Amazing Things to Do in Porto: Top 12 Attractions to Visit

by Jen
Amazing Things to Do in Porto
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Looking to visit Porto anytime soon? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Porto. These scenic sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.

Welcome to Porto, Portugal’s unforgettable gem! The mere mention conjures up images of sun-drenched terraces, the alluring aroma of freshly baked pastéis de nata, and the gentle lull of the Douro River as it meanders through a city steeped in history and culture. If Lisbon is Portugal’s polished, cosmopolitan capital, then Porto is its soulful, artistic cousin—equally captivating but with an edgier, more bohemian vibe. Things to do in Porto are diverse, offering a rich tapestry of experiences waiting to be explored.

Imagine strolling through narrow, cobblestone streets where azulejo-clad buildings stand like sentinels of the past, their facades telling stories that span centuries. Picture yourself sipping on a glass of world-renowned port wine as you watch the sun dip below the horizon, casting its golden glow over the iconic Ribeira district. It’s not just a city; it’s an experience, a sensory feast that leaves you yearning for more.

But don’t just take my word for it. Come and discover why Porto has become a must-visit destination for travelers seeking more than just pretty Instagram shots. From its cutting-edge art scenes to its gastronomic delights, Porto offers a rich tapestry of experiences that go beyond the guidebook. So, buckle up, fellow wanderlusters! We’re about to embark on an unforgettable journey through the heart and soul of one of Europe’s most enchanting cities. Here’s everything you  need to know about these fun things to do in Porto.

The amazing places to visit in Porto right now
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Best Places to Visit in Porto

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Porto? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this captivating vacation spot. So keep reading to discover all these unique Porto places to visit.

Are you looking to savor traditional Portuguese cuisine at local eateries, explore historic neighborhoods with charming architecture, and immerse yourself in a vibrant arts and culture scene through museums, galleries, and live performances? Or would you prefer to enjoy scenic walks along the riverfront and nearby beaches, and indulge in tastings of the region’s renowned wine? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Porto can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Porto that you should know about.

1. Mercado do Bolhão

Ah, food markets! They’re the beating heart of any city, and in Porto, the Mercado do Bolhão takes the crown. This bustling market is a feast for the senses, offering a glimpse into the daily lives of the locals. Wondering about what to do in Porto if you’re a foodie? Well, this is your playground.

From the moment you step inside, you’re greeted by the tantalizing aroma of fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and just-caught fish. The vendors are a lively bunch, always ready to share a story or recommend their favorite products. Don’t miss out on tasting the iconic Francesinha sandwich, a Porto specialty that’s a meat lover’s dream.

But it’s not just about food. The market is also a haven for unique souvenirs. Handmade crafts, traditional Portuguese tiles, and even vintage items can be found in this labyrinth of stalls. It’s one of those Porto places to visit where you can easily lose track of time, engrossed in the vibrant atmosphere and the kaleidoscope of colors.

So, whether you’re a culinary adventurer or a treasure hunter, Mercado do Bolhão offers a slice of authentic Porto that you won’t find in any guidebook. It’s among the cool destinations in Porto, especially if you want to experience the city like a local.

Mercado do Bolhão in Porto is a foodie's paradise.
Mercado do Bolhão in Porto is a foodie’s paradise.

2. Douro River

If you’re looking for where to go in Porto for breathtaking views, look no further than a cruise along the Douro River. Picture this: you’re on a traditional Rabelo boat, the sun is casting golden hues over the terracotta rooftops, and the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge comes into view. It’s a moment that captures the essence of Porto.

The Douro River is the lifeblood of Porto’s wine industry. As you glide along, you’ll pass by terraced vineyards that have been producing world-renowned Port wine for centuries. It’s a must-see in Porto for anyone interested in the intricate art of winemaking.

And let’s not forget the local fishermen you’ll spot along the way, casting their nets in a dance as old as the city itself. Their boats, adorned with colorful flags and intricate designs, add a whimsical touch to the landscape.

As the cruise comes to an end, you’ll find yourself already planning your next trip back. Because some experiences, like a Douro River cruise, are worth reliving. It’s one of those Porto things to do that you’ll cherish long after your trip is over.

For breathtaking views, a cruise along the Douro River is the answer.
For breathtaking views in Porto, a cruise along the Douro River is the answer.

