Porto is one of the most picturesque and charming cities in Portugal, located on the northwest coast of the country. It’s also Portugal’s second-largest city. With its stunning riverfront, colorful architecture, rich history, and delicious food and wine, Porto is a must-visit destination for any traveler. In this guide, I’ll take you through the top attractions and hidden gems that make Porto a unique city in Europe.
How many Days in Porto is enough?
Porto is a great destination to visit on it’s own or if you want to have a day trip from Lisbon. A full two days in Porto is enough time to explore plenty of mesmerising sights without feeling too rushed. However, having one or two more days will let you visit more of the nice restaurants and enjoy Porto’s relaxed vibe. All in one Porto is an ideal destination for a weekend city break or as part of a longer tour to Portugal.
Tips before travelling to Porto
Before traveling to Porto, there are a few tips that can help ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. Here are four tips to keep in mind:
- Wear comfortable shoes: Porto is a city with steep hills and cobblestone streets, so it’s important to wear comfortable shoes. This will not only make walking around the city more comfortable.
- For those who don’t have so much time to explore Porto I would recommend to book Guided City Tour by Tuk-Tuk. It’s also combined with Douro River Cruise which is perfect. You will experience the best of the city, trust me!
- Check the weather: Porto has a mild Mediterranean climate, but it can still experience sudden changes in temperature and rainfall. Be sure to check the weather forecast before you leave, so you can pack appropriately and plan your activities accordingly.
- Don’t drive in the centre of Porto. Porto has mainly narrow, one-way streets, plus hills and heavy traffic. All these can be challenging even for local drivers.
- Get Porto Card online. It will help you to save time and money to experience the best of the town. You will get free entry to more than 6 museums and attractions, also free access to public transport and discounts to various attractions in Porto. It’s definitely worth purchasing it.
Best Time to Visit Porto
The best time to visit Porto depends on your travel preferences and interests. If you want to avoid crowds, visit during the spring or fall. If you’re interested in festivals and outdoor activities, visit during the summer. And if you’re interested in holiday events, visit during the winter. I personally love to travel during the low season that’s why my favourite is period between March and May. The temperature during this time of the year usually ranges from 14°C to 19°C, making it a comfortable time to explore the city’s outdoor attractions.
Things To Do in Porto, Portugal
Ribeira is Porto’s historic riverside neighborhood, and it’s not only one of the city’s most popular areas but also UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.The narrow streets are lined with pastel-colored houses, shops, and cafes, all overlooking the Douro River. One of the highlights of the area is the Ponte de Dom Luis I, a double-decker iron bridge that connects Porto with the neighboring city of Vila Nova de Gaia. It was built in 1877 by Teófilo Seyrig, who was a partner of the famous Eiffel. And yes, you can definitely see the resemblance to the Eiffel Tower! Visitors can walk across the bridge to enjoy stunning views of the river Douro and the city’s skyline.
Must experience: The Boat Tour
One of the best way to experience any city next to the water is doubtlessly by the boat. I always do it and Porto was not an exception! I really enjoyed the views and would recommend to everyone who visits Porto to book a cruise on a typical Rabelo boat. The best to book it online in advance otherwise you might stand in a long queue since Porto is pretty popular by the tourists.
How to experience Porto and escape tourist crowds? Jump on the A double-decker bus 500! It follows the same route as all hop-on and hop-off buses and with the difference: The cheap price, 2,50€ per person and less people on the bus. It follows the waterfront and will bring you to the fantastic beach side and also to the posh area of Porto, For do Douro.
Foz do Douro
Foz do Douro is Porto’s upscale seaside neighborhood, located at the mouth of the Douro River. The area is known for its luxury villas, trendy cafes, and stunning beaches. Visitors can take a leisurely walk along the promenade and enjoy the ocean views, or have a meal at one of the many seafood restaurants that line the coast.
Sé do Porto
The Sé do Porto, or Porto Cathedral, is one of the city’s oldest and most important landmarks. The cathedral dates back to the 12th century and is a perfect example of Romanesque architecture. Visitors can explore the interior of the cathedral and admire its beautiful stained glass windows, paintings, and sculptures. The cathedral’s cloister is also worth a visit, with its peaceful gardens and intricate tilework.
