Things to Do in Porto: Top 12 Attractions

From historic landmarks to scenic views, these top 12 sights are must-see things to do in Porto, be it a City Break, Short Break or Holiday.

Welcome to Porto

As one of the oldest cities in Europe, Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal, is a charming destination that attracts visitors from all over the world. With its stunning architecture, historic landmarks, and picturesque riverfront, Porto is a city that captivates visitors from the moment they arrive.

The city’s narrow streets and colourful houses add to its charm, creating a unique and unforgettable atmosphere. From its historic centre to its scenic views, Porto is a city that should be on everyone’s travel list.

All aboard for Porto

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Things to do in Porto: Must-See Attractions

The stunning Clerigos Tower

The Clerigos Tower is one of Porto’s most iconic landmarks. Built in the 18th century, the tower stands at 76 meters tall and offers stunning views of the city.

The iconic Dom Luis I Bridge

The iconic Dom Luis I Bridge

The Dom Luis I Bridge is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Porto. The bridge connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia and offers breathtaking views of the city and the Douro River.

The charming Ribeira District

The Ribeira District is one of Porto’s oldest neighbourhoods and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The district is known for its colourful houses, narrow streets, and lively atmosphere.

The majestic Porto Cathedral

The Porto Cathedral is a Romanesque-style cathedral that dates back to the 12th century. The cathedral features intricate carvings, stunning stained glass windows, and an impressive collection of religious artefacts.

The impressive Palacio da Bolsa

The Palacio da Bolsa, a 19th-century building that was once home to Porto’s stock exchange. The building features stunning architecture, including a grand staircase and a ballroom with a stunning stained glass ceiling.

Things to do in Porto – Cultural Experiences

Porto Things to do

Tour the Port Wine Cellars

Porto is famous for its Port wine and no trip to the city would be complete without a Port wine cellar tour. The cellars are located across the Douro River in Vila Nova de Gaia. Offering guided tours that take visitors through the process of making and ageing Port wine, you’ll learn about the different varieties of Port wine and get the chance to taste them too.

The fascinating Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art

Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art
Situated in Porto, Portugal, the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art stands as a renowned institution dedicated to the exhibition and celebration of contemporary art. Since its establishment in 1999, this museum has held a prominent position in the global art community, attracting art enthusiasts, tourists, and researchers alike. With its exceptional collection, remarkable architecture, and diverse array of programs, the Serralves Museum offers a truly unique and enriching cultural experience.

Collections and Exhibitions

The Serralves Museum proudly showcases an extensive collection of contemporary art, featuring works by both national and international artists. With a diverse range of artistic expressions including paintings, sculptures, installations, and multimedia art, the museum offers a captivating glimpse into the world of contemporary creativity. The permanent collection presents significant movements and artists from the 20th and 21st centuries, presenting visitors with a comprehensive overview of contemporary art’s evolution.

In addition to its permanent collection, the museum regularly hosts temporary exhibitions that delve into various themes and artistic disciplines. These exhibitions often feature groundbreaking works and thought-provoking installations, therefore captivating art enthusiasts and scholars from across the globe. Noteworthy showcases have included retrospectives of esteemed artists, thematic exhibitions, and collaborative projects with prestigious institutions.

Distinctive Features and Facilities

One of the defining features of the Serralves Museum is its expansive gardens and outdoor installations. Designed by landscape architect Jacques Gréber, the museum grounds provide a tranquil environment for visitors to explore. The carefully curated outdoor installations beautifully complement the natural splendour of the gardens, fostering an engaging dialogue between art and nature.

Within the museum premises, visitors can avail themselves of state-of-the-art facilities, including auditoriums, educational spaces, and a well-stocked library. These spaces cater to the diverse needs of the public, offering platforms for discussions, workshops, and educational programs. The museum also houses a bookstore, café, and restaurant, providing visitors with opportunities to relax, reflect, and nourish themselves amidst the artistic ambience.

The historic Lello Bookstore Porto

The Lello Bookstore is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world and is a beautiful historic bookstore that dates back to 1906. The store is famous for its stunning Art Nouveau interior and is said to have inspired J.K. Rowling’s depiction of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series. The bookstore is a popular tourist attraction therefore can get quite crowded, so be sure to arrive early if you want to beat the crowds.

São Bento Train Station

São Bento Train Station is a beautiful historic station located at the heart of Porto. It is famous for its stunning azulejo tilework, which cover the walls of the main hall. The tiles depict scenes of Portuguese history and culture and are a must-see for anyone visiting Porto.

