20 Best Things To Do in Porto Portugal on Your First Visit

Porto Portugal

The northern city of Porto will be unlike anywhere you visit in Portugal. Its beauty can be seen everywhere from the tiled buildings to famous Porto bridges, and lively streets. Over several days of eating local food and cruising under, around, and over its unique bridges, we fell in love! After reading about some of the best things to do in Porto, it’s sure to be at the top of your Portugal itinerary!

Portugal Travel Inspiration

Porto Portugal General Info

Location: Northern Portugal
Official Language: Portuguese
Currency: Euros
How Long to Visit: 2-4 Days
Airport: Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport
Best Time to Visit: April-May or September-October

Porto Portugal Tips

How to Get to Porto Portugal

Flight: The Porto metro leaves Francisco Sá Carneiro airport every 20-30 minutes and takes half an hour to reach the city center. This is the cheapest way to get into the city and start your time in Porto Portugal.

Train: There are two train stations you can arrive into. Campanhã Railway Station is just outside Porto and you will have to transfer to a local line to continue into the downtown area. The other is São Bento Railway Station which is right in the heart of the city. We will talk more about São Bento later in our things to do in Porto guide!

Bus: There are multiple bus stations throughout Porto Portugal depending on which company you’re using. It’s best to check directly with the company to know what part of the city each line goes to.

Car: Having a car is one of the best ways to get around Portugal, but as soon as you enter the city you’ll want to ditch it! Porto is extremely walkable and there is really no reason to have a car unless you’re doing day trips. Infante Parking is right in the center of Porto Old Town and is easy to reach when you arrive. Rates will run a little over €20 a day.

Porto Portugal Travel Guide

20 Best Things to do in Porto Portugal 

1. Explore Porto Portugal Old Town

There’s nowhere better to stay and explore in Porto than its old historic district. Here you’ll have access to great museums, the best food, and the famous Ribeira walkway.

The old town is situated on a hill so expect a bit of an adventure if you’re staying here. Yet, it will become one with endless colors and stunning architecture!

Porto Portugal Old Town

2. Eat Traditional Portuguese Food

It’s hard to recommend just one thing to eat because Porto does so much well. We tried it all from the massive Francesinha sandwich to fresh seafood and of course the famous Pastel de Nata’s for dessert.

As always, we recommend enjoying traditional Porto food. However, we also urge you to step out of your comfort zone and have some new dishes as well! Listed below are some of our favorite Porto restaurants that we linked to their locations. 

  • Confeitaria sao Domingos: Awesome local bakery packed wall to wall during the morning rush. Order a sweet treat or grilled ham and cheese sandwich to go with your coffee!
  • A Grade: Small seafood restaurant in the backstreets of the Ribeira district. The seafood rice here was one of our favorite Porto food plates!
  • Bota & Bira: Meat lovers restaurant serving steak and seafood.
  • Cantina 32: Upscale Portuguese food in a beautiful setting. Reservations recommended.
  • Da Terra: Massive vegan dinner buffet and delicious natural juices.
For more of the best food in Porto check out 11 Portuguese Dishes and Drinks You Can’t Miss!
 
Porto Portugal Food

3. Sample Port Wine

When in Porto you drink Port wine… It’s that simple! The beverage of choice is a fortified wine that’s made exclusively in the Douro Valley. From ruby to tawny, and even different rosé collections, there are endless ways to try this flavorful drink. One of the most popular options is jumping on a Cálem Cellar Tour with a Fado Show & Wine Tasting!

If you’re not a fan of this sweet selection don’t worry. The city of Porto Portugal and surrounding countryside is not only known for Port wine, but also for having the best of every variation! Wine lovers should take advantage of this and add a vineyard tour or tasting to their Porto itinerary.

4. Spend the Morning on Rua das Flores

This charming street was first established in 1951 and has since become one of the most popular in Porto Portugal. Originally named for all the gardens and flowers that filled the street, you will now find small shops, restaurants, and everything else you could imagine.

As a pedestrian-only zone, this is one of the best places to grab a coffee or enjoy some fantastic Porto food. Grab a seat and watch as the city comes alive!

