There’s so much things to do in Porto since, the longtime rival of beautiful Lisbon, this stunning city has long attracted visitors with its café culture, historic buildings, and old European charm. Rows of soaring buildings are packed tightly together along narrow cobbled streets, laundry hangs from wrought-iron balconies, and city dwellers take advantage of the day’s heat in outdoor cafes to sip a delicious espresso.
For visitors, this is a place to feast!
The city is full of chic gourmet restaurants and places that serve tasty petiscos (small Portuguese plates, ideal for sharing). The city is small enough to take in a few days, but complex enough to explore for weeks – and there’s plenty to do for free.
Tourist card :
If you are new to Porto, we suggest you stay in Center-Baixa . Much of this area is a World Heritage Site and is filled with beautifully renovated historic buildings, designer boutiques and some of Porto’s coolest hotels. Everything is within walking distance, but if you want to explore the surrounding area, you can take advantage of the city’s superb public transport network.
Ribeira is a fantastic choice if you want to spend your days getting lost in charming lanes before enjoying your evenings dining in some of the best restaurants in town.
For a more laid-back vacation, consider Miragaia . The streets here are lined with fascinating antique shops, captivating art galleries, quiet cafes and beautiful historic buildings that many miss by being confined to tourist areas. You will also find some of the best boutique hotels in Porto in this area.
Monuments and architectural works:
Capital and gateway to northern Portugal, Porto is the city that gave a name to a nation. With its splendid geographical location at the mouth of the Douro River and an architectural heritage of exceptional quality, the historic center of Porto was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Capital of the North and second largest city in the country, Porto is a hard-working city, renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit, which has always resisted external pressure and foreign invaders, which is why Porto is nicknamed the “undefeated” city.
In addition to its history, any visitor to Porto will quickly be impressed by the strength of character of the city and its people. Seemingly carved out of granite near the mouth of the Douro River, Portugal’s second city, known locally as Porto, dazzles with a wealth of cultural attractions.
The historic heart of Porto is the Ribeira. This waterfront bairro inspires you to get lost in the maze of its narrow streets and seek out some of the city’s most prized architectural treasures. In fact, the buildings that make up this venerable neighborhood are so rare and valuable that UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site.
Much of old Porto can be described with a strong 18th century accent. Extravagant Baroque churches and imposing neoclassical buildings punctuate the skyline, their most treasured contents displayed in world-class museums set in picturesque plazas. The city’s contemporary character is evident in its thriving modern arts scene and surprisingly futuristic music venue.
Crossing the large bridge that leads to Vila Nova de Gaia is a highlight of the visit, as is the guided tour of one of the harbor pavilions. A cruise on the Douro is worth considering, and for a truly memorable view of the city, take a ride in the cable car that glides from one end of the quays to the other. These are the best monuments to see and visit in Porto!
The port card – A port essential
Before we get into the details of the best things to do in Porto, here’s one of our top tips: if you’re planning on visiting most of Porto’s key sites during your stay, we definitely recommend buying a Porto Card .
You have the choice between 1, 2, 3 or 4 day cards, which entitle you to free public transport and access to 6 museums, as well as a reduction of up to 50% (and priority to skip the line) at most of Porto’s main attractions, including Igreja E Torre Dos Clérigos (Clérigos Tower) and Palácio Da Bolsa, and at some restaurants.
Definitely worth it for those who want to see as much of the city as possible!
For many tourists, a trip to Portugal begins and ends in Lisbon, but it would be a mistake for hungry travelers to overlook Porto, the capital’s foodie cousin to the north. The city is known for its enthusiastic eaters and its privileged location between the Atlantic, the Douro River and the mountainous countryside, which provide abundant ingredients from the land and the sea. The inhabitants are nicknamed Tripeiros, in reference to tripe Port-style, which are served in a rich stew of beans, sausages and vegetables.
This hearty meal is nothing compared to the city’s other famous dish, the francesinha, a huge sandwich made with sausage, ham, steak and melted cheese.
Stews and meat-based sandwiches can help combat cold winter days, but they also provide an excuse for Tripeiros to gather friends and family around the table and enjoy treasured recipes passed down from generation to generation. The city has enthusiastically welcomed visitors from all over the world, while maintaining a remarkable connection to its gastronomic heritage.
Most of the region’s traditional dishes are still found at tascas, those popular neighborhood eateries where locals socialize around a table or counter while enjoying an inexpensive lunch. Even the city’s most successful modern restaurants build on this culinary heritage, blending modern touches with traditional ingredients and techniques.
