🌍Where is Porto
Porto is located in northern Portugal, about 315 Km north of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. Nestled in the River Douro Estuary, Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal and one of the oldest settlements in Europe. River Douro is famous for the production of Port, a popular fortified wine, which is named after this city. The Atlantic coast lies just about 5 km from Porto.
Porto has been an important port since the Roman times around 135 BC, when its name was Portus Cale. The name of Portugal originated from there. Porto became a major shipbuilding hub of the country in the 15th century, and it played a prominent role in the Age of Discoveries.
Best Time to Visit Porto
Porto has a Mediterranean climate with hot and sunny summers and a mild, rainy winter. The temperate oceanic climate makes the city much colder than Lisbon and Algarve. Each season presents something unique to experience. So, it’s better to know what to expect.
🌞 Peak Season: The summer months, June to September, are the high tourist season in Porto with beautiful warm sunny weather. Also, you would get to see many festivals happening during these months. The days are long, hot and dry, with an average temperature of over 25ºC from July to September. A great time to enjoy the beaches on the Porto coast. The water temperature is comfortably warm enough for swimming and snorkelling. June and July are the hottest months. Bear in mind that it gets super crowded in summer. So, hotel prices go up very quickly. Also, expect long queues at the attractions.
🍂 Shoulder Season: The Late Spring and autumn are probably the best time to visit Porto. The weather stays pleasantly warm and sunny, and the days are long enough. Although, you might experience some slight occasional downpours. Tourist attractions are much less crowded than during the summer months. Also, the hotels are relatively cheaper.
🏔️ Low Season: The winter months November to February, are the low seasons in Porto. Winter here is mild, wet and relatively warm from the rest of the European countries. You can expect about 5 – 6 hours of daylight. The average temperature in winter remains at 14ºC. January and February are the coldest months.
How Many Days to Spend in Porto
We would suggest spending at least two days in Porto. It should give you enough time to visit the main tourist attractions of the city alongside the Vila Nova de Gaia neighbourhood. This city is an ideal choice for a weekend city break in Europe.
But if you want to explore every nook and crannies and really want to know the heart of this amazing city, you can easily add a few more days to your travel itinerary. Also, there are some excellent day trip options from Porto. It will certainly keep you busy. You won’t get bored. So finally, it really depends on your travel style and how much you want to explore.
Best Things to Do in Porto, Portugal
1. Fall in Love with Porto Cathedral
With over 850 years of history, Porto Cathedral is one of the most prominent religious and architectural attractions of the city. Sitting over a hilltop in the old historic centre of Porto, this imposing cathedral is also one of the oldest buildings of the city and is referred to as Sé do Porto in Portuguese.
The construction of the church started in the second half of the 12th century. Throughout history, it went through many transformations. Many parts of the building were rebuilt or added in later centuries. One of the interesting things you would notice is that the Porto cathedral has three distinct architectural styles – Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic.
This monument has witnessed many historic moments in Portugal’s history. This site was used by the kings and the queens for marriages, baptisms and other religious ceremonies. After admiring the fortress-like exteriors, step inside the cathedral. Here you will find an exquisitely ornate silver altarpiece, sacred sculptures and a few smaller chapels.
Pay a small fee to see the 14th-century gothic cloister adjacent to the cathedral. The walls are decorated with impressive white and blue azulejos tiles, depicting stories from the holy book. The small treasury nearby showcases a great collection of early Christian artefacts of the cathedral.
Climb the stairs to visit the cathedral towers. From here, you will get an excellent panoramic view of the city’s rooftops, the Douro River and the famous Dom Luis I Bridge.
Where to find: Porto Cathedral is within walking distance from the Sao Bento Train Station.
Entrance Fees: Entry to the cathedral is free. But you have to pay €3 to visit the cloisters and the tower.
Opening Hours: April – October 9 am – 6:30 pm. November – March 9 am – 5:30 pm.
2. Cross the Iconic Dom Luis I Bridge
Spanning the River Douro, the Dom Luis I Bridge is one of the most important architectural landmarks of Porto. This magnificent engineering feat is a must-visit tourist attraction in the city. Arguably the most striking of all the bridges in Porto, this double-decker metal bridge connects the historic Ribeira with the municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia.
