Where to Stay in Porto by Best Areas and Hotels
If you’re wondering where to stay in Porto, or where is the best area to stay in Porto, you’re in the right place. In this article, I will give an insight into the best places to stay in Porto for first-time visitors, couples, families, backpackers, all budget travelers; read on as I show you the best of Porto.
Covering 16 square miles on the western coast of Portugal, Porto is a popular tourist destination, due to the variety of attractions it is capable of providing. From beaches and wine tours to historic buildings and museums, it’s a city that has a little bit of everything to offer.
That can, however, make settling on your perfect destination quite challenging. That’s why in today’s article, I will be showing you some of the best choices it has to offer and explaining why each might be the right one for you.
So, if you’ve decided you’re going to visit Porto but haven’t settled on where to stay yet, I’d highly suggest reading on.
Where to Stay in Porto: Tips & Info
Before you begin reading, there are a few things you should take into consideration, which will make coming to your decision substantially easier.
For example, anyone wanting to remain close to the airport will be best served staying in nearby Ramalde, while those travelling by train may prefer to stay in Campanha, the location of the city’s biggest train station. There will even be those who are coming by car, where Boavista is the best option, as its hotels are some of the only ones in the city that come with parking.
If you’re visiting the city to take in its historic sights or vibrant nightlife, staying in the Uniao De Freguesias Do Centro is ideal, while those looking for a relaxing beach vacation will be better suited to Foz Do Douro.
If you plan to tour some of the regions wine making facilities, staying in Vila Nova De Gaia is the logical choice, just like Bonfim is for students or those visiting one.
Whatever it is you are looking for; chances are Porto will have it on offer. If you keep things like this in mind when looking at the destinations, it is sure to make settling on the one that’s right for you substantially easier than it otherwise would be.
Where to Stay in Porto – The 10 Best Areas to Stay in Porto
So, now that you have a clearer idea of exactly what you’re looking for from your ideal destination, I’m going to show you what I believe are the 10 best areas in Porto. I’ll explain what each one offers and who will benefit from staying there, to hopefully help you make up your mind once and for all.
Where to Stay in Porto Map
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1. Uniao De Freguesias Do Centro – Where to Stay in Porto for Nightlife, Shopping
We begin at the heart of the city, in Porto’s historic centre. Designated a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1996, this part of the city is simply brimming with history, dating all the way back to medieval times.
Cathedrals, churches, palaces, historic railway stations and even a museum housed inside of a historic building are just some of the attractions waiting to be discovered by any history or culture aficionados visiting the city.
The changing art styles through the centuries can clearly be seen here as well, with the buildings displaying a combination of Art Nouveau, Baroque, Gothic, Neoclassical and Rococo architecture. Whether you study art or simply enjoy beautiful buildings, there is plenty on offer to keep you occupied here.
Even the streets surrounding these attractions are lined with history, featuring buildings that, while smaller and less notorious, feature just as much character. This gives you the opportunity to take in the traditional feel of the city, even if it isn’t the primary reason for your visit.
For example, the Rua De Santa Catarina is one of the most popular streets in the city. Running for over a mile, it is lined with bakeries, bars, cafes, restaurants and shops, all set in buildings that ooze with the history the city is known for.
Then there is the Avenida Dos Aliados, containing the most famous square in the city, filled with statues dating back to the 14th century and surrounded by bars and restaurants, which stay open late into the night.
These and many places like them mean that Uniao De Freguesias Do Centro isn’t just perfect for those looking to see the sights and take in the culture, but is equally well suited for anyone wanting a relaxing vacation, a wild nightlife, or a combination of all three
STAY IN UNIAO DE FREGYESIAS DO CENTRO IF:
- You are interested in the history of the city
- You want a vibrant nightlife
- You want a range of great bars, cafes, bakeries and restaurants
- You enjoy shopping
- You are a fan of architecture
2. Ribeira – Best Area to Stay in Porto for History Buffs
We now move slightly south of the main city centre, to the district of Ribeira. While still covered by the world heritage designation of the historic centre, the experience you will find here is slightly different.
Situated on the bank of the Douro River, this is one of the oldest areas in the city. Many of the buildings aren’t perhaps as spectacular as they are at the heart of Porto, but they feature just as much history and display the same diverse art style.
They may even provide more in the way of culture, as many of the buildings you will find here are still owned and inhabited by the locals, who have had them in their families for generations.
Again, featuring a number of bars, cafes and restaurants, this has made it a popular destination with tourists who want to wine and dine with the locals, learning the history of the city from them and enjoying the stunning scenery, in a slightly more relaxing and less packed environment.
