Porto has come a long way since our first visit in 2013. It no longer stands in the shadow of its capital, Lisbon, and now attracts visitors from around the world to take in its views over the Duoro River, sample its outstanding port wine, and explore its Historic Center. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, Porto is one of the best cities to visit in Portugal. If you are looking for things to do in Porto, look no further. This article outlines the top attractions, tips, and tours when visiting Porto in 2024.
Top Things to Do in Porto
Porto is not a huge city, and there are plenty of things to see and do in a short amount of time. We suggest spending at least two days in Porto, but three to four days in Porto is ideal. So, are you ready to enjoy the best things to do in Porto with us? We spent three days in Porto on our last trip and have visited Porto before, where we spent a week exploring its sights. While many things have changed, a lot has also stayed the same.
If you only have one or two days in Porto start with the Porto attractions that we recommend at the top of this list. We will begin with the major Porto attractions, and then you can add to them as you go through our list. We’ll begin with the first 8 attractions that are perfect for spending two days in Porto, Portugal.
1. Stroll and Shop at Cais da Ribeira
You can’t help but be enthralled with the beauty of Cais da Ribeira, one of the most beautiful districts in Porto. Its tightly packed, colorful buildings lining the Douro River are stacked together, housing restaurants, markets, and boutiques. It’s the first place you’ll want to visit in Porto for that typical view of the city. You know, the typical sight you see on all the postcards.
This is one of the oldest parts of Porto, dating back to the Middle Ages, and walking through its narrow streets while admiring its old colorful houses with historic balconies will take you back in time.
Keep an eye out for the many traditional facades covered with azulejos (decorative ceramic tiles) that are particularly notable. Stop at an outdoor cafe for a coffee or a glass of port wine and sit back and relax as you take in the views of the Douro River and the iconic Dom Luis I Bridge.
2. Take a River Cruise on the Douro River
Whenever we visit a city on a river, we always try to get on the water and take a river cruise. Porto is located on the Douro River, and the best way to take in the views of the Cais da Ribeira, Vila Nova de Gaia, and the city’s bridges is to take a Douro River cruise.
We booked a 6 Bridges river cruise, which was the perfect time to see the sights and the six bridges that span the Douro River in Porto. The 50-minute cruise runs along the Douro River, giving you views of the bridges and sights along the waterfront for only €15. You can book tours from the Vila Nova de Gaia waterfront and Cais da Ribeira.
This tour with Get Your Guide includes a tour of the Douro River while enjoying four different types of port wine. Choose from a sunset cruise or day cruise that takes you under the famous River Douro bridges.
3. Porto Sail Boat Tour
You can also book a small group sailboat tour. We wish we had done this tour as we saw many people enjoying wine while enjoying a more private and luxurious cruise as they enjoyed the sights along a Douro River Cruise.
Why should you take a cruise on the Duoro? Well, there are so many things to see like the Portuguese Stock Exchange, various port lodges, and Porto’s five famous bridges: Ponte de Dom Luis I, Ponte Infante Dom Henrique, Ponte da Arrabida, Ponte D. Maria Pia, Ponte de Sao Joao, Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar, Cais da Ribeira and Cais da Gaia.
You can even cruise all the way to the Douro Valley, which we’ll be doing when we visit again in March.
4. Walk Across the Dom Luís I Bridge
Speaking of the Dom Luis Bridge, you can do more than admire this grand structure. One of our favorite things to do in Porto was walking across the Dom Luis I Bridge. You can cross high or low. (We did both)
The Dom Luis I Bridge is a work of art designed by a disciple of Gustave Eiffel, is an engineering marvel, and adds to the area’s picturesque scenery.
Connecting Cais Da Ribeira with Vila Nova de Gaia, the Dom Luis i Bridge shares the crossing with pedestrians, cable cars, and cars below. Make sure to stop for some photographs of the River Douro partway across for unique views of the city.