Livraria Lello is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, and it’s located in the heart of Porto. The store was founded in 1906 and is famous for its stunning Art Nouveau architecture and its grand wooden staircase. The bookstore has inspired some of the most famous writers in history, including J.K. Rowling, who lived in Porto for a few years and used the bookstore as inspiration for some of the scenes in the Harry Potter series.
Torre dos Clérigos
The Torre dos Clérigos, or Clérigos Tower, is one of Porto’s most recognizable landmarks. The tower stands 75 meters tall and was built in the 18th century as part of the Clérigos Church complex. Visitors can climb the tower’s 240 steps to the top, where they can enjoy panoramic views of the city. The tower’s Baroque architecture and intricate details make it a must-visit attraction.
Casa da Música
Casa da Música is Porto’s premier concert hall and cultural center, designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. The building’s distinctive shape and futuristic design make it one of the most unique landmarks in the city. Visitors can attend a concert, tour the building, or relax in the outdoor café and enjoy the views of the surrounding neighborhood.
Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
The Jardins do Palácio de Cristal, or Crystal Palace Gardens, is a stunning park located in the center of Porto. The park is known for its beautiful gardens, fountains, and sculptures, as well as its panoramic views of the Douro River and the city. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the park, have a picnic, or attend one of the many cultural events that take place here throughout the year.
Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis
The Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis is Porto’s premier art museum, located in a 19th-century palace. The museum’s collection includes works by some of Portugal’s most famous artists, as well as international artists. The museum’s highlights include its impressive collection of Portuguese decorative arts, sculptures, and paintings.
Mercado do Bolhão
The Mercado do Bolhão is Porto’s oldest and most traditional market, located in the heart of the city. The market dates back to the early 19th century and is a bustling hub of activity. Visitors can stroll through the market and sample some of the city’s best food and wine, as well as buy local produce and souvenirs. The market’s lively atmosphere and colorful vendors make it a must-visit attraction.
Museu do Vinho do Porto
The Museu do Vinho do Porto, or Port Wine Museum, is located in the heart of Vila Nova de Gaia, across the river from Porto. The museum is dedicated to the history and production of port wine, one of Portugal’s most famous exports. Visitors can learn about the winemaking process, sample some of the best port wines, and enjoy the museum’s stunning views of the city.
Majestic Café is one of the most fabulous café’s in Porto.It’s listed as on the Top 10 of the most beautiful cafes in the whole world. It dates back to 1921 under the name of Elite. It’s located on the famous shopping and pedestrian street, Santa Catarina. You just can’t miss it! The façade is stunning and as you go inside you will be amazed by the glamour of “la belle époque”.
Casa Guedes is a famous sandwich shop located in the heart of Porto’s historic center. The shop is known for its traditional pork sandwiches, which are served with cheese and a secret sauce. Visitors can sample the sandwiches and enjoy the shop’s lively atmosphere, which is popular with locals and tourists alike.
Palácio da Bolsa
The Palácio da Bolsa, or Stock Exchange Palace, is one of Porto’s most impressive buildings, located in the historic center of the city. The palace was built in the 19th century and is a perfect example of Neoclassical architecture. Visitors can take a guided tour of the palace and admire its stunning interiors, including the Arab Room, which is decorated with Moorish-style tiles and gold leaf.
Museu Serralves is a contemporary art museum located in a beautiful park on the outskirts of Porto. The museum’s collection includes works by some of the world’s most famous artists, as well as emerging artists. Visitors can explore the museum’s galleries, enjoy the park’s gardens and sculptures, or attend one of the many cultural events that take place here throughout the year.
Miradouro da Vitória
Miradouro da Vitória is a viewpoint located in the historic center of Porto, offering stunning views of the city’s rooftops and the Douro River. The viewpoint is located near the Church of São Pedro dos Clérigos and is a popular spot for taking photos and enjoying the city’s breathtaking views.