Meet Porto

Porto is the second biggest city in Portugal and one of the oldest in Europe. It is the main city in the north of the country, a region known for its industry and manufacture. The region is home to 35% of the country’s population and produces 29% of its GDP and the metropolitan area of Porto certainly plays a critical role in Portugal’s overall economic performance. In 2015, the metropolitan area registered 1,731,354 inhabitants and a population density of 850 inhabitants per km2.

The city has become widely known for its wine and cuisine, for its university (among the 100 best in Europe) and its football club. The overall richness of the experience Porto offers, its architectural and natural heritage and the range of leading cultural and leisure opportunities are just some of the reasons contributing to its ever-growing appeal as a tourism destination. Porto's stunning architecture features projects designed by such famous architects as Nicolau Nasoni, Gustav Eiffel, Siza Vieira, Rem Koolhaas and Eduardo Souto de Moura, among others. Furthermore, Porto is the hometown of Manoel de Oliveira (film director) and of Henry the Navigator, an important figure in 15th-century Portuguese politics and in the early days of the Portuguese Empire.

The city has gained considerable international recognition in recent years. In 1996, the historic centre of Porto was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for the constructions along the hillsides overlooking the river and its outstanding 2,000-year old urban landscape. Its continuous growth, linked to the sea (the Romans gave it the name Portus, or port), is evidenced by the many and varied monuments, from the cathedral with its Romanesque choir, to the neoclassical Palácio da Bolsa (former Stock Exchange) and the typically Portuguese Manueline-style Church of Santa Clara. There is also the city's most famous calling card, the Clérigos Tower, which, along with the King Luís Bridge, is one of the major monuments designed by Nicolau Nasoni.

Although an old city, Porto has not stood still and in recent years it has been busy reinventing itself. Old buildings have given way to a younger city, one that has managed to become cosmopolitan, attractive, dynamic and trendy without losing its original features, traditions and appeal. Thanks to all this work, Porto was named Best European Destination in 2012 and 2014, something which has helped to raise the city's profile right across Europe.

In fact, Porto has registered a considerable increase in tourism and can now offer 14,468 beds, 10,591 of which are in hotels. In 2015, the city provided more than 3.2 million hotel nights, an increase of 16.8% compared to 2014. This growth in tourism has made the city focus on improving each and every experience, making sure the culture, cuisine and wine contribute to each visitor enjoying a beautiful stay.

The city is served by Porto International, or Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, which the Airports Council International (ACI) named as one of the top 5 European airports in 2015. The airport is rather close to the city (around 11 km) and offers flights to numerous destinations, many of them served by low-cost carriers. In 2015, almost 8 million passengers passed through the airport.

Porto’s urban transport network is also excellent, from the main road accesses right through to the efficient taxi services and bus routes. The city of Porto is is located about 1 hour driving from Spain, and there are excellent road links that make the connection between these two countries.

The city is served by the main north-south train line, a metro system, trams and the Guindais funicular railway.

Porto’s accommodation offer is likewise extensive and includes well-known and award-winning international chains. Whatever visitors are looking for, Porto has everything from 5-star hotels, such as The Yeatman and the InterContinental, through to such unique hostels as the Tattva Design Hostel and the Yes! Porto Hostel. Further details of the city’s transport and access networks, the conference venue and the accommodation offer, can be found in Point VIII of this proposal.

Porto is the second largest city in the country and a top-tier tourist attraction. It is as safe as a city can be and is watched over by both national police forces (National Republican Guard and the Public Safety Police) and local ones (Municipal Police).

Porto offers a unique culinary experience, with a big emphasis on traditional cuisine, ranging from the famous Francesinha (a hot steak sandwich) to Tripas à Moda do Porto (tripe), Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá (cod) and signature cooking. The Michelin starred chef Pedro Lemos works in the city. Porto has become a destination of choice for food and wine lovers. The city offers also an array of modern and gourmet food experiences from various cultures, meeting different needs and tastes. From cheap and down-to-earth stalls and restaurants to expensive and stylish eating venues, Porto caters to all palates and pockets.

