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36 hours in Porto, Portugal

NEW YORK TIMES
                                Portuguese ham and cheeses at Mercado Bolhao, a recently upgraded 19th-century covered food market in the city center.
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NEW YORK TIMES

Portuguese ham and cheeses at Mercado Bolhao, a recently upgraded 19th-century covered food market in the city center.

NEW YORK TIMES
                                Inside Fiasco, a new cocktail bar and a mecca for vinyl record collectors, with racks of rock, rap, indie, electro, world-beat and other albums for sale.
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NEW YORK TIMES

Inside Fiasco, a new cocktail bar and a mecca for vinyl record collectors, with racks of rock, rap, indie, electro, world-beat and other albums for sale.

NEW YORK TIMES
                                Inside Igreja de Sao Francisco, a church erected in the medieval period and enriched with carved and gilded wood in the 1700s.
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NEW YORK TIMES

Inside Igreja de Sao Francisco, a church erected in the medieval period and enriched with carved and gilded wood in the 1700s.

NEW YORK TIMES
                                The grounds of the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal (Crystal Palace Gardens) in Porto, Portugal.
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NEW YORK TIMES

The grounds of the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal (Crystal Palace Gardens) in Porto, Portugal.

NEW YORK TIMES
                                A view over the museums in the World of Wine district, with the Dom Luis I Bridge in the distance, in Porto, Portugal.
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NEW YORK TIMES

A view over the museums in the World of Wine district, with the Dom Luis I Bridge in the distance, in Porto, Portugal.

NEW YORK TIMES
                                Portuguese ham and cheeses at Mercado Bolhao, a recently upgraded 19th-century covered food market in the city center.
NEW YORK TIMES
                                Inside Fiasco, a new cocktail bar and a mecca for vinyl record collectors, with racks of rock, rap, indie, electro, world-beat and other albums for sale.
NEW YORK TIMES
                                Inside Igreja de Sao Francisco, a church erected in the medieval period and enriched with carved and gilded wood in the 1700s.
NEW YORK TIMES
                                The grounds of the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal (Crystal Palace Gardens) in Porto, Portugal.
NEW YORK TIMES
                                A view over the museums in the World of Wine district, with the Dom Luis I Bridge in the distance, in Porto, Portugal.

First Lisbon; now Porto. The whole world seems to have fallen in love lately with the nearby beaches, old churches, seafood-heavy cuisine and historical UNESCO-listed streets of Portugal’s second-largest city, where the number of tourists has doubled in a decade. (The circuslike atmosphere along the Douro riverfront and outside Livraria Lello, a neo-Gothic 19th-century bookstore, are only the most obvious signs.) And the home of port wine is keeping pace with a slew of new offerings. Recent years have seen the opening, upgrading or expansion of museums, art centers, food markets, food halls and hotels aplenty — along with the inauguration of World of Wine, a dining and entertainment district.

ITINERARY

Friday

5 p.m. Relax in a bucolic park

Gazing at the bridges and passing ships on the Douro River is a favorite Porto pastime. For sublime views far from the dense crush of the waterfront walkways, the Jardins do Palacio de Cristal, a manicured 19th-century park, is a relaxed, bucolic alternative and a favorite with locals. In addition to tree-shaded lookout points, the park includes ponds, fountains, lawns, flower beds and rotating art exhibitions in the free, multilevel Galeria Municipal do Porto.

8 p.m. Eat an all-star dinner

After decades abroad cooking alongside international legends (Wolfgang Puck, Ferran Adria), chef Nuno Mendes has planted his flag once again in his native land, overseeing the precise neo-Portuguese cuisine at Cozinha das Flores, a year-old restaurant along the pedestrianized Rua das Flores. Try tasty tiny snacks (crunchy sourdough crackers with razor clams), elegant comfort food (Azores squid sliced into pasta-like strands with a zesty stew of chickpeas and cod tripe) and unusual desserts (ice cream, made from and resembling egg yolk, on ribbons of sugary, fried egg-yolk, sprinkled with ham shavings). Dinner for two costs about 120 euros (about $130) without drinks.

10:30 p.m. Sip a quiet cocktail

If you’re keen to avoid thronged streets and blasting music — hallmarks of the Mardi Gras-like Clerigos nightlife district — head east to Bomfim, a laid-back bohemian neighborhood of art galleries and indie boutiques. Sporting red walls and red banquettes, Fiasco is both Porto’s sultriest new cocktail bar and a mecca for vinyl record collectors, with racks of rock, rap, indie, electro, world-beat and other albums for sale. A Lusco Fusco Groove cocktail (Ysabel Regina brandy, Campari, fortified Portuguese wine and coffee) runs you 9 euros.

