinema but all is dubbed in Portuguese. Dating back to the end of the 19th century when mass production was making baby steps.
Mini guide to Porto and the Douro, Portugal
Inside of the walls of the city, everything is worth discovering, getting lost in the granitic streets among the centenary buildings. Largo da Oliveira pictured below and Santiago — two of the main squares downtown — are definitely must-sees. Nossa Senhora da Oliveira Church, at Largo da Oliveira, makes it one of the most beautiful squares in the country. Between Oliveira and Santiago squares you can also find the old City Hall building, from the 14th century, with amazing arches.
Time your visit for sunset and you will be treated with a beautiful scene. It was built using stone from the castle and the town wall, with royal authorization, but under public outcry.
Hotel Pestana Porto Situated in the Praça da Ribeira, heart of the historical centre of Porto and constructed on part of the mediaeval city wall, the Hotel Pestana Porto forms part of a block of town houses dating from the XVI, XVII and XVIII centuries.
It is a city with an impressive historical and cultural heritage, dating back to the days of the ancient Roman Empire, and it thrives on mild weather , with a maritime climate best known for its warm to hot summers and cool, rainy winters. You can check our 14 day forecast here , but in the meantime let us tell you why this is an excellent choice for your holiday pretty much any time of the year.
Porto is situated in the northern part of Portugal, on the Douro River estuary, as it flows into the majestic Atlantic Ocean. With a chain of northern and eastern mountains bordering with Spain and hindering the airflow from Mediterranean regions, this northern part of Portugal is not as warm as the Algarve , or southern region, but it is equally charming and perfect for those who don’t really enjoy the scorching summers typical to the parts towards the Straits of Gibraltar and north-African neighboring countries.
Porto benefits from four gentle seasons, ranging from dry and comfortably hot to cool and humid with consistent precipitation. Temperatures are mainly subject to the capricious sun, which can sometimes burn hot enough to go well over the usual averages in the last month of spring; with 8 hours of sunshine per day. Summer Spreading over four months, from June all the way until the end of September , summers in Porto are very warm, but rarely scorching or too dry, given the ocean breeze.
Sunsets over Porto, Portugal. It gets increasingly wet though, and expect it to get as cool as single digits on November nights. Alongside chilly nights, swimming becomes quite the challenge, and towards the end of October you will easily observe the increase in clouds, loss of sunshine and onset of heavy showers as winter comes along. For example, precipitation maxes out at mm per month this season, so bring an umbrella!
Day Trips from Porto – Guimarães
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Inside, a vintage s ambiance percolates the salon. Arranged throughout the lavish interior are the original carved wood chairs and marble-topped tables that lend Majestic its delightfully bohemian flavor. Cherubs and lamplights cling to the plasterwork ceiling. Gracing the walls are sets of huge Flemish mirrors that reflect the evocative, yesteryear character. This is the most celebrated of Porto’s cafes, and one of Europe’s most historical. Lunch and dinner can be taken here in considerable style, the menu tempting with a fusion of Portuguese and Mediterranean flavors.
Kids will love it here, especially when they realize that author J. Rowling worked on the draft of her first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone while sipping coffee at a table near the entrance. The Portuguese Center of Photography will appeal to anybody with an understanding of the photographic process. The jail was closed in , but its labyrinth of cells, various administrative offices, and the inner courtyard were all carefully restored and now serve as unusual exhibition spaces.
Exhibitions tend to focus on vintage and contemporary Portuguese photography, but a number of international photographers have seen their work exhibited as part of cultural exchange initiatives. Interestingly, photographs created digitally and those taken using traditional analogue methods share a more or less equal platform, so purists and fans of new imaging technology will be equally enthralled.