Posted On Sep 20, 2016
Get your passport ready to dive into Douro-bound style.
Porto, that enchanting coastal city along the Douro River in the northwest section of pretty Portugal, is renowned for its namesake fortified wine made in the quintas tucked among the steep hillside vineyards nearby—but there’s more than wine to drink in. A city rich in history, it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but modern life in the form of fantastic shopping, stylish restaurants, and even new craft brew pubs dot the winding streets and ancient architecture. Victoria Shorten of luxury concierge service One Lifestyle (One-lifestyles.com), takes us on a tour.
Where to Stay
You’ll be dazzled by the opulence that pours from the Pestana Palácio Do Freixo (Pestana.com), an eighteenth-century Baroque palace turned hotel and national monument on the banks of the Douro River. Opened in 2009 after lengthy renovations, the hotel offers a truly royal experience to its guests, who can stroll the ornate gardens of the Pousada or indulge in a soak in the Turkish baths.
Where to Eat
“The Yeatman Hotel (The-yeatman-hotel.com) is a favorite of my clients,” says Shorten. Located in the heart of Vila Nova de Gaia, where most of the city’s port wine is aged and stored, the hotel’s wine cellars are filled with over 1,200 bottles of exquisite wines from Portugal and around the world, and its rooms are all individually named for the famed quintas. But it’s at the eponymous restaurant where both modern and classic Portugal merge deliciously. The Yeatman focuses on the perfect pairing of food and wine (aptly so, since it is named after one of the more storied port families of the area) and it is the only restaurant in Porto to receive a Michelin star under the guiding hand of chef Ricardo Costa, one of Portugal’s finest chefs.
What to Do
A luxury cruise down the River Douro is a must for any trip to Porto, according to Shorten. “We have put together some really amazing full-day tours visiting wineries, with picnic lunches overlooking the hills and coastline,” she adds. A private tour of the House of Sandeman (Sandeman.com) is a great way to spend the day. This landmark destination has been used to age special port wines for centuries. Guests tour its cellars and visit the tasting room where they’re treated to a variety of wines while learning about their history and the aging process. Or boat down to the recently renovated Quinta do Bomfim (Symington.com) in the village of Pinhao. Owned by the five-generation Symington Family, visitors can pore over nineteenth century records and photos of port production, pick one of three vineyard walks, and, during harvest season, get to see the bunches of grapes crushed.