What for you is the best part of a summer holiday? Lying on the beach soaking up the rays, swimming in crystal clear oceans, or discovering a brand new place? Travelling, or at least going on holiday, is something that the vast majority of us do and have in common; but that’s where it ends. In reality travelling is a very subjective thing; you can go to the same place as someone and have a completely different experience depending on what you see, who you meet and what you want out of it.
So, really what does holidaying mean for you? If it’s about discovering a new place, an untouched land without the onset of mass tourism then our picks of off-the-beaten track destinations around the Porto area could spell holiday love for you. Grab your passport, make sure you get a deal on your annual holiday insurance packages and then get planning.
These are some of our top picks for off-the-beaten-path Porto:
The Douro Valley
If you’re not already aware, Porto is the city where the Douro river reaches the sea in north western Portugal. The best way to get to the Douro Valley is therefore via boat. (If you only have a single day to explore the valley then you can return to Porto via train in the afternoon). It’s possible to go for two or three day cruises or to hop-on and hop-off and explore the stunning landscape by foot. In the Douro Valley, you’ll likely spend much of your time touring vineyards, sampling Port and ogling at the amazing views. You could easily spend a week touring the area by foot, but a couple of days gives you enough time to see the main areas.
The Archaeological Park of the Coa Valley
UNESCO World Heritage site, Coa Valley is located right by the northern border with Spain as is known for being an important site due to its large concentration to rock art. On the rocks you can find carvings of mountain goats, horses, deer and more. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to visit these sites independently so you’ll need to hire a guide for this. Be sure to make a reservation at least a week in advance on the Foz Coa website — you’ll be on a tour leaving from the Visitor’s Centre and will spend the day in a 4×4 learning about the history and science between these carvings — and realising why they’re one of the most important discoveries in Europe.
Jardim de Serralves
Getting off the beaten track in Porto doesn’t always mean leaving the city. The Jardim de Serralves is one of the most peaceful areas in Porto and while you’re there you can barely even detect that there’s a city close to you. The landscaped gardens features shallow pools, manicured hedges, perfect lawns, gardens of colourful flowers and plenty of places to relax and read a book. As well as the gardens, there’s also a museum of contemporary art that you can wander around in for a few hours, with plenty of interesting artwork. Even if you’re not a fan of museums or artwork, a glimpse of the architecture of the building is definitely worthwhile.
Where’s your favourite place to go off-the-beaten-path in Porto?