It’s not difficult to fall in love with Porto. Breathtaking views, romantic streets full of beautiful tiled buildings and port. I can guarantee that if you take three days or even a whole week here, you probably won’t get enough of this Portuguese port city. But how to make the most of your time in Porto? In this article, I’ve compiled a list of the best things to do, see, taste and eat in Porto.
How to get to Porto
In general, we recommend searching for tickets via Skyscanner.
How to get to the centre of Porto from Francisco Sá Carnerio Airport
- Francisco Sá Carnerio Airport is easily accessible from the city centre via the purple line E of the local metro. The price depends on exactly where you’re going, but to the centre the normal price is around two euros and the ride takes about 40 minutes. The metro operates from 6:00 am to about 1:00 am. If you’re interested in specific times, check out the website Metro do Porto.
- To ride the metro and city buses, you need to buy an Andante card, which costs €0.60 and is always charged per zone. But we walked comfortably through the centre. You can buy a single ticket or a day pass for the beach and more distant points of interest.
Please note that the Andante is not valid on cable cars and the historic tram – you must buy individual tickets there. A ticket on the historic tram costs 3.5 euros one way. A two-day ticket will cost €10.
Where to stay in Porto
If you’re a frequent traveller and enjoy the discounts and benefits of Accor hotels, there are several properties in Porto.
- The Novotel Porto Gaia is further away from the centre but has good parking, an excellent breakfast and a swimming pool in summer. Novotel also has Ibis Porto Gaia (cheaper) and Ibis Budget Porto Gaia (cheapest).
- In the centre, you will find Ibis Porto Centro. We always had an excellent breakfast in these hotels and they accommodated us with our dog. Breakfast is usually key for us when we go on shorter trips so we don’t spend the morning looking for food.
- For those of you who are in Porto for a longer period of time, want to cook for yourself or try one of our recommended cafes in the morning (below in the article), check out Vitoria’s Terrace Apartments, which are centrally located, as well as the Cozy Studio Apartment.
- For those looking for cheap hostel-style accommodation in Porto, the very stylish The Passenger Hostel is located in the iconic UNESCO-listed S. Bento train station.
Weather in Porto: When to go to Portugal?
Porto’s coastal location makes it pleasant all year round. In the summer, it doesn’t get extremely hot (although that’s changing a lot now that the planet is warming up) and in the winter, don’t expect sub-zero temperatures.
However, it rains heavily during the winter (October – January) and the most ideal time to visit is spring, summer and the end of autumn (May – September). We visited Porto in mid-February and it was a beautiful 17 degrees and partly cloudy.
TIP: From Porto you can also walk the legendary Camino to Santiago de Compostela. A great place to start is the Camino for Joy blog.
22 tips on what to see and experience in Porto
The introduction is over and let’s take a look together at what you should definitely not miss in Porto. The following is a map of all the places mentioned below.
1) Livraria Lello
Whether you love Harry Potter, are a bookworm, or are simply a fan of beautiful interiors, you probably can’t resist this magical bookstore.
You have to buy a ticket to get in. We recommend that you purchase a ticket in advance online . It is purchased locally at the shop around the corner to the right of the bookstore. Entry costs five euros and you can use your ticket as a discount on the purchase of a book.
When we read about Porto, many foreign travelers advised us to avoid bookstores. It’s true that there are a lot of people there. Don’t go there during the day, we went around about 10 times and each time there was a line of over 50 people.
If you want to see the bookstore, head here half an hour before opening time (it opens at 9:30). We got here at 9:07 and we were fourth. We were among the first to see the bookstore and enjoy it to the fullest.
In the bookstore you will find, for example, first editions of Oliver Twist, on the second floor you will find the heads of various philosophers, artists and writers on books, and you can buy special editions of classic works published directly by Livraria Lello.
When Rowling lived in Porto, she reportedly came here very often, and the Livraria Lello bookshop became a great inspiration for her. There’s a room in the bookstore today dedicated to Harry Potter.
- Opening hours: 9:30 – 19:00
- Admission: 5 EUR (this is a voucher that can be deducted from the book)
2) Church of Igreja do Carmo
The Baroque church of Igreja do Carmo will probably catch your eye on the way to Livraria Lello with its beautiful tiled facade. If you observe carefully, you will find that it is not one church, but two. It is only a narrow, one-metre-long alley away from Igreja dos Carmelitas.
3) Tower and church of Igréja e Torre dos Clérigos
If you’re in Porto for several days and dedicate one morning to the Livraria Lello, the other to the view from the Clérigos tower. The view is very popular, and so for the 10th time. …you’ll be squeezing in with a big group of people upstairs.