Named after the Portuguese King Luis I, the Dom Luis I Bridge took five years to complete and was opened to the public in 1886. At that time, it was the largest spanning metal bridge in the world. It was designed by the German architect, Teophile Seyrig – a disciple of famous French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel.
The structure stands at 85 metres in height and spans over 172 metres in length. Today, the Porto Metro services run through the upper level of the bridge, and the lower one carries the road traffics. Both the levels have pedestrian access. Take a boat cruise on the river to get a different perspective of this iconic attraction in Porto. Dom Luís I Bridge has structural similarities with the nearby Maria Pia Bridge.
Top Tips: Walk both levels of the bridge. If you cross the bridge on the upper level, come back through the low level. You will get one of the best views of the Porto skyline. The view from the Miradouro da Serra do Pilar at the end of the bridge is one of our favourites – an excellent spot for catching a lovely sunset over the city and the bridge.
Where to find: The nearest metro station to the bridge is Jardim do Morro in the Metro service line D. Also, from the São Bento Station, it is around a 10-15 minutes walk.
3. Take a Relaxing Boat Trip along the Douro River
The Douro River has played a key role in the prosperity and the development of Porto and the nearby area. For centuries, the river has been used to transport port wine from the Douro Valley. From Porto, the goods and barrels were traded and exported around the world.
Take a boat cruise to see the six bridges over the Douro River. It is one of the best family-friendly fun things to do in Porto. Different boat companies run this trip regularly throughout the day. The tour takes place on a traditional wooden Portuguese Rabelo boat. Until the railway line, these boats were the popular mode of transportation.
In this 50-minutes relaxing trip, you will get a chance to see the popular attractions of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia from a different and unique perspective. Also, learn about the history of the six magnificent bridges over the Douro.
The first bridge you will come across is the famous 19th-century double-decker bridge, Don Luis I, designed by Téophile Seyrig. Afterwards, you will see the beautiful Arrábida Bridge at the mouth of the river. It is possible to climb the arch of the bridge on a guided tour.
Next, you see the Maria Pia Bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel, known for the world-famous Eiffel Tower. Also, you will find the Infante Dom Henrique Bridge, São João Bridge and Freixo Bridge at the far east of Porto, towering over the Douro River.
Where to find: Boat leaves from the Vila Nova de Gaia Pier and Ribeira Dock.
Entrance Fees: Usually €15 per person.
Operating Hours: Daily hourly. In summer, the first departure is 10 am and the last departure 6 pm. In winter, the first departure is 11 am and the last departure 4 pm.
4. Spot Beautiful Azulejo Tiles around Porto
One of the most iconic things to do in Porto would be exploring the azulejo tiles. These glazed ceramic tiles are found almost everywhere in this city – from historic buildings to churches, train stations to fountains, benches in public parks to restaurants. They are an integral part of Porto’s culture and heritage.
Azulejo originated from Arabic word, al zellige, which translates to ‘polished stone’. This art form first came to southern Spain in the 13th century during the Moorish period in Iberian Peninsula. It was brought to Portugal by King Manuel I from Seville, Spain in the 15th century. In the early days, it was simple geometric patterns like birds and flowers. But throughout centuries it evolved into a more ornate and intricate art form telling religious stories, battles, seafaring stories of the country. We saw many beautiful azulejos in Lisbon as well.
The colours are predominantly blue and white, being influenced by the Age of Discoveries. However, you can also spot a tinge of yellow and green sometimes.
Sao Bento Station at the heart of Porto has one of the finest works of azulejos. It was painted in the early 20th century by Jorge Colaco – a famous azulejo painter. Porto Cathedral, Capela das Almas, Igreja do Carmo, Casa da Musica are some of the places where you can spot some beautiful examples of azulejos.
5. Admire the Panoramic Views from Clerigos Tower
The 76-meter high Clerigos Tower is an icon of Porto. This stunning Baroque bell tower dominates the city skyline. Climbing the tower to see the bird’s eye view of the surroundings is one of the best things to do in Porto. Also, it is the highest building in the city.
Clerigos Tower dates back to the 18th century. It was built for the Brotherhood of Clerigos. The tower and adjacent church were designed by famous Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni. He also designed many other buildings in the north of Portugal.
