There are so many fun things to do in Porto Portugal, and I’m covering all the Porto things to do for an epic trip in this post!
Porto was my first international trip since the panny, and I absolutely loved it. This city is stunning!
I feel like people are sleeping on this city a bit. Whenever I see people traveling to Portugal, it’s always Lisbon and maybe the Algarve.
But Porto is beautiful and not to be missed!
Pssst, heading to Porto? Don’t miss these travel guides to help you plan your trip!
How to Get to Porto
If you’re coming from NYC, you’re lucky enough to have a nonstop option to Porto Airport (OPO) from Newark. Otherwise, you’ll likely have to connect from somewhere like Lisbon. But I promise the extra time spent on the layover is worth it!
If you’re planning on doing a lot of sightseeing, it might be worth it to buy a Porto Card. It will give you free public transportation for a few days plus discounts on many of the top sights, and discounts on activities like 50% off on a visit to a port wine cellar.
If it’s an option, I always recommend booking activities with GetYourGuide, especially abroad. They offer free cancellation up to 24-hours in advance, and they vet their tours really well! I’m including a few top things to do in Porto Portugal that you can book with GetYourGuide below…
Top 20 Things to Do in Porto Portugal
1. Livraria Lello
Number 1 on my list of things to do in Porto Portugal is to pay a visit to Livraria Lello. Known for being the most beautiful bookstore in the world, it’s famous because J.K. Rowling is said to have gotten a lot of her Harry Potter inspiration from this very bookstore when she lived in Porto.
It’s absolutely gorgeous and one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal. The architecture both inside and outside is strikingly beautiful. But once you step inside, it’s totally magical.
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a scene from Harry Potter and might just bump into Hermione Granger on the other side of a stack of books.
The curving, grand staircase in the center looks like something out of Hogwarts, and Rowling was supposedly inspired by this store to create Flourish and Botts, the bookstore where the wizards go to buy their books before school.
This bookstore has become so popular that you’ll need to purchase an entrance ticket in order to visit. A regular ticket is 5€ , however you’ll have to wait in line and it can be very long. When we got there in the morning, the line was estimated to be an hour and a half wait.
But I have a solution for you if you don’t feel like waiting in line! If you take a look on Livraria Lello’s website, you’ll find Priority Entrance ticket, which is basically a skip the line ticket, for 15,90€.
Since we had a lot of sight seeing to do, it was absolutely worth it for us to pay the extra 10€ and skip the line. Plus, with the priority entrance ticket you’re able to pick out a small book to take with you, which makes for a fun keepsake. They have a lot of classics as options and I went with The Great Gatsby.
2. Port Wine Tasting
Clearly, one of the top things to do in Porto is to try Port! You can do a Port flight tasting at Lado Lagar D’ouro. They’ll give you an overview of the different types of Port (ruby and tawny) and have you try a few of each, going on a little port wine tour, if you will.
You can nibble on cheese and olives while you enjoy your port, and I recommend sitting outside in the quaint alleyway.
3. Walk across the Dom Luís Bridge
The Dom Luís Bridge is so freaking beautiful. Definitely one of the prettiest bridges I’ve ever seen!
I love that it’s two levels, the first level for cars and the second for pedestrians and the lightrail train. The bridge spans across the Douro River and connects Porto city with Vila Nova de Gaia.
The same architect who designed the Eiffel Tower, Gustav Eiffel, also designed the Dom Luís Bridge, so you know it’s going to be gorgeous!
Definitely walk across the Dom Luis bridge at golden hour—you’ll enjoy incredible views over the river and charming city.
4. Visit São Bento Railway Station
The São Bento Train Station is not your ordinary train station—it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed in 1904 by architect José Marques da Silva, this train station is so unique and beautiful.
The beautiful tiles at Sao Bento train station tell the story of Portugal’s history. It took the artist Jorge Colaço 11 years and 20,000 azulejo ceramic tiles to portray Portugal’s past—from kings, to wars, to transportation.
It’s centrally located in Porto, so it’s definitely worth popping in when you pass it to admire this work of art. Plus, it’s a great photo opp and Instagrammable spot!
To get the shot above, I had my friend get as low as possible to the ground with my camera, to get as much of the blue tiles above the arches in the frame. We waited for a moment when there weren’t any people in the two arches and then snapped away.
There blue tile of course spans across the other walls, so it’s hard to capture in its entirety in one photo. It’s a beautiful spot though!
