10 Great Things To Do in Porto, Portugal 10 Great Things To Do in Porto, Portugal

10 Great Things To Do in Porto, Portugal

Porto is the much-loved northern sibling of Lisbon, famous worldwide for its port cellars, colorful houses, and hillside charm. Enjoy slow days navigating its streets and elevated viewpoints that look out over the Douro river. Whether it’s sipping a hot coffee in a bookstore, jumping on the funicular railway, or feeling the fresh coastal breeze from the top of the Dom Luis Bridge, Porto will satisfy your travel craving. Enjoy the top things to do in Porto on a 2-day trip!

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Day 1: Riverside Strolls and Sunset Views

Start your first morning in Porto on the riverbanks of the Douro, in the lower district of Ribeira. Have a big breakfast to give you energy for your hillside strolls and bridge climbs throughout the day.

1. Cais da Ribeira 

The stunning riverside area of Cais da Ribeira is the scene that most people think of when they imagine Porto. Colored townhouses line the banks of the River Douro, with bustling restaurant terraces, and street musicians.

There’s no doubt that this is the heart of the city, lively at any time of the day or night. Enjoy a port while you overlook the river and the majestic Dom Luis I bridge, before exploring the charming hillside streets.

2. Escada Guindais

Porto’s hilly scenery means there are plenty of steep climbs and amazing views to be found. Street stairs are a common find, and the Escada Guindais is the main stairway leading away from the Ribeira neighborhood. Walk up the stairs and admire all the old-fashioned houses, watching the locals as they hang out their washing.

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On your climb to the top, you can also see the old medieval walls. The climb will be rewarded with spectacular views over the Douro River and the Dom Luis I bridge. 

Alternatively, take the funicular from the Dom Luís I Bridge’s foot, which takes you to the top of the hill.

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10 Great Things To Do in Porto, Portugal

3. Porto Cathedral

Set in the middle of a huge open square, the Porto Cathedral symbolizes the city. Although its stone facade is impressive, its beauty really happens on the inside!

Here, you can discover impressive hallways, arches, and the token blue and white detailed Porto tiling. It is also built at the city’s highest point, so afterward, make sure to wander around the Batalha district and discover the best views in the whole of Porto.

4. Largo da Pena Ventosa

A short 5-minute walk from the cathedral is the most charming square in Porto. The square is surrounded by rainbow-colored houses, with cute narrow lanes, flagstone flooring, and stone stairways. Enjoy a coffee at one of the sweet cafes, a great place to soak up the atmosphere. This thing to do in Porto can be a bit hard to find, so be sure to use your map.

5. Dom Luis I Bridge

For the best views of Porto, walk over the iconic Dom Luis I bridge. This huge steel structure was once the largest bridge in the world and is unique for its two levels: the top for pedestrians and the metro, and the lower for cars. Wander down the hill to the bridge around sunset to see the sky burst into color but note to visit the top level.

Day 2: Azulejos Tiles and Magical Buildings

It is all about the details of beautiful Porto on day 2! Use the funicular railway to get up to the center of the city, where you can discover many beautiful buildings filled with the iconic blue and white tiles.

Location: Igreja de Santo Ildefonso

6. Porto Funicular Railway

Start your day with a trip on the Porto Funicular railway. The railway climbs the steep hill between the Ribeira and the Batalha neighborhood, saving your legs from another steep hike after all the walking on day 1. Take the railway uphill and enjoy beautiful views of the city. 

7. Sao Bento Station

Sao Bento Station is located in the historic center of Porto, now a UNESCO world heritage site. The building is not only a functioning station, but it celebrates the history of Porto and the stunning ‘Azulejos’ blue tiles that the city is famous for.

There are around 20,000 of these unique tiles within the train station, all of which have murals painted on them that represent the stories of Porto. The stunning interior means that the station has become a favorite place for tourists to come from all over the world and take pictures.

8. Livraria Lello – Top Thing To Do in Porto

Immerse yourself in the magical world of the Livraria Lello: a stunning bookstore made famous from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter stories. The story goes that when JK Rowling used to live in Porto, the bookstore became the inspiration for her novels.

It’s easy to see why when you see the grand shelves filled with books and the sweeping wooden staircases with deep ruby red carpet. As such, it’s no surprise that the Livraria Lello is known as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world! No wonder it is one of the most popular things to do in Porto.