Saturday

10 a.m. Admire art

Now 90 years old, Siza, the architect whose touches you spotted at Cozinha das Flores, has been keeping busy. This year, the Serralves Museum — a world-class contemporary art museum that he designed in the 1990s — added a splashy wing that he also designed. Known as the Alvaro Siza Wing, the jagged white addition displays plans and models from the architect’s long international career, as well as works from the permanent collection. An apocalyptic installation by Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai and a haunted playerless piano from French artist Philippe Parreno are particularly potent. Admission to all buildings and grounds is 24 euros.

1 p.m. Test the market

Bearded and bespectacled, Joaquim Lucas resembles a scholar as he carefully slices presunto (65 euros a kilo) from aged hocks of Alentejo ham. His stand, Charcutaria Princesa, is one of dozens inside Mercado Bolhao, a recently upgraded 19th-century covered food market in the city center that reopened in 2022. The smorgasbord also includes spice dealers, fruit sellers, cheese specialists and wine stands. Raw surf-and-turf comes courtesy of Casa das Ostras — which cracks open sea urchin (5 euros each) and shucks Algarve oysters (three for 7 euros) — and Talho do Toninho, a butcher stall serving toast slices topped with beef or deer tartare (1.50 euros).

3 p.m. Digest some history

Strolling nearby Rua Santa Catarina, a car-free shopping boulevard, provides both a digestive walk and an architectural exhibition. Start at Capela das Almas, an 18th-century church covered with blue-and-white azulejos (added in 1929) depicting divine episodes filled with saints, apostles, Magi and cherubs. Heading south, you can admire the art nouveau facade of A Perola do Bolhao, a fine-food shop dating to 1917. Then stop in Praca da Batalha, home of the azulejo-covered Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, an 18th-century church, and the Batalha Centro de Cinema, a 1940s art deco movie theater restored and reopened in 2022.

7:30 p.m. Savor the flavors

If France is too far away, you can enjoy Gallic flavors at Apego, a homey little restaurant in a quiet street north of Trinidade train station. Franco-Portuguese chef Aurora Goy reinvents local cuisine with dishes like a savory tarte Tatin (which replaces apples with eggs and mushrooms) and a bed of pomme paillasson — a crispy-fried cake of shredded potato — topped with mackerel and leeks in white-wine sauce. A three-course dinner for two, without wine, costs around 90 euros.

10 p.m. Worship wine

Gallery district by day, the zone around Rua Miguel Bombarda morphs into a destination for wine lovers as night falls. Occupying an elegantly repurposed 19th-century chapel, Capela Incomum allows acolytes of the grape to sip vintages such as Lapa dos Gaivoes (4.50 euros a glass) — a smooth red blend from the Alentejo region — in its burgundy-painted lounge or tree-shaded front yard. A block away, Genuino is a lively Brazilian-owned restaurant and natural-wine bar outfitted with vintage tables and chairs. Most wines come from small regional producers.

Sunday

10 a.m. Go for the gold

By now you have noticed: Old churches beckon from nearly every corner. If you venture inside only one, Igreja de Sao Francisco pays off in gold — literally. Erected in the medieval period, the church’s soaring stony interior was enriched in the 1700s with talha dourada — elaborately carved and gilded wood. The effect is a dazzling symphony of radiant decorative themes — spiral-twist columns, swirls, floral patterns, coats of arms, cherubs and disembodied faces that burst from every surface. Downstairs, in the crypt, a transparent floor panel reveals a sea of white bones below ground. Admission 10 euros.

Noon Get Wowed

Did you know that the Chinese village of Jiahu might have produced the world’s first wine, several millennia before Christ? That muscat from Alexandria was Cleopatra’s favorite wine? That the signing of the Declaration of Independence was celebrated with a toast of Madeira? Educational nuggets fill the Bridge Collection (entry 25 euros), a museum with a staggering array of historical wine information in the World of Wine entertainment district. Opened in 2020, WOW encompasses several museums — including ones devoted to chocolate, cork and rosé wine — as well as a wine school, and numerous restaurants and bars. Museum admission 25 euros each.

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