To enjoy the view from the tower, you have to climb almost 240 steps. The climb is not for the faint-hearted. As you approach the top, the stairs get very steep and narrow – it might feel claustrophobic for some. But the stunning view is well worth the effort. You will get an amazing aerial view of Porto.
Once you get down from the tower, wander around the church. The building architect, Nicolau Nasoni, is buried in the crypt. Also, take a look inside the adjourning museum. It has a collection of religious sculptures and paintings, and the entry is included in your ticket.
Best Tips: Due to its popularity, it can get very busy sometimes, especially in peak tourist seasons. So, try to be here early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid standing in a long queue. Also, one of the best times to visit is during sunset.
Where to find: Clerigos Tower is just a 5-minute walk from the Sao Bento Station.
Entrance Fees: The church is free to visit. But you have to pay €6 for the tower.
Opening Hours: Every day from 9 am to 7 pm. The tower remains open till late nights in a few summer months.
6. Browse Books in Livraria Lello
Often called one of the most beautiful bookshops in the World, Livraria Lello has been helping book lovers find their next book for over 100 years. It is one of Portugal’s oldest bookshops and one of the highlights for those visiting Porto. Probably you have already seen stunning pictures of this place on social media. It is one of the most photographed places in Porto.
This bookshop was opened in 1906 by the brothers José and António Lello. The Neo-Gothic structure and the Art Nouveau interior of this bookshop were designed by Francisco Xavier Esteves. At the centre of the store is its iconic winding staircase. Admire the beautifully decorated intricate details of the imposing ceiling. It may look like wood but is actually made of painted plaster. The colourful stained glass skylight provides a ton of natural light.
You will find an impressive collection of books written by Portuguese authors. They also have an international section where you will find the English translations.
It is rumoured that the Lello bookstore has a Harry Potter connection. Author J.K. Rowling, who lived in Porto for a couple of years, is thought to have drawn inspiration for Hogwarts from this place. But, recently the author clarified on Twitter that she never visited this bookshop and never even knew of its existence.
Potterheads will enjoy a visit to the Scottish capital city, Edinburgh, where Rowling penned some of the Harry Potter books sitting in a cafe. Also, ride the famous Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William – seen as the Hogwarts Express in the movies.
Regardless of the Harry Potter hype, Livraria Lello is a magical place and definitely worth a visit.
Tip: Livraria Lello is one of the busiest attractions in Porto. It gets thousands of visitors per day. So, we will recommend buying your entrance tickets online in advance and getting there as early as possible to avoid the crowd.
Where to find: Livraria Lello is just around 5-7 minutes from the Sao Bento Station by foot. To reach Sao Bento from other parts of Porto, catch the metro service line D.
Entrance Fees: €5 per person, if you book your ticket online from their website. It is €6 if you buy on site. You can redeem the ticket price over the purchased books.
Opening Hours: Daily 09:30 am to 7:00 pm.
7. Uncover Bolsa Palace’s Unique Past
Set in the historic centre of Porto, Bolsa Palace used to house the city’s Stock Exchange. Founded in the 19th century, this ornate building shows the wealth and opulence of the merchants and traders in this city.
This historic neoclassical Palladian-style structure was built over the ruins of the nearby Saint Francis convent. Today, it is one of the top visitor attractions in Porto and serves as the headquarters of the Porto Commercial Association.
The interior of the palace is only accessible by guided tours. Tours are mainly conducted in Portuguese, Spanish, French and English, and run very frequently. It lasts for around half an hour. You can buy tickets online as well.
One of the highlights of the tour is the incredibly ornate Arab Room. It took almost 18 years to build this room. It was designed by Goncalves e Sousa in the Moorish Revival style, drawing inspiration from the renowned Alhambra Palace in Granada. Admire the stunning central courtyard on the ground floor. Covered by an octagonal iron dome, it was the original trading floor of the building. Here you will find the coat of arms of several countries around the World with whom Portugal had long-standing good business relationships in the 19th century.
The tour will take you to many beautifully decorated rooms of the palace – like Tribunal Room, Assembly Room and Golden Room. They are filled with many historic furniture, paintings and sculptures. You will even find a cabinet used by the famous French engineer, Gustav Eiffel.
