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Porto, Portugal | Overseas Haven Report

When a region and a wine share the same name, you can imagine the passion involved in the product…

The history of this fabulous city—the second-most prominent in Portugal—is closer to that of an ensemble of small villages, its landscape formed by generations of seafaring and trade.

Some of the oldest parts of the city are being totally revamped, so it’s common to see infrastructure works underway as you walk the streets these days…

Although shrouded in resident fog that contrasts with the colorful people that live here, the gloom adds a sense of charm and mystery while simultaneously illuminating the city… it adds personality and creates harmony among the many villages that compose it.

With a broad mix of cultures and styles that can be seen from one street to another, it’s no surprise people have a strong sense of belonging to this special little piece of coastline.

Globally known for its exquisite port wine and surrounded by the enchanting Douro Valley (with a population of roughly 240,000 in the metropolitan area), this is Porto, Portugal.

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Porto is exactly like its port wine… the more stages of development, the better it gets. Porto is an antique city that has already undergone and is now going through more development… so you’ll find high and low streets, meaning ups and downs as you walk in the city center (near the river) and flat areas in Matosinhos and Foz (where the beaches are located).

Porto is not divided by the conventional neighborhoods… districts in Porto are each associated with cooperatives and social housing and are called zones. In the past few years, these various zones have each been given a serious facelift, and the whole city seems anew right now.

People tend to say that everything in Porto happens in the zones of Cedofeita, Santo Ildefonso, Sé, Miragaia, São Nicolau (Ribeira), and Vitória. All are within a few steps of one another. Up until just a few years ago, all these zones were a little isolated and even somewhat dangerous, but they’ve quickly evolved into wide-open tourist hot spots. Today, they’re renowned for their charming, traditional feeling and famous for their weekend riverside markets and old taverns.

Bathed by the Douro River, the second-largest river in Portugal, Porto is also famous for its fabulous vineyard-covered mountain slopes. Portugal’s winemaking roots are ancient; the result of years of care and dedication backed up by good geography and favorable weather conditions.

Traffic is becoming chaotic in the city center—something to be aware of if moving here, but everyone knows everyone in Porto, which may be a good or bad thing depending on your preference. There’s a definite feeling of belonging…

You’ll feel right at home, and even if there’s a language barrier, the locals will overcome it without ever losing their personality. You won’t feel like an outsider even though you’re new.

In Porto they tell you to “serve yourself and make the table,” treating you like family… This sums up the essence of Porto nicely.


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