25 Best Things to Do in Porto (+ Nearby Attractions!)

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Porto has become a popular travel destination in Europe in the last six or so years. This is a guide to the best things to do in Porto, Portugal… from tasting the city’s food to walking the historic streets. 

Are you planning your trip to Porto last minute?

If youʻre booking your trip to Porto last minute, we have you covered. Below are some of the top tours, hotels, and more!

🇵🇹  Top Experiences and Tours in Porto:

  1. Hop-on, Hop-off Bus, River Cruise, and Port Cellar Tour (bestseller tour in Porto!)
  2. Live Fado Performance (with Port Wine Experience)
  3. Douro Valley Tour Wine Tasting & River Cruise (popular day tour)

🛏️  Top Places to Stay in Porto:

  1. Pestana Palácio do Freixo (luxury + with outdoor pool)
  2. Linha 22 (comfortable mid-range hotel)
  3. CATS Design Hostel Porto (budget option)

🚗  Looking for the best way to get around Porto? Click here to check rental car rates for Portugal!

If you’re looking for what to do in Porto, this guide has you covered! Let us know if we miss any of the best Porto attractions!

Best Things to Do in Porto, Portugal

Sometimes, when I am looking back and reminiscing about how I ended up in certain destinations, I laugh at my random choices, even though they will never be as random as Megan’s.

And sometimes, you find yourself unexpectedly connecting with a city you didn’t initially intend to visit.  

This was my experience when I traveled to Porto, Portugal in the summer of 2018. My trip was booked initially to visit Lyon to see a friend, and later, Portugal was added to the itinerary. 

Best things to do in Porto for first-timers
Best things to do in Porto for first-timers

I had very limited knowledge about Portugal in general, and even less knowledge about Porto aside from knowing about the FC Porto football team and that an old friend lived there. 

I fell in love with this city instantly when I was on my way from Porto Airport to the city.

Porto is a beautiful, warm, and historically rich city with traditions dating back to 300 BC and the Celtic era. 

The city has mind-blowing architecture, old districts, green parks, ocean views, delicious food, and friendly locals… all of which capture my heart. 

You can spend a weekend in Porto or a lot longer… but one thing is for certain, you will fall in love with it!

Visit Porto!
Top Porto attractions

Porto Card

There are many sites to see in Porto. The best way to do this while saving a couple of bucks is to purchase the Porto Card, a city pass for Porto’s best attractions and sites. 

The Porto city card gives visitors the chance to visit museums, take public transportation at no cost, get a discount in cafes and Porto restaurants, and take free tours.  

For first-timers visiting Porto, this is a great purchase to make you have the best trip possible.

>> Click here to purchase the amazing Porto Card

Renting a Car in Porto, Portugal

Are you keen to rent a car when in Porto? That is truly the best way to get around, and you can take many Porto day trips, too. 

We not only recommend a car in Porto because of the ease of maneuvering about, but we also recommend it because it will give you air-conditioning in summer when the temperatures are scorching. 

Renting a car in Portugal also makes it easy to get from Porto Airport to the city center.

>> Click here to check rental car rates for Porto

Cultural Things to Do in Porto 

1. See St. Francis Church 

One of the top things to do in Porto is to visit St. Francis Church (Igreja de São Francisco). This church is known for its interior, which is fully doused in gold. It is located in the center of Porto. 

From the outside, you might think it is just another Portuguese church.  

St. Francis Church
St. Francis Church

However, this UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 13th century has such an impressive interior that you need to take the time to go inside. 

The inside of the church, the walls are covered with 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of gold dust.  

Address: Rua do Infante D. Henrique, 4050-297 Porto

2. Climb and See Porto from Above at Clerigos Tower

Seventy-six meters (250 feet) and 200 steps into the sky is the Clerigos Tower, one of the best views over Porto. This iconic construction was my navigation point that I would use whenever I was lost in the city.  

You will inevitably see the Clerigos Tower when you’re in Porto. The 18th-century tower has 49 bells and you can visit it. 

Clerigos Tower
Clerigos Tower

We recommend purchasing the Porto Card, which gives you easy and discounted access to visiting the tower (and several other Porto sites!) Click here for more information.

