Porto is an incredible city to explore. It has great food and many historic buildings with colorful tiles. These are the best things to do in Porto Portugal.
Porto: an introduction
Porto is located in Northern Portugal and is the second-largest city in the country. Porto is known for its historic center, stunning architecture, and delicious port wine. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a rich history dating back to the Roman Empire. Porto also has a vibrant nightlife and cultural scene, with a variety of museums, galleries, and theaters to explore.
When you’re visiting Porto, you can enjoy a variety of activities, including touring the city’s famous wine cellars, exploring the historic Ribeira district, and visiting the iconic Clérigos Tower. Whether you are interested in history, or culture, or just enjoying the local cuisine and wine, Porto has something to offer for everyone.
Best things to do in Porto Portugal
What to do in Porto? Read all about fun activities and the most beautiful sights in this article.
The Porto Cathedral, also known as the Sé do Porto, is a stunning medieval cathedral located in the heart of the city. The cathedral was built in the 12th century and has undergone several renovations and expansions over the centuries. It is a mix of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architectural styles and features a stunning exterior with two towers and a grand entrance. Inside, you can admire the beautiful stained glass windows, ornate altars, and marble columns.
Get lost in the Ribeira Neighborhood
Ribeira is the oldest neighborhood in Porto and is located on the north bank of the Douro River. The best way to explore this neighborhood is just to get lost. There are many narrow streets to explore, with historic and colorful houses. Go to Largo da Pena Ventosa, the oldest square in Porto, for a drink and enjoy a drink in the heart of Porto.
Take a stroll over Cais da Ribeira
Cais da Ribeira is a famous boulevard along the Douro River in the Ribeira Neighborhood. It’s a great place to go for a walk, there’s always something to see and to do here. You can watch the boats on the river, and there are often markets (great for souvenir shopping!) and street performers.
There are also a great number of restaurants and cafes on the Cais da Ribeira, making it a popular place for lunch and dinner.
Admire the São Bento Train Station
The São Bento railway station is one of the most beautiful train stations in the world (and I’ve seen a lot!). The station is known for its stunning architecture and features a grand entrance. The grand central hall is a must-visit. It has high ceilings, marble floors, and beautiful tiles on the walls. São Bento Train Station is a hub for both regional and national trains.
Climb the bell tower for a beautiful view
The Clérigos Church and Tower, also known as the Clérigos Church of St. Francis, is a Baroque style church in the city center. The church was built in the 18th century and features a stunning exterior with ornate Baroque details and a tall, slender tower.
The tower, which is 76 meters tall, is a symbol of the city and is visible from many parts of Porto. You can climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views of the city.
Admire the blue tiles at the Chapel of Souls
The Chapel of Souls, also known as the Capela das Almas, is a beautiful Baroque-style chapel. It is located in Rua Santa Catarina and you’ll recognize it immediately: the exterior is completely covered in blue tiles! The paintings on the tiles tell several stories, so make sure to take you’re time and admire them.
Walk across the Dom Luis I Bridge
The Dom Luis I Bridge is a double-deck metal arch bridge over the Douro river, and it connects the city center with the suburb of Vila Nova de Gaia. The bridge is named after King Luís I of Portugal, who commissioned its construction in the late 19th century. It was designed by the engineer Teófilo Seyrig, who also designed the world-famous Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Make sure to walk across the bridge and enjoy panoramic views of the city and the river. The bridge is also a great place to watch the sunset.
Go shopping at Mercado do Bolhão
Mercado do Bolhão is a historic market and was built in the late 19th century. The market is known for its beautiful Art Nouveau architecture, with a grand entrance and a tall, arched roof. The market is divided into two levels, with the upper-level housing a variety of stalls selling fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and other foods. The lower level is home to various shops selling clothing, jewelry, and other goods. Mercado do Bolhão is a great place to try the local cuisine and to find souvenirs to take home.
Visit the port wine cellars
When you cross the Dom Luis I Bridge from the city center, you’ll arrive in Vila Nova de Gaia. This neighborhood is home to many port wine cellars and a great place to do some wine tasting! Almost every wine cellar offers tours. Gaia is also home to an area called the “World of Wine”, and yes, everything here is about wine!
Tip! With this tour, you can visit three different wine cellars in one afternoon.
Visit the interesting museums
Are you experiencing bad weather during your Porto City trip? A museum is a perfect place to stay warm and dry. These are some of the best museums in Porto:
- Casa do Infante, a city museum where you can learn more about the city.
- Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, which features works by artists from around the world.
- Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis, a museum that houses an impressive collection of Portuguese art.
- Museu Romântico, which houses a collection of 19th-century art and furniture.
Admire the Church of Saint Ildefonso
Want to see more of those authentic blue tiles? Check out the Church of Saint Ildefonso! The church was built in the 18th century and is known for its stunning exterior, with typical Portuguese tiles. The interior of the church is equally impressive, with beautiful frescoes, ornate altars, and marble columns. The church is named after Saint Ildefonso, the patron saint of Porto.
