Wondering what things to do in Porto? We got you!
Porto’s charms are numerous, and the city’s laid-back vibe provides travellers to Europe with a much-needed respite from the faster-paced, museum-packed cities nearby. In Porto, you can enjoy stunning views of the Rio Douro while strolling across the Dom Luis I Bridge, as well as the beach landscape on the city’s western coast and the vibrancy of the UNESCO World Heritage Ribeira District. There are so many things to do in Porto.
The best things to do in Porto are essentially a collection of various ways to fall in love with this city. Don’t put up a fight. Speaking of drinking, prepare to sip and saunter through Vila Nova de Gaia’s finest wine lodges to sample the region’s famed port.
Those interested in history and culture will appreciate visits to the Porto Cathedral, the So Bento Railway Station, and the Stock Exchange Palace. Meanwhile, art lovers can visit the Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis or the Serralves Foundation’s contemporary art museum to see paintings, sculptures, and other works. Let’s find out things to do in Porto. This place is brimming with surprises. Check out the 16 best things to do in Porto right now for a perfect introduction.
16 Things to Do in Porto
We made this list containing some amazing things to do in Porto. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s find out what are the best things to do in Porto.
1. Livraria Lello
It is one of the country’s and the world’s most iconic bookstores. It is located in the heart of Porto and is part of the city’s historical heritage.
It was founded in 1906 at 144 Rua das Carmelitas. And it has remained there to this day, with its neogothic architecture, carved wood, golden columns, and ornate ceilings that serve as a distinctive calling card. However, this historic structure is not only there to be admired; approximately 300,000 books are removed from the high shelves distributed on both floors each year.
If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series, you’ll know that this bookstore was an inspiration for author J.K. Rowling, who lived in Porto.
2. Royal Cocktail Club
The Royal Cocktail Club is a speciality cocktail bar located in Baixa in a 100-year-old building.
Because the house’s signature cocktails are idealized and prepared by four bartenders with extensive experience: Daniel Carvalho, Tatiana Cardoso, José Mendes, and – the most well-known and awarded – Carlos Santiago. There are also non-alcoholic alternatives, known as mocktails. On the lower level, where entry is only by reservation, there are board games that involve (of course) alcohol, a good time, and friends.
3. Clérigos Tower
It is one of the city’s largest (if not the largest) ex-libris. And a trip through Invicta (another name for Porto) would be incomplete without a stop at this monument. It’s like going to Rome and not paying a visit to the Pope.
Nicolau Nasoni, an architect, proposed a bell tower project in 1753. Construction began the following year and took nine years to complete. The inauguration took place in 1763 after the iron cross was installed on top, and the image of Saint Paul was placed in the niche above the door. This tower was built in the Baroque style on an uneven street.
Best wishes to the artist!
One of the best views of the city can be found at the top of this 75-meter-tall tower. But there are 225 steps for you to get there. We promise it will be worthwhile.
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4. Vila Nova De Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia (or simply Gaia) is a separate town located in the south of Douro River, across the Ponte Luis I Bridge from Ribeira in Porto. It is famous for being the location for various warehouses (caves) and port wine lodges and the historic centre of the port wine trade.
The port-wine lodges provide tastings and tours (in English) as well as the opportunity to purchase one or few bottles of vintage port. Barros, Calem, Croft, Cockburn, Ferreira, Graham’s, Osbourne, Kopke, Ramos Pinto, Taylor, Sandeman, Fladgate, and Yeatman are among the wine lodges in the area. Some of the lodges are also known to have introductory films and museums which are based on the port-theme.
The spa and outer pool at the Yeatman, a wine lodge-run hotel in Vila Nova de Gaia, offer five-star luxury and stunning city views. Wine cellar houses have one of the world’s best possible collection of Portuguese wine.
There are also many restaurants, shops and cafes along the front-side, from which you can get great views of Porto’s skyline. Several riverboat trips over the Duoro begin in Gaia.
5. Sé do Porto (Porto Cathedral)
The Porto Cathedral (known as the Sé) is situated on a hilltop overlooking the city. It was built in between the 12th and 13th centuries which is also known to feature a lot of architectural styles, including baroque, gothic and Romanesque. The church which is similar to a fortress is the city’s largest and one of the city’s oldest monuments; twin towers flank it.
