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15 Best Things to Do in Porto (Portugal) 2023

15 Best Things to Do in Porto (Portugal) 2023

15 Best Things to Do in Porto (Portugal) 2023

This list of the best places to visit in Porto will help you not miss anything important in one of the most charming and surprising European cities.

Known for its bridges over the Douro River and its famous wine, Porto is a small city easily explored over a weekend and has nothing to envy its neighbor Lisbon.

Stroll along the Ribeira at sunset, get lost in the Bolhao Market, climb the Clérigos Tower, watch the sunset from the Luis I bridge, eat a francesinha or a Bacalhau a Brás or have a glass of wine in one of The Vila Nova de Gaia wineries are just some of the many things to do in Porto that we are sure will be some of the reasons to visit the city.

Based on the time we spent in this city during our 4-day Porto and Guimaraes trip, included in this Porto guide, we have made this list of what we consider to be the ten important places to see in Porto. Let’s start!

1. Lello e Irmão Bookstore

Things to Do in Porto
Things to Do in Porto

Lello e Irmão, located in a neo-Gothic building from 1906 in the heart of the city, is one of the most beautiful bookstores we have seen in the world and one of the most important places to visit in Porto.

Inspiration for writers such as JK Rowling, who spent two years in the city and drew on it to create some scenes from her successful ” Harry Potter ” saga of novels; this two-story bookstore will take you back more than 100 years thanks to its impressive wooden staircase that will take you to the second floor and the natural light that passes through the stained glass window located on the ceiling.

Once inside, in addition to enjoying all its modernist and neo-Gothic details, we recommend you look for a book on its full wooden shelves to take the best memories of this magical place.

Currently, and due to the large number of tourists who collapsed the store and prevented the work of the staff, the price of 5 euros was set at the entrance, which is discounted if you buy a book.

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An excellent way to start your visit to the city and learn about its fascinating history is to book this free tour of Porto for free! , considered one of the best free tours in Porto, or this more complete tour that includes all entrance fees, both with a guide in Spanish.

We were visiting hours: every two days from 10 am to 8 pm.

2. Clérigos Church and Tower

The Clérigos Church, built between 1735 and 1748 in its baroque style, is another of Porto’s most beautiful places to see.

Built on the ” Hill of the Hanged, “where the executions were carried out, the church has in its 76-meter tower the best viewpoint of the historic center and serves as a reference point so as not to get lost in the city.

During the ascent of the 240 steps, you will see 49 bells that form a carillon, and although it requires a reasonable physical effort, the privileged views obtained from the final part more than makeup for it.

Although the entrance to the church is free, the climb to the tower costs 5 euros or six if you book this fast ticket in advance.

Before paying for the entrance to the Clérigos Tower, it is advisable to check if it is profitable for you to buy the Porto Card, which includes public transport and discounts of up to 50% in numerous attractions in the city, such as this tower. 

You can consult this post about the Porto Card for more information about this tourist card.

We were visiting hours: every day from 9 am to 7 pm.

3. The Ribeira, one of the places to visit in Porto

The walk at sunset or dusk along the banks of the Douro, Cultural Heritage of Humanity, between the Dom Luis I Bridge and the Arrábida Bridge is one of the best experiences in Porto. 

This promenade, known as Cais de Ribeira, is one of the most famous and crowded places in the city thanks to the beautiful colored facades of the buildings and the terraces that are filled with people to eat a good cod or have a glass of wine.

Porto with views of the Douro and Vila Nova de Gaia, located opposite. During the tour, you will see several labels on the shore, traditional Portuguese boats that were used to carry the barrels full of Port wine from the vineyard area to the Vila Nova de Gaia cellars.

An excellent way to enjoy the best views of the Ribeira is to book this cruise on a Rabelo on the Douro River that passes under the six main bridges of the city.

Once you get off the boat, a few meters away is the Casa do Infante, built in 1325 and where the great discoverer Enrique the Navigator was born.

4. Porto Cathedral

Things to Do in Porto

The Sé or Porto Cathedral, located in the upper part of the city, in the Batalha neighborhood, is one of the oldest buildings to visit in Porto and the most religiously important.

This 12th-century church, which has a sober exterior, falls in love with its beautiful Gothic-style cloister decorated with 14th-century tiles that show religious scenes. In addition, you can access the Casa do Cabildo from this area, where sacred objects are considered ” the treasure of the cathedral ” exhibited.

In the Plaza de la Catedral, there is a column formerly used to execute criminals and a terrace from which you can get magnificent views of the city, the Douro River, and Vila Nova de Gaia.

Another of the churches to see in Porto for free, near the Cathedral, is San Lorenzo dos Grilos, built between the 16th and 18th centuries. It stands out for its simplicity and houses the Museum of Sacred Art and Archaeology.

