Top Things to Do in Porto, Portugal
Porto is Portugal’s second largest city and is nestled in one of the world’s leading wine regions alongside the Douro River. From admiring the colorful building facades to tasting port wine, you’ll instantly fall in love with its rich history, kindhearted people and delicious food.
Here are 11 reasons why this charming city should be on your next European itinerary…
Cais da Ribeira
Make sure to eat at least one of your meals or enjoy a drink in Porto’s breathtaking riverside area. You’ll have plenty of options, as it is lined with restaurants, cafes, and bars. During the day, you’ll get the best view of the stacked pastel-colored houses and the famous Dom Luís I Bridge. A stroll down this riverfront, amongst the locals & other fellow travelers, is unforgettable.
Dom Luís I Bridge
The iconic Dom Luís I Bridge crosses the Douro River - it’s so large, you can’t miss it! The bridge was designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel, the designer of the Eiffel Tower, and is similar in design. You can cross the lower deck which is open to cars and pedestrians or the top level for some of the best views of the city!
Port Wine Cellars
A visit to the Port wine cellars is a wine-lover must. As the famous home of Port wine, the city offers guided tours and tastings in many of their port houses all located on the southern side of the Duoro River (in Vila Nova de Gaia across the Ponte Luis I Bridge). Take in the fascinating history of your favorite cellar (feel free to cellar-hop!) while sipping on the good stuff. Quick note - advance reservations are preferred!
Sao Bento Train Station
The Sao Bento Train station is one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. It is known for having beautiful tiles on the inside and being lit up beautifully at night. It offers metro and tram connections to the city and beautiful beaches.
The city of Porto is all about it’s coffee culture - no matter the time of day! If you find yourself on the beautiful street of Santa Caterina, take a break to have a cup of coffee at the famous Majestic Cafe. It may be the most expensive cup you’ll have during your stay, as this cafe is a tourist’s dream, but the strikingly romantic atmosphere & architecture will make it worth it. So will the fact that J.K. Rowling used to be a regular while writing her first Harry Potter book while she lived in Porto!
Pastel de Nata
If you’re traveling to Portugal, you can’t leave until you have Pastel de Nata. You can find this pastry almost everywhere you dine in Portugal. Pastel De Nata is a custard filled tart dusted with cinnamon and might we add - dangerously delicious.
The minute you enter Porto you’ll see the Bolsa Palace. This palace was once used as the HQ of the Porto’s Chamber of Commence and where the stock market was housed. In order to enter the palace, you need to join a guided tour – which we recommend booking in advance. The biggest surprise at the end of the tour *spoiler alert* is the Arab Hall which took 18 years to finish and is truly the highlight of this Palace.
A visit to Porto is not complete without trying their famous Francesinha. Originating in Porto, the “little Frenchie” is a massive sandwich layered with bread, cheese, ham, sausage, fried egg and covered in melted cheese. And as if that’s not enough to satisfy your taste buds, it’s also served with French fries that you can dip in it’s beer sauce!
Livraria Lello is one of the oldest bookstores in the world and it’s also one of the most beautiful. As soon as you enter, you’ll be captivated by its architecture, especially the stunning spiral staircase in the center of the store. Rumor has it that this store is the inspiration behind J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books! Tickets should be purchased in advanced to avoid a long wait - the store sees 5,000 visitors per day!
Clérigos Church and Tower
Sitting on a hilltop, Clérigos Church is one of the most iconic churches in Porto and can be seen from afar. From the top of of it’s tower you can experience amazing 360-degree views over the Douro River and the red-roofed houses. It’s well worth the 225 step climb!
If you’re looking for the chance to give your Uber app a break, you can do so during your stay in Porto by hopping on a Tuk Tuk at least once. These three-wheeled, open-air, motorized vehicles can be found all over the city, no reservation needed. They offer a fun alternative for traveling and/or sightseeing.
Image source: @mistersullivan
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