15 awesome things to do in Porto
Things to do in Porto :Take a sightseeing cruise on the Douro River
We know, we know, city sightseeing cruises often have the potential to be super touristy. But here in Porto, where much of the city’s life exists and thrives alongside the Douro River, not enjoying the city from the water would be doing your stay a disservice.
Board a traditional rabello boat for this six-bridge Porto city tour and learn about the importance of the river to the city as you pass many of its famous bridges and landmarks.
You will follow the old road taken by the merchants, pass under the famous Dom Luis I bridge, designed by Gustav Eiffel, admire the beautiful houses of the riviera from the water and (hopefully!) sunbathe.
The Ribeira area is also beautiful from the water, so be sure to sit on the edge of the boat.
Things to do in Porto : Admire the view from the miradouro da vitória
Surrounded by abandoned buildings, the Miradouro da Vitória might seem a little sketchy at first glance, but don’t let the broken windows of the neighboring building fool you. This is arguably one of the most popular places to watch the sunset in Porto.
From here, you have a perfect view of the Douro River and the medieval terracotta roofs that spill into it. Some of Porto’s main attractions can also be seen from here, including the Episcopal Palace, Porto Cathedral and the Dom Luis Bridge.
The Miradouro da Vitória rises above the Praça da Ribeira district, on the banks of the Douro River; it’s one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, with beautiful medieval buildings, winding cobbled lanes and river views – don’t miss a stroll through the dimly lit streets.
Things to do in Porto : Explore the districts of ribeira, baixa and bolhao
The three suburbs of Ribeira, Baixa and Bolhão constitute the most historical and touristic districts of Porto; as a traveler, this is also where you are likely to spend the majority of your time. While visiting Porto, strolling the pretty cobbled streets that criss-cross these neighborhoods will be our favorite activity in the city.
Ribeira, with its rows of colorful houses and views of the river, is a lively and bustling district full of cafes and shops where locals and tourists alike enjoy the atmosphere and the view of the Douro River and the famous Dom Luis I bridge.
This is where the Douro 6-bridge river cruises depart (often sold out, so book your ticket in advance) and, naturally, it’s also the liveliest part of town.
Above the Ribeira are the neighborhoods of Baixa and Sé, where you’ll find many of Porto’s best attractions, including Mercado do Bolhão, Majestic Cafe, Rua Santa Catarina, Palácio do Bolsa, and many more. still others.
We recommend that you spend a day (or at least an afternoon) with good walking shoes, without a map or a phone, and lose yourself in the charm of Porto’s historic districts.
Things to do in Porto : Eat all the pasteis de nata at the confeitaria do bolhão
Portugal is the birthplace of one of the best sweet treats you could ever hope to bite into, the small but mighty Pastel de Nata (Portuguese tart). These insanely crispy and flaky puff pastry tarts, filled with the creamiest of egg custards and dusted with cinnamon, are divine and totally addictive.
One of the coolest things about being in the land of this delicious treat is that it’s not only socially acceptable to devour sweet pastries for breakfast, it’s even expected. La Confeitaria do Bolhão, a magnificent 120-year-old pastry shop, will help you stock up on pastries. It serves the best Portuguese pies in Porto, arrufadas (sweetbreads), croissants and other delicious treats.
Then do as the locals do and grab a coffee, choose your pastry, and settle into the rear seating area to enjoy it.
Things to do in porto : Explore Porto by tram
Porto’s historic (and cute) tram system is a must, as it’s both very touristy and a lot of fun.
While many travelers associate trams with Lisbon, it was in fact in Porto that the first Portuguese tram network was built in 1895. Porto’s trams are among the oldest electric transport systems in Europe and you can still see today the small picturesque yellow cars which circulate on the three remaining lines.
Unfortunately, the tram’s popularity dropped in the 1960s as cars and buses became a faster and more convenient way to get around the city.
For travelers, however, the trams remain a scenic and easy way to explore the city.
Tram no. 1 is probably the most popular tourist route. It starts from the famous and amazing Igreja de São Francisco (Church of St. Francis) in about 20 minutes, skirts the rustic facades of Ribeira and joins the Passeio Alegre garden at the mouth of the Douro River in Foz.
You can also opt for a lesser-known route and hop on the circular tram no. Avenue of the Allies), passing by the magnificent São Bento train station and the lively district of Batalha with its cafes, museums, shops and houses.
We definitely recommend this itinerary if you want to see many of the best things to do in Porto in a limited amount of time!
