When people go to Portugal they usually visit and stay in Lisbon, the capital and largest city of Portugal. There are a lot of picturesque cities in Portugal that are worth a visit and Porto is one of them.
Porto being the 2nd largest city in Portugal offers a lot of major attractions, historic landmarks, food, coffee, and wine. You can cross the Dom Luis I Bridge, have a sip of Port wine, or have a good dining experience along the coastline of the Foz do Douro district.
Porto is just about 195 miles away from Lisbon by train and a train from Lisbon to Porto will take a little over 3 hours. If you are coming from Lisbon, a day trip to Porto is definitely possible. However, it is recommended to stay in Porto for 2 to 3 days if you want to see what Porto has to offer without feeling rushed.
If you are planning a visit to Portugal soon, make sure to visit Porto. In this article, we will be talking about some of the best things to do in Porto. From picturesque views to great food and wine, Porto will surely take your breath away.
Best Things To Do In Porto, Portugal
Dom Luís I Bridge
For those who want to see the beauty of Porto from a high vantage point, walking across the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge is one of the things you do not want to miss when visiting Porto.
The bridge has two decks, both of which are open to pedestrians and can be crossed on foot. The upper deck is where the metro train passes while the lower deck is open to cars.
This iconic double-deck arched bridge was constructed in 1881 and was opened in 1886. This bridge was designed by Téophile Seyrig, an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel and it connects Porto and the city of Vila Nova de Gaia.
With the upper deck being 60 meters above the water, you will surely be in awe at the view of the old town and the River Douro.
Jardim do Morro
If you decide to cross the span of the Luis I bridge from Porto, you will end up in the city of Vila Nova de Gaia. At the end of the bridge is the city’s highest hill where Jardim do Morro sits. Jardim do Morro is the best place to rest or watch the sunset after a long walk across the bridge.
The Clérigos Tower, standing at a staggering 249 ft. tall is the tallest campanile in Portugal. When you are walking around Porto, you might see the tower peeking among the red rooftops in various parts of the city.
Aside from admiring the tower’s exterior, you can also go up to the top and take in the views of the river and the city. If you are not averse to climbing over 200 steps to get to the top, this tower should definitely be part of your itinerary.
Do keep in mind that the tower was not designed for a large number of visitors so it might feel like a tight climb if you decide to go to the top. If you are claustrophobic or have trouble in tight spaces, admiring the tower from outside is okay, too.
There is an entrance fee to climb the tower and you can get either a day or a night pass. You can also avail of guided tours which include the Clérigos Museum, Church, and Tower. Children under 12 can go in for free.
If you are not one to climb towers, head on to Livraria Lello, a two-minute walk from Clérigos Tower.
Livraria Lello, considered the most beautiful bookstore in the world, is a Neo-Gothic style bookstore designed by Francisco Xavier Esteves. It has beautiful wall-to-ceiling bookshelves and an iconic red staircase connecting the 1st and 2nd floors.
The bookstore was opened in 1906 and is now one of Porto’s major attractions. This bookshop is said to be the inspiration behind Harry Potter but, JK Rowling said that she has never visited the bookstore. If you visit this bookstore, it would surely feel as if you have been transported into a magical place.
With Livraria Lello being a popular place in Porto, a lot of tourists want to see the century-old bookstore. If you want to go inside, you need to purchase a Ticket voucher. This can be purchased online or at the ticket stand near the bookstore. The tickets are also redeemable if you buy anything from the bookshop.
Cais da Ribeira
A visit to Porto is not complete without a walk around the picturesque Cais da Ribeira. The district of Ribeira is a lively neighborhood full of restaurants, bars, and cafés. Walk along the narrow cobbled streets and see the old houses with iconic red rooftops which are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can also take in the views of the Douro River and the Luis I Bridge as you take a sip of coffee from one of the cafés on the riverfront.
The Serralves Museum and Villa is an art deco villa that is home to modern and contemporary art. The building was constructed in 1996 and was inaugurated on June 6, 1999.
You can take a stroll along its beautiful gardens or take inspiration from the museum’s impressive collection of contemporary art. For museum and art lovers, the Serralves Museum is worth a visit.
Children under 12 years old can visit the museum for free while 12 to 17-year-olds get a discounted ticket price.
São Francisco Church
The Church of São Francisco is one of the most emblematic religious buildings in Porto along with Clérigos Church. It is also one of the oldest churches in Portugal.
This church originally has Romanesque origins but it was transformed into Gothic architecture with elements of the Baroque style.
The Church of São Francisco has intricately carved panels that are all covered with gold leaf. Inside the church, you will also see the “Tree of Jesse”, a wooden sculpture by Felipe da Silva and António Gomes. The church is also home to the catacombs of Franciscan monks and some of the wealthiest families of Porto.
