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The capital of Portugal's northern region, Oporto, is a busy industrial and commercial centre and the second largest city in the country. Its metropolitan area holds over a million inhabitants, but the city itself is home to around 240,000. Oporto lies along and overlooks the Douro River estuary and its historic Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The heart of Oporto's downtown area is the Avenida dos Aliados, lined with monumental mansions and other such buildings. Its architecture varies from medieval up to modern styles living comfortably side by side on its many hills. Some dwellings are even built into the cliff face overlooking the river with stairs cut into the living rock as access.
Getting around the city is straightforward, with a first-class metro system the preferred option. Areas not served by the state-of-the-art metro can be accessed by bus or taxi or by the cable rail funicular if Oporto's hilly terrain gets too tiring. Cheap car rental in Oporto downtown is easily arranged.
Oporto is a mysterious city, revealing itself gradually to those who wander or drive their car rental in Oporto downtown through the narrow streets of the local areas away from the bustle of the centre and business districts. Old traditions flourish here, especially at festival times and major religious holidays.
Nearby beaches are easily accessible by car, via car rental in Oporto downtown, and for something different, a cruise along the Douro River is a great way to experience magnificent views across the countryside. The Vinho Verde region where the grapes are grown for the famous fresh, faintly green Portuguese wine is a comfortable drive away, as is the Geres National Park.