Where to find: Bolsa Palace is around 7-8 minutes walk from the Porto Cathedral and the Sao Bento Train Station.
Entrance Fees: Adult ticket costs € 10.
Opening Hours: Every day 9 am – 6:30 pm.
8. Marvel at Beautiful Azulejo Tiles at Sao Bento Station
Sao Bento Railway Station is arguably one of the prettiest railway stations in Portugal. Although the exterior looks quite simple, the stunningly detailed Portuguese azulejos tiles inside the station will certainly leave you spellbound. Visiting Sao Bento Station is one of the best things to do in Porto.
The site, where the station stands today, used to be a Benedictine monastery. In fact, the station gets its name from that monastery. Constructed in French Beaux-Arts style, this place became operational in 1916. Today, Sao Bento is the main terminal of Porto’s suburban railway lines and is located in the historic centre of the city. Many tourist attractions of Porto are within walking distance from here.
A National Monument of Portugal, this station is famous for its elaborate tin-glazed white and blue-tiled murals. They are designed by painter Jorge Colaco, who also created the tiles for the nearby Church of Saint Ildefonso. There are approximately 20000 azulejo tiles adorning the walls of Sao Bento’s entrance hall. It took nearly eleven years to complete these murals.
They display significant historical moments of Portugal – like the battle of Valdevez and the conquest of Ceuta. Also, there are illustrations of different modes of transportation and the daily life of the country.
Where to find: Porto Metro service line D runs through Sao Bento Station. Also, there are frequent buses and trains to Sao Bento Station from other parts of the city.
9. See Porto's Finest View from Miradouro da Serra do Pilar
Located at an elevated plane in the Vila Nova de Gaia neighbourhood, the Miradouro da Serra do Pilar provides one of the best views of Porto. Just a short uphill walk from the Jardim do Morro metro station, this viewpoint is a must-visit for anyone visiting this Portuguese city.
You will get breathtaking views of Dom Luis I bridge, the River Douro, the Ribeira and the bridges connecting Porto. Although the view is great at any time of the day, we would highly recommend coming here during the sunset. Watching the sun go down the city rooftops is an amazing experience. The view is stunning at night as well.
Adjacent to the viewing terrace is the Monastery of Serra do Pilar, part of the UNESCO World Heritage site. Construction work for the monastery began in the 15th century for the Augustinian Friars. Later, this monastery was used during the war due to its strategic location. Today some part of it is used by the army.
The circular structure of the church and the cloister is one of its kind in Portugal. You can buy a ticket to see the 36 ionic columns in the church cloisters. Also, if interested, you can climb the dome of the monastery.
Where to find: Ride the metro service on line D to Jardim do Morro. The viewpoint is just a few minutes uphill walk from the metro station.
Entrance Fees: Viewpoint is free. Monastery of Serra do Pilar ticket costs €2 per person and €4 if you want to climb the dome.
Opening Hours: Viewpoint is open and accessible all the time. But the monastery is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 6:30 pm and closed on Monday.
10. Go on a Port Winery Tour
Porto is most famous for the port wine. Port got its name from this city where the fortified wines, produced from the grapes of the nearby Douro Valley, are exported to other countries in the world.
In Vila Nova de Gaia at the south of Porto, there are plenty of historic port lodges on the bank of River Douro. Port is aged and bottled in these port lodges before shipment. Some of these port lodges are over 350 years old. Port wine tasting is definitely one of the best things to do in Porto.
Sandeman Port House: Sandeman Port House is one of the oldest and most renowned port houses in Porto. Founded in 1790, they offer different types of guided tasting tours that run from 50 minutes to 3 hours.
The guides wear capes and sombrero hats. Their standard tour lasts about 50 minutes and costs 17 euros per adult. You will learn a lot of history of this port house and the production process.
At the end of the tour, you will get to taste three different port wines – white, ruby and tawny.
Calem Port House: Established in 1859, Calem is one of the best-selling port manufacturers in Porto. They run guided tasting tours in four different languages. With the standard tour, you will have a tasting of two different port wines, and with the premier tour, they will offer you to taste three different port wines, including some of their vintages.
Also, you will have the option to include food pairing or a Fado show in your tasting tour. All their tours include an interactive museum which is quite unique.