Explore Livraria Lello
Livraria Lello is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world! The bookstore was founded in 1906 and is known for its stunning Art Nouveau architecture, with a grand entrance and a beautiful interior. It is believed that the bookstore served as inspiration for the Hogwarts Library in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, who lived in Porto while writing the books.
Igreja do Carmo & Carmelitas
Yes, one more church to check out during your Porto city trip! If you’re standing in line for Livraria Lello, you’ll definitely notice Igreja do Carmo, since it has a huge tiled facade on the side! Right next to it is another church, called Igreja dos Carmelitas Descalços. Fun detail: these churches were not allowed to be built next to each other. So they built a very narrow house in between called the hidden house.
Palácio da Bolsa
Palácio da Bolsa is a beautiful historic building from the 19th century. The palace was originally used as the headquarters of the Porto Stock Exchange and is now a cultural center and museum. Visitors can tour the palace and learn about the city’s history, art, and culture. The palace is home to a variety of exhibits and interactive displays, as well as a café and a gift shop.
Church of São Francisco
The last church on this list is the Igreja de São Francisco. This church was built in the 13th century and is known for its stunning Gothic architecture, with ornate details and a grand entrance.
Explore the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
Jardins do Palácio de Cristal is a beautiful park in the city center and it offers some of the best views of the Douro river. It’s a lot bigger than you think it is, I even got lost during my visit!
Go on a Douro River Cruise
A boat trip on the Douro River is a unique way to see the city from the water. Did you know that Porto is the only city in Europe with six bridges crossing the same river? You’ll see all of them during a Douro River Cruise and you can learn more about the city.
Book your Douro River Cruise now.
Go shopping at the Rua Santa Catarina and Rua das Flores
Do you like to go shopping during your Porto City Break? There are two shopping streets you should check out:
- Rua Santa Catarina, a pedestrian street, is the most popular shopping street in the city center. On this street, you’ll find well-known stores, fun boutique shops, and the ViaCatarina Shopping Mall.
- Rua das Flores is also a pedestrian street and a bit more of a luxurious shopping street, with beautiful boutique shops.
Visit the Casa da Música
Casa da Música is a music venue and cultural center. The venue was built in the 21st century and is known for its modern architecture, with a sleek, rectangular shape and a glass façade. Casa da Música is home to a variety of concert halls, rehearsal spaces, and recording studios. It is a popular venue for classical, jazz, and contemporary music and hosts a variety of concerts, festivals, and other events. It is a great place to experience the city’s vibrant music and cultural scene.
Watch the city from Jardim do Morro
Jardim do Morro is a beautiful park on the south side of the Luís I Bridge. From here you have beautiful views of the city and the Douro River. There are often street musicians playing traditional Portuguese music, which gives this place a great vibe.
Admire the Porto City Hall
The Porto City Hall, also known as the Câmara Municipal do Porto, is the administrative center of Porto. The City Hall is a grand building from the 19th century with a beautiful neoclassical façade. It is located in a large square called Praça do Município which is a nice place to relax with multiple benches, a statue, and a fountain.
Enjoy the views from Parque das Virtudes
Parque das Virtudes is a beautiful park in the city center. It’s located on a hill and has a terraced garden. From here, you have some great views of the Douro river. And did you know that this is one of the best places in the city to watch the sunset?
Go to the beach in Foz do Douro
If you travel all the way to the west side of the city, you’ll arrive in the neighborhood of Foz do Douro. This is where the Douro River meets the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a beautiful neighborhood with fun restaurants (I absolutely loved Creperia La Bombarde) and beautiful boulevards and hiking trails along the coastline.
There are several beaches where you can enjoy swimming, surfing and sunbathing. A perfect place to escape the crowds in the city.
Explore Jardim do Passeio Alegre
Jardim do Passeio Alegre is a beautiful park next to the river in the Foz de Douro neighborhood. It has many palm trees, a beautiful fountain and a minigolf course. There’s also a small coffee place which is a great place to take a break and enjoy the greenery around you.
Hop on the iconic street car
The iconic old streetcar still runs in a few places in Porto. Riding this tram is one of the top attractions in Porto. Hop on streetcar number one for one of the most beautiful rides. It starts at the Church of São Francisco and follows the Douro River to the Foz de Doura district.
Read more about the historic street car and public transportation in Porto in this article: Public transport in Porto: a practical guide
Would you like to visit many of the amazing Porto attractions with a discount? Get the Porto Card! With this card, you can get free entry to 6 museums and discounts on many other attractions. You can also travel with public transportation for free (excluding the historic street car). Buy your Porto Card here.