One thing you may want to see is the grated glass floor window where you can have a glimpse of human bones and skulls. It is said that these bones and skulls belong to common people.
Admission tickets are needed if you want to visit the Church of São Francisco.
Palácio da Bolsa
A minute away from the Church of São Francisco is the Palácio da Bolsa. This building was designed by Joaquim da Costa Lima in 1842. The architectural style of Palácio da Bolsa has British influences along with some Tuscan-style and Neo-classic styles from the 18th century.
This building has beautiful interiors and the noble staircase alone is worth a look.
Like most historic places in Porto, Palácio da Bolsa has an entrance fee if you want to visit. Children age 12 and under can enter for free.
We can’t be talking about Porto without mentioning Port wine. It’s one of the main things Portugal is known for.
Port wine is a sweet fortified wine from grapes exclusively grown in Douro Valley. If you cross the Luis I bridge and go to Vila Nova de Gaia, there are a lot of Port wine cellars that you can visit to have several Port wine tastings.
While Port wine is available all around Porto, Port wine houses are worth the visit if you want to taste original Port wines direct from the wine houses.
There are wine houses that offer guided wine-tasting tours that you can book in advance and there are also those who accept walk-ins. Some of the Port wine houses are Calém, Graham, Burmester, and Sandeman.
Casa da Música
If you are a fan of catching live music performances, Porto has a concert hall where various musical genres are performed year-round. This building opened in 2005 and has a modern architecture which is a fresh addition to Porto’s traditional vibe.
You can catch performances from symphony orchestras, rock bands, jazz performances, and more. Casa da Música is the place to unwind and sway along to musical performances.
Foz do Douro
The district of Foz do Douro sits at the mouth of the Douro valley and you can catch the view of sandy beaches and picturesque coastlines.
You will find the historic Linha 1 tram going around the city as it connects Porto to Foz do Douro. This district is one of Porto’s affluent districts and you will see stylish restaurants and trendy bars lined up along the beachside avenue.
Restaurants in Foz do Douro offers a variety of cuisine ranging from pizza, sushi, desserts, and traditional Portuguese food and snacks.
You will definitely have an amazing dining experience as nothing beats enjoying a nice meal with amazing views of the waterfront.
The Porto Cathedral was built in 1110 and is one of the oldest and the most important religious building in Porto. The cathedral sits in the highest part of Porto and is located in the Batalha district.
You will find that the Porto Cathedral has different architectural styles as it has been renovated many times.
São Bento Train Station
A railway station is probably the last thing on your mind when visiting another country. But, the São Bento Railway Station is one of the most beautiful railway stations that you will see in Europe.
You will see azulejos tiles all over Portugal but in São Bento Station, you will see the famous azulejos tiles depicting historic scenes of Portugal.
São Bento Station started its operation in 1896 but it was inaugurated in 1916 when the hall of the station was completed.
FC Porto Museum
For football lovers out there, the FC Porto Museum is open to visitors all around the world. This museum is located in the Dragao Stadium and it will welcome you with a view of the Dragon Valkyrie, a work of Joana Vasconcelos.
The FC Porto Stadium is full of football history where over 200 trophies are exhibited. There are interactive parts in the museum and you can also take a tour of the Dragao stadium. Even if you are not a football fan, the museum is worth a visit to know more about Portugal’s history with football.
A lot of countries have a city card that tourists can buy to go around the city and Porto is no expectation.
Porto Card is Porto’s city card that you can purchase and it lets you get free or discounted tickets to different monuments and museums in Porto.
The Porto card also has a version where public transportation is included. You can opt to buy the Porto card for one, two, three, or four days.
If you think that you will be visiting at least 3 or more places that accept a Porto card, then it might be worth it to buy. The card with public transportation included is a good buy if you think that you will be using Porto’s public transport a lot. This Porto card can be used on city buses and metro lines.
If you do not plan on visiting any monuments or museums, you can opt to purchase the Andante Card instead. This card is used for public transportation only.
Some of the places where you can get a discount if you use the Porto Card are:
– Casa da Música
– Clérigos Tower
– Serralves Museum
– Palácio da Bolsa
– Church of São Francisco
You will also be able to get 10% discounts at restaurants that accept the Porto card. Porto cards can be purchased online, upon your arrival at the airport, or in tourist offices around Porto.
Porto is a beautiful city that has a lot to offer. Not only you can see some historic buildings but, you will also be able to enjoy great food and wine in Porto’s restaurants and cafés. There are a lot of iconic places and things to do in Porto, so make sure to include them in your itinerary.
We have listed some of the best things to do in Porto so hopefully, you find this article helpful in your travels!