Porto is synonymous with great food, friendly and helpful people, and authentic charm. Even though it is a small city, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Those who visit it are almost always itching to return for a second or third time – be it for the food, the views, or the cheerful people.
Take a stroll with us through Portugal‘s second largest city and get to know the narrow streets, the magnificent architecture, the traditions and culture of the city, and of course its people!
These are our favourite 25 things to do in Porto. Get inspired for your next trip!
Bem-vindo ao Porto! = Welcome to Porto!
1. Sit on a terrace in the Ribeira district
Grab a book, drink a Super Bock (or a Sagres) and simply enjoy the moment, watching the world go by while you sit in one of the chic cafes that line the banks of the river… Don’t forget to admire the traditional Rabelo boats that were typically used for wine transportation on the Douro River.
2. Take the tram from the Passeio Alegre to the mouth of the Douro River
Take the line 1 tram and go for a walk in the beautiful area where the Douro meets the Atlantic. A one way trip on the Porto Tram will set you back 3€. Well worth it if you ask us! The rustic tram and winding tram lines make for a great photo backdrop if you’re looking for a interesting setting for your next Instagram post.
3. Take a short cruise down the Douro River
Under the 6 bridges of Porto, board one of the typical “Rabelo barcos”, which in the past were used to transport Port wine. A cruise on a Rabelo Boat can cost anywhere from 15€ to 75€ depending on the route, duration and activities you want to do.
4. Eat lunch out and try the “Francesinha”
The Francesinha is one of the most typical dishes in Porto. It’s a sandwich of different meats, covered in melted cheese and a spicy sauce. The recipe for the sauce remains a closely guarded secret, to this day!
Just about any restaurant or Café in Porto will have some form of Francesinha on their menu. But, for a truly special Francesinha, head to “Café Barcarola” on the Rua de Costa Cabral, number 213. Ask for the one with prawns and shrimp instead of meat. Trust us, it’s glorious!
5. Treat yourself to a delicious treat from one of the many bakeries in Porto
It’s impossible to ignore your sweet tooth after passing by one of the decadent window displays. You can’t go wrong with a “pastéis de Belém” which is a simple, but very popular sweet made of puff pastry and cream.
6. Visit the “Mercado do Bolhão” (Bolhão Market)
The Bolhão Market is one of the most authentic activities you can do in Porto. Locals have been coming here for over a century (the market opened in 1850). Since then, the hustle and bustle has attracted people from all over the country to admire the vibrant colours of the food stands. As you walk in the door, the beautiful fragrance of fresh produce will be the first thing that greets you. Make sure to visit the market on an empty stomach, as you’ll want to try as much food as possible!
The opening times for Bolhão Market are from 7:00am (7hrs) to 5:00pm (17hrs) during the weekdays, and 7:00am (7hrs) to 1:00pm (13:00hrs) on Saturdays.
7. Visit the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art and its magical gardens
What better way to explore a city than stroll through its parks? The magical garden of the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art is well worth a visit for any nature lover. Consisting of 18 hectares and multiple footpaths, it’s a great location for a morning walk or to enjoy the sunset. Walking the paths takes between 1 to 2 hours depending on the one you choose. Admission to the Serralves Park is free on Sunday morning!
8. Visit the art galleries on Rua Miguel Bombard street
Every 2 months there is a Saturday with live music and entertainment on the street. It’s considered one of the most cultural streets of Porto. Besides the art galleries, we also suggest a visit to the Bombarda Shopping Mall.
9. Head to The Lello bookshop
Imagine entering a magical space where you can spend hours and hours… The Lello bookshop provides a magnificent setting where you can learn about the city and is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world! Are you familiar with the Hogwarts library from the Harry Potter books? Well, its design was inspired by the Lello bookstore! It also has a fabulous gift shop where you’ll be able to pick up some innovative souvenirs for your friend and family back home.
10. Visit the Palácio da Bolsa do Porto (Stock Exchange Building)
The stock exchange building is one of the most beautiful buildings in Portugal. Grand and golden, it’s a true feast for the eyes for any architect lover. It’s beauty has been acknowledged by UNESCO, featuring on their list of World Heritage Sites.