3. Clérigos Tower

For those who have a penchant for sweeping vistas, the Clérigos Tower is among the Porto attractions you can’t afford to miss. This baroque masterpiece, designed by the Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni, offers an unparalleled 360-degree view of the city. Trust me, the 225-step climb is worth every bead of sweat.

Thinking about the Porto things to do for a bird’s-eye perspective of its architectural splendor? The answer is simple: make your way to the top of this iconic tower. From here, you can spot other landmarks like the Livraria Lello, one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores, and the bustling Aliados Avenue.

But the Clérigos Tower is more than just a viewpoint; it’s a symbol of Porto’s resilience and artistic flair. Built in the 18th century, the tower has withstood the test of time and remains one of the best places in Porto for photography enthusiasts and history enthusiasts alike.

As you descend, don’t forget to explore the adjoining Clérigos Church. Its intricate baroque interior is a feast for the eyes and offers a quiet respite from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Clérigos Tower is one of the amazing things to do in Porto.
Don’t miss the Clérigos Tower in Porto for sweeping vistas—an unparalleled 360-degree view of the city awaits after a 225-step climb.

4. Ribeira District

Ah, the Ribeira District, where the soul of Porto comes alive in a kaleidoscope of colors and sounds. This is where every cobblestone seems to whisper secrets of the city’s rich history.

Now, if you’re wondering where to visit in Porto for that quintessential postcard moment, search no  more. The district is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it’s easy to see why. Imagine narrow medieval streets, charming facades adorned with azulejos (traditional Portuguese tiles), and lively squares where locals and tourists merge in a harmonious dance of cultures.

Let’s not forget the gastronomic delights that await you here. From mouthwatering francesinhas to delectable pastéis de nata, the Ribeira District is a food lover’s paradise. And for the wine aficionados, the local cellars offer a chance to taste Porto’s world-renowned port wine.

The district transforms into one of exciting getaway as the sun dips below the horizon—a nightlife hub. Whether you’re into Fado music or modern beats, there’s a bar or club that will tickle your fancy.

So, if you’re keen to experience the beating heart of Porto, the Ribeira District should be high on your list.

Experience the soul of Porto in the vibrant Ribeira District, where history speaks through colorful cobblestones and lively sounds.
Experience the soul of Porto in the vibrant Ribeira District, where history speaks through colorful cobblestones and lively sounds.

5. Livraria Lello

Livraria Lello is a place where literature and architecture collide in the most enchanting way. If you’re a book lover, this is a must-visit. The moment you step inside, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a different realm altogether. Intricate woodwork, a stunning stained-glass ceiling, and a sinuous staircase that seems to defy gravity—it’s a feast for the eyes and the soul.

Now, curious about the coolest things to do in Porto if you’re not a bibliophile? Well, even if you don’t consider yourself a bookworm, the sheer artistry of Livraria Lello will leave you spellbound. It’s not just a bookstore; it’s an experience, a journey into the heart of Porto’s cultural scene.

For those who appreciate a good Instagram moment, the bookstore offers endless opportunities for that perfect shot. And let’s talk about the books! From classics to contemporary works, the shelves are laden with literary treasures waiting to be discovered.

While you wander through this architectural marvel, you’ll also come across a cozy café. Here, you can sip on a cup of Portuguese coffee while flipping through the pages of your new find.

Livraria Lello: Where literature and architecture intertwine in enchanting harmony, a must-visit for book lovers.
Livraria Lello: Where literature and architecture intertwine in enchanting harmony, a must-visit for book lovers.

6. Palácio da Bolsa

Palácio da Bolsa, or the Stock Exchange Palace, is a place where history, grandeur, and intrigue coalesce. This 19th-century neoclassical marvel is a must-see in Porto for anyone interested in architecture or history. From the moment you walk through its imposing doors, you’re transported to an era of opulence and grandiosity.

What makes this one of the coolest activities in Porto is the Arabian Hall—a room so ornate, it’s like stepping into a sultan’s palace. Intricate Moorish designs adorn the walls, and a dazzling chandelier hangs from the ceiling, casting a golden glow on everything below.