Things to do in Porto : Discover the FC Porto Museum
FC Porto is the second most successful club in Portuguese football, having won the league 25 times and the cup 16 times.
Add to that two Champions Leagues/European Cups and two UEFA Cups/Europa League and you have a legacy worthy of a museum.
If you don’t know much about FC Porto, you’ll soon realize what the team means to the city, and if you’re already a fan, you can take a trip down memory lane, remembering great names like Deco, Mário Jardel and Teófilo Cubillas.
The museum is located in the East Stand of the Estádio do Dragão and celebrates iconic players, matches and titles using interactive technology and multimedia.
Things to do in Porto : Visit the Bolsa Palace and admire its interiors
The Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace) was built between 1842 and 1910, and pays homage to the city’s wealthy merchants past and present.
Built on the ruins of the cloisters of nearby Porto’s Church of St. Francis, the neoclassical building is where the Portuguese stock exchange once operated.
Already magnificent from the outside, the building is also absolutely breathtaking inside: the Pátio das Nações (Hall of Nations), with its intricately designed glass dome, the grand Escadaria Nobre (noble staircase) and the Salão Árabe ( Arab room), to name but a few.
If you want to explore all the halls of the palace, hop on one of the 45-minute guided tours, which depart from the main entrance every 30 minutes.
Things to do in Porto : Lunch on the ribeira square
In the age of instant itineraries and long to-do lists (which we’ve written and you’re reading!), it’s easy to forget the fun of spontaneity while traveling.
During one of your afternoons in Porto, you can sit down for a quick meal at Praça Ribeira. The atmosphere is perfect: sunny streets, dozens of people having fun and a Charlie Chaplin impersonator who is really fun to watch and who is often present there.
This is probably one of the only times we’ll recommend an area that’s too touristy, but the general vibe around this square is too good to pass up in this case!
Things to do in Porto : Watch the sunset from the Dom Luis I bridge
Sunsets in Porto are absolutely magical, so head over the famous Dom Luis I Bridge, designed by Gustav Eiffel, and watch the magnificent spectacle over the Ribeira district.
The bridge, rated #1 of things to do in Porto on Tripadvisor , becomes the heart and soul of the city in the late afternoon as locals and tourists head out to walk and cycle along from the deck or just enjoy the view.
Things to do in Porto : Visit the Livraria Lello, the most beautiful library in Porto
It is said to be the most beautiful bookshop in the world and we can guarantee you that Livraria Lello lives up to its reputation.
The bookstore was officially opened by the Lello brothers in 1906, designed by Francisco Xavier Esteves in a neo-Gothic style. With its grand spiral staircase, floor-to-ceiling shelving, intricately carved Gothic woodwork, and stained-glass skylight, it has been a hit with visitors ever since.
The splendor of Livraria Lello also has another (enormous) claim to fame: rumor has it that the bookshop (along with some key locations in Scotland) inspired the magic of Hogwarts to JK Rowling, who spent two years in Porto for teach English.
We really have the impression of crossing Harry or Ron among these shelves!
If you want to delve deeper into the secret history of Harry Potter in Porto, this 3-hour tour with direct access to Livraria Lello is definitely worth it. You’ll see the café where JK Rowling wrote the start of the series and some of the locations that served as inspiration for her novels.
Rating | With this notoriety came worldwide recognition, and the library is now more of a theme park than a quiet space. Has its radiance diminished? Well, considering you have to pay and wait in line to get in, maybe a little. But it’s still an incredibly beautiful place to visit in Porto.
Things to do in Porto : Admire the Clérigos Church
The tower of this baroque church, 75.6 meters high, is visible from most parts of Porto and was the tallest building in the country when it was completed.
It is a magnificent monument, with delicate carvings at the very top and a clock so tall that you have to take a few steps back to read it properly.
It is the last section of the church to be completed and dates from 1763, with a design inspired by the bell towers of Tuscany.
If you are not afraid to queue and climb the 240 steps, you will be rewarded with a sublime and complete panorama of the city from the top.
Things to do in Porto : Admire the view from Clérigos Tower
For centuries, Porto’s Torres do Clérigos (Tower of Clérigos) has been one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, dominating the city since 1763 from its location atop the Church of Clérigos.
Nowadays, visitors can still access the top of the bell tower by the 230 steps (a very narrow, very claustrophobic and cramped staircase!), the top of which offers an epic panoramic view of Porto and beyond.
