Porto, or Oporto in Portuguese, is Portugal’s second largest city located in the northwest of the country. It is also considered as the capital of the north and is a great base to explore the north region of Portugal.
Porto is best known for its port wine cellars, ancient churches, stunning architecture, and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Town.
Porto has a rich history dating back to the 4th century AD when the Romans established a settlement on the north bank of the Douro River and called it Portus Cale.
It was an important center of trade and shipbuilding during the Middle Ages & Age of Discovery. During the 19th century, Porto experienced significant economic growth due to the export of port wine.
Some of the best things to do in Porto include wine tasting in Vila Nova de Gaia, listening to fado musics at traditional taverns, taking a cruise along Douro River, climbing up to Clérigos Tower, visiting Livraria Lello bookstore, as well as exploring the Old Town and historic landmarks such as the Porto Cathedral, Bolsa Palace, and Carmo Church.
29 Best things to do in Porto, Portugal
1. Cais da Ribeira
Ribeira is Porto’s riverside quarter and is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. The district has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
Ribeira neighborhood is home to famous attractions such as the Porto Cathedral, Praça da Ribeira, Palácio da Bolsa, Casa do Infante, São Bento Train Station, and Cais da Ribeira.
The Cais da Ribeira is a riverfront promenade that is considered one of Porto’s liveliest parts. It is a long strip of cafes, restaurants, bars, shops, and pastel-colored houses overlooking the Douro river, Dom Luis I Bridge, and the Port houses on the opposite bank.
The Cais da Ribeira is a pleasant place to walk, dine, sightsee and people-watch for both tourists and locals, providing stunning views of the Douro river and the city’s bridges, as well as a vibrant nightlife.
2. Serralves Museum & Villa
The Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art is located on the ground of the Serralves Foundation, which is also home to a park and a villa.
The Serralves Museum is home to a collection of contemporary art featuring works of both Portuguese and international contemporary artists from the 17th century onwards.
In addition to permanent exhibits, the Museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and educational programmes to help deepen understanding of contemporary art.
The park covers an area of 18-hectare, circling the museum. It is home to an arboretum, a lake, a rose garden, meadows, and a tea house. There numerous concerts are held in the grounds of the Serralves estate in summer.
You can visit the Casa de Serralves is a pink, art-deco Villa, built in the 1920’s as the summer home of the Cabral family.
Located about 4 km west of the old city center, and is easily reachable by public transport, making it a popular half day trip.
3. Luís I Bridge
Luís I Bridge is an iconic double-decker steel arch bridge of the city that crosses the River Douro connecting the Ribeira neighborhood of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.
Luís I Bridge was built in the 19th century and named after King Louis I of Portugal. It was designed by German engineer Téophile Seyrig, who was a student of Gustave Eiffel, and designed Maria Pia bridge in Porto. It had the world’s longest iron arch at the time it was built.
The bridge’s upper deck is for Metro do Porto tram and a pedestrian walkway, while the lower deck is for cars and pedestrians. You can enjoy stunning views over the city and the river from its upper deck.
4. Douro River Cruises
Taking a river cruise along the Douro River is one of the best ways to explore the city and view tourist attractions from the water.
You can take the 6 bridges river cruise to view bridges in this city of bridges, or take a Douro Valley tour with wine tasting, and River Cruise.
The cruises typically last several hours and can be booked through tour operators or directly through the cruise companies.
The Porto bridges river will passes through 6 bridge include Ponte Dom Luis I, Ponte do Infante, Ponte de São João Bridge, Ponte de Dona Maria Pia, Ponte de Freixo, Ponte da Arrábida.
5. Miradouro da Vitória
Miradouro da Vitória is one of the best things to do in Porto because it is one of the most famous viewpoints in the city. You can view over the city, the river, as well as the Dom Luis bridge, the Bishop’s Palace, and the Cathedral.
Unlike Clerigos Tower and Mosteiro da Serra do Pila viewpoints, the Miradouro da Vitória is free to enter. You can also check out the viewpoint at the Rua da Bataria da Vitória on the way to Miradouro da Vitória.
6. Baixa district
Baixa district is the best area to stay in Porto for first-time travelers because it is the downtown central area of Porto that has a high concentration of attractions, accommodations, restaurants, bars, and shops.