Address: R. de São Filipe de Nery, 4050-546 Porto

3. Check Out the Porto Cathedral

One of the most famous places for sightseeing in Porto is in and around Porto Cathedral. The red roofs and viewpoints around the cathedral are breathtaking.

The Porto Cathedral was built in a Gothic style from construction that began in the 12th century. It took 6 centuries to officially finish.  

Ir can get a bit touristy at times, but it is easy to escape the crowds by taking to one of the back alleys around the church.  

Address: Terreiro da Sé, 4050-573 Porto

One day in Porto Itinerary for First-Time Visitors
Porto Cathedral

4. Walk and See Amazing Porto Street Art

As if Porto didn’t already have it all, it also has a thriving street art scene. You can peruse the small alleys and walkways and find some of the most spectacular art on the most unassuming of buildings. 

Local and foreign artists have left their marks on various parts of the city. You just need a camera and some patience, and you will have a field day.

Street art in Porto
Street art in Porto

In my opinion, places like Rua Miguel Bombarda and Rua do Paraíso/Camões offer the coolest and best street art in the city.

5. Enjoy Music in Casa de Musica

Usually in Porto, when you see an old and traditional-style building in the city center, you become curious about what it is and the history behind it. 

Such was the case with the Casa de Musica in Porto for me. I quickly learned that this creative music hall had a captivating history when it comes to its architecture. 

Dutch architect Remnant Lucas Koolhaus designed the outstanding, asymmetrical polyhedron with large, glass windows covered with white cement.

It is where the National Orchestra of Porto performs and its exterior serves as a place where people can hang out, socialize, and skateboard due to the perfect conditions.  

The Casa de Musica is part of the Porto Card and you can get a discounted tour inside if you present your card. 

Address: Av. da Boavista 604-610, 4149-071 Porto

6. Go to the Soares dos Reis National Museum

Soares dos Reis National Museum is one of Porto’s central museums and some of the notable exhibitions are Flemish paintings and masterpieces of Portuguese sculptures. 

Soares dos Reis National Museum
Soares dos Reis National Museum

I liked the idea that the museum is located in an 18th-century palace, which gave it more charm and made the experience more interesting.

Art lovers will love visiting the Soares dos Reis National Museum if they are looking for things to do in Porto. It is located in the Porto city center.

The best way to see this and several other museums is by purchasing the Porto Card.  

Address: R. de Dom Manuel II 44, 4050-522 Porto

7. Discover Why One Building Has Two Churches 

The Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas are located right in the heart of Porto next to the Fonte dos Leões fountains. You might overlook both many times before you randomly recognize it. 

One interesting fact about these two churches is that from a distance, they appear as one church. They are, in fact, two churches separated by around one meter (3.3 feet).

The reason for the churches’ separation was to divide the nuns of Igreja dos Carmelitas from the monks of Igreja do Carmo back in the day.

The Igreja dos Carmelitas was built in 1616 and the Igreja do Carmo was established in 1756.

Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas
Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas

One unique thing I noticed about Porto was that many blue-painted tiles and Frescas cover the facades and walls of buildings. 

One of the most famous tiled buildings is on the side of Igreja do Carmo. It is simply beautiful.

Address: R. do Carmo, 4050-164 Porto

8. Visit the FC Porto Museum

As a soccer (football) lover, I highly recommend that you visit the FC Porto Museum if you are also into sports. 

The museum focuses on the sports achievements of FC Porto, and since Portugal is a football country, it is an interesting cultural experience as the sport plays such a huge role in the daily lives of many there.

FC Porto Museum - Yuri Turkov - Shutterstock
FC Porto Museum – Yuri Turkov – Shutterstock

The museum is beautifully decorated with the team’s history, titles, and achievements from over the decades and it is located inside of the Estádio do Dragão football stadium and is worth a visit.  

With the Porto Pass, you will receive a discount on a tour of the stadium while there.  Definitely a great activity for sports lovers!

Address: Via Futebol Clube do Porto – Estádio do Dragão, 4350-415 Porto

9. Feel Glamorous at Palácio da Bolsa

Built on the ruins of St. Francis Convent in 1842, the Palácio da Bolsa (an old stock exchange) is the luxurious National Monument of Porto. 

The rich design of the building showcases decorative engravings, stunning chandeliers, and many tile Frescas.