Also, Graham, Burmester, and Taylors are well-recommended Port Houses that offer port tasting tours.
11. Enjoy a Vintage Tram Ride
Riding the vintage tram is one of the fun things to do in Porto, especially if you are travelling with kids. Tram began operating in Porto in the late 19th century. In fact, this was the first city in Portugal to have tram services, followed by Lisbon. Once there was an extensive network of trams around the city. But in the 1960s, due to other cheaper modes of transportation, tram service got discontinued. Today only three tram routes remain, mostly used by tourists and a few locals.
Among the three routes, tram line 1 is the most scenic and the most popular one. You can ride it from the Infante stop, located right in front of the Monument Church Of St Francis. It follows the path along the northern bank of River Douro to Foz, one of the beautiful coastal areas in Porto. Sit back and enjoy the beautiful views along the way. You will get a magnificent view of the Arrabida Bridge. The entire journey takes about 20 minutes.
Tram lines 18 and 22 are not as popular as tram line 1, but they cover some of the popular historic attractions of Porto. Both the tram services follow a circular route. Line 18 starts from the Tram Museum and terminates near the Igreja do Carmo. Tram line 22 gives stops at Clerigos Tower, Sao Bento Metro Station, Batalha, Bolhão, Avenida dos Aliados.
Ticket Price: A single fare on the tram is €3.50 per person, and a return fare is €6 per person. A 2-days pass will cost you €10 per adult and €5 per child.
Tips: Tram line 1 can get very busy during peak hours. To avoid the crowd, ride the tram early in the morning or late in the evening.
If you are interested in learning about the history of trams in Porto, we would suggest visiting the Porto Tram Museum.
12. Visit Igreja do Carmo
Igreja do Carmo is one of the prettiest churches in Porto. It is hard to realise at first glance, there are two separate churches joined by a very narrow house. The house in the middle was constructed to keep the nun and monks of the churches separate from each other.
Igreja do Carmo was built in the second half of the 18th century, and the neighbouring Igreja dos Carmelitas was made in the mid-17th century.
The side facade of Igreja do Carmo is decorated with beautiful white and blue ceramic tiles. This baroque church is a must-visit for anyone wanting to see and photograph the beautiful azulejos in Porto.
The tiles were made in the nearby Vila Nova de Gaia and put on the wall in 1912. Designed by Silvestro Silvestri, it portrays scenes from the history of the Carmelite order and Mount Carmel.
Very close to the church, you will find the Fonte dos Leões, a fountain built for over 130 years, featuring four metal lion statues. It’s a nice little place to sit and relax.
If you are in this area, visit other nearby landmarks of Porto. A few meters from the church is the Livraria Lello. Also, the Clerigos Tower and church is just a few minute’s walks from here.
Where to find: The nearest metro station from Igreja do Carmo is Aliados, on the metro line D. From the station, the church is around 8 minutes walk away. Also, São Bento Station is not far from here.
Opening Hours: Both the churches are open Monday to Friday from 7:15 am to 7 pm; Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 9 am to 6:45 pm.
Entrance Fees: The church is free to visit. But if you want to visit the Carmo museum, catacombs and Casa Escondida, you need to buy a ticket for €3.50 per person.
13. Discover the Chapel of Souls
Known as Capela das Almas in Portuguese, the Chapel of Souls is located at the heart of Porto’s main shopping hub, Rua de Santa Catarina, in Santo Ildefonso district.
This small chapel is famous for the stunning Portuguese tile art covering its exterior. It is one of the best places to see the beautiful azulejos in Porto. The Chapel of Souls was built in the 18th century. But the ceramic tiles you see today were placed in 1929. There are a total of 15,947 tiles designed by Eduardo Leche. The mural on the wall displays religious stories from the lives of the saints the chapel is devoted to – St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Francis of Assisi.
After admiring the outside of the church, take a look inside. The neo-classical interior is simple but beautiful, with stained glass windows and a decorated altarpiece.
Tips: The Chapel of Souls stands near a junction of two busy roads. Come early in the morning to photograph the church without traffic and people.
This area is filled with bijou cafes and restaurants. Try some of the most delicious pastéis de nata in Porto at Manteigaria, Confeitaria do Bolhão and Fábrica da Nata.