Baixa is home to the famous Avenida dos Aliados, Municipal Council building, Praça da Liberdade, the Lello Bookstore, and the Romanesque Cathedral of Porto, as well as the Church and Tower dos Clérigos.
Baixa is well-connected to public transportation because it is home to the São Bento railway station, which is decorated with traditional Portuguese azulejo tiles. On the Rua das Flores, you can find goldsmiths, Church of Misericórdia.
Some shopping streets of Porto are the Rua Santa Catarina and Rua de Cedofeita, which are lined with restaurants, cafes, and shops, offering good opportunities for shopping and dining.
You can want great nightlife, check out bars and nightclubs one the streets Galerias de Paris, Rua José Falcão, Praça Guilherme Fernandes, and Rua Cândido dos Reis.
7. Church of São Francisco
Igreja de São Francisco is one of the most important churches in Porto along with the Porto Cathedral and the Clérigos Tower. It was originally built in the 13th century under the order of Franciscans. It was expanded, destroyed, and rebuilt throughout centuries.
The interior is noted for its impressive decoration, including elaborate gilded wood carvings and ornate azulejo tile work. It is considered a masterpiece of the Gothic style in Portugal.
The church is home to the catacombs, where the Franciscan monks and wealthy people were buried. Visitors can view thousands of human bones through a glass floor.
The Church of São Francisco is conveniently located close to the Palacio da Bolsa and Douro River. It is close to Sao Bento metro station, Sao Francisco tram stop, and Infante Dom Henrique bus stop.
8. Palácio da Bolsa
Bolsa Palace, or Palácio da Bolsa in Portuguese, formerly Stock Exchange Palace, is one of the top attractions that you shouldn’t miss while visiting Porto. It is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Palácio da Bolsa was built on the former site of the Saint Francis Convent, where you can find part of the convent nearby, the 13th century Igreja de São Francisco.
You can take a guided tour and visit numerous rooms in the palace such as the three-storey high Hall of Nation & noble staircase, the French Renaissance style courtroom, the jury room, Arab room, and the chairman’s room.
The Bolsa Palace is located in Praça do Infante D. Henrique, close to the House of the Prince Museum and the Wine Quay Bar, where you can try a glass of wine and some Portuguese tapas.
9. Clérigos Church and Tower
The 18th-century baroque style Clérgios church is one of the top attractions in Porto that is famous for its bell tower where you can climb to the top and enjoy stunning views over the city.
In addition to the church and tower, this complex is also home to the House of the Brotherhood Clérigos Pobres (Poor Clerics), which is home to the small Clerigos Museum.
The church is free to enter, but if you want to climb the 75 m high through 225 steps to the top of Torre dos Clérigos, you need to pay a 6 euro admission fee.
10. Praça da Liberdade
Praça da Liberdade, or Liberty Square in English, is one of the most important squares in porto. It is home to the equestrian statue of King Peter IV, Porto’s town hall, and the Alemeida Garret statue.
Liberty Square is centrally located on one end of Avenida dos Aliado in the Baixa district of Porto, close to Santissima Trindade church, Clerigos tower and church, and São Bento station.
The square is surrounded by numerous restaurants where you can try traditional Portuguese dishes such as Francesinha.
11. Casa da Música
Casa da Música is a music house where you can watch concerts and events. It is situated on Avenida da Boavista.
The building was designed by the Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas. You can admire its contemporary architecture style and watch classical or electronic music such as jazz or fado.
The house of music also has educational programs and workshops for schools and families. The building is home to bars and a rooftop restaurant offering stunning views of the city.
12. Foz do Douro
Foz do Douro is an affluent district located at the mouth of the Douro River where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean. It is located only a 20 minute ride on tram no.1, starting from the center of Porto near the Stock Exchange Palace.
Foz do Douro is home to beautiful beaches, restaurants, and numerous beach hotels. Praia dos Ingleses is a great beach for swimming and sunbathing.
Attractions in Foz do Douro are the Felgueiras lighthouse, the old neighborhood of Foz Velha, Pérgola da Foz, and enjoy a delicious and fresh caipirinha at CaipiCompany.
13. Porto Cathedral
Porto Cathedral, also known as Sé do Porto, is Porto’s most important religious building, situated in the Batalha district.
Porto Cathedral was originally constructed in the 12th century and then restored in the 13th century. The cathedral is also home to several important works of art and religious artifacts, including a 14th-century altarpiece and a 16th-century organ.