You can wander around independently or take a tour. Both will allow you to see the many ornate rooms, and you can even admire the metal roof of the Hall of Nations.  

The Porto Card gives you a 50% discount at the Palácio da Bolsa.

Address: R. de Ferreira Borges, 4050-253 Porto

10. Go to Serralves Museum & Villa

Built in a 1930s style, the Serralves Contemporary Art Museum and Villa is a combination of nature and eloquent taste. It also features a well-maintained garden with an Art Deco design.

This museum and villa will take you back in time. During your visit, you can learn more about the villa’s history.

Serralves Museum & Villa - TasfotoNL - Shutterstock
Serralves Museum & Villa – TasfotoNL – Shutterstock

Address: R. Dom João de Castro 210, 4150-417 Porto

What to Do in Porto for Nature lovers 

I find Porto to be super green compared to other cities I have visited. There were so many parks in the city- both small and large ones.

There are flowerbeds inside the parks with lots of greenery. You can stay in the city and experience them, or head out of the city to get more in touch with nature- including some of the area’s best beaches.

11. Visit Jardins do Palácio de Cristal

If you want to take refuge from the hot Portuguese sun and relax in a nice, green environment, then Jardins do Palácio de Cristal’s gorgeous botanical garden is the perfect place to do so. 

The garden’s paths will lead you to gorgeous fountains, sculptures, little ponds, contemporary art exhibitions, and other pieces of art.

From Jardins do Palácio de Cristal, it will be possible to get an amazing view of the Douro River.

Address: R. de Dom Manuel II, 4050-346 Porto

One day in Porto Itinerary for First-Time Visitors
Porto in February

12. Hang Out at Porto City Park

This huge city park spans over 80 hectares and is located an hour away from the city by bus, but trust me, it is well worth the visit and is one of the best things to do in Porto. 

Inside Porto City Park, you will feel as though you’ve entered a forest. However, this family-friendly green space has so many sights within it.

One example is a floating sculpture that is 27 meters (88.5 feet) high and looks like a fishing net. There are also biking and walking paths and even some sand volleyball courts.

On Saturdays, you can visit Mercado Biológico, a market that is located in the center of the park known for selling juicy and delicious organic fruits. You can find the Porto City Park at Estrada Interior da Circunvalação in Porto.

13. Go to Local and Nearby Beaches in Porto

You will adore the beaches of Porto because they are mostly sandy and comfortable for those looking to spend a day at the beach or have a picnic. 

I tried surfing for the first time in Porto with my friend and it was such an unforgettable experience. If you are visiting, here are some of the best beaches in Porto (and nearby):

Praia de Matosinhos Beach: This beach is a 20-minute car ride from the center of the city. It has a big public beach with outdoor showers, golden sand, and open views of the Atlantic. You can find it at Av. Norton de Matos in Matosinhos.

Praia do Carneiro Beach: This beach is close to the center- only about ten minutes away by car.

Praia do Carneiro Beach
Praia do Carneiro Beach

You will find sandy beaches, palm trees, and nice buildings surrounding other scenic spots where you can see an old lighthouse. You can find it at Av. de Dom Carlos I in Porto.

Praia da Granja Beach: This is my favorite beach. The area has open terraces with open-air cafes where I enjoyed an afternoon with friends, had a great picnic, and swam in the cold Atlantic Ocean.

If you decide to visit a beach, I can recommend Praia da Granja, but to get there you need to take a train because it’s outside of the city- about an hour from Porto Central Station.

You can find the beach at R. São Félix in São Félix da M.nha.

What to See in Porto for History Lovers 

There are historical monuments everywhere in Porto, and many of them are close to each other. 

It is an amazing city for history buffs, and you will quickly get a positive impression of Porto based on its historical monuments and sites.

14. See the Iconic Luis I Bridge

One of the most popular constructions in Porto is the iconic Luis I Bridge. The legendary 172-meter-(564 feet) long bridge was built between 1881 and 1886 and is one of the symbols of tourism for Porto. 

It goes over the Douro River from Vila Nova de Gaia to the historic Ribeira district.

The bridge has two different levels. One level is for trams and pedestrians, and the other is for cars and pedestrians. The views from the bridge are stellar.