Location: Praça de Almeida Garrett, 4000-069 Porto
5. City Highlights 3-Hour Guided Electric Bike Tour
See Porto’s highlights on this 3-hour guided e-bike tour. You’ll whizz up the hills thanks to the electric bike, and get a lay of the land plus learn some history.
You’ll see the old palaces, churches, the iconic neighborhoods, the people, and all the picturesque corners that add up to why Porto has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
6. Take the Cable Car
Take the cable car or the Telerifico Gaia for some aerial views of Porto. It’s about a five-minute ride and runs between the southern end of the Ponte de Dom Luís I and the riverside.
Though it’s a short ride, you’ll climb the steep banks of Gaia to the “Miradouro da Serra do Pilar” and enjoy beautiful, panoramic views of the city.
Teleférico de Gaia
Rua Rocha Leão, 236
Vila Nova de Gaia
7. Try Vinho Verde Wine at the Vinho Verde House
You don’t have to drive an hour north of Portugal to the Vinho Verde region in order to try their wines. You can experience them right from the Vinho Verde House in Porto!
Set up a tasting at the Vinho Verde House and try some of their regional wines while enjoying their beautiful gardens overlooking the Douro River. Vinho Verde is known for their white wines with balanced acidity and minerality. I also love their rosés!
8. Go on a Food Tour
I really didn’t know much about Portuguese food before I came to Porto, except for this Wanderlust Cooking post I did on Portuguese food back in the height of the panny when I partnered with Vinho Verde to do a Portuguese menu at home. So I loved exploring and getting to know Porto’s foods!
On this food tour, you’ll be guided through Old Town Porto. You’ll start with Portuguese coffee and a Pastel de Nata—these are sooo delicious! I made Pastel de Nata at home and it turned out awesome, so I knew they’d be even better in Portugal.
Then, you’ll try smoked meat, cheeses, bread, olives, and a glass of Douro red wine at a 100-year old shop. You’ll also get to do a Port tasting where you’ll taste three different types of Port. Later, you’ll try Bifana, a traditional spicy pork sandwich.
That all sounds like a pretty good deal to me for $68!
A big part of a city’s culture is its food, so I think this one is an absolute must-do! You can book this food tour through GetYourGuide here.
9. Look for more Stunning Azuelo Tile Buildings
In addition to Sao Bento Tran Station’s beautiful blue tiles that I told you about earlier, you’ll find gorgeous displays all over the city, especially on churches. Be sure to visit Igreja do Carmo and Capela das Almas for some of the most stunning buildings.
Igreja do Carmo is one of the most beautiful churches in Porto. It’s an 18th-century baroque church, and the tiles were installed in 1910. The illustrations here depict the founding of Carmelites religious order on Mount Carmel. The address here is R. do Carmo, 4050-164 Porto, and it’s an easy 2-minute walk from Livraria Lello.
The blue tiles on Capela das Almas might be the most impressive yet. This chapel is covered in azulejo tiles on the exterior, portraying religious figures and the lives of St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Francis of Assisi, whom the chapel is devoted to.
I’m going to do a whole post on where to find more blue tiles in Porto, but these two and Sao Bento station are definitely the top three to visit. If you’re going with an Instagram photo in mind, I’d recommend wearing a color that really pops against the blue in white, like yellow, red, or orange. If you wear blue or white you’re just going to blend in and I think it’s more fun to pop!
10. Go on a Douro River Cruise
Going on a river cruise is another one of my top things to do in Porto Portugal. You get to cruise down the Douro River and get a different perspective of the beautiful city.
There are a lot of different river cruises to choose from and booking it can be quite confusing. The website we booked with ended up not being a direct site for a specific cruise so we had to walk along the river on Cais da Ribeira (which is also a fun street to walk along and grab a glass of wine and charcuterie plate somewhere) and try to find the right place, show them our confirmation email, and exchange that for an actual ticket.
Instead of doing all that, I’d recommend booking a cruise through GetYourGuide. It’ll be much more seamless!
On this 50-minute cruise, you’ll get to float down the river on a typical Rabelo Boat. You’ll pass by the six bridges of the city, and your cruise also comes with an audio guide. Always nice to get some historical context and learn some things about the city you’re visiting!
This River Cruise also includes a glass of Port wine to end on a sweet note!
You can book this River Cruise through GetYourGuide here for $17.
11. Visit Serralves Museum and Park
Serralves is a cultural institute and museum. I had no idea, but apparently, it’s one of the most visited art museums in the world.
At Serralves, you’ll find a Contemporary Art Museum, a beautiful Park, and an epic Villa, with plenty of contemporary and art deco architecture.