There are also placards attached to buildings throughout the district, telling you their dates and history, allowing you to weave through the streets on your own personal tour using them as your guide.
Whether you want to stroll along the river, explore the quiet back streets or sit and enjoy the region’s fabulous food and drink, Ribeira is a perfect choice for those looking for a more serene, cultured and refined experience of the city.
STAY IN RIBEIRA IF:
- You are interested in the history and culture of the city
- You want to stay in an area that has a local feel to it
- You don’t mind tourists but don’t want mobs of them around all the time
- You enjoy scenic walks along the river
- You like attractions with placards so you can guide yourself and learn
3. Foz Do Douro – Best Area to Stay for Relaxing Beach Vacation
From two destinations in the heart of the city, known for their rich and diverse history and culture, we now move to the western coast of the city, to a region known for something else entirely. Here you will find the district of Foz Do Douro, often shortened locally to just Foz, a place known for featuring the best beaches the city has to offer.
While Portugal as a whole is well known for its beaches, Porto doesn’t really have that reputation, given that the majority of the city is located inland. However, in Foz you will find everything you would expect from a traditional tourist beach vacation.
Beautiful sandy beaches line the coast, with resort hotels located around them. A range of shops, bars and restaurants fill the area, making it a perfect choice for anyone who wants to spend their vacation relaxing on the sand, playing in the waves and topping up their tan.
At the southern point of the district, you will even find the beautiful Farol De Felgueiras lighthouse, at the point where the Duoro River meets the Atlantic Ocean. This offers a clear break point, where the historic inner city and its relaxed coastal regions meet.
While it may not be the first destination that springs to mind when planning a beach vacation, the ability to drive into the heart of such a historic city in as little as 10 minutes adds incredible variety and value to the destination, meaning you can easily combine history, culture and relaxation, as and when you choose to do so.
STAY IN FOZ DO DOURO IF:
- You are after a relaxing beach vacation
- You want to be only a short distance from a great range of historic attractions
- You are a fan of lighthouses
4. Bonfim – Best Budget Area to Stay in Porto
We’re now going to jump back inland for our next destination, to the south eastern part of the city and the neighbourhood of Bonfim.
Similarly to Ribeira, it is located close to the heart of the historic centre of the city and is filled largely by locals. However, where it differs is that it hasn’t yet been embraced by tourists, meaning it is an even quieter and more traditional neighbourhood than we have seen so far.
In addition to its proximity to the city centre, Bonfim has plenty to offer in its own right, with beautiful churches and parks, the stunning Fontainhas viewpoint and even the Cemetery Of Prado Do Repouso, the oldest cemetery in the city, just some of the attractions the district has to offer.
In addition to its cultural attractions and traditional residents, there’s another group of people that call this area home, who will be a draw for many visitors, which is the student population of the city.
Popular with students and backpackers, the area features a number of amenities for that type of demographic, such as a number of hip bars, cafes and restaurants, as well as attractions such as art galleries. It also brings with it the lower prices that are often prominent in student areas, both in the shops and bars, as well as in the accommodation prices in the region.
So, if you want to stay near the centre of the city but are travelling on a budget, or simply enjoy the culture and vibrancy of the student lifestyle, then this is definitely a place worth exploring.
STAY IN BONFIM IF:
- You are travelling on a budget
- You want to avoid tourists
- You want to be near the historic centre but not in it
- You are, or are visiting, a student, or you simply enjoy student culture
- You like art galleries
- You want to explore the oldest cemetery in the city
- You want to visit the famous Fontainhas viewpoint
5. Lordelo Do Ouro – Best Area for Traditional Vibe
If you liked the sound of our previous destination but would prefer to be a little closer to the beach and the coast, then perhaps the neighbourhood of Lordelo Do Ouro will be more to your taste.
Located on the eastern border of Foz Do Douro, Lordelo Do Ouro will have you just minutes from the most fantastic beaches the city has to offer, all while staying in a more traditional area, with a quieter, local vibe to it.
Among the most popular attractions in the area are the Chapel Of Santa Catarina and the Sao Martinho De Lordelo Church. Two beautiful buildings, the former provides the opportunity to witness some stunning views of both the city and the sea, while the latter still rings its bell every hour, which gives you that classic, small town feel.
For those looking for a more natural, outdoor experience, the area also features a number of beautiful gardens, such as The Garden Of Calem, with its stunning statues and rockeries, and the Jardim Botanico, a beautiful botanical garden, filled with an incredible range of plants and flowers.