But wait, there’s more! The palace also houses the Court Room, where business and politics once intertwined in hushed whispers and firm handshakes. Here, you’ll get a glimpse into the city’s mercantile past, making it one of the unique places in Porto to soak in some local history.

And for the art enthusiasts among you, the palace is a treasure trove of artistic mastery. From frescoes to sculptures, every corner is a testament to the skill and creativity of the artisans who worked on it.

When crafting that ultimate Porto bucket list, don’t overlook Palácio da Bolsa. It’s not just a building; it’s a narrative, a story waiting to be discovered by you.

Palácio da Bolsa is one of the amazing things to do in Porto.
Palácio da Bolsa: History, grandeur, intrigue. A must-see neoclassical marvel in Porto.

7. Jardins do Palácio de Cristal

The Jardins do Palácio de Cristal, a sanctuary of greenery and tranquility right in the heart of Porto. If you’re looking for a respite from the city’s hustle and bustle, this is the place to be. Envision you’re strolling through manicured gardens, where peacocks strut and fountains play. The air is filled with the scent of blooming flowers, and the city’s skyline provides a stunning backdrop.

One of the unique things to do in Porto is to have a picnic at the sanctuary. You’ll find locals and tourists alike lounging on the grass, lost in books or deep in conversation. It’s a slice of paradise that offers a different kind of attraction—nature in its purest form.

The Romantic Museum within the gardens is a hidden gem that tells the tale of 19th-century life in Porto. It’s a fascinating detour that adds a layer of depth to your visit.

And for the cherry on top? The garden offers panoramic views of the Douro River, making it one of the most Instagrammable Porto places to visit. So, if your camera roll is looking a little dull, a trip to Jardins do Palácio de Cristal will certainly spice it up.

Discover tranquility in the heart of Porto at Jardins do Palácio de Cristal, a green sanctuary.
Discover tranquility in the heart of Porto at Jardins do Palácio de Cristal, a green sanctuary.

8. Serralves Museum

Are you an art aficionado or even just mildly curious? The Serralves Museum is a your go-to destination. This contemporary art museum is more than just a collection of paintings and sculptures; it’s an experience that challenges your perceptions and broadens your horizons.

The architecture alone is a masterpiece, designed by the renowned Álvaro Siza Vieira. As you walk through the museum, you’ll encounter a diverse range of art forms, from installations to photography. Every visit feels like the first time, thanks to its ever-changing exhibitions.

But the museum isn’t the only star of the show. The surrounding Serralves Park is a work of art in itself, featuring thematic gardens and even an Art Deco villa.

Wondering what to do in Porto to make your trip unforgettable? Consider attending one of the museum’s frequent events or workshops. Whether it’s a film screening or a painting class, there’s always something happening here to enrich your cultural palate. Is this among the top things to do in Porto, Portugal? Definitely!

Serralves Museum in Porto: An art experience that challenges and broadens horizons.
Serralves Museum in Porto: An art experience that challenges and broadens horizons.

9. Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis

Ah, the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis—a treasure trove for history aficionado and art lovers alike. Housed in a grand 18th-century palace, the museum showcases an impressive collection of Portuguese art, spanning from the 16th to the 20th century.

You’ll find everything from intricate sculptures to thought-provoking paintings, each piece telling a story of Portugal’s rich cultural heritage. The museum is named after António Soares dos Reis, a celebrated Portuguese sculptor, and you’ll find some of his masterpieces here.

For an enriching experience, this museum offers more than just a walk through art history. They host a variety of workshops, lectures, and even musical performances. It’s a dynamic space that brings art to life in the most engaging ways.

And let’s not overlook the museum’s garden. It’s a peaceful oasis where you can sit and reflect on the incredible art you’ve just seen. It’s one of those best things to do in Porto that combines culture, history, and a touch of nature.

Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis is a treasure trove of Portuguese art in an 18th-century palace.
Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis is a treasure trove of Portuguese art in an 18th-century palace.

10. Foz do Douro

Yearning for a blend of natural beauty and urban charm? Foz do Douro is your go-to spot. This coastal area is where the Douro River meets the Atlantic Ocean, and it’s one of the best places to go in Porto for a scenic walk. Picture this: waves crashing against the rocks, seagulls soaring overhead, and the sun casting its golden glow on the water. It’s pure magic.