Where to find: The chapel is just a stone’s throw away from the Bolhão metro station. Line A, B, C and F of Porto Metro runs from here.
Entrance Fees: Free
Opening Hours: Daily 7:30 am – 7 pm.
14. Eat Delicious Portuguese Sandwich - Francesinha
When you are in Porto, you will have to try Francesinha – the most traditional Portuguese food associated with this city. Francesinha is a Portuguese adaption of Croque-monsieur (ham and cheese hot sandwich) that originated in France. Francesinha means ‘Little Frenchie’ in Portuguese. Legend has it a French immigrant customised Croque-monsieur to the taste of Portugal using some local ingredients when he moved to Porto. That’s how Francesinha became a popular food in Porto.
Francesinha is a sandwich made of bread, ham, steak, linguica (smoked Portuguese sausage) and melted cheese on top. It’s not that kind of a sandwich though that you can eat by hand. It usually comes with spicy tomato and beer sauce. However, it varies a bit depending on the restaurants. French fries and runny eggs are popular accompaniments with this dish. It doesn’t sound like the healthiest food on earth – but hey, who counts calories on holidays! Restaurante O Afonso, Cafe Santiago and Brasao Aliados are some of the best Francesinha in Porto.
If you are a vegetarian, don’t worry. Some restaurants like Lado B Café and Lupin Restaurante serve vegetarian versions. So, you won’t miss the fun of Francesinha.
15. Explore Igreja de Santo Ildefonso
Another place in Porto to find the traditional artwork on azulejos is the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso or Church of Saint Ildefonso. Located right next to the Batalha Square, a historic public square, this Baroque church was built in 1739. However, the beautiful tiles you see on the exterior today was added later in 1932.
It is hard to believe that there are around 11,000 tiles covering the facade of the bell towers. They showcases religious stories from the Gospels. Particularly the life of Saint Ildefonso, a 7th century Bishop of Toledo to whom the church is dedicated to. It was created by Portuguese painter Jorge Colaço, who also designed and painted the stunning murals at the São Bento Station.
Another highlight of the church is the baroque and rococo style retable on the main altar. It was created by the Italian artist and architect Nicolau Nasoni, whose work can also be seen in the Porto Cathedral, Igreja dos Clérigos among others.
The nearby Rue Santa Catarina is the main shopping street of the city. If you are around here, definitely visit the famous Majestic Cafe. It is just a few minutes walk from Igreja de Santo Ildefonso.
Where to find: Take a metro ride to the Sao Bento Station. The church is around 7 minutes walk from the Station. Also, this area is served by trams and buses.
Entrance Fees: Free
Opening Hours: Monday 3 pm to 6:30pm. Tuesday to Saturday 9 am to 12 pm and 3 pm to 6:30 pm. Sunday: 9 am to 1 pm and 6 pm to 8 pm.
16. Monument Church Of St Francis
Founded around 1245, Monument Church of St Francis is one of the most prominent Gothic landmarks in Porto. Don’t get fooled by the church’s simple structure from the outside. The intricately decorated and heavily gilded Baroque interior will leave you spellbound.
Legend has it that the church’s impressive wood carvings are decorated with three hundred kilos of gold dust. One of the most impressive altarpieces is the Tree of Jesse by Filipe da Silva and Antonio Gomes. It depicts the family tree of Jesus.
After admiring the interiors of the church, visit the catacomb where the Franciscan monks and the influential people of Porto are buried.
There is also an ossuary with thousands of bones. You can see some of them through the glass floor.
Where to find: Monument Church Of St Francis is about an 8-minute walk from the Sao Bento Train Station. Also, the scenic Porto Tram Linha 1 stops at Infante, right next to the church.
Entrance Fees: € 7.50 Adult.
Opening Hours: Daily. November – February 9am – 5:30pm. March – October 9am – 7pm. July – September 9am – 8pm.
17. Discover the Street Art of Porto
If you are interested in discovering urban street arts, Porto is the right place for you. The street art scene is relatively new here, but it’s growing fast. The stunning colourful works by local artists brighten up the otherwise dull vacant walls. It reminded us of Glasgow street murals of Scotland. A self-guided walking tour to visit these vibrant street artworks of Porto is one of the unique things to do in the city.