Admission is 6 euros, if you’re here on Valentine’s Day you might get 1+1 FREE like we did. The entrance fee includes a tour of the church and a small exhibition about the construction of the tower and the Baroque church.
- Opening hours: 9:00- 19:00
- Admission: 6 EUR
4) Taste the pasteis de nata in Manteigaria
It’s hard to avoid the traditional yolk pastel de nata in Portugal. But you won’t find one as delicious as the one in Manteigaria, not far from the Clerigos tower. Although I was on a low-carb diet in Porto, I had to break it for once and I was glad I did.
Thetraditional dessert is brought to true mastery here. The puff pastry together with the filling just melts on your tongue. Plus, you can watch the bakers in action as they make pasteis de nata.
One piece will cost you 1.30 euros.
5) Sao Bento Train Station
Those who are crazy about blue tiles will have to go to Sao Bento station. The blue paintings on the tiles depict the country’s historical events and there are also rural scenes from the regions.
They were designed by Jorge Colaco and completed in 1916. The station itself has been standing here only 12 years longer, it was built in 1904.
6) Mercado de Bolhao
Lukáš and I like to go to markets all over the world (actually even at home, we live not far from the Holešovice market). Nothing tells you as much about a place as the food.
The Mercado de Bolhoa has just been moved to another temporary location in February 2020 as the market building is being renovated. If it still persists during your visit, don’t be discouraged!
The market offers fruit, vegetables, freshly caught fish and meat. If you prefer a vegetarian or vegan diet, be sure to stop by the stall NaturaBolhao Cafe where they have a great selection of vegan food. We had a delicious spinach quiche and a wrap with tempeh.
7) Capillas de las Almas
Near the Mercado do Balhao is the main pedestrian shopping street of the centre: the Santa Catarina. There are many shops, restaurants and cafés, and it will lead you to the Capillas de las Almas church, which is decorated with 16,000 blue tiles. On them you will find a depiction of the death of Fantiscus of Assissi.
8) Church of Santo Ildenfonso
It is hard to miss the church of St. Ildenfons, which is decorated with beautiful white and blue tiles.
The church was built in the 18th century. century in Baroque style and the altar was created by the Italian artist and architect Nicolau Nasoni, who was involved in many other buildings in Porto, designing for example the tower and the church of Clerigos.
9) Sé do Porto Cathedral
The main Porta Cathedral was built in the 12th century. century and was the seat of the Portuguese kings. It was here that the parents of the famous King Henry the Navigator, John I and Philippa of Lancaster, were married in 1387.
Henry the Navigator was baptised here in 1394. The cathedral also offers a magnificent view of the city.
10) Mercado Ferreira Borges
On the square Praca to Infante D. Henrique is a building where you can discover a small market with local products. From what I’ve read of the reviews, it’s not always there, but when we were there they had jewelry, spices, clothing, and also handmade dream catchers.
All stylish and well priced. But I can’t guarantee that when you go there, the same vendors will be there. But be sure to check it out when you’re in the area.
11) Palacio da Bolsa
A beautiful palace that you will appreciate the moment you step inside. Here you will find breathtaking interiors that have been very richly furnished.
The most beautiful of the whole tour is the magnificent hall decorated in Arabic style with stucco reminiscent of the Alhambra and furnishings in Maori style. It was built in 19. century as a stock exchange palace.
- The tour lasts 45 minutes
- Admission: adult 11 eur / student / senior 7,5 eur
- Children up to 12 years free of charge
12) Igrejo Monumento de Sao Francisco
Next to the Stock Exchange Palace you will find the Franciscan Church from the 14th century. century. It is the most important Gothic building in Porto and one of the most important religious churches in the city. The church is on the UNESCO list.
13) Cais da Ribeira Promenade
Lukas and I joked that this is a much better waterfront than in Prague. Your visit to Porto would not be complete without a walk along the Douro River.
The boats floating down the river encourage you to pay for a ride, the colourful houses make you constantly pick up your camera and you know you have to come back several more times to take in the beauty.
Take time to admire the view of the Louis I Bridge, the Duoro River and the opposite bank of Vila Nova de Gaia.
14) Bridge of Louis I(Ponte de Dom Luís I)
Along the Cais da Ribeira promenade you will reach the beginning of the Louis I Bridge, which is strikingly reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The bridge was designed by his pupil, Théophile Seyrig.