Things to do in Porto: Nature and Scenic Views

The Picturesque Douro River

The Douro River is a major attraction in Porto. It’s a great place to relax and take in the city’s beauty. You can take a leisurely stroll along the riverbanks or take a scenic boat ride to see the city from a different perspective. The river is also surrounded by beautiful vineyards and is a great place to sample some of Porto’s famous Port wine.

One of the best ways to experience the Douro River is by taking a boat tour.

Many companies offer guided tours. Therefore a tour can be a great way to learn about the history and culture of Porto while taking in the beautiful scenery. You can rent a kayak or a paddleboard and explore the river on your own, but regardless of how you choose to experience it, the Douro River is a must-see thing to do in Porto.

The lush greenery of the Crystal Palace Gardens

The Crystal Palace Gardens is a beautiful park! The park features lush greenery, beautiful fountains, and stunning views of the city and the Douro River, because of this it’s a great place to relax and enjoy a picnic or take a stroll through the gardens.

Located in the heart of Porto, the Crystal Palace Gardens is a beautiful park located on a hilltop overlooking the city. The gardens are home to a variety of exotic plants and trees, as well as a large lake and several fountains that offer stunning views of the city and the Douro River. Also, you will find several walking paths that wind through the gardens, providing a peaceful escape from the bustling city streets. As a result, the Crystal Palace Gardens are a great place to relax and unwind, and they offer some of the best views of Porto from their hilltop location.

The breathtaking views from the Miradouro da Vitoria

For some of the best panoramic views of Porto, head to the Miradouro da Vitoria. This viewpoint is located at the top of a hill in the Ribeira District, the historic centre of Porto, consequently it provides sweeping views of the city, the river, and the surrounding hills.

It’s an especially great place to take in a sunrise or a sunset or simply enjoy the beauty of Porto from a new perspective. Be sure to bring your camera, as the views from the Miradouro da Vitoria are truly breathtaking.

Food and Drink

For Caviar and Champagne in Porto

Sampling traditional Portuguese cuisine

Portugal is known for its cuisine, a delicious blend of Mediterranean and Atlantic flavours. Some of the must-try dishes in Porto include:

  • Francesinha (a sandwich filled with ham, sausage, steak, and melted cheese),
  • Bacalhau (salt cod), and cozido à portuguesa (a hearty meat stew).

There are also plenty of seafood restaurants in Porto, where you can sample fresh fish and shellfish caught right off the coast. Don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of local wine or port.

Tasting the famous port wine

Porto is famous for its Port wine, which is a sweet fortified wine that’s typically served as a dessert wine. It’s produced in the Douro Valley and aged in the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the river from Porto.

There are several port wine cellars in Porto that offer tours and tastings. Here you can learn about the history and production of this iconic wine. Be sure to try both the white and red varieties, and consider bringing a bottle or two home!

Discovering Porto’s lively food scene

In addition to its traditional cuisine and famous port wine, Porto also has a thriving food scene with plenty of trendy restaurants, cafes, and bars. From street food to fine dining, there’s something for every palate in Porto. Be sure to check out the Mercado do Bolhão. It is a historic market where you can sample fresh produce, seafood, and local delicacies. For a truly unique experience, head to Casa de Ló. It’s a pastry shop that specializes in the traditional sponge cake known as pão de ló.

Outdoor Activities

Porto is not just a city of history and culture; it also boasts some stunning natural landscapes and outdoor activities. The Dora Valley, located just outside of the city, is a must-see destination for nature lovers. With its stunning views and winding roads, undoubtedly this valley is perfect for hiking or a scenic drive.

The Trams of Porto

Porto Tram

One of the most iconic experiences in Porto is riding the vintage trams that run through the city’s historic streets.

These trams have been in operation for over 100 years and are a unique way to see the city’s sights. Be sure to hold on tight as they wind through the narrow, hilly streets of the city centre.

For a truly scenic experience, take a cruise on the Douro River. Visitors can choose from a variety of tours, ranging from short boat rides to full-day cruises. Relax on the deck of a boat as you take in the stunning views of the city and the surrounding hillsides.

Porto is a city that truly has something for everyone. From its historic landmarks to its natural beauty and lively food scene, visitors will be able to explore a wide range of experiences during their stay.

Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or a foodie, Porto is sure to impress. So pack your bags and get ready to discover Porto’s finest attractions and experiences. Thanks for reading!

~If you are travelling around Portugal, you may find our Guide. – Discover Lisbon: Top 10 Things to Do in Lisbon helpful

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