I’m totally in love with Porto’s cuisine, culture, architecture, and vibe. The city has a perfect combination of vibrant city life and small-town charm, offering countless activities and experiences for travelers.
In this travel guide, I’m going to share my favorite things to do in Porto, from sipping port wine to soaking the fantastic view across the Duoro River.
Take the lazy cruise
An excellent way to catch a glimpse of Porto is taking a cruise along the Duoro River. Several companies offer long-hour boat rides along the historic waterfront at around 15€.
Taking this cruise, you’ll have great insights into the port city while enjoying beautiful Porto landmarks along the river bank.
Porto cruise details
The short Six-bridges cruise leaves from the waterfront in the Ribeira district daily 10 am – 6:30 pm in summer and until 5 pm off-season. The journey is about 50 minutes.
You can also take a day-trip cruise to Peso da Régua or Pinhão and return to Porto by train. The cruise includes breakfast and/or lunch.
Expect to spend about €70 to Peso da Régua and €75-100 to Pinhão depending on the package.
Please check the Rota Do Duoro cruise website for more details.
Visit Portuguese Centre of Photography
I accidentally stumbled upon the Portuguese Centre of Photography, and it was a pleasant visit.
Once a prison, this museum now houses a fascinating collection of photographs and showcases camera development.
I was surprised to walk through the thick iron gates and into the cells to see the exhibition. It felt surreal, especially when I was the only visitor in the museum.
My favorite part is the collection of cameras spanning every decade on the 3rd floor of the museum.
Portuguese Centre of Photography ticket price and opening hours
- Ticket prices: It’s free to visit the Portuguese Centre of Photography.
- Opening hours: 10am-12.30pm & 2-6pm Tue-Fri; 3 pm to 7 pm Sat & Sun.
Ride Porto vintage trolly
Riding a vintage trolly is also one of my favorite things to do in Porto.
You can get a superb overview of the scenic old town and a trip out to the ocean park beach using three vintage trolley lines, number 1, 18, and 22.
Trolley #1 will take you along the Douro River from the Ribeira, past the Tramway Museum, to the Jardim do Passeio Alegre. From there, you can take a 10-minute walk to the Foz district and the Atlantic Ocean.
Trolley #18 starts at Carmo Church, past Vila Nova de Gaia, to the Tramway Museum.
Trolley #22 makes an excellent loop through the city center, beginning at Carmo Church and passing Avenida dos Aliados, São Bento Praça da Batalha, and the funicular.
See the Azulejos motifs
Azulejos motifs with blue-and-white cement tiles are used everywhere in Portugal, and I love spotting them.
Textures of flowers, people, and animals are painted on the brick background, decorating houses and beautiful indoor frescoes.
While there are colorful Azulejos, blue and white motifs are the most popular ones.
You can see several buildings and at least three major churches in Porto using this pattern for exterior design.
Stop by São Bento train station
I’ve never thought a train station would be an attraction, but São Bento is a special one.
Once a Benedictine convent, São Bento was transformed into a train station and has welcomed guests since the 1870s.
The station features beautiful Azulejos with paintings depicting historical events of the Duoro region.
Visit Livraria Lello Bookstore
Livraria Lello is one of the oldest and most beautiful bookstores in the world.
There’re rumors that this bookstore was the inspiration for Harry Porter, as J.K. Rowlings frequently visited here while she taught English in Porto.
The interior design of Livraria Lello is really stunning.
While its beautiful red spiral staircase is the store’s centerpiece, the sturdy shelves and stained-glass ceiling compete for visitors’ attention.
Livraria Lello ticket price and opening hours
- Ticket price: €5. You can redeem the voucher when you buy books here.
- Opening hours: Livraria Lello opens from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm.
Walk along Rua de Santa Catarina
Rua de Santa Catarina is Porto’s main shopping street, filled with playful architectural touches, inviting shops, cafes, and restaurants.
If you need anything, from port wine, groceries to clothes and other gifts, you can pretty much find anything here.
The street is bustling at all times, with lots of things going on.
A stroll along this charming street offers an excellent opportunity for window shopping and people-watching.
Visit Café Majestic
Located at Rua de Santa Catarina, Café Majestic is listed in the top 10 most beautiful cafés in the world. Both its façade and interior design are gorgeous with impressive decoration.