The most famous though, is the Serralves Park. Containing a classical Villa and the Serralves Museum, the second most visited museum in Portugal and in the top 100 in the entre world, there perhaps isn’t a better place to learn about the history of the area than right here, all while surrounded by beautiful, natural scenery.
With ease of access to the busier areas, shops, dining options and nightlife of both Foz and the city centre, all while offering a lower price on accommodation than either of those can provide, this is an ideal spot for anyone travelling on a budget or seeking a bit of variety during their stay.
STAY IN LORDELO DO OURO IF:
- You want easy access to the beach
- You want to be near the city centre
- You are on a budget
- You want to visit the most popular museum in the city
- You enjoy walking around gardens
- You want an area with a traditional vibe
6. Boavista – Where to Stay in Porto Close to Airport
Boavista lies immediately to the east of our previous destination. An area located between the coast, the inner city and the airport, it is a destination that is ideal for people who want to do a little bit of everything the city has to offer during their stay, while not having to worry about driving too far to and from the airport.
It is also one of the few areas in the city where the hotels have parking included, so is a great choice if you plan on renting a car. It is worth noting though, that benefit largely comes due to the fact that most of the hotels in the area are of the more expensive, 4- and 5-star variety.
So, if you’re looking to enjoy a little luxury and some of the finer things in life on your stay, this will suit you perfectly. On the other hand, if you are travelling on a tight budget, you are probably better off looking elsewhere.
STAY IN BOAVISTA IF:
- You want to remain near the airport
- You want to be located in between both the inner city and the beach
- You plan on renting a car
- You like exclusive, high end hotels
- You aren’t worried about price
7. Campanha – Best Quiet Area to Stay in Porto
We move now to the very eastern part of the city and the district of Campanha. Being located right on the outskirts of Porto, the region has a very residential feel to it. This makes it an ideal spot to stay for those looking to be completely out the way of the hustle and bustle of the tourist areas.
This also comes with the added benefit of accommodation being on the cheaper side, though it is worth noting that the choices are more limited, making booking in advance a must if you plan to stay here.
Thankfully, given the compact nature of the city, being on the outskirts doesn’t mean you’re going to waste your stay travelling in and out when you want to see the sights, as you can drive into the heart of the city in as little as 15 minutes.
Speaking of transportation, that is the topic of perhaps the most famous and important location in the district, as this is, unsurprisingly, where Campanha Train Station can be found.
The largest station in the city, this makes Campanha an ideal location to stay for anyone who is travelling in and out of the city by train and doesn’t want to be dragging their luggage all over the place or is simply worried about missing their train.
STAY IN CAMPANHA IF:
- You want to be located near to the city’s largest train station
- You prefer quieter, more residential areas
- You are happy to book your accommodation well in advance
- You are travelling on a budget
8. Ramalde – Best Area for Local Atmostphere
Our next destination is very much like the previous one when discussing its main selling points. This time found in the very north of the city, it is another residential area, with a smaller range of lower priced accommodation. There are two distinct differences between it and Campanha though.
First off, being in the western side of the city, it is much closer to the beaches in Foz Do Douro. That means you have a little more choice if you plan to spend a few days exploring the sights and others lazing on the sand.
It is worth noting however, that it is slightly further from the city centre if seeing the sights there is your main priority, though it’s still less than 20 minutes away by car.
Perhaps the area’s biggest selling point though is its proximity to the airport. While the main airport that serves Porto, Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport, is located outside the city limits, this is the closest region within them to it. So, just like the train station in Campanha, anyone wanting to avoid missing their flight home or dragging luggage all over the city will be well suited to staying here.
STAY IN RAMALDE IF:
- You want to remain near the airport
- You plan to split your time between sightseeing and lazy days relaxing on the beach
- You want to stay in a more residential area
- You are travelling on a budget
9. Massarelos – Best Hip, Trendy Area to Stay in Porto
Our penultimate destination of Massarelos is located in the south of the city, bordered to the south by the Douro River and to the west by the neighbourhood of Lordelo Do Ouro.
Massarelos is similar to its neighbour to the west in many ways, being a centrally located destination, which gives you easy access to the majority of the city. However, what sets it apart is that it is known as the creative heart of the city.
This is where you can come to find traders, artists and designers working with precious stones and metals, glass, textiles and ceramics. The Rua Miguel Bombarda, at the district’s heart, offers you the opportunity to browse workshops and galleries displaying the works created by the locals.
The area even features a museum, the Museu Nacional Soares Dos Reis, where you can explore displays on many of the materials above, where they come from and how they are used.
An area with a very hip and trendy vibe, you’ll find an abundance of cafes and bars, all with an uplifting feeling throughout.