Culturally, Porto not only preserves its history and past but it has also created a new cultural hub that overlays this. The city has invested in the arts, as a way of promoting education but also with a strong emphasis on performing and plastic arts.As organisations and venues, Casa da Música and Fundação Serralves are leading lights of a variety of contemporany and classical art forms. To help ensure visitors feel included in the arts, The Teatro de S. João (theatre) offers subtitles for most of its plays. Thanks to its many music and arts festivals, Porto has also become a destination of choice for this interested in urban culture and modern music. It also boasts a dynamic and vivacious nightlife scene that is in full swing all year long.

Not wanting to leave out the city's traditions and history, mention must be made of the city's patron saint. The St. João (John) holiday is in 24th of June and centres on the riverfront. The festivities have been keeping the city up till morning for decades and they continue to attract the young and the old, locals and foreigners alike.

And because pictures are worth more than a thousand words, please see the following videos:

Nearby Attractions

Torre do Clérigos, Porto, Porto Turismo, Porto Monumentos

Clérigos Tower

(14 min. walking distance from the Conference Venue)

Baroque tower by Nicolau Nasoni, built in the first half of the eighteenth century. The Clérigos Tower is one of Porto’s most emblematic monu-ments. In the building of the Torre dos Clérigos, you'll find a part of the Brotherhood's holdings and the Christus Collection, taking you back to a time and space where art and religion complemented each other.

Estação de São Bento, Porto, Porto Turismo, Porto Monumentos

São Bento Railway Station

(18 min walking distance from the Conference Venue)

The S. Bento Railway Station was built at the beginning of the 20th century, on the exact location of the former Convent of S. Bento de Avé-Maria. The glass and iron structure was designed by the architect Marques da Silva. The vestibule is adorned with twenty thousand tiles, painted by Jorge Colaço, that illustrate the development of transport in Portugal and events in the history and life of the country.

Avenida dos Aliados, Porto, Porto Turismo, Porto Monumentos

Aliados Avenue

(20 min walking distance from the Conference Venue)

Aliados Avenue is a major street in downtown Porto. With the Freedom Square and the General Humberto Delgado Square, it forms a continuous urban area and is the main avenue of the city center of Porto. The building of the Municipality of Porto, an important city monument, is located at the top of this avenue.

Catedral, Porto, Porto Turismo, Porto Monumentos


(17 min walking distance from the Conference Venue)

A Romanesque building dating from the 12th/13th century, it has been enlarged and renewed over the centuries up to its final format, in the 20th century. The result is an idealised reimagining of the medieval cathedral.

Ponte D. Luiz I e Cais da Ribeira, Porto, Porto Turismo, Porto Monumentos

Luiz I Brigde & Cais da Ribeira

(18 min walking distance from the Conference Venue)

Designed by Teófilo Seyrig, Eiffel's disciple and partner, it opened in 1886 and consists of two iron decks. With a length of 395 metres and a width of 8 metres, its arc in wrought iron is still considered one of the largest in the world. Currently the upper deck is occupied by a Metro line linking Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. The bridge can be crossed on foot and by car over the lower deck. A calling card for the city, it offers spectacular views of the Ribeira area, the Cathedral, the Santa Clara Convent and the Douro River.

Caves Vinho do Porto, Porto, Porto Turismo, Porto Monumentos

Port Wine Cellars

(21 min walking distance from the Conference Venue)

Port wine cellars constitute an important point in the heart of the historic area of Vila Nova de Gaia, across the Douro river from the old city centre of Porto. These cellars are long cool, dark warehouses, their thick granite walls and high ceilings helping to keep out the heat and maintain an even temperature throughout the year.