This coffee shop is also an important historical building as many politicians, writers, and intellectuals met here in the 20th century.
I stopped by Café Majestic after Livraria Lello bookstore and waited in line for my visit.
Their menu was quite simple, with a basic coffee was around 5€. While my drink was not too special, the service was amicable, and the vibe was lovely.
It felt like I traveled back in time, and I had a pleasant time admiring the unique decoration.
Café Majestic opening hours and address
- Opening hours: Café Majestic opens from Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 11:30 pm.
- Address: Rua Santa Catarina 112, 4000-442 Porto, Portugal
Wander around the old town
Porto is quite hilly, so walking here is a bit challenging but rewarding at the same time. A comfortable pair of shoes is a must for a busy day out.
I totally loved wandering around the old town.
You’ll soon have to walk steep slopes and numerous small hills, but by doing so, you can captivate each moment of your trip. A bonus is that you’ll find off-the-beaten paths that are not in any guidebook.
If you’re too tired, don’t hesitate to take a taxi or call an Uber. They’ll save you a lot of climbing.
Visit Igreja do Carmo
Located in the heart of the old city, the 18th-century Igreja do Carmo is a must-see in Porto.
Known as the Chapel of Souls, this church is covered in tiles that represent moments in the life of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Catherine.
The exterior design of the church is exquisite and extraordinary. Classical architecture combined with beautiful murals on the outside wall creates a unique look for the church.
The inside of the church is also richly decorated, which is well worth a look.
Carmo church information
- Address: Rua Carmo, Porto 4050-164
- Transportation: Tram 18 – Carmo
- Opening hours: 10 am – 6 pm
Relax at Praça de Gomes Teixeira
Opposite the Carmo church is Praça de Gomes Teixeira square, with a stunning Fountain of Lions as its main attraction.
The Fonte dos Leões (Fountain of Lions) is a beautiful sculpture depicting four lions with wings facing different directions. Its story dates back to 1882 as a project to meet municipal water needs.
You can also see the University of Porto’s building on the back. Founded in 1911, the University of Porto is the second-largest one in Portugal, giving the neighborhood a young and lively vibe.
There are several student cafes, bars, and delicious eatery in the area, offering great choices for dinner and night out activities.
Visit Bolhao Market
Located in the city’s center, Mercado do Bolhão is a lovely place to visit in Porto.
Opened in 1914, Bolhao Market has a variety of fresh produce, meat, fish, flowers, and homemade wares at very affordable prices. It’s my to-go place to get some quick bites during my stay here.
Francesinha was the first dish that I tried in Porto.
It’s a combination of melted cheese, bread, wet-cured ham, sausages, roasted meat, and rich sauce. Together, they form an explosive mix of tastes.
Go street art hunting
A stroll around Porto is rewarding with bursts of color and artwork.
You can easily spot graffiti on any small street of Porto. Eye-catching images with vibrant colors bring out the irreplaceable beauty of the city.
World of Discoveries
Taking a boat ride along the timeline of the Portuguese discovery was one of my favorite things to do in Porto.
This interactive museum and theme park recreate amazing journeys of the Portuguese navigators, crossing oceans to discover an unknown world.
If you don’t know much about Portuguese history, you’ll get to learn about Portuguese discoveries, culture, and products.
The boat ride takes 20 minutes. You should spend about 1 to 2 hours here as there are lots of exciting facts and realistic exhibits.
Explore the Ribeira district
Porto’s romantic riverfront, the Ribeira district, is the city’s most scenic and touristy quarter. Before tourism, it was a busy port.
I love strolling along the banks of the Duoro River at Bairro da Ribeira and admiring the remains of Baroque architecture.
You can find several restaurants, cafes, and bars in the neighborhood that still retain the old-style architecture. There are lots of shop vendors along the shores of the Douro River.
Behind the arcades are skinny and colorful old buildings, growing close together, covered with red tile colors.
Exploring Bairro da Ribeira, be prepared to get lost in the labyrinth of small, narrow, winding streets paved with ancient stones.
Don’t forget to wear proper walking shoes because the area is quite hilly.