The Sé has a simple stone facade, but inside this place lies an outstanding stained-glass rose window, a silver altarpiece that was once used as the bishop’s study and a collection of centuries-old sculptures. On the other hand, the cloister is decorated with white ceramic tiles and cobalt depicting various scenes from religious history.
Most visitors agree that while the exterior is impressive, the interior is exquisite and that visiting cloister and the church is worth an hour or some more. Because of its vantage point, this attraction is also popular with visitors. You can walk along the terrace outside the church and admire (and photograph) the views of Porto’s terracotta-coloured rooftops below.
6. Port Wine Tastings & Tours
A trip to Porto would be incomplete without sampling the city’s most famous export: port wine. There are dozens of wine cellars in Porto, and there is even a Port Wine Museum dedicated to teaching the history of the port wine trade and production development. If you’re more interested in drinking, visit one (or more) of Porto’s top wineries.
Ferreria, Sandeman, and Offley cellars are all owned by Sogrape Vinhos. Begin at Ferreira, the westernmost winery built in 1751 and has long played an important role in Porto’s winemaking history due to its notable winemaker family. Continue east along Avenida Ramos Pinto until you reach Sandeman Porto Cellars.
Sandeman is one of the region’s most recognizable wine cellars, located along the picturesque banks of the Douro River and featuring massive white lettering spelling out the winery’s name. This winery also has paintings, photographs, antique bottles, and other trinkets that depict the Sandeman brand’s history.
Offley Cellars is located south of Sandeman and was built in 1737. It is the oldest cellar owned by the Sogrape Vinhos brand. A one-time visit to one of the Sogrape Vinhos cellars to tour and sample wines ranges in price from 14 to 42 euros (approximately $15.50 to $47), depending on the type of experience desired. (Some packages include tastings of a wider range of wines, while others promise a more intimate experience and include tapas samplings as well.)
7. Café Santiago
If you visit Porto, you must try Francesinha. This decadent, over-the-top meat-filled sandwich is a must-try in Porto. The meat, bread, cheese, and gravy dish is suitable for any time of day.
Francesinha was created by Daniel Silva, a Portuguese citizen, and means “little Frenchie” in French. Silva, who was living in France, wanted to create his own version of the popular Croque monsieur. As a result, he invented the Francesinha, which has since become a Porto institution. A Francesinha is a sandwich that consists of various meats, cheeses, and bread. After that, the dish is topped with an egg, beer sauce, and fries.
Many restaurants and bars now claim to have the best Francesinha in Porto. While there are many places in Porto where you can try Francesinha, Café Santiago is a safe bet.
8. Ponte da arrábida
The Arrábida Bridge, also known as the Ponte da Arrábida in Portuguese, is an arch bridge that spans the Douro River gorge between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal. The bridge, which was completed in 1963, carries a six-lane roadway 25 meters (82 feet) wide and is supported 52 meters (170 feet) above the river.
Its overall length of 493 meters (1,617 feet) includes a 270-meter-long (885-foot) reinforced-concrete arch, which was the largest in the world at the time of its completion. Since 2016, tours have allowed pedestrians to traverse the archway while wearing safety equipment.
9. Palácio Da Bolsa
The Porto Commercial Association owns Palácio da Bolsa do Porto, it is a nineteenth-century building located in the Praça do Infante D. Henrique, Porto’s former commercial and economic heart.
The palace is no longer used as a stock exchange because it serves as the Association’s headquarters and is primarily used for major events such as weddings and official receptions. Queen Elizabeth II was welcomed to Palácio da Bolsa, in the year 1957 in a grand ceremony.
It was constructed in 1842 on the ruins of the St. Francis Convent, which in turn was burned down during the Civil War in 1833. As they didn’t have a building, Porto’s people in business traded on the streets between 1833 and 1842. The palace’s predominant styles are Palladian and British Neoclassical, which can be seen, for example, in the pursuit of perfect symmetry throughout the building’s volume.
