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Best Things To Do In Porto, Portugals Second Biggest City

Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be explored. The city’s rich heritage is palpable in its historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that seamlessly combines architectural grandeur, cultural richness, and natural beauty. Wander through the cobblestone streets of Ribeira, take a leisurely river cruise along the Douro River, or simply sit back and enjoy the breathtaking views with a long lunch. The city’s iconic tiled buildings, vibrant streets, and legendary bridges create a unique charm that sets Porto apart from other destinations. As you immerse yourself in the local culture, don’t forget to indulge in a glass of port wine – an experience that will leave you enchanted.

Best Things to Do in Porto

Porto, Portugal’s northern gem, deserves equal attention to its more famous southern counterpart, Lisbon. This captivating city boasts an abundance of attractions, from its stunning historic architecture to the iconic Ribeira District’s bridge and rolling hills that seem to stretch on forever. With so many exciting experiences waiting to be had, Porto is sure to cast a spell over anyone who visits.

Port Wine Tasting

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Porto, the birthplace of the renowned Port wine, is an ideal destination for wine enthusiasts. The region’s picturesque Douro Valley, nestled beside the Douro River, is where this sweet fortified wine originates. To experience the authentic taste and production process, take a wine tour in the Douro Valley from Porto. If time constraints prevent you from venturing to the valley, numerous port wine tastings await in Porto itself. Visit Vila Nova de Gaia’s port wine cellars for a guided tour, gaining insight into what makes Port wine so unique, and conclude with a tasting experience.

Ribeira District

Porto’s Ribeira district, also known as Cais da Ribeira, is a picturesque gem along the Douro River. The area’s vibrant colors come alive on its historic buildings and winding streets, creating a charming atmosphere perfect for enjoying a drink or meal. As you take in the sights of this Porto hotspot, you’re treated to stunning views of the Dom Luís I Bridge and the river itself.While strolling through Cais da Ribeira is a must-do experience, it’s only half the story. For an even more breathtaking perspective, consider crossing the Douro River or taking a boat tour that offers unparalleled views of this Porto treasure.

Douro River Cruise

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Embarking on a Porto boat tour is an excellent way to experience the stunning Cais da Ribeira from a unique perspective. As your vessel glides along the Douro River, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas of the city’s vibrant houses, as well as the iconic Porto bridges, including the striking Dom Luís I bridge. For many visitors, this is a highlight of their Porto trip.

Some boat tours take things to the next level by offering port wine tastings on board. Imagine sipping a glass of fine port wine while taking in the picturesque views of the river and the city’s historic architecture. It’s an experience that perfectly blends culture, history, and relaxation.

São Bento Train Station

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Porto’s São Bento railway station is a treasure trove of Azulejos, the iconic blue tiles that adorn its interior walls. Visitors flock here to marvel at this stunning display of artistic craftsmanship.

However, Sao Bento’s appeal extends far beyond its ornate decor. Catching a train from here can lead to some amazing day trips, like exploring the charming town of Guimarães in Northern Portugal. This quaint town holds special significance as it is known as the birthplace of Portugal’s first king.

Embarking on a day trip to Guimarães offers a unique opportunity to delve into Portugal’s rich history and culture.

Clérigos Tower

Porto’s iconic landscape is dominated by the majestic Clérigos Tower, a towering presence that can be seen from numerous vantage points throughout the city. This striking structure stands tall as the tallest building in Porto’s historic center, offering an unforgettable experience for visitors. You can marvel at its grandeur from the outside or take on the challenge of climbing the stairs to reach the viewing platform at the top, where breathtaking panoramic views of Porto and the Douro River await. As you ascend, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a refreshing drink at the outdoor bar, situated in a picturesque garden, before embarking on the climb. The reward for your efforts is not only the stunning vistas but also informative plaques that highlight famous buildings visible from the top, as well as thought-provoking comparisons with other towers around the world.

Ponte de Dom Luís I

Ponte de Dom Luís I stands out as one of the most iconic Porto attractions, connecting the city to Vila Nova de Gaia via its impressive double-decker structure that spans the River Douro. Originally completed in 1886, this remarkable arch bridge held the title of longest in the world at the time. As a testament to its significance, Ponte de Dom Luís I has earned UNESCO World Heritage Site and Portuguese National Monument designations, solidifying it as an absolute must-visit on any Porto travel agenda.

Livraria Lello

Livraria Lello, a stunning bookshop in Portugal, is a must-visit destination for any book lover or Harry Potter fan. The grand staircase and stained glass skylight evoke a sense of magic, reminiscent of the whimsical world created by J.K. Rowling – although it’s worth noting that this inspiration claim has been debunked. Nonetheless, the allure of Livraria Lello remains strong, making it a worthwhile visit for fans of the beloved series.While entrance fees apply to visitors, they’re redeemable as gift vouchers to purchase something from the store. The bookshop also produces unique special editions of classic novels, ideal for those seeking a memorable souvenir or gift. Moreover, these limited-edition books are available in multiple languages, ensuring that language barriers don’t stand in the way.As one of Porto’s most popular attractions, Livraria Lello can get crowded. When I visited, we were fortunate to secure entrance tickets at the door, although it’s generally recommended to book in advance to avoid disappointment.