Foz is a lifestyle. The area is dotted with trendy cafes, boutique shops, and seafood restaurants that serve the freshest catch of the day. It’s a place where locals and tourists alike come to unwind.

Looking for the coolest activities in Porto, you ask? Well, Foz do Douro offers a range of water sports for the adventurous souls. From surfing to paddleboarding, there’s something for everyone. And if you’re more of a landlubber, the area’s parks and gardens provide the perfect backdrop for a leisurely afternoon.

Foz do Douro deserves a spot in your bucket list of Porto places to visit. It’s a slice of coastal paradise that offers something for everyone, from the nature lover to the urban explorer.

Foz do Douro: Where natural beauty meets urban charm, it's pure magic.
Foz do Douro in Porto: Where natural beauty meets urban charm, it’s pure magic.

11. Galerias de Paris

Welcome to Galerias de Paris! If you’re searching for the heartbeat of Porto’s nightlife, look no further. Situated in the downtown area, this bustling street is among the cool destinations in Porto for anyone looking to experience the city after dark. The atmosphere is electric, filled with the sounds of laughter, clinking glasses, and live music emanating from the bars and clubs.

Planning about what to do in Porto at night? Galerias de Paris answers that question with a resounding array of options. Whether you’re into jazz, electronic music, or just a good old-fashioned pub crawl, you’ll find it here. The street is a magnet for both locals and tourists, making it a melting pot of cultures and musical tastes.

It’s not just about the music and drinks. The area is also home to some of Porto’s most intriguing art installations and galleries. So, if you’re an art aficionado, you’ll find plenty to admire here as well.

Those unique things to do in Porto often involve a blend of culture and fun, and Galerias de Paris delivers on both fronts. So, put on your dancing shoes, or maybe your art-critic glasses, and make your way to this vibrant street for an unforgettable night.

Galerias de Paris is the heartbeat of nightlife, where laughter, music, and clinking glasses fill the air.
Galerias de Paris in Porto is the heartbeat of nightlife, where laughter, music, and clinking glasses fill the air.

12. Church of São Francisco

If you’re thinking about where to visit in Porto, the Church of São Francisco deserves a spot. This Gothic gem is one of the Porto attractions you won’t want to miss. The moment you step inside, you’re transported to another era, surrounded by intricate wood carvings and golden altars that seem to whisper tales of centuries past.

Now, you might be thinking, another church? Really? But trust me, this isn’t just any church. It’s a spiritual sanctuary that doubles as an art gallery, showcasing some of the finest examples of Gothic and Baroque architecture in Portugal. The catacombs beneath the church add an extra layer of mystique, making it one of the must-visits in Porto for history aficionado.

The Church of São Francisco is more than just a place of worship; it’s a testament to Porto’s rich history and cultural heritage. Whether you’re a history aficionado or simply someone who appreciates beauty, this church will leave you in awe.

For a blend of history, art, and spirituality, the Church of São Francisco is a must-visit. It’s a serene escape in the heart of a bustling city, and an experience that will stay with you long after you’ve left.

Visit the Church of São Francisco, a Gothic gem that whispers tales of centuries past with intricate wood carvings and golden altars.
Visit the Church of São Francisco in Porto, a Gothic gem that whispers tales of centuries past with intricate wood carvings and golden altars.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Amazing Things to Do in Porto

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Porto? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Porto:

What’s the best time to visit Porto?

The best time to visit Porto is during the late spring (May to June) or early autumn (September to October) when the weather is mild, and tourist crowds are thinner. These months offer pleasant temperatures for outdoor activities and are ideal for exploring the city’s attractions and enjoying its cultural events.

What is Porto Portugal famous for?

Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal, is renowned for several things:

  1. Port Wine: Porto is synonymous with its namesake wine. The city is the birthplace of Port wine, and its historic wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia are a must-visit. These cellars offer tours and tastings of the world-famous fortified wine.
  2. Ribeira District: This is Porto’s historic heart, a UNESCO World Heritage site with narrow cobbled streets, colorful houses, and a vibrant atmosphere along the Douro River.
  3. Luis I Bridge: An iconic double-deck iron bridge that spans the Douro River, connecting Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia. It offers panoramic views of the city.
  4. Livraria Lello: Often cited as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, it’s rumored to have inspired parts of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series.
  5. Clérigos Tower: A baroque church tower that provides a panoramic view of the city when climbed.
  6. São Bento Railway Station: Known for its stunning azulejos (blue and white ceramic tiles) that depict scenes from Portuguese history.
  7. Francesinha: A local culinary delight, this sandwich is made with cured ham, steak, and sausage, covered in melted cheese and a rich tomato and beer sauce, typically served with french fries.