Livraria Lello, Porto, Porto Turismo, Porto Monumentos

Lello Bookstore

(15 min walking distance from the Conference Venue)

Lello brothers opened this bookstore in 1906. The architecture of the building as we know it today was shaped by Francisco Xavier Esteves and his grandiloquent imagination. The façade of the building has a very unique characteristic, which is a window adorned with two figures, one on each side, symbolizing Art and Science. The inside of the bookshop is enriched with busts of some of the greatest Portuguese authors. Lonely Planet considered Lello Bookstore as the third most beautiful library in the world.

Igreja S Francisco, Porto, Porto Turismo, Porto Monumentos

Monumental S.Francisco de Assis Church

(7 min walking distance from the Conference Venue)

Construction of the city's most important Gothic church began in the 14th century. It is one of the most important examples of the Baroque style, due to its 17th and 18th century gilded interior. It was the exuberance of its gilded carved wood work that led Count Raczinsky to describe it as the 'Church of Gold'. Overwhelmed, he adds: 'The gilding of this church is so beautiful and rich that it goes far beyond everything I have seen in Portugal and in the whole world'. The Tree of Jesse and the catacombs are also worth seeing. The church has been a National Monument since 1910 and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site since 1996

Museu Casa do Infante, Porto, Porto Turismo, Porto Monumentos

Casa do Infante Museum

(9 min walking distance from the Conference Venue)

The Casa do Infante owes its name to the fact that it was the birthplace of Infante (Prince) Henrique, the Navigator. This set of buildings was built over a period of time to house the Crown services in Porto. It dates back to 1325, when King Afonso, the 4th, ordered the construction of the Crown Warehouse, against the will of the Bishop, Hugo, Lord of the Borough. The building, later renovated and turned into a museum, presently serves a range of purposes: museum, municipal historical archive, a thematic library about Porto, memory room, exhibition room and an auditorium.

Jardim das Virtudes, Porto, Porto Turismo, Porto Monumentos

Virtudes Garden

Other Points of Interest

Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis, Porto, Porto Turismo, Porto Monumentos

National Museum Soares dos Reis

National Museum Soares dos Reis

Founded in 1833, the Antigo Museu Portuense de Pinturas e Estampas (Former Porto Museum of Painting and Prints) was the first public art museum in Portugal. It has been housed in the Palácio dos Carrancas (Carrancas Palace) since 1940. The palace, which was built at the end of the 18th century by a wealthy Porto family, is a heritage site.

Museu Casa do Infante, Porto, Porto Turismo, Porto Monumentos

Casa da Música

(12 min driving distance from the Conference Venue)

Designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, Casa da Música was inaugurated in 2005 and since then has become an icon of contemporary architecture, attracting visitors from many different parts of the world. The programme, which is both dynamic and innovative, ranges from classical music to the latest urban trends, benefits greatly from the four resident musical groups: Symphony Orchestra, Remix Ensemble, Baroque Orchestra and Choir.

Serralves, Porto, Porto Turismo, Porto Monumentos


(12 min. driving distance from the Conference Venue)

The Serralves Museum, Portugal's leading contemporary art museum, was designed by the architect Siza Vieira (Pritzker Prize laureate) and is located in the unique setting of the Serralves Foundation, which includes the Park and Villa. Through its permanent collection, temporary exhibitions, educational programme, public sessions, concerts, dance shows and performances, editorial activity and national and international partnerships, the museum fosters the enjoyment and understanding of contemporary art and culture.

Praias, Porto, Porto Turismo, Porto Monumentos

Porto beaches

(15 min driving distance from the Conference Venue)

With 4km of seafront (4 developed bathing areas, 9 beaches with 8 Blue Flags), the beaches of the city of Porto attract the attention of many swimmers and visitors from around the entire municipality, Porto Metropolitan Area and tourists. It has become a very important aspect of the city’s tourism.

Porto Water Innovation Week

Alfândega Porto Congress Centre, Portugal

24 to 30 September