The Contemporary Art Museum has rotating exhibits, and when we were there they had some art by Ai Wei Wei that I was excited to see.
The Villa is pink and modernist, and you can go inside to explore a bit. The landscaped gardens surrounding it have beautiful fountains and offer a nice place to take a stroll through.
We also discovered the Treetop Walk while we were there, which reminded me a lot of Treetops in Vancouver. This walkway takes you through the treetops high above the ground and is just a nice nature moment. The light filters through the trees in a really beautiful way. I’m not sure if this was a permanent installation or not, but when we were there they also had these large, white balls hanging in the trees that were really fun and whimsical.
Serralves is a bit outside of the city center, so you’ll probably want to take a cab for the 15-minute drive. It’s a nice place to spend an afternoon.
12. Have cocktails at the Dick’s Bar at the Yeatman Hotel
For absolutely gorgeous views, grab a cocktail at Dick’s Bar & Bistro, located at the fancy Yeatman Hotel. Their outdoor seating on their expansive patio has stunning views of the Douro River, Porto’s beautiful red roof buildings, and the Dom Luís Bridge.
Dick’s Bar is open every day until midnight, and they have live music Friday – Sunday in the evenings starting at 9:30pm.
You can book a reservation here. While the ambiance inside is lovely too, if you want those Porto views make sure to request an outside table with a view in the comments!
You’ll find plenty of wine tasting day trip tours if you want to get out of Porto and experience the Douro Valley! While the Douro Valley is known for making Port, they also produce table wines like light-bodied whites and some reds that range from light, Bordeaux-style to rich Burgundian-style wines aged in new oak.
You’ll get picked up and whisked off to the Douro Valley to visit three different wineries that range from small, family-owned, to mid-sized, to larger, corporate, where you’ll try different Ports and Douro Valley wines. The scenery here is amazing, and you’ll also enjoy lunch in a vineyard.
14. Visit the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
The Crystal Palace Gardens are a really beautiful spot to visit in Porto. You’ll find winding walkways, gardens, views of the Douro River, and peacocks here!
There used to be an actual Crystal Palace here, but that’s since been torn down and replaced with a domed pavilion that functions as an events center. If you have the energy, you can climb up the stairs to the top of the dome for even more epic views!
15. Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace)
The Palacio da Bolso is a popular site to visit in Porto. It’s a massive building in the historic center of Porto, and used to be the city’s Stock Exchange Palace. European investors and bankers would come here back in the day, but now you can tour the inside and see its epic and ornate interiors.
You can see the outside facade for free, but to enter you’ll need to pay for a tour. Inside, you’ll see the glass-domed Patio das Nacoes (Hall of Nations) and the golden Salao Arabe (Arabian Hall).
16. Sé do Porto (Porto Cathedral)
The Porto Cathedral is one of the city’s oldest and most important monuments. You’ll find more beautiful blue tile moments and gothic architecture here.
17. Climb Torre dos Clérigos
Clerigos Church is a Baroque church in Porto’s city center, built in the 18th century. The church has a tall bell tower that you can climb up for epic views of the entire city and the river.
18. São Francisco Church
Another church, but this one is unique! While the exterior might look like your typical gothic church, it’s covered in gold inside. It’s totally jaw-dropping!
Your eyes will be overwhelmed with floor-to-ceiling giltwood carvings (with supposedly over 800 pounds of gold) covering the vaulted ceilings and walls of this church, which was built 1245.
19. Foz do Douro
If it’s a warm day, everyone heads to the beaches at Foz do Douro. This seafront area is known for its sandy beaches and Atlantic ocean waves. We didn’t make it here ourselves but if we had more time, we definitely would have included a beach day into our itinerary!
The area is located just west of Serralves. You can ride bikes from Porto or hop on tram 1.
20. Visit Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar
This former monastery sits perched high above the river att he end of the Dom Luis Bridge. It’s beautiful and has stunning views of the bridge, river, and city!
That wraps up my list of all the best things to do in Porto Portugal! As you can see, there’s plenty to do and see here. It’s Portugal’s second-largest city, after all.
Psst, planning a trip to Porto? Pin this Top thing to Do in Porto Portugal post to save it for later!
Heading to Porto? Read my other Porto guides to help plan your trip!
The top things to do are:
– Visiting Livraria Lello
– Walk across the Dom Luís Bridge
– Climb Torre dos Clérigos
It’s recommended to spend at least 2 to 3 in Porto to really explore everything the city has to offer without feeling too rushed.
The best time to visit Porto Portugal is from May to September when the weather is a little cooler and the tourist have died down.
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.