Some of the subjects of the paintings are abstract, while others are based upon local characters. Also, a few of them delivers a political and social message in it. So, while wandering around the city, look out for these colourful street artworks and graffitis.
One of our favourite street artwork is the Half Rabbit, created by Portuguese artist Bordalo II in the streets of Vila Nova da Gaia. This large mural shows a rabbit made of recycled materials and spare parts to create awareness about human wastefulness and sustainability. You can see more of this artist’s work in Lisbon.
While walking across the upper level of Dom Luis I Bridge, watch out for the AN.FI.TRI.AO mural. It shows an aged man extending his hand to welcome people in the city. Created by artist Frederico Draw, you can find this one on the side of a derelict building near the bridge.
The Don Quixote of La Mancha mural can be found in Rua de Miguel Bombarda. It is one of the earliest legal street art in Porto. Local artists Mesk, Fedor and Mots came together to create this quirky mural showcasing characters from the Spanish book.
Another one of our favourites is the Mira mural at a small square in Rua Nova da Alfândega in the Miragaia neighbourhood. If you are in this area, don’t miss the nearby Look at Porto mural on the wall of a movie theatre.
18. Majestic Cafe
Located in Santa Catarina Street, the main shopping street in Porto, Majestic Cafe is far more than just a coffee house – It is a popular tourist attraction of this city. The interior of this cafe is beautifully decorated in Art Nouveau style with wooden panels and plenty of Flemish mirrors. It will make you feel you have stepped back in the Belle Epoque era.
This historic coffee house first opened its door in 1922. Many dignitaries and influential people of Porto were regulars in this iconic cafe. From the 1960s, this cafe started losing its former glory, and in the mid-’90s it went through major renovation work to revive its original setting.
Majestic Cafe has a Harry Potter connection as well. If you are a potter fan, you would be delighted to know that author JK Rowling lived a few years in Porto in the early ‘90s, and she would come here very frequently. She was seen writing down ideas on the napkins. Some believe that she started writing her first Harry Potter book in this café. It would be an overstatement to say the food is too good but is worth a visit for the grand interior and the great ambience.
After stepping out of the cafe, head towards Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, which is just 2 minutes walk from here. You will get to see some beautiful works of azulejo tiles. Also, visit nearby Bolhao Market, which is more than 100 years old.
Opening Hours: Monday- Saturday 9 am – 11:30 pm. Sunday closed.
Where to find: Aliados on line D is the nearest metro station. The cafe is about 5 minutes walk from there.
19. Explore the Tranquil Gardens at Jardins do Palacio de Cristal
The Crystal Palace Gardens is an excellent place to escape the hustle and bustle of Porto. If you are looking for a peaceful place to relax, this garden is a perfect spot. It is a tranquil urban oasis away from the crowd of the city.
Set on a hill overlooking the Douro River, the garden is not too far from the popular tourist attractions of the historic centre of Porto. It also provides some of the best panoramic views of the city skyline and the nearby Douro River. Also, an excellent spot to catch a gorgeous sunset.
This 8-hectare landscape garden was built in the 19th century, and the layout was created by the German landscape gardener, Émille David.
Take a leisurely stroll around the small themed gardens around the park, including the Garden of Feelings, the herb garden and a rose garden. They are well maintained and beautifully decorated with fountains and sculptures. If you are lucky, you might catch a few peacocks roaming around the grounds.
The original palace, the garden is named after, does not exist anymore. It was demolished and replaced in the 1950s with a domed pavilion. Today it serves as a venue for concerts and sporting events. There are also cafes and restaurants inside the garden.
Where to find: The Jardins do Palacio de Cristal is around 15 minutes walk from the Clerigos Tower. Also, you can easily reach here by bus and tram.
Entrance Fees: Free
Opening Hours: Every day. April – September 8 am to 9 pm. October – March 8 am to 7 pm.
Map of the Attractions in Porto
Here is a map of all the best attractions to visit and the best things to do in Porto. Click on the link to save the Google map on your phone. You can also use it offline. We have also marked famous places to eat and the stunning viewpoints around the city.
How to Get to Porto
With high speed trains, budget airlines, frequent bus services and well maintained highways – reaching Porto couldn’t be any easier.
