I've been reading about visiting Porto but I'm not fond of Port wine. Much of what I read is focused on Port. What suggestions for other attractions in Porto? Would it be better to focus on Lisbon, Coimbra and sights in between? We only have 7 to 9 days in Portugal since we are meeting a group for a 2 week tour of northern Spain's wine area, then on to Seville, Cordoba, Granada and the white washed towns.
Much more to Porto than port wine.
1. Regarding wine: the Portuguese wine industry is/has been making a huge push to showcase indigenous grapes in both red and white wines. Many are not yet exported. This will be your chance to be ahead of the curve.
2. We plan to take day train trip up the Douro River and see some sites. Many people recommend the boat tours.
3. Porto is Portugal's 2nd largest city with numerous attractions and restaurants. We plan to spend 4 nights there.
4. Some ideas at http://juliedawnfox.com/tag/porto/
I visited Porto this spring and enjoyed the place a lot. And, I do not drink any kind of wind. You might want to check out RS Portugal Tour to get an idea where it goes and what it did in Porto.
We enjoyed Porto but we had already been to Lisbon 2 x, Obidos,
Douro valley, the southern coast Algarve etc.
Definately do not cut Lisbon short it is a wonderful. Destination with plenty to do and see. I hope I return some dy even aftr 3 trips there.
A minority report: I went in 2002, and didn't enjoy Porto.
The only things I liked were the Museu Serralves (the temporary exhibit was an excellent Nan Goldin show, and there are very attractive grounds) and the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis (Soares dos Reis did wonderful, Bernini-like sculpture, plus there were great paintings by local artists I hadn't seen before). I found the Ribeira district to be run down and unappealing. How it got to be a Unesco World Heritage sight is beyond me.
I didn't go to any of the port wine lodges or other related sights (like you, this wasn't my interest), and I didn't get to any other places in the region.
I know the above is very negative, so I don't want to give the wrong impression. I had a great time in Portugal, and enjoyed Lisbon, Sintra, Santarem, Tomar, and Coimbra. After all those, Porto was a definite letdown.
So, to answer your question, with only 7-9 days, my recommendation (particularly since you aren't interested in port wine) see other places in Portugal and skip Porto.
I beg to disagree with a previous post on Porto. Porto is wonderful. We loved the city on the river. If you don't like Port wine, you can drink table wine, which is quite good.
Also, we did a Douro River cruise, which was fantastic. The Douro River valley is one of the most scenic in Europe. It compares favorably with the Mosel River Valley.
The other cities mentioned in Spain and Portugal are great as well, but don't skip Porto. You can do the city in two full days.
I've just returned from a 12 night trip to Portugal and I never even thought of drinking Port! I started off for 5 nights in Lisbon then went to Coimbra for 3 nights and finished off in Porto for 4 nights. It was a fantastic trip (solo female traveller) and I enjoyed lovely gin and tonics prior to dinner (Europe is in a huge G&T renaisance), usually had the house red or rose with dinner and even drank tons of vino verde which I love. Don't worry about Port, Portugal is a modern European country that offer any kind of drink you would get in London or NYC.
It's certainly possible to visit Porto without having anything to do with Port wine. I was there in September and didn't have any problem finding things to do. Among the activities I enjoyed were a couple of the local Bus tours, a short cruise on the river and visiting the Stock Exchange Palace. Porto is a beautiful and historic city and I quite enjoyed it.
If you have a Library or book store nearby, have a look at the RS Portugal guidebook (also available in Kindle version). I used that to plan my visit. You could also have a look at this website....
We spent 4 nights in Porto last month and Port was not the main focus. One afternoon we visited the Port caves in Gaia but the rest of the time we explored the City except for a trip to Guimarães. There was lots to see and great restaurants.