Igreja de São Francisco

In Porto, the Igreja de São Francisco, or Saint Francis church, stands out for its unique blend of architectural styles. The exterior may not be as striking, but it’s what lies within that truly sets this place apart.

Porto Cathedral

Porto Cathedral, situated adjacent to the Dom Luis I Bridge, holds significant importance as a religious landmark in the city. Architecturally, it’s a unique blend of styles, primarily showcasing Baroque and Romanesque elements when viewed from the exterior. From a distance, its imposing presence gives off the impression of a fortress perched atop a hill, making a closer inspection one of the must-do experiences in Porto.

Upon entering the cathedral, visitors are treated to an array of exquisite architectural details, including the stunning cloister adorned with vibrant Azulejos, intricately painted tiles that bring biblical scenes to life.

Igreja do Carmo

The iconic Church of Carmo, situated adjacent to the Church of Carmelitas in Porto’s bustling Praça de Carlos Alberto, appears as a single architectural entity at first glance. However, this visual illusion is dispelled by the discovery of Casa Escondida, Portugal’s smallest house, nestled between the two churches – an astonishing 1 meter in width. This diminutive abode can be accessed during a visit to the Igreja do Carmo Museum, offering visitors a unique insight into Porto’s hidden gems.The exterior façade of Igreja do Carmo is adorned with stunning Azulejos, traditional Portuguese blue tiles that tell the story of the Carmelite Order’s founding. This intricate and vibrant tilework adds an extra layer of beauty to the already impressive church architecture.

Igreja de Santo Ildefonso

The Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, a stunning baroque church, is instantly captivating with its vibrant facade featuring 11,000 intricate Azulejos tiles. These ornate decorations tell the story of Saint Ildefonso’s life, crafted by the same skilled artist who brought the Sao Bento train station to life with his tilework. The imposing twin towers rise majestically above the surrounding landscape, making it impossible not to notice this architectural gem as you stroll by.

Praça da Liberdade

Located at the heart of Porto, Portugal, Praça da Liberdade, or Liberty Square, plays a pivotal role in connecting the historic city center – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – with its modern counterpart. The square’s central feature is a statue of King Peter IV, proudly holding the Portuguese constitution. Flanking the square are an assortment of Portuguese banks, restaurants, shops, and the City Hall building, which serves as a symbol of local government. Moreover, situated directly in front of City Hall stands the iconic giant blue PORTO letters, offering visitors a unique photo opportunity to capture the essence of this vibrant city.

Rua de Santa Catarina

Porto’s iconic shopping street, Rua de Santa Catarina, offers a unique retail experience that caters to all tastes and budgets. The street is home to both international brands and local boutiques, ensuring that visitors can find something that suits their style. For those who enjoy shopping, strolling down Rua de Santa Catarina should be a priority. However, even if you’re not in the mood for retail therapy, the street has another gem worth exploring – the Capela das Almas chapel, which boasts an intricately decorated facade featuring approximately 16,000 blue Azulejos tiles that are sure to leave you in awe.

Foz do Douro

Foz do Douro, situated nearest to Porto, is a favorite among both locals and tourists seeking a beachside retreat. The scenic destination offers a tranquil atmosphere perfect for a leisurely swim or simply soaking up the sun.

The journey to Foz do Douro itself becomes an unforgettable experience as you can take the historic tram, adding a touch of nostalgia to your visit. This charming mode of transportation departs from Infante, near Palacio da Bolsa, but it’s essential to note that standard public transport tickets aren’t valid on this vintage tram.

While swimming might not be your top priority, Foz do Douro still has plenty to offer. Take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque promenade, which begins at a quaint lighthouse and culminates at the Pergola da Foz. This romanticized walkway is indeed considered one of the most enchanting experiences in Porto.

Jardim do Morro in Vila Nova de Gaia

Located on the opposite side of the River Douro in Vila Nova de Gaia, Jardim do Morro is a compact park that offers breathtaking views of Porto. While technically a separate city from Porto, its proximity and accessibility make it an integral part of the city’s charm. To get there, simply cross the iconic Dom Luis I bridge, which connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia. From Jardim do Morro, you can soak up panoramic vistas of the city, making it one of the top spots to enjoy a sunset over the River Douro. However, be prepared for crowds during peak sunset hours and arrive early to secure a prime viewing spot on the lush grass.