Arriving Porto by Flight
Porto Airport (OPO) is situated approx 6.8 miles northwest of the Porto city centre. It is one of the busiest airports in Portugal and serves as an important hub in the north of this country. The airport is easily accessible by public transport. You will find car rental services, foreign currency exchange, shops, restaurants and cafes here.
There are direct flights to Porto from all the major European cities alongside domestic flights from other cities in Portugal. It is a base for Ryanair, EasyJet and TAP Air Portugal. Also, British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Turkish Airlines, Vueling, Transavia, Iberia and Brussels Airlines operate flights to Porto.
If you are travelling from a Non-European country, you have to transit through a major European Airport to reach here. Read below for more information about the flights from the UK.
Flights from the UK
There are many regular flights from various cities in Great Britain. You can catch direct flights from London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh and Bristol. Flights from London typically take about 2 hours 30 min to arrive in Porto. Flights are operated by British Airways, TAP Air Portugal, as well as budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet. So, Porto should definitely be on your travel bucket list for a great weekend city break.
How to Reach Porto City Centre from the Airport
You can reach Porto city centre very easily by metro, bus, taxi and car from the airport. Porto Metro service is the easiest and most convenient way to get to the city centre. The airport is on the metro line E. To reach the city centre, you will have to change the metro line at Trindade subway station. It takes 26 minutes to get to Trindade. Trains run every 20 to 30 minutes, and a single ride ticket costs only €2.
You can also catch bus services 601, 602 and 604 (operated by STCP) to reach various locations around Porto from the airport. Journey time on the bus is much longer than on the metro. Also, Terravision operates a door to door shuttle bus service from the airport.
Private taxi service to the city centre costs around €20- €30 and will drop you in about 20 minutes.
Arriving Porto by Bus
You can also reach Porto by bus from other cities in Portugal. Rede Expressos operates a network of buses around the country. For the lowest price, buy your bus tickets online in advance. The bus from Lisbon takes around 3 hours 30 minutes to reach here and terminates in Campo 24 de Agosto. From there, you can ride the metro services to get to the city centre. Also, there are ALSA buses from Porto to Spain.
The bus doesn’t run from a single bus station. Different bus companies arrive and depart from various places around Porto. So, it might be a little confusing.
Arriving Porto by Trains
There are two main train stations in Porto. The Intercity train services stop at Campanha Railway Station, whereas the suburban local trains run through Sao Bento Railway Station.
If you are coming from Lisbon, Faro, Coimbra or Braga, you can catch the high-speed train services to Porto, known as Alfa Pendular. There are also slower intercity trains between the major cities of Portugal. An intercity train connecting Lisbon to Porto takes over 3 hours. With the high-speed Alfa Pendular and Intercity services, you will find plenty of trains per day.
If you are planning to travel around Portugal by train, we would suggest buying the tickets online in advance. Tickets sell out very fast, especially in peak tourist seasons.
Arriving Porto by Car
If you prefer to drive to Porto, Portugal has good highway networks across the country. The A1 motorways connect Porto to Lisbon. Here’s an approx journey time and distance to Porto from other cities in Portugal:
- From Lisbon- 3 hours 10 min/ 314 km
- From Coimbra- 1 hours 15 min/ 122 km
- From Braga- 40 min/ 57 km
How to Get Around Porto
Porto is a city best explored on foot. Most of the visitor attractions lie quite close to each other. Exploring the winding cobbled streets of this historic city is part of its charm. So, we will suggest wearing comfortable shoes as some parts of the city are a bit steep and hilly, especially the area from the city centre to Ribeira. If you are staying near the city centre, you don’t even have to use any transport.
That being said, Porto has an extensive network of the public transport system. You can get around the city by metro, bus and tram. They are cost-effective and efficient.
There are six colour-coded metro lines – A, B, C, D, E and F. It is the quickest way to get around the city. A single metro ticket costs € 1.20. Also, you can buy an Andante card for €0.60, so you can recharge with as many journeys as you need. Don’t forget to validate your card every time you board the metro or change lines.
A bus is a great option to reach the places not covered by the metro. Also, there are three tram routes to help you get around the city. You can ride the funicular from the Ribeira to the Batalha square to avoid the steep walk. Also, there are many taxi services available throughout the city. So, getting around in Porto is easier than you might think.