11. Cross the Ponte Luís I to the Vila Nova de Gaia district
On any trip to Porto, make sure to make it to the other side of the river. One of the best places to cross is by walking over the Ponte Luis I. Numerous outstanding bars and restaurants will greet you upon your arrival. The panoramic views make this the perfect spot for a romantic dinner in Porto.
12. Plan a visit to the wine cellars and sample the world famous Port wine
Inside the “Caves” (cellars), you’ll learn everything you need to know about the tradition and iconic figures related to the Port wine and the Douro region. Not to mention having a sip or two with some cheese or cured ham.
13. See a concert at the Casa da Música
The Casa de Música is A fantastic work of architecture. The geometrically shaped building was designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Check to see what’s on when you’re visiting Porto, and enjoy a night of culture!
14. Attend a theatrical performance in the Teatro Nacional de São João
In 1920, the Teatro Nacional de São João was inaugurated for the second time after being completely destroyed by a fire. If you don’t have a ticket for a show, you can still go inside to see the fantastic theatre. Take a guided tour and you’ll be able to visit the palatial main auditorium, as well as some rehearsal rooms and dressing rooms.
15. Visit the free photo exhibitions at the Centre Português de Fotografia
The Centre Português de Fotografia is located on the premises of a former prison (Cadeia da Relação). See if you can spot the original prison doors which are still in use today! There is a free entrance policy from Tuesday to Friday, from 10:00am (10hrs) to 6:00pm (18:00hrs).
16. Travel back in time to the Portuguese Belle Époque
Have a cup of tea at Café Majestic. It feels more Paris than Porto, and is perhaps one of the most glamorous venues in the city. Founded in 1921, it is also undoubtedly one of the oldest cafés in Porto.
17. Go shopping on Rua de Santa Catarina
Sometimes a spot of shopping is just what we need on a weekend away. Treasures we buy on our trips abroad are undoubtedly some of our favourite possessions. Plus, there’s all those souvenirs to buy too! The Rua de Santa Cantarina is a bustling street of various business. From traditional shops, arts & crafts booths and street artist performances.
18. Relax with a walk through the gardens of the Palacio de Cristal
Tended emerald green lawns and a cool calm aura. The gardens around the Palacio de Cristal are a true oasis in the city. Enjoy a morning walking around here. You’ll be blown away by the breathtaking view over the Douro River.
19. Breathe in the tranquility of the city by walking to the Avenida dos Aliados
Whilst most buildings in Porto are an architects dream, there are some that stand out even more. The Avenida dos Aliados is home to some of the most spectacular buildings in the city. Grab a coffee to go and enjoy the neighborhood!
20. Visit the Estádio do Dragão soccer stadium
Football fans, this is for you. Make sure to catch an FC Porto game when you’re in the city. Even if you’re not a football fan, the stadium is well worth the visit just to experience the atmosphere of such a vibrant stadium.
21. Climb the 240 steps of the Torre dos Clérigos
Yes, 240 steps is quite a way up, but just look at is as a fun way to burn off those extra Pastéis de nata. From the top of the Torre dos Clérigos you can see views of the entire city.
22. Sit at one of Café Piolho’s tables and be charmed by its bohemian atmosphere
Inaugurated in 1909, Café Piolho continues to be one of the most important meeting points in Porto for students and intellectuals of the city.
23. Walk through the Galeria de Paris area and nearby streets
To see a more cosmopolitan side of the city and experience the night life. There you will find plenty of bars, restaurants, and a lively atmosphere.
24. See a live fado performance
This is a traditional Portuguese music genre. Try to understand the true essence of the Portuguese word “saudade”…
25. Celebrate São João (Saint John) on the 24th of June in Porto
São João is an important celebration in Porto. Join the bailaricos (street dances) scattered around the city and eat roasted sardines while enjoying the longest night of the year. Colourful fireworks will light up the sky all night long. Reserve a spot on a rooftop if you want to enjoy the festivities from the top, or be part of the street parties on the ground. Either way, São João is great fun!
So now’s your chance! Book your flights to Porto with TAP Portugal and experience all 25 of these suggestions in Porto!
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