The interiors of this place are known for their amazing artistic variety, with ceiling paintings, wall paintings, sculptures, and various other artistic decorations. Several different national coats were painted on the ceiling in the hall: England, Portugal, Italy, Russia, Brazil, Austria, and so on. It is customary for visitors to try to identify each of the countries. Soares dos Reis, Marques da Silva, Lopes Teixeira, Henrique Medina, and António Ramalho among others, collaborated on its decoration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Inside, you’ll find a wonderful mix of decorative arts and artistic styles, as seen in various other movements. The Arab Room and its surroundings are noteworthy, as they are reminiscent of the atmosphere of the 1001 Arab Nights. Today, the space is used for music concerts. In case of any concert scheduled during your visit to Porto, we assure you that it is well worth your money.
The House of Prince Museum has located a short distance from the river. The Wine Quay Bar is a great place to go for a glass of wine and some other delicious Portuguese food. You can catch the tram just around the corner from Palácio da Bolsa for travelling to Foz while admiring the riverside beauty of Porto on your way to the sea.
10. Dom Luis I Bridge
The Dom Luis I bridge is a landmark in Porto. It spells the Douro River, connecting Vila Nova de Gaia’s Port wine houses to Porto’s downtown Ribeira district. Between the 1881 and 1886, the bridge was built next to an already existing bridge that was later replaced by it. The original granite pillars of the bridge still stands like gate posts on the Ribeira.
The bridge’s passing resemblance to its neighbouring bridge, which is called the Dona Maria Pia bridge, is most likely no coincidence. Both bridges are massive and intricate ironwork structures with a massive arch that supports the transitway. It’s not surprising given that the D. Maria Pia bridge was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the man behind the Paris Tower!
Until work on the Dom Luis bridge began, the D. Maria Pia Bridge, which opened in 1876, held the record for the longest span of any bridge of this type. The two bridges were named after Portugal’s then-king, Luis I, and his wife, Maria Pia of Savoy.
This was an impressive engineering feat, with a span of 172 meters (564 feet) and a height of 44.6 meters (146 feet). Téophile Seyrig, the designer this time, had previously worked on the previous project with the Eiffel Tower and proved himself to be a capable engineer with this bridge.
The two levels of the Ponte Dom Luis I, one on top of the arch and the other suspended beneath it, are one of its most notable features. Both decks were built to carry road traffic, but the top now houses Porto Metro trains as well as a pedestrian walkway. Crossing on the upper level is worthwhile, though, at 60 meters (190 feet) above the Douro, it may not be for everyone!
Things to do in Porto: Book your Dom Luis Bridge tickets.
11. Miradouro da Vitória
Miradouro is the word used in Portuguese for viewpoint, and the Miradouro da Vitória is one of the most well-known in Porto. The scenic view present over the Ribeira is one of the great ways for taking in some of the main sights of the city. The Se, The Dom Luis bridge and the Bishop’s Palace all rise over the patchwork of terracotta roofs beneath.
Things to do in Porto: Visit for more information Miradouro da Vitória.
12. Igreja De São Francisco
On the outside, the Igreja de S. Francisco has a stone facade with elements of gothic and baroque styles, but step inside, and you’ll see gold: lots and lots of it. The columns, vaulted ceilings, and walls of this church, which began to take shape in 1245, are adorned with an abundance of giltwood carvings (reportedly more than 800 pounds of gold). The Tree of Jesse, a massive family tree sculpture that traces Christ’s genealogy and dates back to 1718, is a traveller favourite among the glitz.
The Igreja de So Francisco is located in the heart of Porto, right next to the Palácio da Bolsa. It is easily accessible via the Sao Bento metro stop on the D (yellow) line. It is also accessible via bus lines 1, 23, 49, and 57, as well as tram line 1.
The church is open daily from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. From November to February, starting at 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. From March to October, beginning at 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. From July to September. Admission is 3.50 euros (approximately $4) for adults and 2.50 euros (approximately $2.75) for students. Services are no longer held here regularly, but the church does host classical music concerts and religious ceremonies such as weddings and baptisms, so make room in your schedule to return later if necessary.
Its interior is embellished with intricately carved panels that are all covered in a layer of gold leaf. It’s a stunning work of art that took decades to complete. The magnificent structure hasn’t always been decked out in these opulent gold accents. It was given a precious metal makeover in the 1700s, amid centuries of turmoil.
