Astride the Douro River meets the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal's hilly, second largest city is also among the cheapest majolr cities in western Europe. As in any large Cathoic city, churches are a big thing, from the modest Sé do Porto (cathedral) to the 18th-century Igreja dos Clérigos (Church of the Brotherhood of the Clerics), with a distinctive tower whose 225 steps can be climbed for a spectacular view over the city; the 17th-century Igreja dos Grilos (Church of the Crickets), one of Portugal’s earliest Baroque buildings; and the 14th-century Gothic Igreja de São Francisco (Church of St. Francis), whose sobre façade masks a later Baroque interior that’s positively riotous with gilded woodwork. On the secular side, the two-storey Livraria Lello bookstore is reknowned for its fine woodwork, elaborate skylight, and most especially its dramatic forked staircase; the story arose that J.K. Rowling – who once lived in Porto – may have used Lello as an inspiration for her Harry Potter bookseller Flourish and Blotts. Then apart from several interesting museums there are of course the more than one dozen port wine houses such as Sandeman and Taylor's (actually a short ferry ride or bridge crossing over the Douro in Vila Nova de Gaia) which welcome visitors for tours and tastings.

Read more in Tripatini contributor FlUSTtravels' post 7 of Europe's Cheapest Cities to Visit.



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