There are numerous white sandy beaches that are within easy reach from Porto Center by public transport and a short drive by car.
Some popular beaches in and around Porto are:
- Praia dos Ingleses, a blue flag beach, located in the upmarket Foz do Douro district
- Praia de Matosinhos, 15 minute drive from center of Porto
- Praia do Castelo do Queijo
- Praia do Carneiro
- Praia da Aguda, easy access by main Porto-Aveiro railway
- Praia do Molhe
- Praia de Lavadores, located in Vila Nova de Gaia
- Praia do Homem do Leme
15. Muralha Fernandina
Muralha Fernandina is the ancient wall that protected the city from invaders in the 14th century. It was built during the reign of King Fernando. You can walk along the wall, enjoy the view over the city and the river.
16. Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
Jardins do Palácio de Cristal is one of the most beautiful gardens in Porto. It is a 8 ha landscaped garden of the Palácio de Cristal, located on a hilltop in the city center.
The Crystal Palace Gardens is a popular spot for walking, picnicking, and relaxing. It is located on the ground that is also home to the Porto Romantic Museum and Port Wine Museum.
17. Church of Santa Clara
The Church of Santa Clara, or Igreja de Santa Clara in Portuguese, is a historic Catholic church. It was mostly built in the 15th century in the Gothic style.
The church is dedicated to Saint Clare of Assisi and has undergone several restorations over the centuries. The Church’s interior has a huge selection of some of Porto’s best gilded Baroque woodwork.
18. Parque de Cidade
Parque de Cidade, or Porto City Park, is one of the biggest parks in the North of Portugal. It is one of the best things to do and see in Porto for families with children.
Porto City Park is a popular place for outdoor activities such as biking, walking, and picnics around its green lawns and lakes.
The park is the location of the Saturday flea market selling fresh organic vegetables, fruits and homemade goods.
It is also home to the Pavilhão da Água (Water Pavilion), which was formerly part of Expo 98 in Lisbon, as well as the Sea Life Porto Aquarium nearby.
19. Soares dos Reis National Museum
Soares dos Reis National Museum is one of the best things to do and see in Lisbon for history buffs and culture vultures. It is Portugal’s oldest public art museum.
The museum has a collection of prints, antiques, and glass objects, as well as paintings and sculptures.
The Museo Soares dos Reis is located in the Carrancas Palace. You can relax at the tranquil gardens, and visit the nearby Glass Palace and Romantic Museum.
20. Museu Romântico da Quinta da Macieirinha
The Romantic Museum of Quinta da Macieirinha is housed in the 18th century mansion located on the ground of The Crystal Palace Gardens.
The museum has a collection of furniture, paintings, and decorative arts from the Romantic period, as well as a garden and an orchard.
The Romantic museum gives a glimpse into the lifestyle of the upper-class during the 19th century in Porto.
21. Port Wine
Porto is best known for its port wine. A visit to Porto is not completed without visiting one of the wine houses or tasting Port Wine.
The best place to taste port wine is one of the wine houses in the Vila Nova de Gaia neighborhood on the right bank of Douro River. You will learn the history of port wine production and try different styles of port wine.
Some of the best places to try port wine are at:
- Ferreira Cellars (Vila Nova de Gaia)
- Wine Quay Bar
- Taylor’s Port Cellar
- Graham’s Port Lodge
- Gota a Gota Wine House
- PORTOLOGIA – La Maison des Port
22. FC Porto Museum & Stadium Tour
The FC Porto Museum & Stadium Tour is a tour that allows visitors to explore the history of the FC Porto football club, one of the most successful clubs in Portugal.
The tour includes a visit to the museum, where visitors can see artifacts, photos, and videos related to the club’s history, as well as a tour of the stadium, where visitors can see the dressing rooms, the dugouts, and the pitch.
The tour is a great way for fans of the club to learn more about its history and for visitors to the city to experience a piece of Portuguese culture.
23. Casa Museu Guerra Junqueiro
Casa Museu Guerra Junqueiro is a museum that has been converted from the 18th century magnificent Baroque palace of Portuguese writer & poet, Guerra Junqueiro.
The museum has a collection of objects made from metal and glass including jewelry, sculptures, and ceramics.
The museum is open from 10am to 12:30 pm from Tuesdays to Sundays. Admission fee is included in the Porto Card.