Walk across Ponte Luis I
From Bairro da Ribeira, walk to the double-decker iron bridge crossing the Duoro River.
Ponte Luis I bridge was inspired by Gustave Eiffel, and it used to be the biggest bridge in the world in the 1880s.
The lower deck has regular traffic with narrow walkways, and the upper deck is reserved for pedestrians and trams.
For amazing views of Porto, you should walk the upper deck. It’s an excellent place to see Porto from above.
Watching the sunset on the river from Ponte Luis bridge was a fantastic experience. The water was sparkling, and the houses were coated with beautiful sunlight.
Take a cable car
This five-minute cable ride offers a scenic view and is excellent for connecting the upper and lower parts of Vila Nova de Gaia. While it’s a bit pricy, I think the experience is worth it.
Teleférico de Gaia cable car ticket price and opening hours
- Ticket price: €6 one-way, €9 round-trip
- Opening hours: Porto cable car opens daily 10 am to 8 pm or 6 pm in the winter.
Tour the Stock Exchange Palace
The Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa) is the headquarters of the Commercial Association of Porto (Associação Comercial do Porto).
With construction over 70 years, this building is one of the most extraordinary landmarks in Portugal.
You can only view its lavish interior with a 30-minute tour which costs €9.
There are six tours in English per day, and you’ll need to call or drop by to book your spot. Reserving a tour online is not available.
Bolsa Palace opening hours, ticket price, and address
- Opening hours: The Stock Exchange Palace opens daily from 9 am to 6:30 pm
- Tour price: €9
- Address: R. de Ferreira Borges, 4050-253 Porto, Portugal
Visit Igreja de São Francisco
São Francisco church is the most prominent Gothic monument in Porto. Its construction started in 1383 and finished in 1425.
The main attractions here are the church and the catacombs.
The church is stunning, even though it was damaged by Napoleon and by the Portuguese during the 19th-century civil war.
I was amazed at the interior’s lavish gilded woodwork.
You can see gold everywhere: the altars, statues, and ceilings. Also, the carvings are very detailed, representing birds, cherubs, and foliage.
São Francisco church ticket price and opening hours
- Entrance fee: €6. The admission fee also gives access to the catacombs and the museums.
- Opening hours: São Francisco church opens daily from 9 am to 8 pm or 5:30 from October to February.
Tour São João National Theater
Teatro Nacional São João is one of the must-see buildings of Porto.
The original building was constructed at the end of the 18th century. However, the theater was rebuilt because a fire in 1908 destroyed most of its interior design.
You can take an excellent tour that walks you through the public and private areas of this elegant theater.
Teatro Nacional São João ticket price and address
- Tour price: São João National Theater tour costs €5 or €3 with a Porto card.
- Address: Praça da Batalha. 4000-102 Porto.
See the Rabelos boats
Porto’s formation and development history are closely related to the mighty Douro River.
Across the river is a harbor lined with traditional boats called Rabelos.
Since ancient times, people have used boats to transport wooden wine barrels from the inland vineyards down to Porto. These boats have flat bottoms, a big square sail, and a long rudder so they can navigate the twisty and shallow rivers.
Today in modern times, wine is transported by large ships. However, you can still see the Rabelos boats along the river as reminiscent of the past.
Historically, these cargo boats transported kegs of wine from vineyards.
Try port wine
It will be a miss if you visit Porto without sipping port wine.
Port wine is a medium sweet wine with around 20% alcohol. You can sample port wine in most restaurants or wineries in Porto.
What is the difference between port wine and traditional red wine?
The traditional wine has complete fermentation, while the port wine is fortified.
So they stop the fermentation the second day by adding a really strong wine spirit such as brandy that has 77% alcohol and kills all the yeasts.
Visit wine cellars
Another exciting thing to do in Porto is to visit a winery.
Facing the riverfront are warehouses where the port wines are waiting to mature.
Port grapes are grown, and port wine is produced in the Douro Valley. Then, it’s shipped downstream to Vila Nova de Gaia.
After a year-old wine is off-loaded from the boats, it ages even longer here in these enormous barrels. This aging may take years and even decades.
How does a wine tasting tour work?
There are 18 wine lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia town, just across the river from Porto. These lodges offer fascinating tours and wine tastings.
