Oporto is Portugal's second-largest city and serves as an entry point for tourists who want to explore the Douro Valley, but tourists staying in holiday homes in Portugal should first be sure to explore the suburb of Vila Nova de Gaia in Oporto itself. Famed for its winemaking, this neighborhood is one of the best places in the world to learn about port, the wine that gave the city its name.
Port is a fortified wine so heavily associated with Great Britain that tourists may not realize that it comes from Portugal. British traders were the ones who first established wine lodges on the Douro River right alongside the center of the town in those days. Newly made wine was blended and aged in these wine lodges, and then exported to Britain for export to the entire empire.
Tourists today can explore this winemaking heritage with tours of the wine lodges, many of which have been in operation for more than 300 years. A small admission fee generally applies, but visitors can get a refund of the fee simply by purchasing a bottle of port -- something no tourist to Oporto should neglect, in any case. To visit the wine lodges from downtown Oporto, walk across the Dom Luis I Bridge and make your way to the Vila Nova de Gaia riverfront park, where a tourist information center provides a free guide for exploring winemaking in the local area.