Porto is the ideal destination for a short city break or as the starting point for your Portugal road trip. All the attractions are within walking distance, and two to three days are enough to see Porto. It’s a great city if you don’t want to use too many vacation days but still want to get away for a while. Porto is a very relaxed and charming city thanks to its beautiful waterfront views, colorful houses, and of course, cozy restaurants and wine bars. Read all of our tips below.
Tip: If you want to go directly to your hotel after your flight, it’s recommended to book this pick-up. For $20, someone will be waiting for you to take you straight to your hotel. This way, you can start your Porto city trip in a relaxed and hassle-free manner.
What to do in Porto?
Porto doesn’t have a lot of attractions, but that’s okay because you’re also here to enjoy the atmosphere and the charming terraces. Here are some things you definitely shouldn’t miss.
Visit the bookshop Livraria Lello
Livraria Lello is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. The ceiling is almost entirely made of stained glass, and in the middle of the bookstore, you’ll find a very unique red staircase. Due to its fine details, the bookstore is extremely popular, and there is almost always a huge line at the entrance. Nowadays, you can only enter with a $5 voucher, which can be redeemed when you purchase a book. Don’t want to wait in line for an hour? Make sure to buy your voucher online in advance and be there when the store opens at 09:30.
Azulejos are beautiful painted wall tiles that you can find all over Portugal. They are often traditional in blue and white colors, but occasionally, you’ll see them in other cheerful colors. The Portuguese word ‘azulejo’ comes from the Arabic al–zulayj, which means “small smooth stone.” In the Middle Ages, the Arabs primarily used these stones for mosaics, and the old kings of Portugal liked this style. They had many religious buildings tiled with slightly larger smooth tiles, and from the 15th century, azulejos had taken an important place in Portuguese architecture. In the 18th century, azulejos also appeared on palaces, houses, gardens, fountains, and stair complexes. In Porto, you’ll find some beautiful buildings with huge walls covered in azulejos. The following buildings are the best places to spot Azulejos in Porto:
- Igreja do Carmo
- Capela das Almas
- Igreja de Santo Ildefonso
- The hall in São Bento train station
Try Pastéis de Nata and Francesinha
The pastry Pastéis de Nata is the most famous delicacy in Portuguese cuisine. The original pastry is made by the bakery Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon, and because they work with a secret recipe from 1837, no one else can call the pastry by that name. That’s why they call it Pastéis de Nata in the rest of the country. The crispy puff pastry is filled with cream and generously sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Delicious with a cup of coffee! The hearty dish Francesinha is something that truly comes from Porto itself, but it’s more of a post-night-out treat. It’s a kind of sandwich with cheese and four different types of meat.
Visit the Golden Church Igreja de São Francisco
The church Igreja de São Francisco is probably the most famous church in Porto and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also known as the ‘Golden Church’ because around 200 kilograms of gold leaf were used to decorate all the woodwork. The church is the final resting place for some of Porto’s most important and wealthiest families.
Take a Tour of Palácio da Bolsa
Palácio da Bolsa is one of Porto’s most significant historical monuments. It was initially built in the second half of the 19th century for the Porto Commercial Association because trade has always been crucial to the city. It was used as a stock exchange in 1841, but it was eventually returned to the association in 1911. Palácio da Bolsa is beautifully designed, and the tour is very interesting. You can’t enter without a guided tour. If you book your tour here in advance, you’ll pay slightly less than the on-site entrance fee. With the voucher you’ll receive, you can select a date and then choose the time for your Palácio da Bolsa visit. You’ll join the next available tour.
Walk on the Luis I Bridge at Sunset
The Luis I Bridge offers the best view of Porto. You’ll overlook the historic center and the wide Douro River. The view is especially fantastic during sunset, and it’s nice to stroll along the water on the other side. You’ll see boats from the port breweries with barrels and enjoy the colorful Ribeira waterfront.
Have a Drink by the Water at Cais da Ribeira
The most charming place in Porto is Cais de Ribeira, the quay in the Ribeira district. Along the river, you’ll find many terraces where you can enjoy drinks and listen to street musicians. The food here is a bit more expensive, so it’s mainly recommended for tapas and drinks.
Learn All About Port Wine + Port Tasting
When you think of Porto, you naturally think of port wine. So, a port wine tasting is a must when you’re in Porto, and you can do it with this fun 3-hour port tour. During this tour, you’ll learn everything about the history of port wine, the entire process of making port, and you’ll visit the most important port houses where you’ll taste 10 different types of port. You’ll also visit the oldest winery in Portugal and the largest exporter of wines from the famous Douro Valley. If you’re a real wine and port lover, you should consider a day trip to the Douro Valley. There, you’ll visit vineyards, take a boat trip, enjoy a three-course lunch, and, of course, taste many wines and ports. It’s a delightful excursion from Porto.
Swimming at Piscina das Marés
Is it a hot day and are you looking for some refreshment? Then take an Uber to Piscina das Marés. This unique pool is a 20-minute drive from Porto and is built against the coast, so it gets filled by the sea during high tide.
Discover Porto’s Nightlife
Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal after Lisbon, and it’s also a university city. This means you can expect a vibrant nightlife with many clubs, bars, and cafes. You can go out almost any day of the week, but of course, the weekends are the busiest. The nightlife isn’t limited to indoor venues; some streets in the city center also come alive in the late hours.
Best Restaurants in Porto
In Porto, you can indulge in both Portuguese and international cuisines. We strongly recommend the following cafes and restaurants in Porto. Be sure to visit the historic Café Majestic for a great cup of coffee. This stylish cafe dates back to the Art Nouveau era and resembles Parisian cafes of that time. For a delicious bowl or a tasty sandwich, head to Zenith, our favorite lunch spot in Porto! Do Norte and the Hungry Biker are also excellent choices for a nice lunch. If you want to experience Portuguese cuisine, Laurear is a great recommendation for seafood and meat lovers. In this family restaurant, the mother of the family cooks various delicious local dishes with fresh ingredients. Lastly, we suggest Farinha for the best pizzas in Porto.
Our Favorite Places to Stay in Porto
In Porto, you’ll mostly find apartments and few hotels. However, these complexes often have a lobby and, if you’re lucky, a garden with a pool. Aparthotel Oporto Alves da Veiga is highly recommended with stylish apartments right in the city center. They serve a delightful breakfast every morning, and on warm days, you can take a dip in the pool! If you’re on a slightly smaller budget, the apartments at Oporto Invite – Taipas are also an excellent option. If you’re looking for a place where you can easily meet other travelers, then The Passenger Hostel is the coolest place in Porto. They offer both stylish rooms and a dormitory, and the location, at the beautiful Sao Bento station, is unique!
Tip: These accommodations are very popular, so book as early as possible if you’d like to stay there.
|Aparthotel Oporto Alves da Veiga
|Oporto Invite – Taipas