We were visiting hours: every day from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm and from 2:30 pm to 7:00 pm.

5. Do Barredo neighborhood

After visiting the Sé, you can go down the narrow streets and stairs of the old Barrio Do Barredo, a must for all tourists looking for the city’s true essence.

Its neighborhood, located between the Cathedral and the banks of the Duero, is a bit worn, with buildings that look as if they are going to fall and balconies with hanging clothes; although it sad air, its smells, and colors will make you go back in time and discover unique corners that do not usually appear in tourist guides.

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The Miradouro da Rua das Aldas, the Das Largas and Largo da Pena Ventosa streets, the Torre do Barredo, and the ” Escadas do Barredo ” are some of these charming places which will make you only think of meeting this magical city again.

6. Rua de las Flores

Another exciting route you can start at the Cathedral is the one that will take you along Rua de las Flores, a historic pedestrian street and one of the most beautiful in Porto.

This fashionable street is lined with cafes, historic buildings, and traditional shops, such as Mercearia das Flores, specializing in Portuguese products. At the end of the road, near the Church of Mercy, is Miradouro da Vitoria, one of the best viewpoints in Porto.

The area around Rua das Flores is perfect for delicious local food such as Pulpo al Lagareiro at the O Buraquinho da Sé restaurant or the francesinha and Bacalhau a Brás at Petisqueira Voltaria, two of the best restaurants where eat in Porto cheap and well.

7. Bolhao Market, one of the places to see in Porto

The Mercado do Bolhão, inaugurated in 1914 and reopened in 2022 after a few years under restoration, is one of Porto’s most important places to visit.

In the market, you will find all kinds of stalls to eat and sell quality products, from fruit, meat, vegetables, and fish (especially cod), to flowers. The market is spread over two floors, with a large inner courtyard that fills up as the day progresses, so it’s best to go first thing in the morning. 

And even if you do not intend to buy anything, it is interesting to see the daily movement and learn about the life of the locals.

Visiting hours: Monday to Friday from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm; on Saturdays, it closes at 1:00 pm.

8. Rua Santa Catarina

Things to Do in Porto
Things to Do in Porto

Close to the Bolhao market is the pedestrian Santa Catarina, the quintessential shopping street in the center of Porto that goes from Praça do Marquês de Pombal to the Majestic café, modernist in style and the most famous in the city.

During the walk, in addition to restaurants, shops, and a shopping center, you will pass in front of some churches with tiles, such as the beautiful Chapel of Souls and the beautiful facade of the cheese and sausage shop, A Perola do Bolhao.

An excellent place to stop for a snack on this street is the Fábrica da Nata, which makes delicious pastries similar to those in Belém.

A few meters from this street is the façade full of blue and white tiles of the Church of Santo Ildefonso, one of the most beautiful to see in Porto, and the fantastic building of the Sao Joao National Theater.

An excellent way to learn about the history and take advantage of this part of the city is to book this free alternative tour. Free! with a guide in Spanish.

Visiting hours: Monday to Friday from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm; Saturdays and Sundays from 7 am to 1 pm.

9. Stock Exchange Palace

The Palacio de la Bolsa, headquarters of the city’s Commercial Association and built on the ruins of an old Franciscan convent, is another of the most beautiful places to see in Porto.

Declared a National Monument of the country, this neoclassical-style building has a large central patio covered by a glass structure that lets in natural light.

To go up to the second floor, you will go through a granite and marble staircase that will take you to several richly decorated rooms such as the General Assemblies Room, covered in wood; the Golden Room, covered in gold leaf; the Tribunal Room French Renaissance and the picturesque Sala Árabe, inspired by the Alhambra in Granada.

The interior can only be seen on iBook. A guided tour starts every half hour and is carried out in several languages, including Spanish.

Next to the palace is the curious building of the Mercado Ferreira Borges, which houses various exhibitions and a terrace where you can have a drink.

Palace visiting hours: every day from 9 am to 6:30 pm from April to October, the rest of the months from 9 am to 12:30 pm, and from 2 pm to 5:30 pm.

10. Church of San Francisco

Next to the Palacio de la Bolsa is the Church of San Francisco, built in 1245, and another of Porto’s most important places to visit.

Inside this Baroque-style temple are three naves covered with golden carvings (around 300 kilograms of gold dust used), the precious polychrome wooden sculpture of the Tree of Jesse, and the catacombs, which have an extensive ossuary.

Church visiting hours: every day from 9 am to 5 pm from November to February, until 7 pm from March to October, and until 8 pm from July to September.

11. Vila Nova de Gaia

The wine cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia, a city located just opposite Porto, are another of Porto’s most famous tourist attractions.