Livraria Lello Bookstore is incredibly popular; there will always be a line outside as they only allow a limited amount of people. Please get your tickets in advance via their website or skip the line by booking a tour.

9. Igreja do Carmo

Just around the corner is the Igreja do Carmo, a beautiful church that provides another opportunity to see the azulejos tiles of Porto. The amazing building is actually two churches, separated by a narrow house. This house was sandwiched in the middle to separate the monks and the nuns.

The facade and the church’s interior have beautiful details, but the main draw of this building is its huge exterior wall of azulejos tiles that tell the story of the Carmelite order.

10. Palacio da Bolsa

This stock exchange is an absolute thing to do in Porto. Build-in 1842, it has a fascinating history and is a beautiful example of Portuguese architecture at the time. Enjoy an hour or two wandering through the luxurious rooms at the end of your second day in Porto.

Tip: on your way, stop off at the Igreja dos Clerigos: an impressive baroque church with a huge bell tower, which can be seen from all over the city. Climb the bell tower for awesome views across Porto! Ticket prices and opening times can be found here.

Day 3: Douro Valley Day Trip

If you have a day to spare, it’s worth making a trip to the stunning Douro Valley. Here you’ll discover the country’s wine region and the enormous Douro River sandwiched between green rolling hills and vineyards. It’s only a 1.5-hour drive from Porto, so it can be visited by driving or via public transport.

If you are interested in doing a river cruise or a wine tasting, there are lots of tour options that include transport from Porto.

Tours & Tickets 🥾View all

Best Restaurants & Cafés in Porto

Porto has an amazing dining scene. Travelers can enjoy traditional foods like fish and cheese, as well as the drink that gives Porto its name: Port! It’s also a colorful metropolitan city that has attracted many new and exciting restaurants. Some of our favorites were:

  • Kind Kitchen (Vegan Burgers)
  • Mercador Cafe
  • Noshi Cafe (Breakfast)
  • Nola Kitchen
  • Manna (Vegetarian)
  • TASCO (Portuguese)
  • Zenith (Brunch)
  • Hungry biker
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Where to Stay in Porto

Stay in Ribeira if you want to be by the riverside and enjoy the night-time buzz of the city. For hillside views and a younger influx of restaurants and shops, stay near Igreja do Carmo.

How to visit Porto

Porto has its own airport, with international flights arriving from many destinations. However, more flights go into the capital city of Lisbon. From Lisbon, it’s a direct train to Porto that takes around 3 hours.

Find the best flights to Porto ✈️

Getting Around

Once you’re in Porto, the city is small, and all the sights can be walked. The city is very hilly, so wear good shoes, and buy a pass for the trams and funicular railway if you get tired. Alternatively, you can use Uber to get around quickly and easily. Once you traverse outside the city, the best way to get around is to rent a car.

How much does Porto cost?

When going on a city trip to Porto, expect to spend about 120 USD a day, including accommodation. Average prices in the city are;

Costs of Traveling in Porto

Expect to spend between $430 − $2320 USD per week per person in Porto, but costs depend on factors like accommodation, transportation, and activities. This price does not include flights. Check flight prices here

Best Time to Visit Porto

Porto is beautiful all year round; however, it is known for very rainy winters. Because of this, it’s best to visit in the late spring or early autumn. At this time, it’s still sunny, but the temperatures are cooler, and there are fewer tourists. This way, you’ll be sure that you can still do all the things to do in Porto.

28/04/2023 https://www.saltinourhair.com/portugal/porto-things-to-do/
Blog comments (4)

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  • Cristiane

    Excellent post about Porto. For the next time, you visit Portugal, add Braga to your travel list. You will love this city!

    • Salt in our Hair

      Thank you! We had this planned but had to skip it, unfortunately. Another reason why we have to get back to Portugal as soon as possible. ☺️

      • Cristiane

        Thanks for your reply.
        If you come back to Portugal, please send me an email. I’d love to help you.

    • Linda melton

      Yes loved our trip to Braga, worth the drive from Porto., visited the old town. In Porto please visit THE GARDEN restaurant, it is our favourite with great hosts, very welcoming and good food and drink.

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