Try to plan your visit around the hourly chimes of the bells – the cramped quarters of the tower mean that if you’re caught off guard when the bells start ringing, you could be in for quite a scare!
Things to do in Porto : Spot the many amazing porto azulejo tiles
First introduced to Portugal from Spain (Seville) in the 15th century by King Manuel I, azulejos were in fact a common feature of the Iberian Peninsula since the Middle Ages.
Introduced by the Moorish invaders centuries ago, their name actually comes from the Arabic al zulaycha, “the polished stone”, and they were initially very simple geometric shapes. Over time, and as they were adopted in Portugal in the 16th and 17th centuries, the tiles began to represent Portugal’s trials and triumphs, religious stories and cultural events.
Today, they are a fascinating testimony to history, culture and people, as well as a beautiful way to decorate the empty spaces of buildings.
Although the tiles are a ubiquitous part of the city, we recommend that you take the time to discover them at the following sites:
- Igreja de Carmo
- Sao Bento train station
- Porto Cathedral
- Iglesia de San Ildefonso (Church of Saint Ildefonso)
- The Chapel of Souls
Things to do in Porto : Eat Port’s most famous dish, francesinha
You’ve probably heard the adage that calories don’t count on vacation, and that’s good, because the next dish we’re going to bring you is a monstrous meal that bursts calories and arteries: Francesinha. .
Traditionally, Porto’s famous Francesinha was a meal strictly for meat eaters. Somewhere between a grilled sandwich and a gluttonous meat burger, these are thick layers of steak and ham, smothered in gooey melty cheese, drizzled with a tomato-based sauce and topped with an egg (with in case you haven’t had enough protein yet!), all served with crispy fries.
For meat lovers, we recommend Café Santiago, Cervejaria Brasão and O Afonso to taste this delicacy on a plate.
Luckily, travelers who are vegetarians can still try this notorious dish these days, with vegetarian and vegan options popping up all over the city.
To get your fix, we recommend the vegetarian and vegan Francesinhas from Cervejaria Brasão, Lado B and Francesinhas Da Baixa.
Things to do in Porto : Visit são bento train station
European stations stand out for their elegance and grandeur, but there is one that stands out from the rest: Porto’s irresistible São Bento.
São Bento Station is more than just a transportation hub for Porto residents; on the walls of the grand entrance, 20,000 azulejos (traditional painted tiles) depict the history of Porto with breathtaking beauty.
The story of his royalty, various battles and transports unfolds on the beautifully painted blue and white tiles, and when the afternoon sun hits the right spot, soft golden light bathes the room in a pure magic.
In summary, if you visit Porto and miss São Bento, you have it all wrong.
Things to do in Porto : Getting around in Porto:
The best way to get around Porto is to take the metro, bus or walk. Porto has an extensive public transport system run by the Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos do Porto (which includes the metro, buses and trams) which helps visitors reach the main attractions in and around the city. Subway lines are identified by different colors and letters, and many lines travel above ground and offer splendid views of the city.
Porto’s extensive bus network can be a bit confusing, and the metro provides access to most major attractions, but the bus is a great alternative for getting to some harder-to-reach places, including Foz, Serralves Museum and Vila Nova de Gaia. Once you are in the city center,
The closest airport to Porto is Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO), which is on the northwestern edge of the city. (You can get from the airport to Porto by taking the E (purple) metro line towards Estádio do Dragão; the Lapa, Trindade and Bolhão stops are closest to the center of the city.
Various services also provide transport for travelers between the airport and the city.You can also take a taxi to and from the airport, but it will cost you around 20-30 euros ($22-33); weekends, it can cost you almost 20% more.
Most of Porto’s roads are narrow, cobbled and winding, so they’re best explored on foot. Organize your schedule in advance and plan to see the main attractions that are close together if you plan to use your two feet for transport – there are a few groups where you can see many of the main sites of the city without straining your legs too much.
The Porto Metro has six lines that operate every day from 6 a.m. to around 1 a.m. and are marked with letters and colors: lines A (blue), B (red), C (green), D ( yellow), E (purple) and F (orange). Over 80 metro stations are spread across the city and are marked with signs bearing a wavy blue “M”. The majority of lines serve Porto’s best sights, and traveling by metro is an affordable option when visiting the city.