Porto Travel Guide

5. Walk Across the Luis I Bridge

Out of the many Porto bridges Luis I is truly the show stopper. Its close location to Porto Old Town makes it the ultimate centerpiece of this glorious city.

On the very top is a walkway where you can cross the Douro River with the cars speeding across underneath. This is hands down the most beautiful view from above, and something that shouldn’t be missed when looking for what to do in Porto.

Porto Portugal Luis I Bridge

6. See the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar

After crossing the Luis I bridge you will arrive at the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar. In 1996 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still holds one of the highest positions in the city. You can walk around the exterior at any time of the day but will have to visit from 10am-5pm to explore inside.

Porto Portugal Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar

7. Ride the Teleférico de Gaia

Just across from the Mosteiro da Serra on the same side of the river is the Teleférico de Gaia. For €6 you can hop on the Teleférico and cut down to the waterway through the air! From the bottom, you’ll then be able to walk the river back towards the Luis I Bridge and cut over to downtown from below.

One of our favorite things about this city was getting all the different viewpoints of the architecture and Porto bridges. There’s no better place to do that than flying through the air on the Teleférico! Also, when you get to the bottom you can explore a different side of Porto Portugal on the other side of the river. 

Porto Portugal Teleferico de Gaia

8. Stroll Through the Cais da Ribeira

If you’ve ever seen photos of Porto there is a very good chance they’re from the Cais da Ribeira district. The charming buildings are covered in bright pastel colors and stacked on top of each other running along the Douro River. This area is busy from morning to night and is undoubtedly the most scenic place in the city.

Honestly, no Porto travel guide would be complete without highlighting how special this area is! Make sure to sample some great food, and grab a glass of local wine for sunset. This is also where the riverboats leave from which we will talk about more soon! 

Porto Portugal Cais da Rebeira

9. Climb the Clérigos Bell Tower

The Clérigos church was built in the mid 18th century and has become one of the most recognizable buildings in all of Porto. The bell tower reaches high above the rest of the city at 249 ft (76 meters) and can be seen from the many Porto bridges and practically every district.

If you’re up for a climb you will have to squeeze into the small staircase and hike the 200 steps to the top! We highly recommend putting this at the top of your things to do in Porto list as it showcases the best parts of the city from above. 

Fun Things to Do in Porto Portugal

10. Grab a Snack at Mercado do Bolhão

When looking for what to do in Porto we knew that the Mercado do Bolhao was a high priority. We’re suckers for a good local market, and this one really drew us in with its mix of produce, cooked food, and local goods. Have a Pastel de Nata but also make sure to try some other treats you may have never seen before.

→ If you love to sample new things jump on a food and wine walking tour

Mercado do Bolhão Porto Portugal

11. Go Shopping on Santa Catarina Street

Just steps away from Mercado do Bolhao is Porto’s most popular shopping street. Selling everything from high-end designer gear to Porto food and even electronics, you’ll be able to find whatever you need here. This is also where the famous Majestic Café is located.

It’s known as one of the most beautiful cafes in Porto, but you’ll have to make that call for yourself! After waiting in a long line for 15 minutes there we decided to head to a more local restaurant called Bufete Deu-La-Deu. Here we had some of the best pastries of our entire Portugal trip.

Porto Portugal Santa Catarina Street

12. Take the Porto Portugal 6 Bridges Boat Tour

When walking through the Cais da Ribeira you’ll quickly notice an endless stream of vendors offering a boat tour of the Porto bridges. The hour-long trip will take you out on the Douro River and under all six amazing bridges.

Depending on which Porto bridge tour you select you may have an audio guide or just views of the spectacular structures. And whether you’re interested in history or not, it’s still a great trip on the water to view these spectacular structures. 

Porto Portugal River Douro 6 Bridges Cruise

Combo Ticket for Hop-On Hop-Off Bus, River Cruise, & Port Cellar Tour

Best Things to do In Porto

13. Tour the Old Stock Exchange Building

Otherwise known as the Palácio da Bolsa, this building has a long and interesting history. The old stock exchange was built by the commercial association in the 19th century and is located next door to St. Francis Church.