5. Drink Aperol Spritz at Jardim do Morro
With striking views overlooking the Douro River, the Esplanada do Teleferico bar Jardim Do Morro is the perfect place to stop and cool down once you cross The Dom Luis I Bridge. This lively bar at the top of the Gaia Teleferico has a great patio looking out over Cais da Ribeira and the city of Porto. It has an extensive cocktail menu, food, and one of the only public toilets in the area. Trust me, that line is long!
This restaurant is worth it for the view, and if you can splurge on a cocktail that costs about $15 USD, you’ll have one of the best views in the city.
6. Tour the Port Wine Cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia
Port wine, also known as Vinho do Porto, is a sweet fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley. While the grapes are grown, and the wine is initially made in the Douro Valley, it is traditionally transported to the Vila Nova de Gaia port cellars, just across the river from Porto, for aging and blending. Read more about the Douro Valley here.
No trip to Porto would be complete without booking a port wine tour of the many wine cellars lining the waterfront, followed by wine tastings. Port is very popular around the world, particularly in England. In 1703, the Methuen Treaty made it economical for the British to import port wine, helping its popularity grow in the UK.
With this knowledge, we booked a port wine tasting at Taylor’s as it is the official port wine supplier to the British Royal Family. Another fun fact is that it became the first port wine in space when a Texas billionaire brought their port up in the … launch. We tasted and bought a bottle of that port wine, which was spectacular.
Taylor’s also offers cellar tours. It is located in Vila Nova de Gaia, but we found this to be the best port wine we sampled and highly recommend it. It’s pricey, and even the wine tastings are pricey, but worth it if you want to delve into the port wine culture of the city.
Plenty of tasting cellars in Porto offer tours followed by wine tastings, so you don’t need to go to Taylor’s, which is a bit off the beaten path. Calem is the most visited port wine cellar in the world and it is located directly on the waterfront. It offers tours, there is a museum, liquor store, and bar. We did a wine tasting at their shop and bought one of their vintage port wine. Visiting Porto made a port lover out of me!
There are several wine-tasting cellars along the waterfront at Vila Nova de Gaia where you can taste and tour, or you can simply pull up a chair and take in the view as you sip on a glass of port while taking in the atmosphere of the Douro River. When you visit Porto, you must at least try port wine once.
This highly rated tour lets you combine three of the best things to do in Porto with a cellar tour of Calem, Port Wine Tasting, and Fado Show.
7. Watch Sunset From Vila Nova de Gaia
If you don’t want to pay for a cocktail, the grassy hill across the street is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Porto. This is a beautiful city, and one of the best things to do in Porto is to sit back and enjoy the sunset from viewpoints like Miradouro das Virtudes.
Grab a blanket and a coffee and pick a place on the grassy bank as you watch the sunset over the entire city. After you have finished watching the sunset, take a stroll through Gaia and find a restaurant along the waterfront for dinner.
8. São bento train station
During your second day in Porto, we suggest heading to the São Bento station first thing in the morning before the tours begin.
Chances are if you are traveling through Portugal by train, you will arrive in the city center at São Bento Railway Station. This beautiful train station is often touted as one of Europe’s most beautiful train stations thanks to its 20,000 azulejos (traditional Portuguese tiles). These tiles can be found in the Sao Bento station building and tell the story of Portuguese history.
Sao Bento Station can get very crowded, and plenty of tour groups are going through, but it is worth seeing. If you are taking the train in or out of Porto, you can stop for a look while you are traveling through. If not, make sure to visit it early in the morning or later in the evening.
9. Livraria Lello
No Porto Itinerary would be complete without stopping at Livraria Lello. Often hailed as one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores, Livraria Lello boasts a stunning neo-Gothic façade that leads you into a literary wonderland. Inside, you’ll find an exquisite, curvaceous wooden staircase and enchanting stained glass ceiling, creating an atmosphere that feels straight out of a fairy tale.