When I was looking for information about the bridge, I found out that another bridge was originally designed here by Gustave Eiffel himself, but his proposal was rejected.
The bridge is two-storeyed and you can reach the second floor either on foot or by cable car. If you have a dog with you, you can take it to the cable car. The second floor of the bridge has a great view, so I recommend going one way up and one way down.
15) Claustros do Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar (Monastery of Serra do Pilar)
On the other side of the bridge, you will find the Serra do Pilar Monastery on the hilltop, with a magnificent view. But also spend your time in the monastery building.
This is another building that is on the UNESCO list. It’s from the 17th. century and was built on the border between the Renaissance and Mannerist styles.
16) Cable car – teleferico de Vila Nova de Gaia
If you like cable car rides, or you’re getting a bit tired, there is a cable car just a short walk from the Serra do Pilar Monastery that takes you to the end of the Av promenade. de Diogo Leite.
The cable car overlooks the Duoro River and you can buy a ticket in combination with a boat trip. The cable car is a bit but more expensive for only going a few minutes.
17) Port wine – where to go for it
If you like port wine or wine in general, you should definitely spend at least one evening visiting the local cellars or wine bars located in Vila Nova de Gaiga.
The most famous are Cálem, Taylor’s, Graham’ s , Porto Cruz, Offley, Quevedo, Ferreira and Ramos Pinto. Cellar tours and wine tastings are not expensive, prices don’t vary much and range between 10-20 euros.
If you don’t feel like touring the cellars but would like to have some wine, don’t worry. Every restaurant has a wine list and usually a glass of wine is around 3-6 euros.
18) Day trip to Duoro Valley
There are also excursions from the town to the wine-growing area around the Duoro River. If you go with an organized trip, you always have a wine tasting included. But expect to pay tens of euros per person.
However, you can organize the trip yourself, by your own or rented car. We have already fallen in love with this picturesque hilly wine country while driving around and we intend to return. This is a charming winding valley where vineyards are interspersed with villages of clean white houses and churches.
19) Trip to the beach
Although the beach is not right in the centre of town, just take a bike, a car or public transport to reach Praia de Matosinhos.
Here it’s up to you whether you want to spend the day swimming, surfing or just coming here for the sunset.
20) Jardins do Palacio Cristal
The oasis of peace full of greenery, where we experienced a beautiful sunset, is located a little further away from the center. If you have more time or your own car, be sure to take a pleasant walk here.
The gardens are large enough to accommodate a large number of people, so even if they are full, you will always find a spot to yourself. Admission is free.
21) Casa da Musica
A modern building far from the city centre, with a view of the whole city from its roof. If you like modern architecture, make sure you go here. There is a café on the ground floor, where live music is often played, and a restaurant on the upper floor.
Tours are also available, but I couldn’t find their times online anywhere, but they are posted on the ground floor of the building.
22) Where to eat and have a good coffee
- Esquires Coffee Porto – A very modern interior that offers pleasant seating, food and good coffee. You can go here for breakfast and a light lunch, and if you’re looking for a great coffee, there’s a delicious flat white and latte.
- Zenith Brunch & Cocktails Bar – A very popular bistro just a short walk from Igreja do Carmo. The excellent food, which is beautifully presented, attracts locals and tourists alike, so there are often queues and a half-hour wait for a table. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu. They don’t take reservations.
- Moustache – A cafe that’s close to Zenith. If you like eggs for breakfast, they have a pretty decent menu here. Their coffee is excellent, alternative milk is a must.
- D Norte Café by Hungry Biker – Café with hipster interior, where you can have waffles with your coffee. It is often crowded, so expect to wait a while.
- Mesa 325 – Excellent coffee and breakfast. You can have porridge or yoghurt with fruit, croissant, or a light lunch.
- Combi Coffee – One of the best coffees in Porto can be found right here. Alternative milk is available and you can also enjoy the Portuguese speciality pastel de nata.
- About Paparico – For those who want to taste Portuguese cuisine of the highest quality, make a reservation at O Paparico. This is a high-end business where it is immediately clear what you are paying for: The high quality of the food, which is also masterfully presented, the beautiful surroundings and the great service.
Where else to go on holiday in Portugal?
Our most popular destination in Portugal is Algarve where we go every year for a whole month and we still can’t get enough of this destination! However, we recommend spending 2-3 days in Lisbon.
Tips and tricks for travelling in Portugal
What to pack
Take a look at our
Where to get tickets
We commonly use a grader
Reservation of accommodation
Don’t forget about insurance
Travel insurance is an absolute must. For shorter journeys we choose AXA (