"Just surf all day and drink vinho verde all night my friend."
With those words ringing in my head, I set off for Porto, Europe's underrated gem of a city, a mecca of thousand year old tile-roofed houses that sits where the Douro River meets the Atlantic ocean.
Portugal is often overlooked, and when its not Porto is is forgotten beneath the immensity of the capital city Lisbon. Its status as a less-visited story gives it its charm however, it is less crowded and more authentic than a city built to harness tourists. In Porto you can get lost without trying, and it undoutelby will lead to great food, great views, and stunning mosaics.
While most of the city is hundreds of years old, it is worth checking out some of the modern additions. Stop by the Case de Musica and awe at the cavernous steel and glass concert hall on your way to the contemporary art museum Musea de Serralves for video art and Warhol in the same building. Save some time to explore the park surrounding the museum.
Surfing or not, a visit to the beach is key. Praia dos Matasinhos is a good one for surfing, or check out the Praia do Homem do Leme. In the summer its a great excuse to break out some Parker Dusseau All-Around shorts, you can swim in the surprisingly warm Atlantic and be dry by the time you're ready to go.
Culture and the outdoors aside, Porto is a city to eat and drink. Pop into any pasteleria for an espresso and pastry (standing of course). For dinner, swing by Galeria de Paris, a hip avenue teeming with good food and drinks. Some highlights were Le Boheme entre amis, Caldelabro, and Taverna Galeria de Paris.
You can't go to Porto without a stroll down the river. Avoid the crowds and cross to the southern side, and ideally catch the sunset over the old town. The mix of graffiti, medieval buildings and Maria Pia Bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel are sure to awe.