Luis I Bridge in Porto
Luis I Bridge in Porto

15. Wander Around the Ribeira District

Wandering around the Ribeira district is one of the essential things to do in Porto. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (and has been since 1996) and you will see why when you visit Porto. 

In this district, you will find lots of riverside cafes and restaurants with tourists perusing around under the gorgeous medieval buildings.

16. Visit an Old Porto Jail

I had a unique opportunity to visit an 18th-century prison called Cadeia da Relação that had been converted into the Portuguese Center of Photography in 1997.

The idea of using this impressive building with a tragic history for something more creative and positive is remarkable and makes it worth a visit.

I had a chance to visit a Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Portuguese Center of Photography when I was in Porto, but I am sure that any current exhibit they have will be worth the journey. 

Address: Largo Amor de Perdição, 4050-008 Porto

17. Marvel at One of the World’s Most Famous Bookstores

One of the most fascinating and must-visit places in Porto is the Lello Bookstore (Livraria Lello). I have never seen such a beautiful bookstore.

It is constantly ranked as the third most beautiful bookstore in the world and is essential to add to your Porto itinerary

The inside of Lello Bookstore is made of glass and wood, and the attractive facade was built in the neo-Gothic style. It was established in 1881 and has a huge collection of historic books from the Middle Ages. 

You can’t visit Porto without stopping at Lello to marvel at the stunning architecture and book collection. 

Address: R. das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161 Porto

Lello Bookstore
Lello Bookstore

18. Walk Around Aliados Avenue 

This picturesque and wide avenue is located right in the center of Porto. 

The architecture along Aliados Avenue is detailed and ornate, showcasing how rich the street is. Buildings like the Banco de Portugal also show the 19th-century bourgeois lifestyle of Porto.

Aliados Avenue is also known to be Porto’s welcome hall because there are many hotels and coffee shops there, like Guarany, which was founded in the 1930s. 

And, just like in a lot of other remarkable spots in the world, you will also see a McDonald’s.

19. Take a Ride to Fernandina Wall

Right next to Luis I Bridge, you can see the old medieval fortress wall that was originally built in the 14th century and later rebuilt in the 19th century. 

The impressive wall is visible from many places around Porto. There are two options to get there: by taking the Guindais funicular near the Luis I Bridge or in the Ribeira neighborhood.

If you purchase the Porto Card, you can take the funicular and see the Porto site for free.  

Address: Escadas do Caminho Novo 17, 4000-173 Porto

Fernandina Wall
Fernandina Wall

20. Check Out the Fort of Saint Francis Xavier 

Thanks to my local friend who lives in Porto, I discovered the Fort of Saint Francis Xavier during my visit to Matosinhos, a district of Porto. 

I always had an interest in protective forts and history. This was such a captivating piece of history and one that I am glad I got to check out on my trip to Porto.

The impressive sea fort was built in the 16th century and had a defensive purpose as it was protecting Porto from Spanish ships. 

Today, the beautiful piece of history is a monument that you can enter and find charming cafes, souvenir shops, and a military museum with the original cannons from the 16th century. There are also views over the Atlantic Ocean nearby.  

It takes around 20 minutes to reach the fort by car and an hour to get there by public transportation. Be sure to grab the Porto Pass so you can use the transportation benefits the card offers!

Address: Praça de Gonçalves Zarco 20, 4100-274 Porto

Delicious Things to Do in Porto

My love for Portuguese food (and my food coma) started right after my first day in the city. The food in Porto is simply fantastic and fresh. Not only the seafood… but everything!

There are so many hidden cafes and restaurants throughout the city that you will happily uncover some of the best that Porto has to offer in terms of food.

21. Enjoy Fresh Sardines

Even though the combination of sardines, potatoes, and vegetables may seem simple and humble, this boiled or fried dish is so tasty that you will be blown away. 

Fresh Sardines in Porto
Fresh Sardines in Porto

You can order sardines almost everywhere in Porto because of the popularity of fish in Portuguese cuisine. I found awesome cafes in Ribeira and fine dining restaurants all offering amazing sardines.

22. Try Traditional Francesinha

After eating seafood for a couple of days, I was hungry for traditional, local food and my friend told me about this typical Porto dish that I just had to try.