During the early nineteenth-century Napoleonic invasions, the friars fled, and the convent was occupied by the invading troops. They plundered the church, took some panels with them, and used the church as a stable to add even further insult. The church is located in Porto’s historic centre, and several buses stop in Infante Dom Henrique Square, directly in front of the door. It is also possible to travel by tram, as the end of Line 1 is directly ahead.
The walking tour, on the other hand, is the most recommended. The church is close to other tourist attractions, being only five minutes from Ribeira and 15 minutes from Aliados Avenue and Porto-São Bento Railway Station. There is also a smaller church next to Igreja de So Francisco with an interesting crypt beneath it.
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13. Rua das Flores
The Rua das Flores was built on land which was owned by the Bishop of Porto in the early 16th century. By the nineteenth century, the street was known to have some of the most luxurious and expensive shops in the city, including goldsmiths.
Nowadays, the street is filled with restaurants, chic cafes, souvenir shops, and hip boutiques that lead down to the Museu da Misericórdia do Porto,the Igreja da Misericórdia, and the Largo Sao Domingos.
In the summer, the street is generally pedestrianized and is usually crowded with tourists. It, in turn, draws street performers and musicians for entertaining the crowds.
Some of the buildings have beautiful tilework and wrought-iron balconies. If you want to stay close to this trendy street, try the Myo Design House or Casa dos Lóios Boutique Guesthouse. Both are housed in renovated historical buildings with modern amenities.
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14. Caves Sandeman
Caves Sandeman is housed in an 1811 granite building in Vila Nova de Gaia, overlooking the river and facing Porto’s historic centre.
During this tour, you will learn more about the Sandeman wine tradition and the ageing process and have the opportunity to taste some Ruby and Tawny wines in a contemporary room or a private room where you can also admire our antique bottle collection. At Caves Sandeman, there will be more wine tasting.
15. Douro river
The Douro (many believe the name is derived from the Portuguese for “golden”) is the third-longest river on the Iberian Peninsula, flowing westward from its origins in north-central Spain. It forms part of the border between Spain and Portugal, then cuts across northern Portugal to the Atlantic coast, where it empties into the Atlantic at Porto.
A cruise down the Douro River is one of the most popular things to do in Porto. The river flows through five provinces of Castile and León in Spain, while its Portuguese section forms the heart of the Douro River Valley Pinheiro – one of the world’s oldest wine-producing regions, active for nearly 2,000 years. The region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the birthplace of the world-famous Port wine.
16. Majestic cafe
The amazing things to do in Porto: visit Majestic Cafe, a very fancy cafe in Porto’s city centre, which was built in 1921. Its attractiveness and particular significance in Porto led to its designation as a public-interest location in 1983. Furthermore, it is designated as a cultural heritage site.
A comprehensive restoration program was implemented, and it reopened in 1994. Originally, the cafe was a meeting place for the elite, such as artists, writers, and politicians. J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, used to spend a lot of time in this cafe while living in Porto and working on her first Harry Potter book. Majestic was also frequented by Kubitshek, a former president of Brazil.
Majestic Café is Porto’s most beautiful cafe. It ranks among the top ten most beautiful cafes in the world. It was founded in 1921 under the name Elite. It’s on Santa Catarina Street, the city’s main pedestrian walkway. It’s impossible to overlook. The exterior is lovely, but once inside, your mouth opens, and the sound “UAU” escapes!
This cafe used to be a gathering place for the city’s elite. Writers, politicians, artists, and philosophers You name it, it’s there. At the time, the city’s elites met in various cafes around town to exchange ideas and discuss various topics over a cup of coffee or a glass of absinthe.
Time had taken its toll, and the location had fallen into disrepair. The glitz of “la belle époque” gave way to irresponsibility, and Majestic Café was no longer majestic! After two years of reconstruction, the Majestic reopened in 1994, bringing back the glamour of the 1920s and giving the cafe back to Porto!
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So have you decided what amazing things to do in Porto? If yes, which of the above-listed do you want to do? Comment below to let us know.
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