24. Livraria Lello
Livraria Lello is one of the most beautiful bookstores in Porto. It has beautiful architecture with a neo-gothic façade and stunning interiors.
It is said that J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for the famous Harry Potter series while living in Porto, specifically at a library. The author spent a decade in the city as an English teacher in the 90s and was known to frequent the second floor of Lello’s bookstore for a cup of coffee.
25. Igreja do Carmo
Igreja do Carmo, or Carmo Church, is one of Porto’s oldest buildings that encompasses two buildings, one dating from the 17th century and the other from the 18th century.
The Carmo Church is located at the intersection of Рrаçа de Carlos Аlbеrtо аnd Ruа Саrmа and is famous for its саthоliс аrсhitесturе, ornate decoration, and gilded altarpiece.
While visiting the church, you can visit the nearby Clérigos Tower, Cordoaria Gardens, Lello Bookshop, and the Arts District.
26. Porto Bridge Climb
There are just a few bridges in the world that have a bridge climbing tour, the most famous is the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia.
Porto Bridge Climb is an amazing activity in Porto, and the Arrábida Bridge is allowed for visitors to climb on it. It has stunning views over the River and the city.
27. Festa de São João
The annual celebration known as the Festa de São João, or Festival of St John, is held on the evening of June 23rd and into the morning of June 24th, and is dedicated to honoring Saint John the Baptist.
During the festival, the streets are packed with people enjoying barbecue sardines, and caldo verde, with a glass of good Port wine and music.
At the stroke of midnight, a spectacular display of fireworks lights up the Douro River, delighting all who view it from the decks of a river cruise ship.
As the display comes to an end, people make their way along the river from Ribera to Foz do Douro or Matosinhos beach to wait for the dawn and watch the sunrise.
28. Confeitaria do Bolhão
Confeitaria do Bolhão is a pastry shop that is known for its fresh breads, croissants, traditional Portuguese pastries, and custard tarts. It is situated right in front of the Bolhao market in Oporto.
They also have an onsite restaurant and coffee shop. They have a good review on google.
29. Mercado de Bolhao
Mercado de Bolhao is a traditional market in Porto, and a place that you shouldn’t miss to experience daily local life.
The market is located in the city center, selling fresh fruits & vegs, meat, fish and flowers. It also features a number of small shops selling clothing, household items, and souvenirs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Porto famous for?
Porto is Portugal’s second largest city after Lisbon and is famous for its port wine production, beautiful historic architecture, the Old Town – UNESCO World Heritage site, the picturesque Douro River, and the famous Ponte de Dom Luis I.
How many days in Porto is enough?
Three to four days in Porto is enough to explore the city’s main attractions and experience its culture and cuisine. However, to truly experience the city’s culture and atmosphere, a longer stay is recommended.
Is 3 days in Porto too much?
Three days in Porto is enough to see the city’s main attractions and get a sense of the city’s culture and history, but depending on your interests and how much you want to explore the city, it may not be enough time to fully experience all that the city has to offer.
Is Porto more fun than Lisbon?
Porto and Lisbon are both beautiful cities in Portugal with their own unique charm and attractions. It ultimately depends on individual preferences as to which city is considered more fun.
What are the best things to do in Porto at night?
Some of the best activities in Porto at night are watching a live Fado show at Casa de Musica, having dinner at a fado house, tasting delicious port wine at a local wine cellar, and enjoying the lively nightlife in the city’s bars and clubs.
What are the unique things to do in Porto?
Some unique things to do in Porto include going sailing on the Douro River, hunting for the best pasteis de nata restaurants, taking a tuk tuk tour of the city, climbing Clérigos Tower at sunset, and having a Picnic at Palacio Cristal Gardens.
What are the best things to do in Porto for a day?
Visit the historic Ribeira district, take a boat tour on the Douro River, explore the São Francisco Church, climb to the top of Clérigos Tower for panoramic views, sample port wine at a local cellar, and try a traditional meal at a local restaurant.
What are the best things to do in Porto with kids?
Some of the best things to do in Porto with kids are visiting the Harry Potter bookstore – Livraria Lello, exploring the Zoo Santo Inácio, taking a boat ride on the Douro River, going on a street art tour, and enjoying the traditional pastries at a local café.
See more: Where to Stay in Porto First Time
So there you have it, the best things to do in Porto, Portugal for your next trip. If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment below.