A basic tasting tour costs €12 and takes about 30 minutes, including a warehouse visit, an introduction video, sometimes a small museum, and two tastings.
You’ll learn about traditional wine production, from harvesting, processing, distilling, and bottling.
At the end of the tour is for wine tasting, where you’ll sample different types of wine with cheese.
Which wine company should you choose?
My Portuguese friend recommended Sandman, the most popular port winery in the area. You can also try fancier lodges such as Taylor and dine with stunning views at Barão Fladgate – Taylor’s restaurant.
Visit the Tramway Museum
Museu do Carro Eléctrico (Tramway museum) is a fascinating place to learn more about the history of trolleys in different periods.
The museum features several tram modals in an old power generation building. It’s a quick 30-minute visit for those interested in Porto history and trams.
Tramway museum ticket price, opening hours, and getting there
- Ticket price: The entrance fee to the Tramway museum is €8, and you can get a discount with an all-day trolley pass.
- Opening hours: Tramway museum opens Monday 2 pm – 6 pm, Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.
- How to get to the Tramway museum: You can take tram #1 or #18.
Visit Porto Cathedral
Sé do Porto (Porto Cathedral) is one of the oldest landmarks in the city. Located on a hill, this 12th-century Romanesque cathedral gives an impression of a fortress-like structure.
There are plenty of things to see inside. Portuguese blue tiles, paintings, and sumptuous 18th-century altars await your visit.
The cathedral complex also has an observation tower, a garden, and terraces with great views of Porto.
Porto Cathedral opening hours and ticket price
- Opening hours: Porto Cathedral opens daily from 9 am to 12:30 and 2:30 pm to 7 pm in the summer and 6 pm in the winter. The cloister is closed Sun morning year-round.
- Ticket price: It’s free to visit the Cathedral. However, the cloister and sacristy cost €3.
Eat Pastel de nata
Pastel de Nata, the Portuguese custard tart, is a hit of sugary deliciousness.
While each region may have a slightly different twist on the recipe, you can expect a mouthful of crisp, puff pastry crust filled with creamy egg custard.
My favorite shop is Nata Lisboa on Rua das Flores, a bakery selling the best pastel de nata custard pies. I ate Pastel de nata every day on my Porto trip and again in Lisbon.
The staff was kind and friendly, and they served delicious and cheap pastel de nata. Having crunchy pastries with a cup of cappuccino is a great way to start your day.
Relax at Jardim do Morro
The park on the other side of the Duoro River is a perfect spot to see Porto.
- Address: Av. da República, 4430-148 Vila Nova de Gaia
- Transportation: Metro D – Jardim do Morro / Tram / Bus
View the city from the Monastery of Serra do Pilar
Next to Jardim do Morro is the Monastery of Serra do Pilar. When reaching the top of this Monastery, you can see a fantastic view of Porto from above.
Monastery of Serra do Pilar information
- Address: Largo de Aviz Santa Marinha Norte, 4430-329 Vila Nova de Gaia
- Getting there: Metro D – Jardim do Morro
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, October – March 10:00-17:30; April – September 10:00-18:30 (closed January 1, Easter, May 1, December 25)
- Price: 1€, 3€ to climb to the top (<12 years free)
Climb the Clérigos Tower
You can easily spot Clérigos Tower from most parts of Porto. This impressive monument by Baroque architect Nicolau Nasoni was completed in the 18th century, and it was the tallest building in Portugal back then.
If you don’t mind the queues and 225 steps to the top of this 75.6-meter tall tower, you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic panoramic view. On the way up there, take a look at the rooms’ interior and their galleries.
Also, there are daily free organ concerts at noon at Clérigos Tower, so don’t miss them.
Clérigos Church address, opening hours, and ticket price
- Address: R. de São Filipe de Nery, 4050-546 Porto, Portugal
- Opening hours: Clérigos Church opens daily from 9 am to 7 pm.
- Ticket price: While the church is free, the tower and exhibits cost €5. You can also climb the tower after dark from 7 pm to 11 pm.
Walk along the Avenida dos Aliados
Avenida dos Aliados (Avenue of the Allies) is named for Portugal’s World War I alliance with Britain and America.
