314km (195 miles) N of Lisbon; 304km (189 miles) S of La Coruña, Spain; 589km (365 miles) W of Madrid, Spain

Porto (known also as the Port) gave its name not only to port wine but also to Portugal and its language. The name derives from the Roman settlement of Portus Cale. The Douro, which comes from Rio do Ouro (River of Gold), has always been Porto's lifeblood. The city perches on a rocky gorge that the Douro cut out of a great stone mass. According to the writer Ann Bridge, "The whole thing looks like a singularly dangerous spider's web flung across space."

Porto's most intriguing neighborhood is Ribeira. The steep, narrow streets and balconied houses evoke Lisbon's Alfama, though the quarter has its own distinctive character. Ribeira preserves the timeless quality of many of the old buildings and cobbled streets lining the riverbank.

Many visitors write off Porto as an industrial city with some spectacular bridges, but there's much to enjoy here. As the provincial capital and university seat, Porto has its own artistic treasures. The city beats with a sense of industriousness -- it's not surprising that Henry the Navigator was born here in the late 14th century.