Purchasing a Porto card allows you to benefit from unlimited transport on the metro, buses and funiculars for a certain period of time, as well as free access to certain museums and discounts on other museums and restaurants. Porto cards cost 13, 20, 25 or 33 euros (about $13.50, $22,
If you do not buy a Porto card, you must buy a rechargeable blue Andante card to use the metro. Cards cost 0.60 euros (about 70 cents) and one-way fares start at 1.20 euros (about $1.35) and vary depending on the number of zones crossed.
You must ‘validate’ your card when entering a station or changing lines by pressing your card on the validation machine and waiting for it to illuminate green. Keep your card for the duration of your stay and continue to top it up as you travel; cards can be recharged at any metro station.
More than 75 STCP bus lines are available throughout Porto and its surrounding areas, including Vila Nova de Gaia and Vila do Conde. Buses run regularly from 6 a.m. to around 9 p.m., with limited service from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Porto Cards and Andante Cards both work on the buses, with one-way journeys starting at 1.20 euros for Andante Card holders and varying depending on the number of zones you pass through. You can also buy a single paper ticket on board the bus for 0.60 euros plus the necessary fare for your journey.
Tramway and Funicular
The STCP also operates three tram lines in Porto: Line 1, Line 18 and Line 22. Porto’s trams (or cable cars) are a historical part of the city, dating back to 1872. Line 1 runs along the west coast and the river Douro from Matosinhos to Lóios.
Lines 18 and 22 run circular routes near Hospital Geral de Santo António in southern Porto and near São Bento Station and Avenida dos Aliados in central Porto, respectively. Andante cards are accepted on the trams (Porto cards are not); individual tickets on board cost 3.50 euros (about 4 dollars).
The single-track funicular runs up and down the hill from Porto’s Ribeira district to the higher Batalha Square. Tickets cost 2.50 euros (about $3) each way and times vary depending on the season.
Since Porto is a small city, congested roads are not ideal for driving, renting a car is not your best option for getting around the city. Forget the car, unless you plan to travel a lot to other parts of Portugal or Spain. If you need to rent a vehicle, you can do so at the agencies at the airport or in town, which include Europcar, Avis and Sixt, among others.
Porto taxis are relatively cheap compared to other European cities, but they are not cheap. Fares usually start around 2.50 euros (about $3) and increase for each mile traveled (just over half a mile). In most cases taxi drivers are helpful and speak English, but you can write down the address of your destination to avoid confusion. Uber also operates in Porto.
Best time of year to visit Porto:
The best time to visit Porto will largely depend on what you want to get out of your vacation. The main factors to consider are the climate, the events, the crowds and, of course, the weather.
Porto, like many European coastal cities, enjoys moderate temperatures. This makes it a top destination to visit all year round.
Whether you want to enjoy the busy streets in high season or have a magical experience in winter, a trip to Porto is always a winner.
Although Porto can experience some amount of rain in winter, the cost of visiting the city is significantly less during this time.
Overall, the weather in Porto in September is the best, allowing you to enjoy all that the city has to offer.
How much time do you need to visit Porto?
We think 3 days is perfect to see Porto’s main attractions on your first visit. Many tourists choose to spend only one night there and leave the next day for other cities, but they end up regretting it and vow to book a longer stay next time.
Don’t make the same mistake because Porto has a lot to offer. And no matter how long you spend here, you’re sure to find fun around every corner.
Heart stroke :
We assure you that it is impossible not to love Porto, city of the sea, an inexhaustible source of energy, serenity and freedom. These are the supposed therapeutic properties of these waters, the mansions of the bourgeois families who began to settle there in the 19th century, the fishing tradition that remains in the “Foz Velha”, the unique charm of the Foz district ( Mouth of the river), which is a real treasure of the city and more.
Best way to travel from Lisbon to Porto?
The best way to get from Lisbon to Porto is to train, which takes 2h 46m and costs €23 – €35. You can also take the bus, which costs €14 – €22 and takes 3h 30m, or the plane, which costs €30 – €130 and takes 2h 56m.
Is there a beach in Porto?
The city of Porto is close to many beautiful beaches. Portugal’s second largest city is best known for the Douro River which runs through its pretty old town, but there are also plenty of beaches in the area, both in town and nearby.
Is Porto a city that can be visited by walking?
Yes ! The best way to explore the historic center of Porto is to walk through the narrow streets and alleys, which you will discover on our tours but which even sidecars cannot take. Most of the historic center is within a 4 km / 2 mile radius.
Is Porto worth visiting in winter?
Maybe you’re looking for a cheap winter break or you’ve decided to go somewhere you’ve never been. Either way, here’s why we think Porto is, in fact, one of the best European cities for a winter vacation!