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To get to Vila Nova de Gaia, we recommend you cross the Dom Luis I metal bridge, inaugurated in 1886 and one of the city’s symbols. Also, if you travel from the top floor at sunset, you will enjoy an incredible evening over Porto and the Douro.

Once in Vila Nova de Gaia, you can take a walk along its riverbank with fantastic views of the colored facades of the Ribeira and then enter a winery to learn about the entire process of making Porto wine with designation of origin. 

Among the best-known are Cálem, Croft, Graham’s, Sandeman, and Ferreira, and in all of them, the guided tour ends by tasting some of their magnificent wines.

After the visit, you can go up to the top of the Dom Luis I bridge by cable car and enjoy the views from the Jardim do Morro.

An excellent way to learn about the neighborhood’s history, which includes a visit to one of the most famous wineries, is to book this tour with a guide in Spanish. 

Another exciting option for wine lovers is to book this guided tour to the Cálem winery or the Sandeman winery, both with a Spanish-speaking guide specializing in Port wines.

12. São Bento Station, one of the places to visit in Porto

Things to Do in Porto
Things to Do in Porto

Even if you don’t have to take a train, it is worth going to the spectacular San Bento station, another of Porto’s most important places.

Built at the beginning of the 9th century on the remains of an old convent, this station impresses with its hall decorated with more than 20,000 tiles that show moments of the country’s history.

The best time to visit it is at sunset when the sun makes its tiles shine and creates a magical atmosphere.

If you are a fan of tiles, we suggest you book this free tour that goes through the main monuments decorated in this style.

13. Walls of Porto

Between the Ponte Luis I and the Santa Clara Convent, one of the jewels of the Portuguese Baroque, is the best-preserved section of the old medieval wall that surrounded Porto, known as the Fernandina Wall.

Another of the most exciting pieces is in the Escadas de Caminho Novo, located near the Ribeira de Porto, which offers a beautiful panoramic view, and in the toilets of the Café da Porta do Olival.

Another wall that still has a section is the Primitiva, which originates in Roman times, in the 3rd century, and surrounded the area of ​​the Cathedral.

To learn more about the history of the city and the walls in the Middle Ages, we recommend this free tour or this tour of medieval Porto.

14. Avenida dos Aliados

Things to Do in Porto

Walking along Avenida dos Aliados, the main square to visit in Porto, surrounded by modernist granite and white marble buildings, until you reach Praça da Liberdade, presided over by the imposing City Hall, is another of the best experiences in the city.

 This free tour of the hidden Porto also begins from this square, one of the most fashionable, allowing you to discover another unknown aspect of the city.

In addition to observing an equestrian statue of Dom Pedro IV and an original fountain, it is worth going into the McDonald that still preserves the modernist style inside, making it one of the most beautiful in the world, and the beautiful Café Guarany.

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Near this avenue is also the Casa da Guitarra de Porto, where you can reserve this show of fado, the traditional Portuguese song, to put the icing on the cake for a day of visits.

15. Crystal Palace Gardens

If you want to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the city, we recommend you go by bus or on foot to the Palacio de Cristal Gardens, another of the most beautiful places to see in Porto.

This Romanesque-style park opened to the public in 1860 is perfect for walking among nature and enjoying incredible views of the Duero River and its mouth in the Atlantic Ocean.

Among its most outstanding places are the Emílio David Garden, Avenida de los Tilos and Avenida de los Castaños, the forest, and a series of thematic gardens such as the Aromatic Plants, Medicines, Roses and Feelings gardens, among others.

If you have more time, you can visit the fantastic Casa da Música building or take a 40-minute walk from the Arrábida bridge to Foz do Douro to enjoy Carneiro beach and the sunset over the Atlantic.

Is 3 days in Porto too much?

Is 3 days in Porto enough? Yes! We think three days is the perfect amount of time to visit Porto. A three day itinerary leaves just enough time for a walking tour to see the main sites, explore the best Port houses in Nova de Gaia, see a Fado show, and still reserve a full day for wine tasting in the Douro Valley.

Is Porto worth visiting?

Although often overlooked by international visitors, Portugal’s second city is well worth visiting. Porto is home to centuries-old architecture, intricately tiled churches and buildings, and some of the best food and drink in Europe. As a bonus, Porto makes a great spot for a beach holiday too.

Is Porto more fun than Lisbon?

Lisbon offers some of the most popular tourist attractions, museums, and sights in Portugal. While Porto has some worthwhile cathedrals and sights (like the Harry Potteresque bookstore), Porto is more about enjoying the city, strolling the streets, taking in views, and tasting Port wine at the Port lodges.

How many days do you need in Porto?

Three days will allow you to explore the city at a more leisurely pace, as well as providing time to visit the museums and lesser-known sights. If you are new to Porto, it is suggested to plan two days in which to fully see the city.

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