Porto is Portugal's second largest metropolis, one of Europe's most charismatic cities, and world known because of the Douro River and its port. Book a holiday villa in the area, and experience one of the oldest cities in Europe, a city of architectural contrasts; home of beautiful plazas, churches and houses with colourful tiled façades and a world-class contemporary architecture such as the House of Music by the famous Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, and city buildings by Alvaro Siza. The city is extremely hilly, with many buildings built into a cliff side that overlooks the river. Stairs cut into the stone run up and down the cliffside and offers a rewarding walking tour. In the suburb of Ribeira de Gaia you can find the warehouse of notable companies dealing with Port Wine, such as Cálem, Fonseca, Sandemans, Kopke, and others. You can reach them by crossing the bridge of Dom Luis on foot, built by Robert Eiffel. If you are tired of walking, take a tram from Infante on the riverbank to Passeio Alegre in Foz, the most sophisticated of the suburbs, or have a meal on the beach in one of many stylish restaurants that have started up over the last few years to reflect Porto’s increasingly sophisticated character.
But the typical food for Porto is made at the more traditional restaurants. Residents of Porto are known as Tripeiros (tripe eaters) due to the fact that the city went without meat in order to provide the capital and the fleet that departed to Ceuta in Morocco in 1415. During that period the people of Porto had to subsist on tripe soup, still a speciality of the city. Another local speciality is Francesinha. Generous amounts of steak and cured ham stuffed between slices of toast, swathed in a mass of melted cheese and then doused with a tomato sauce. You can also experience these great dishes in the comfort of your own home with a holiday rental in Portugal.
Citizens of Porto, while definitely Portuguese, hold themselves apart culturally from the rest of the country and on the night of June 23, the city try to teach Lisbon a thing or two about having fun. A great time to be here on holiday in a holiday villa, is during Porto's Festa de São João, one of Europe's liveliest street festivals. On that night, thousands of people come to Porto's old centre, now a Unesco world heritage site, and to the most traditional neighbourhoods to pay a tribute to Saint John the Baptist in a party that mixes sacred and profane traditions. An interesting habit among the people of Porto during the 'Festa de São João', is to hit each other either with garlic flowers or soft plastic hammers. The party starts early in the afternoon of 23 June and usually lasts until the morning of 24 June. The traditional attractions of the night include street concerts, popular dancing parties, jumping over flames, eating barbecued sardines and meat, drinking wine and releasing illuminated flame-propelled balloons over Porto's summer sky.
Other Portuguese towns and cities might not have the same profile as Porto, but they are both historical and beautiful. Guimarães the country’s first capital, the religious centre of Braga, and Aveiro, an unexpected treat set on a series of canals lined with colourful houses. Although the climate of North of Portugal is a little bit cooler than in the south there are plenty of sunny days during the year to enjoy in your holiday rental with a private pool, and the region offers several ways to spend them. The countryside of Northern Portugal is very beautiful, a great place to book a holiday villa. Virtually the whole coastline from Porto to the Spanish border consists of golden, sandy beaches, many virtually deserted.