The best things to do in Porto

Porto’s charm lies within its hilly cobblestone streets and historic buildings laden in blue ceramic tiles. In a city rich in culture; you’ll be spoiled for choice when finding things to do. Situated in the northwestern region of Portugal, Porto is well known for its wine and bridges, with stunning views around every corner and delicious food to sample. 

How many days in Porto? 

You might be wondering how long to stay in Porto since there is so much to do. However, it’s a fairly compact city, so get your walking shoes on and you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll be able to see in a short space of time. I recommend anywhere between 2-3 nights. With 2 nights and three days, you’ll be getting a good feel for the city with a chance to see most of the city without feeling rushed. But, if you like to take it at a much more relaxed pace, give yourself an extra night and head down to the beaches. 

Best things to do in Porto

1. Cais da Ribeira

Stroll down the Cais da Ribeira and lap up views of the iconic Luís I Bridge whilst sipping on a fresh juice or Aperol spritz! There are plenty of cafes and restaurants here to unwind at, with stretching walkways alongside the Douro River. 

2. Luís I Bridge 

The most iconic bridge in Porto, Dom Luís I Bridge stretches across the River Douro, connecting the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. It’s a beautiful bridge to walk across and simply marvel at the beauty of Porto’s landscape.   

3. River cruise on the Douro 

After experiencing the Douro River from the Ribeira and from above, get up close and personal with a river cruise. They start from around €10 and depending on the company you use, you will have a guided tour included to highlight all of the best bits of Porto, with some historic information. A great way to get to know the city. 

4. Porto Cathedral 

Situated at the highest point of the city, Sé Cathedral is the most important religious building in Porto. The construction of the Cathedral began during the twelfth century but it was rebuilt and renovated several times, so now boasts a stunning blend of architectural styles, from Baroque, Romanesque and Gothic. 

5. Palácio da Bolsa

The Stock Exchange Palace aka Palácio da Bolsa was constructed in the 1800s and designed to impress European businesses to encourage their investment in Portugal. This is evident in the immaculate sculptures, extravagant decor and beautiful carvings throughout the building. Situated in the heart of the city centre, the neoclassical building is full of history and not to be missed on a trip to Porto.

6. Church of São Francisco

Next door to the Palácio da Bolsa lies the Church of São Francisco. Initially a small church and convent, the Palácio was built on the grounds of what used to be the convent, before a fire destroyed it in 1832. It’s said that over 300 kilos of gold dust were used to decorate the church’s interiors. Whether that’s true or not, the architecture and design are remarkable and truly one to admire. Beneath this lavish golden haven sits the catacombs, where Franciscan monks were buried and you can view them from the glass floor. 

7. Clérigos Church & Tower

This Baroque church and tower can be spotted from many parts of Porto. When it was completed in 1748, it was the tallest building in the country standing at 75 metres high. This beautiful monument is an emblem of the city. Climb the 240 steps of the tower and be rewarded with panoramic views of the city. Keep reading and you’ll find a bar that has wonderful views of the Clérigos Tower. 

8. Igreja do Carmo & Igreja dos Carmelitas

These two churches sit side by side, simply separated by an extremely narrow (1-metre wide) house, which was inhabited until the 1980s! Igreja dos Carmelitas is an older church, with a single bell tower on the left. The Ingreja do Carmo was later built with sculptures of two religious figures perfectly crafted on its exterior. Both of the buildings combined are an incredible sight and feature the iconic white and blue tiles that have become a distinctive character of Porto.

9. Drinks with a view

Thanks to Porto’s hilly nature, there are beautiful viewpoints from many places. This gives you plenty of opportunities to stop, get a drink and admire the views. Head to Rooftop Flores for a chilled and low-key open-air bar that provides views across Porto or my ultimate favourite spot, Base Porto. This place had such a good vibe. Simply turn up, order a drink and find a spot either at tables or on the grass. It’s like heading to your local park but with fantastic drinks and a DJ playing the best music.

10. Foz da Douro

Head to Foz da Douro, a charming beachside promenade with palm-tree-lined streets where you can enjoy an afternoon. Home to plenty of beaches, you can also stroll through the enchanting Pergola da Foz or marvel at Felgueiras Lighthouse, where often you’ll find epic waves crashing over it.

 

11. Unwind on the beaches 

If you have the time, head just 4 miles out of the city and discover the range of beaches that Porto has to offer. In my opinion, Praia dos Ingleses is the most beautiful, with golden sands and rocky shores. Plus, there are plenty of bars and restaurants on the promenade to enjoy food and drinks at. The Atlantic ocean makes a refreshing dip from the Portuguese weather!

12. Try the best seafood at Matasinhos Beach

If you’re heading to the beaches, this is the perfect time to sample some incredibly fresh seafood. Head to Rua Heróis de França where you’ll find an array of restaurants serving up freshly grilled seafood. The aromas of the BBQ waft through the streets and it’s exciting to watch them cook your dishes. We went to Tito 2, which did not disappoint. We enjoyed the juiciest tiger prawns, grilled cuttlefish and sardines – I don’t generally like sardines but these were delicious! Then, sleep off your food coma on Matasinhos Beach just 5 minutes walk away!

 

13. Port Wine Tasting

You’ll see plenty of Port wine cellars across Porto, from Real Companhia Velha to Sandeman, which are perfect for a spot of port wine tasting. Discover a bit of the history of port wine on a guided tour of the cellars before sampling the very best options. 

14. Sunset at Jardim do Morro

An absolute must-do! Time your walk across the Luís I Bridge so that you arrive at Jardim do Morro an hour before sunset. People flock here to enjoy golden hour and sunset across Porto with drinks in hand and great company. There are bars and little snack stands so you can enjoy yourself without having to go too far. The perfect way to end your evening in Porto.

Porto needs to be a stop on your European itinerary! This city will reel you in the minute you step foot in it. Just make sure to get your comfortable walking shoes on, since the hills are no joke! A day of exploring Porto will be full of history, beauty and hopefully, plenty of pasteis de nata! 

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