How many days do I need in Porto?

To fully experience Porto, plan to spend at least 3 to 4 days in the city. This allows you to explore its historic sites, savor its culinary delights, and take day trips to nearby attractions like the Douro Valley or coastal towns. Longer stays provide a more leisurely experience.

Is visiting Porto expensive?

Visiting Porto can be relatively affordable compared to many Western European cities. Porto’s accommodation, food, and transportation costs are often lower. However, expenses can vary based on your choices, such as dining preferences and the level of luxury you seek. Overall, Porto offers good value for travelers with various budgets.

What should I pack when visiting Porto?

When visiting Porto, pack comfortable walking shoes for exploring the city’s hilly terrain, as well as lightweight clothing for the mild Mediterranean climate. Don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, sunglasses, and an umbrella for occasional rain. If you plan to visit historic sites, modest attire may be required, so pack something to cover your shoulders and knees.

Vintage trams in Porto, Portugal, a historic mode of transportation in the city.
Vintage trams in Porto, Portugal, a historic mode of transportation in the city.

Is going to Porto safe for tourists?

Absolutely. Porto is generally considered a safe destination for tourists. It has a low crime rate compared to many other European cities. However, as with any travel, it’s important to stay vigilant in crowded areas and be aware of pickpockets. Exercise standard precautions, and you’re likely to have a safe and enjoyable visit.

What is Porto best known for?

Porto, Portugal is best known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and the birthplace of port wine. The city boasts iconic landmarks like the Dom Luís I Bridge and the Ribeira District, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and scenic Douro River make it a must-visit destination.

Is 3 days in Porto too much?

Three days in Porto is a good amount of time to explore the city’s main attractions and soak in its vibrant atmosphere without feeling too rushed. Porto, while rich in history and culture, is relatively compact, making it easy to navigate and experience in a shorter timeframe.

Here’s a suggested itinerary for a 3-day visit:

Day 1: Historic Porto

  1. Ribeira District: Start your day wandering the narrow, cobbled streets of Porto’s historic district, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  2. Luis I Bridge: Climb this iconic bridge for panoramic views of the city and the Douro River.
  3. Palácio da Bolsa: Visit this 19th-century stock exchange palace known for its ornate Arab Room.
  4. Church of São Francisco: Admire the baroque interior of this gothic church.

Culture and Wine (Day 2)

  1. Livraria Lello: Visit one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores, said to have inspired J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series.
  2. Clérigos Tower: Climb the tower for another panoramic view of Porto.
  3. Port Wine Cellars: Head to Vila Nova de Gaia, across the river, to tour one of the many port wine cellars and enjoy a tasting session.

Day 3: Modern Porto and Relaxation

  1. Casa da Música: Explore this modern concert hall, a piece of contemporary architecture.
  2. Serralves Museum and Park: Visit this contemporary art museum set within a beautiful park.
  3. Foz do Douro: End your trip by relaxing at this seaside district, where the Douro River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy the beaches, esplanades, and seafood restaurants.

Is Porto worth seeing?

Absolutely, Porto is a gem worth seeing. With its blend of historic charm and modern flair, the city offers a unique experience. From the picturesque Douro River to the intricate azulejo tiles adorning buildings, Porto captivates at every turn. It’s a haven for foodies, history buffs, and wanderlust seekers ali

Final Thoughts on Touring Porto

There you have it, wanderlusters! A curated list of the coolest activities in Porto that will make your Instagram feed the envy of all your friends. From sipping on world-renowned port wine to exploring hidden gems that even locals rave about, Porto is a city that never ceases to amaze. It’s a place where history, culture, and modernity coalesce in the most delightful ways, offering something for every type of traveler. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your Porto adventure now, because this city is too good to miss. Trust me, you’ll leave a piece of your heart in Porto, and that’s a promise!

The amazing things to do in Porto for all types of travelers
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