Overlooking the city hall, this beautiful boulevard has several monumental architectures of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. It’s a reminder of Prague’s Wenceslas Square and has influences from early 20th-century Paris design.
At the end of the avenue is Praça da Liberdade (Liberty Square). Here, you can see the statue honors King Pedro IV (1798-1834), a hero in the 1832 Civil War.
See the Estátua do Ardina
Estátua do Ardina (the Newspaper Vendor Statue) is a symbolic sculpture portraying a hard-working paper seller.
Made by the sculptor Manuel Dias in 1990, this bronze work perfectly blends into the surrounding environment. I also missed it when I walked past here.
Here, he stands with one hand holding newspapers and another hand laying on the post box with the butt of a cigarette in his mouth.
You can find it in Liberty Square, just a few meters from the statue of King Pedro IV on horseback.
Take a trip to Foz
A trip to Foz do Douro is an excellent break from the bustling city of Porto. Foz is a beautiful area where the river meets the Atlantic.
Here, you can walk along the Avenida do Brasil and admire the beauty of the sea. You can also walk North to the Praia do Castelo do Queijo fortress or South to Felgueiras Lighthouse and Farolins da Barra do Douro watchtower.
To get to Foz, you can take trolley number 1.
Visit Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
From Foz, you can go South and reach the Gardens of the Palácio de Cristal, a stunning garden located on a hilltop in Porto’s city center.
Opening since the 19th century, Crystal Palace Gardens offers a beautiful view of Porto and the Duoro River. It’s also a perfect place for a relaxing stroll and sunset view.
Portugal is famous for seafood.
If you’re on a budget, get the lunch and dinner set to save more. The price for a meal with seafood is relatively low, at around 10€/set.
See the Church Santo Ildefonso
Chuch Santo Ildefonso is one of the most beautiful landmarks in Porto. You can find this 18th-century church in Praça da Batalha (Battle Square).
Its walls are beautifully covered in blue and white azulejo tiles, while the interior is richly decorated with golded altars featuring Christ on the cross.
Address: R. de Santo Ildefonso 11, 4000-542 Porto, Portugal
Visit Serralves Museum
This contemporary art museum is a great half-day trip from Porto for art lovers. Serralves Museum features temporary exhibitions by Portuguese and global artists.
Its most prominent attraction is probably the villa itself. The pink Art Deco mansion reminds me of the past with a vintage vibe, and its surrounding garden is massive and breathtaking.
The garden includes a treetop walk and interesting sculptures with lovely walking paths and signs. Overall, it’s an excellent place for a nice walk or picnic.
Serralves Museum address, opening hours, and ticket price
- Address: R. de São Filipe de Nery, 4050-546 Porto, Portugal
- Opening hours: Serralves Museum opens daily from 10 am to 7 pm Monday -Friday, until 8 pm on the weekend. It closes one hour earlier Oct-March.
- Ticket price: Serralves Foundation costs €20, including Museum of Contemporary Art, Serralves Park, Treetop Walk, Serralves Villa House of Cinema Manoel de Oliveira. You can also buy a separate ticket to each area for €12.
Attend concert at Casa da Música
Casa da Musica is famous for its unusual geometry concrete building. This concert hall was designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and opened in 2005.
You can take a tour to view the interior or attend the concert here. You can check their events here.
Jardim de João Chagas
Jardim João Chagas, often known as Jardim da Cordoaria, is a lovely park to visit in Porto. While the garden is relatively small, it has lots of shaded areas, benches, and a nice playground for kids.
You can spot many exciting sculptures here, with the most famous statue called “Treze a rir uns dos outros,” portraying thirteen human figures.
Visit the beaches
Blessed with a unique location, Porto is located along the coast of Costa Verde and surrounded by many outstanding beaches.
Praia de Matosinhos Beach
Praia de Matosinhos beach is very close to the city. It has a soft, white sand bay with clear blue water. The beach is a great place to relax.
Praia do Senhor da Pedra beach
Praia do Senhor da Pedra is a gorgeous beach 30 mins from Porto. It’s famous for the image of a small church located on a rock.
Praia de Espinho beach
The pristine Praia de Espinho beach is located near the resort town of Espinho. It is an excellent destination for travelers who want to spend a day of leisurely relaxation.