Porto Day Trips
Porto is a great place to keep as a base and discover the best places in Northern Portugal. These are some fun places to visit on a day trip from Porto.
As you know by now, the Douro river runs through the city of Porto. If you follow the river to the east, you’ll arrive in the Douro Valley. It is known for its stunning landscapes, beautiful vineyards, and delicious wine. In addition, it is home to a number of charming towns and villages, each with its own unique character and charm. It’s really easy to visit the Douro Valley with a tour from Porto and do some wine tasting!
Book your Douro Valley Tour here.
Braga is the third-largest city in Portugal and is located about 50 kilometers north of Porto. It’s a beautiful city filled with historic landmarks that are definitely worth visiting. Make sure to check out the Braga Cathedral and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sameiro. Probably the most beautiful place in Braga is Bom Jesus do Monte. Especially the stairs leading up to the church are very photogenic.
Braga is the perfect place to visit as a day trip from Porto if you’d like to see some of the lesser-known cities in Portugal.
Book your Braga and Guimaraes Day Trip from Porto here.
Aveiro is a city located about 75 kilometers south of Porto and it’s known as the Portuguese version of Venice. It’s located on a lagoon and there are several canals. In the canals, you’ll colorful boats (they’re called barcos moliceiros). They were used to collect seaweed, but are now a tourist attraction. Around the canals, there are several colorful buildings. In addition, you’ll also find several amazing sand beaches near Aveiro.
Visit the Venice of Portugal with this half-day tour.
Hike a section of the Camino Portugues
Did you know that the famous hiking trail Camino de Santiago runs through the city centre of Porto? It’s part of the Camino Portugues and you’ll see several yellow markings in the streets. From Porto, it’s 243 kilometers to Santiago de Compostella (about 10 days of hiking). Of course, you don’t have to hike the whole trail during your Porto city trip, you can also just hike a small section and take a bus or train back to Porto.
If you want to complete a full stage, check this website for more information. But you can also just follow the famous yellow markers. Start at the Porto Cathedral, there’s a large sign on the square.
How long to stay in Porto?
As you can see, there’s a lot to do in Porto! To see the most important attractions in the city, I would recommend a minimum of two days. This makes Porto an ideal destination for a weekend trip.
If you want to take your time, visit the museums and do some day trips, it’s recommended to stay at least four or five days in Porto.
Best time to visit Porto
Porto is a fantastic city to visit all year round. It really depends on your personal preferences regarding what you think is the best time to visit Porto. If you want the most pleasant weather conditions, make sure to visit Porto between April and June, or September and October. During these months, temperatures are moderate and there is less rain. However, I visited Porto myself in December, and the weather was still pretty good (cloudy and about 18 degrees Celcius).
During the summer months (June to August), it can get quite hot and it’s also peak season. It’ll be more crowded and the prices of accommodation will be higher compared to other months.
Porto has a vibrant cultural scene and is home to a variety of festivals and events throughout the year. If you want to experience the cultural scene in Porto, it’s recommended to plan your trip around a specific event. Fun events are Festa de São João (Saint John’s Festival) in June or the Festa do Vinho do Porto (Port Wine Festival) in September. Make sure to book ahead.
Book a trip to Porto
Would you like to visit Porto? Book your trip now!
✈️ Plane tickets
Porto has an international airport, with flights to many European cities. Check WayAway to find the best deals on plane tickets.
From the airport, you can travel to the city center by metro or you can book a private transfer.
🛤️ Traveling by bus or train
Porto is also accessible from all by bus or train. Check Busbud for bus tickets and Rail Europe for train tickets.
🛏️ Where to stay in Porto
There are many great places to stay in Porto. These are the best hotels in Porto:
- Jardim da Batalha Boutique Hotel by Shiadu (3⭐) – Beautifully decorated boutique hotel is in a great location.
- Porto River (4⭐) – Amazing apartments and studios in a unique location: on the Cais da Ribeira overlooking the Douro River.
- Maison Albar Hotels Le Monumental Palace (5⭐) – Would you like to enjoy some luxury? This hotel is in a fantastic location, close to the town hall. It also has wellness, with a pool and a sauna. A great place to relax after exploring the city all day.
Check Booking.com for more options, availability, and prices.
💊 Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is always an important part of every trip. Check Insubuy to find the best travel insurance that fits your needs.
🎡 Tours & activities
A guided walking tour or a river cruise is a great way to learn more about Porto. Check Get Your Guide to find the best tours.
Read more about Porto and Portugal
Are you interested in visiting Porto and Portugal? Get one of these amazing travel guides for more tips:
Insight Guides Portugal (Travel Guide with Free eBook)
I myself spent two to three months a year in Portugal, that’s why you can read a lot about Portugal on this website. You might like to read these articles as well:
- The top things to do in Lisbon
- The best things to do in Cascais | 13 tips!
- Renting a car in Portugal: everything you need to know
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