Accommodation is also quite vibrant and diverse in the area, featuring everything from hostels to elaborately decorated guesthouses, which should provide an option for everyone, no matter your taste or budget.
STAY IN MASSARELOS IF:
- You want a diverse range of accommodation
- You prefer a hip, trendy area
- You are interested in visiting craft workshops, galleries and museums
- You want to be located near the centre of the city
10. Vila Nova De Gaia – Where to Stay in Porto for Wine and Seafood Lovers
For our final destination, I am going to suggest a location that is technically outside the city limits of Porto (yet still within its metropolitan area), on the other side of the Douro River, Vila Nova De Gaia.
While I would normally avoid doing this, it’s a destination that features one of the biggest draws in the entire city, which is its incredible collection of wine production facilities and lodges, with at least 50 in the region.
Portugal is known around the world for its fantastic wine and many of the finest vintages come from this very location. Considered to provide the perfect temperatures and conditions for the wine to mature, you will find countless cellars filled with casks of wine, aging and waiting until it is ready to be bottled.
With a wide range of tours available, travelling between the lodges, showing you how wine is produced and allowing you to sample them right from the source, this is an absolute must visit location for any wine lovers out there.
Don’t worry if you aren’t the biggest wine fan though. The area’s stunning river views, fresh seafood and small town feel all create a charm that would satisfy many visitors even without the promise of a drink or two at the end.
STAY IN VILA NOVA DE GAIA IF:
- You are a fan of wine and want to learn more about it
- You want to be outside the city limits, in a location with a small-town feel
- You enjoy seafood
- You like beautiful river views
- Where To Stay In Porto For One Night?
- Where To Stay In Porto For Nightlife?
- Where To Stay In Porto City Centre?
- Where To Stay In Porto On A Budget?
- Where To Stay In Porto With A Car?
- Where To Stay In Porto With Family?
- Where To Stay In Porto For Tourists?
- Best Time To Visit Porto?
- How To Get Around Porto?
- How Long To Stay In Porto?
- Best Things To Do And See In Porto?
Now that we’ve got our 10 areas taken care of, I know there will be some of you who have come to a conclusion, while others will still be undecided. That’s why I will now answer a few of the most frequently asked questions people have about Porto, to try and get you all into that first category.
Where To Stay In Porto For One Night?
For anyone coming to Porto that only has one night to spend here, you simply have to stay in Uniao De Freguesias Do Centro, the city’s historical centre.
Featuring the widest range of attractions and sights anywhere in the city, as well as some of its most vibrant nightlife, there is just no better way to maximise what little time you have than by spending your sole night here, right in the heart of the city.
Where To Stay In Porto For Nightlife?
Similarly to the last question, anyone wanting to visit the city with nightlife as one of their top priorities is going to want to stay in the city centre, more specifically near Avenida Dos Aliados.
This is where you’ll find the highest concentration of bars and late-night spots anywhere in the city. While it doesn’t have the notorious nightlife scene you can find elsewhere around the world, it does contain plenty of options to keep you occupied and entertained well into the early hours of the morning.
Where To Stay In Porto City Centre?
So, carrying on from our previous two questions, you have decided you want to spend your trip in the city centre but aren’t sure on the exact spot. Well, in that case, I would have to recommend the Maison Albar Hotels Le Monumental.
An exquisite, 5-star hotel, with an “exceptional” 9.5/10 rating on booking.com, it is located right at the heart of the district, just off of the city’s most famous square, Avenida Dos Aliados, near one of its most famous and popular streets, Rua De Santa Catrina, surrounded by many of the most iconic attractions the city has to offer.
If you want to be in the thick of it, with everything close by, in luxurious accommodation, this is a place sure to meet all your needs.
Where To Stay In Porto On A Budget?
For anyone travelling to Porto on a budget, I would recommend the district of Bonfim. The city’s student hotspot, it features affordable accommodation, as well as bars, shops and restaurants, in a delightful, friendly neighbourhood.
Acta The Avenue is a perfect place to stay, as it is a 4-star hotel, with a “fabulous” 8.9/10 rating on booking.com, that comes with a price you won’t believe possible for this type of hotel until you see it for yourself.
Where To Stay In Porto With A Car?
When asked where to stay in Porto with a car, there is only one answer I have for you and that is the area of Boavista. Despite featuring more expensive hotels, it is also one of the only places in the city where you will get parking with your accommodation.
That means not only is it convenient, but when you factor in paying for parking separately elsewhere, you may end up getting a much nicer room here for the same price, or perhaps even less, than you would have paid elsewhere.
