314km (195 miles) N of Lisbon; 304km (189 miles) S of La Coruña, Spain; 589km (365 miles) W of Madrid, Spain
Porto is Portugal's second city, a major commercial center and capital of the industrious northern region. Its inhabitants like to repeat an old saying: "Braga prays, Coimbra sings, Lisbon has fun and Porto works."
Yet like other energetic second-cities—from Manchester to Milan, Mumbai to Shanghai—Porto has developed a reputation for playing as hard as it works. In recent years, the city has taken off as a center of the arts, fashion and nightlife. The expansion of its airport to take direct flights from North America and low-cost hops from dozens of European cities has opened it up to tourism. Atmospheric, but run-down old neighborhoods are getting a facelift. Swish accommodation options are springing up across the city. Hip new restaurants and bars rival those in the capital. Modern architectural landmarks and cultural hubs like Rem Koolhaas' 2005 Casa da Música or the Serralves art center designed by hometown boy Álvaro Siza Vieira are internationally renowned. In late 2016, Serralves became the permanent home of a major collection of works by the Spanish surrealist master Joan Miró after a public outcry prevented their sale abroad and 2017 saw the opening of a fancy new gourmet market in the 100-year-old, azulejo-clad São Bento railway station. Also in 2017, Vogue opened the first Western European branches of its super-chic cafe chain in Porto and Berlin, much to the chagrin of the Lisbonites.
Despite all this activity, Porto keeps its timeless charm. The windows overlooking narrow streets of the riverside Ribeira district are still hung with washing out to dry; restaurants serve gargantuan plates of beans and tripe; and across the river, in the wine lodges of Vila Nova de Gaia, countless oak barrels still hold their hoard of silently maturing port wine.
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