Francesinha is a heavy food, but it will satisfy your hunger for hours and hours!

So, it looks like a big sandwich covered with sauce and its ingredients are ham, bread, fresh sausage, steak or roasted meat, cheese, and tomatoes. Try it at lunchtime and you will be full all day!

I enjoyed Francesinha at Lado B Cafe, which my friend said was the best in the city.  

Address: ao Coliseu, R. de Passos Manuel 190 Frente, 4000-382 Porto

23. Eat Your Body Weight in Pastel de Natas

If you have a hankering for something sweet, definitely snack on a Portuguese favorite, pastel de nata, or egg tart. While they may originate in Asia, they are immensely popular in Porto and everywhere else in Portugal.

Pastel de Natas
Pastel de Natas

I found tasty ones in Ribeira, especially at Bacchus Vini right by the riverside.

Address: R. da Lada 14, 4050-328 Porto

24. Have a Glass of Port wine

It would be remiss of you to head to Porto and not indulge in the city’s signature drink, port wine. You can try Port almost anywhere in the city, but I suggest booking a tasting as I did at the 19th-century Calem Port Wine Cellar. 

The tour included learning the history of the facility, checking out the museum dedicated to the drink, and listening to the Portuguese instrument called ‘fado’ during the tasting. 

This tour was amazing and I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! We even included it on our Porto wine tours guide where you can see alternative options if you’re looking for something a bit more in-depth.

>> Click here to join the perfect Port wine tasting in Porto

25. Nightlife in Porto 

Porto has an underrated nightlife scene and I had the opportunity to experience it when I was there.

If you walk downtown toward Galerias de Paris Street, everywhere seems to be a party after 10 pm, both during the weekend and weekdays. 

It is hard to recommend just one place in Porto because the party was everywhere. There are many clubs, bars, and open-air cafes… and all are brimming with people having a blast.

One thing that I was surprised about was that there were hidden dance clubs in old buildings almost everywhere. 

Port wine tasting at night
Port wine tasting at night

The beer was cheap (around 1 Euro- 1.10 USD), and skilled and unskilled dancers alike took to the clubs. I didn’t have great skills but after a few drinks, I sure felt like I did.

These locations change often and they are spread throughout the city, so just keep your eyes peeled when you’re walking around. You will also see many people dancing on the streets and showing off their skills.

We found many of these dance clubs in buildings along Galerias de Paris and its backstreets.

Best Porto Tours

There are so many Porto tours worth the investment, but I definitely recommend the ones below as they will take you to some of the best places on this list. 

What to do in Porto
What to do in Porto

These tours can help you see the main sites and learn more about the city, its history, and its culinary scene.

Things to Do in Porto (On a Map!)

🗺️  HOW TO USE THIS MAP: You can use your fingers/mouse to zoom in and out. To get more info about a place, simply touch/click the icons. Want to save this map for later use? Click the ‘⭐’ by the map title and it will add it to your Google Maps account (Saved > Maps or ‘Your Places’).

Where to Stay in Porto

Pestana Palácio does Freixo (Luxury) 

This luxury hotel is located slightly outside of the city but is one of the grandest experiences you can have while there. 

They offer a high-end experience at a relatively affordable price and even have a pool, killer views, and some of the best Portuguese hospitality you could wish for while you’re visiting Porto.

–> For current rates and availability click here

Linha22 (Mid-range Guesthouse)

This guesthouse is located in the heart of Porto and is a great option for those wanting a chilled-out experience with a bit of hospitality and charm. 

The guesthouse has a beautiful aesthetic and exudes the vibe that Porto has been made famous for. They serve a robust breakfast and will give you everything you need while in Porto. 

–> For current rates and availability click here

CATS Hostel Porto (Budget)  

Megan stayed here when she was in Porto and even though she isn’t a hostel person, she found it super clean and that if offered more of a design hostel experience rather than a party place with people screaming drunkenly in the middle of the night. 

If you’re on a budget in Porto, this is a great place to stay to get a lot of value for your dollar.

–> For current rates and availability click here

Porto was one of my favorite cities I have visited.  I found so many awesome things to do in Porto and I truly can’t wait to return to the city. 

I hope you have a great trip there and if you need any help or have any questions when planning your trip to Porto, please feel free to reach out.

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