The 5-star Crowne Plaza Porto, with its “fabulous” 8.7/10 rating is a perfect example of the type of luxury and convenience you could get by staying in this location.
Where To Stay In Porto With Family?
Suggesting the best place to stay for a family, especially one with children, depends largely on things like the age and interests of the group. However, if I were to pick the safest option, I would go with Foz Do Douro.
The city’s beach destination, it provides plenty to keep kids occupied and entertained throughout the stay yet is still close enough to the city centre to make sightseeing possible for those who are old enough to appreciate it.
With the Hotel Boa – Vista you will find affordable accommodation, with an 8.3/10 rating on booking.com, located right on the beach and with its own swimming pool, perfect for entertaining kids of any age.
Where To Stay In Porto For Tourists?
While this question largely depends on your take on the word tourist, I’m going to go with the broadest meaning of the word, which leads me to recommend Lordelo Do Ouro as the ideal place to stay.
Located an equal distance between the city centre and the beaches, it gives you the perfect opportunity to balance relaxing on the beach, partying in the bars and taking in some history and culture, all in one trip.
The HF Ipanema Park is an ideal choice. A 5-star hotel, with an 8.4/10 rating on booking.com and located right in the middle of the district, it perfectly balances luxury and location, to complete the all round stay you’re looking for.
Best Time To Visit Porto?
Picking the best time to visit is challenging, as it relies heavily on what you are hoping to get out of the trip. That said, I believe late May through to the end of June to be the prime time to visit.
It features temperatures that are warm, without being overbearing. Schools won’t have broken up for the summer, so you won’t have to worry about such massive crowds. Plus, there are a number of festivals taking place at that time.
Combine all of that and it makes for the ideal choice to get the most out of your stay.
How To Get Around Porto?
You’ve got plenty of choices when it come to getting around in Porto. You could get a car and drive yourself around quickly and easily, however you will end up paying quite a lot in parking. You could even walk around if you are located in the city centre, as many of the attractions are located in close proximity.
However, I would personally recommend taking advantage of Porto’s fabulous public transport system. With buses running from 6AM to 9PM, you can get to experience everything the city has to offer, all without any high costs or hassle.
How Long To Stay In Porto?
Porto certainly has plenty to offer and its attractions are fairly diverse. That means you are going to want to spend a decent amount of time in the city, to ensure you fit in everything you were hoping to see and don’t end up feeling short changed.
That said, it isn’t a destination that has enough history to keep you exhilarated for weeks, enough beaches to make endlessly hoping from place to place exiting or simply enough area to make exploring it all require an abundance of time.
That’s why I would recommend 1 to 2 weeks as the ideal length of time to stay. It will give you just long enough to explore the neighbourhoods, take in the famous attractions, relax on the beaches and sample the local culture and nightlife, so you go away with fond memories of your stay, as opposed to feeling like it dragged on for a little too long.
Best Things To Do And See In Porto?
With such a wide variety of attractions on offer in the city, spread across such a diverse range of interests, narrowing it down to the absolute best things to do and see can be quite the challenge. That said, there are a few things that stand out from the pack, as absolute cant miss attractions, that you simply have to do while you’re in town.
The first one that immediately springs to mind is a wine tour in Vila Nova De Gaia. Here you can take a guided tour around the wine lodges in one of Portugal’s finest wine regions, seeing how wines are made and aged, before sampling the vintages yourself, straight from the source. If you have any interest in wine at all, you simply must add this to your trip’s itinerary.
Then there’s the beaches in Foz Do Douro. While Porto as a city isn’t known for its beaches, Portugal certainly is, so it would be a shame to visit and not try out the best options the city has to offer.
The Serralves Park in Lordelo Do Ouro is another stop I’d highly recommend. A beautiful park, containing the second most popular museum in Portugal and ranked in the top 100 in the entire world, it is an ideal and iconic place to combine natural beauty with a learning experience.
Beyond this, your personal choice of attractions in the Uniao De Freguesias Do Centro should fill out the rest of your trip. From its historic buildings to the busting stores on the Rua De Santa Catarina and the vibrant bars surrounding the legendary square of Avenida Dos Aliados, you’ll be able to spend days here, no matter what it is you’re looking for.
Porto is a fantastic city, full of character, culture, history and attractions to entertain people of all ages, tastes and backgrounds. The only hard thing about choosing to visit here is knowing the best place to stay, to maximise the enjoyment you get from the trip, but hopefully this article will have helped you decide on that.
Now all that’s left is to start getting everything booked, so you can go and experience it all for yourself as soon as possible.