Tourist hordes are increasingly inundating Lisbon — and for good reason. It is rich in food, culture, history and selfie backdrops and is far cheaper than many of its European peers. But for those yearning for a saner, quieter and just-as-beautiful Portuguese city break, there’s thankfully an ideal alternative a two-hour train ride away: hello, Porto. I first visited the city in early spring. Rain and wind lashed the seafront district of Foz where I was staying. I surfed in the churning grey Atlantic, taking some solace in the fact that the water temperature, while icy, wasn’t as searingly cold as Cape Town’s. Occasionally the storms abated and golden sunlight washed over the elegant streets. As I rode a bus, the coastline gave way to a riverbank, and grand bridges loomed overhead. I hopped off in Ribeira, Porto’s compact and startlingly pretty historical centre, and strolled the steep, cobbled alleys, passing buildings brightly painted or covered in hand-painted tiles. Bells pealed...

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