You are only able to visit the Old Stock Exchange with a guided tour. However, it’s extremely worth it and  which is highlighted by the incredible Arabic room. While Portugal’s stock exchange was eventually moved to Lisbon, it’s still used to this day for government and city meetings.

Porto Travel Tip: Try to book the second tour of the day. Many people will instinctively book the first stock exchange tour in the morning. However, the second tour had just a fraction of the tourists! This might not always hold true depending on the time of year, but it worked for us.

Get your tickets for a guided tour of the Old Stock Exchange Building (Offered in Several Languages) 

Porto Old Stock Exchange Building

14. Hunt for Porto Portugal Street Art 

The Porto art scene is exciting and perfectly displays the energy of this lively city. The mix of younger college kids and historic architecture makes for a fun blend of colorful street art!

In fact, in just the last few years some of Porto’s stone walls have been brought to life. Just by simply walking around you’ll be able to take in these unique additions to the historic metropolitan area.

Porto Portugal Guide 

15. Watch the Porto Portugal Sunset

Porto is a city built on hills and with that comes many epic viewpoints! The best time to take in these different views of Porto is definitely sunset. Watching the colors change over the Douro River and six bridges of the city is so magical! Below are a couple of our favorite sunset viewpoints in Porto.

  • Miradouro das Virtudes
  • Miradouro da Vitória
  • Clérigos Church Tower
  • Jardim do Palácio de Cristal
  • Sé Cathedral Square

16. Visit São Bento Station

São Bento is not only one of the most stunning railway stations in Portugal, but maybe all of Europe! If you’re traveling by train into Porto you may be lucky enough to arrive here anyway. Yet, if not it’s a must-visit! 

The famous railway station was completed in 1916. The interior is highlighted by the bright blue tilework and art depicting scenes from Portuguese life and history.

São Bento Station Porto Portugal

Have any questions about this travel guide or want to share more of the best things to do in Porto? Feel free to comment below!

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar

Where To Stay In Porto Portugal

Ultra Luxury (High End)Porto A.S. 1829 Hotel  – This luxury hotel offers all the upscale comforts you’d need right in the center of Old Town. Great location and beautiful spacious rooms. 

Fun Vacation (Mid Range)Downtown Porto Mouzinho Studio Apts – Nice apartments in the heart of the city. Complete with an easy check-in and a balcony with views over the Porto streets. The apartments even have kitchens if you’re not feeling up to going out to eat one night!

Hostel Life (Budget)Porto Spot Hostel  – Modern hostel with a kitchen, group dinners, and a game room.  Perfect for both groups and solo travelers.

For more places to stay in Porto Portugal you can explore the latest prices here!

PIN FOR LATER 

Porto Portugal Guide

Portugal Travel Planning 

 Flights: We always find great flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. This way you can plan your trip around the cheapest and most direct routes.

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also,  Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to rent vehicles on our travels. In Portugal, you will want a set of wheels to get to all the beautiful castles, cities, and towns.

Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for hundreds of activities around the country. Book a sunset Sailboat tour in Lisbon, go Wine tasting cruise of the Douro Valley from Porto, or explore the Ponta da Piedade on a boat trip in Lagos!

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

Portugal Travel

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4 Comments

  1. Pip
    October 21, 2022 / 10:45 pm

    Some of the best tips I’ve seen! Thanks We are travelling to Portugal next April. Can’t wait.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      October 21, 2022 / 10:55 pm

      Thanks! April will be such a great time to visit. Enjoy your time in Porto!

  2. July 24, 2022 / 5:49 am

    Thanks for this great list! I visited Porto last month and loved it. It became my favorite city in Portugal! It is so beautiful and the food is just amazing. My favorite restaurant in Porto is Da Terra so I’m happy that you loved it too!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      July 24, 2022 / 9:56 am

      Thanks for the kind words! Porto is one of our favorite cities and we totally loved that restaurant!

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