Palácio da Bolsa

The Palácio da Bolsa, once the Portuguese Stock Exchange, has transformed into a beloved tourist destination. As you step inside, you’ll discover an array of impressive halls, rooms, and a majestic grand stairway leading to the upper floor. The Arab Room is a standout attraction, its Moorish-inspired design drawing parallels with the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. A must-see for anyone visiting Porto, this opulent space boasts intricate details and serves as a reception room for esteemed political visitors.

Crystal Palace Garden

The Porto-based Crystal Palace Garden is a serene oasis boasting a striking modern concert hall at its core, the Super Bock Arena. While the original Palácio de Cristal – once an architectural marvel – has vanished into history, visitors can still bask in the picturesque surroundings and take in the breathtaking views. Meandering through the gardens, you’ll be treated to a stunning vista of the Douro River and the Ponte da Arrábida, making for a memorable experience.

Casa da Música

Casa da Música, located in Porto, Portugal, was initially slated to open its doors in 2001, coinciding with Porto’s designation as the European Capital of Culture. However, construction delays pushed the grand opening until 2005. Despite this setback, the concert hall has since become a popular destination for music lovers and architecture enthusiasts alike.

One of the best ways to experience Casa da Música is by taking a guided tour, which provides insight into its unique design and rich history. Alternatively, visitors can immerse themselves in the atmosphere by attending a live concert. The venue hosts an impressive array of musical genres, from classical compositions to electronic beats, and even traditional Portuguese fado.

Attending a live concert at Casa da Música, particularly one featuring soulful fado music, is an experience not to be missed. It’s a truly unique thing to do in Porto that allows visitors to connect with the city’s vibrant cultural scene.

Casa de Serralves

In Porto, Portugal, lies the esteemed Serralves complex, comprising a museum, park, and villa. Situated roughly equidistant from the city center and Foz do Douro, this cultural hub is easily accessible by public transportation or on foot. The heart of the complex is the Casa de Serralves, an exemplary embodiment of Art Deco architecture in Portugal. Meanwhile, the Serralves Museum boasts 14 galleries dedicated to showcasing contemporary art, making it a veritable treasure trove for modern art enthusiasts.

Pastel de Nata

When exploring Porto’s culinary scene, two traditional Portuguese dishes stand out – Pastel de Nata and Francesina. While both are must-tries, Pastel de Nata is a sweet custard pastry dessert that has gained popularity nationwide. This tiny, flaky pastry cup is overflowing with creamy custard goodness. You can find this beloved treat in every bakery throughout Porto, including the city center’s own Pastelaria Tupi. This charming bakery offers an array of pastries, available for take-out or dine-in, and surprisingly, they also cater to dietary restrictions, providing vegan options as well.


From the picturesque streets of Porto, Portugal, comes a culinary delight that will leave your taste buds singing – Francesinha! This savory masterpiece, often described as a sandwich with melted cheese and a rich tomato sauce, has earned its place as a local favorite. For an authentic experience, Cafe Santiago is a must-visit, although be prepared to wait in line if you don’t book ahead of time.

While traditional Francesinha recipes typically feature meat, Porto’s culinary scene has evolved to cater to vegetarian and vegan palates. So, whether you’re a meat-lover or an herbivore, there’s something for everyone in this charming Portuguese city.

Bolhão Market

In the heart of Porto, Portugal lies Mercado do Bolhão, a bustling fresh produce market that has captured the attention of tourists and locals alike. This iconic market is situated within a stunning neoclassical building dating back to 1914. While the market is renowned for its vibrant stalls selling an array of fresh produce, it also boasts several small restaurants and souvenir vendors. As one of Porto’s most popular tourist attractions, Mercado do Bolhão offers a unique experience that combines the thrill of exploring local flavors with the convenience of grabbing a quick bite or refreshing drink as you take in the sights.

FC Porto Museum and Stadium

For die-hard soccer fans, or football enthusiasts from Europe, a visit to the FC Porto Museum and Estádio do Dragão (FC Porto Stadium) is an absolute must. The former provides a treasure trove of trophies, medals, and other memorabilia that showcase the club’s rich history. Meanwhile, experiencing the stadium firsthand by attending a live match or taking a behind-the-scenes tour offers a unique perspective on the venue. Through this immersive experience, visitors can gain insight into the locker rooms and get an up-close look at the Estádio do Dragão, making for an unforgettable encounter.

Enjoy Visiting Porto!

Porto Portugal has much more to offer beyond indulging in traditional port wine, although sipping on a glass is certainly one of the city’s many charms. A leisurely stroll through the charming Cais da Ribeira neighborhood, crossing the iconic Dom Luis I Bridge, and immersing yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of Livraria Lello, renowned as one of the most stunning bookstores globally, are just a few of the many experiences awaiting you in this captivating city. The allure of Porto lies not only in its wine culture but also in its rich history, picturesque streets, and vibrant cultural scene. So, why wait? Embark on an adventure to explore Porto’s hidden gems and forge unforgettable memories for yourself.