During the festival of Sao Joao, there are rivers of vinho, roasting spits on every second street corner, grilled sardines, and a curious custom still practised in which locals bash each other – and onlookers – over the heads with leeks.
It’s one big street party with music and dancing which spills over and carries on non-stop for the entire next day.
Stamina. That’s what you need most in ready supply in this Portuguese gem of a city.
There is a great-escape option to consider, though, and a bracing way to shake off that hangover.
Small passenger ships ferry those who need so seek out some peace and quiet well up into the highlands of the Douro Valley.
From here, it is possible to hire a car, take a bus, taxi or train, including nostalgic tours in period coaches hauled by old steam locomotives, even higher into the green, vine-swathed hills.
Some of the vessels complete the cruise upstream in short legs, leaving passengers to go ashore and explore something different each night. Others cover the full distance from Porto to Peso da Regua in around six hours. Once there, you can plan your own time with lots to see and do and towns and villages reeking of rustic charm and boasting architectural gems.
We booked a hotel room for the night, leaving our base in Porto and taking only hand luggage for the overnight stay.
In Regua, by the railway station, women come onto the streets to sell packets of traditional homemade sweets which taste like butterscotch. On Sunday in baroque Lamego, take a taxi all the way up to the front door of the famous church called the Nossa Senhora dos Remedios.
If you decide to hike it to the front doors, there are 650 stairs to climb, but once you arrive, you’ll find a mini farmers’ market laid out in the back courtyard selling everything from home-cured ham and hand-baked cakes and biscuits to freshly-picked cherries.
Back in Porto, a favourite local dish is tripe. No kidding.
We treated ourselves to some fine dining on the last night of our stay.
One waiter cautioned when, inquisitive to see what all the fuss was about, we plucked up courage to sample some: “If you don’t like, you can choose something else from the menu,” he offered very fairly.
…And we didn’t – so we did.
* Several specialist operators offer a range of attractive packages to Porto and the Douro including reasonably-priced taster breaks from UK airports and will plan itineraries including boat trips, train excursions and other individual packages, including car hire. There are dozens of hotels and guest house stays to consider from cheap and cheerful to high end luxury.