This historic bookstore, dating back to 1906, is rumored to have inspired J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series during her time in Porto. Beyond its rumored connection to the magical world of Hogwarts, Livraria Lello offers an impressive collection of Portuguese literature, including rare books and editions.
Its unique charm, cultural heritage, and Harry Potter connection make it a top attraction in Porto. Perfect for adding a touch of magic and history to your visit. Whether you’re a bibliophile or simply appreciate historical architecture, Livraria Lello is an unmissable stop on any Porto itinerary.
Book your tickets well in advance as the entrance to this bookstore is timed, and you can only enter with a ticket.
10. Mercado do Bolhão
One of our favorite things to do in Porto was to spend an afternoon in Mercado Do Bolhão. This historic market in central Porto is full of shops selling olive oil, port wine, fine cheese, meats, and fresh fruit and vegetables.
The Mercado do Bolhão dates back to the early 19th century and was originally an open-air bazaar where farmers from the outskirts of Porto would come to sell their produce. The name “Bolhão” is thought to derive from a large bubble (bolha) in the ground near the site.
Today, it is covered and climate-controlled, making for a comfortable escape from the heat. You can order a gin and tonic, a glass of port wine, or a glass of red wine and shop while you sip. It is one of the friendliest and most energetic markets we’ve ever visited.
We tasted olive oil, ordered a port and tonic, and dined on meat and cheese while we perused its fresh flowers and azulejos (traditional Portuguese tiles). This is a great place to stop for lunch or a coffee when visiting Porto as well.
11. Explore the Waterfront of Gaia
A similar waterfront to Cais da Ribeira, we enjoyed this waterfront Promenade on the Gaia side of the Douro River much better. It was less crowded and gave us views of the city center and the colorful buildings of Cais da Ribeira. Along this waterfront, you will find plenty of Port cellars and tasting rooms, restaurants, and boutiques.
You can book boat tours from this side as well, and you can watch street musicians, eat street food, and buy from local vendors. After sunset, grab a bit to eat at a traditional restaurant and people watch as you sit on the terrace. You can also catch the Teleferico back up to the upper level of the Dom Louís I bridge from down here instead of having to walk up.
12. Pastel de Bacalhau
Livraria Lello isn’t the only beautiful store in Porto. Porto has taken the circus and art deco feel of storefronts and made it an art form. Located on the Gaia side of Porto Portugal, Pastel de Bacalhau is a fried cod store that feels like a circus. When you walk in, a musician is playing the pipe organ in the midst of the colorful decor and winding staircases.
You can order this popular Portuguese dish and sit on the second story as you watch the tourists come in and marvel at the scene. Get yourself a port, sit back and relax, and take in the circus-like atmosphere.
13. Wonderful World of Portuguese Cans
The World of Cans has become so popular in Porto, that they just opened one in Times Square New York. Similar in style to Livraria Lello and the Pastel de Bacalhau stores, the Wonderful World of Portuguese Cans is a shop, museum, arcade, and gallery.
This magical experience takes you through two floors of a colorful and magical environment that makes you wonder if you have just stepped into the magical world of Harry Potter.
The walls are stocked with canned fish collectibles. There are interactive displays with videos, lights, and art. When you are walking along the Gaia waterfront, make sure to stop in at this store.
14. Teleférico de Gaia
When you get to the end of Gaia’s waterfront, skip the walk back and instead op on the Teleférico de Gaia. This cable car ride offers unparalleled panoramic views of the Douro River, the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge, and the historic Porto riverside.
As you glide from the picturesque Jardim do Morro to the renowned Port wine cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia, you’ll capture Instagram-worthy snapshots of the city’s stunning architecture and vibrant culture.
Don’t miss the chance to witness the breathtaking beauty of Porto from the skies, an experience that beautifully complements a day of exploration in one of Portugal’s most enchanting cities.
Enjoy different viewpoints of Porto and its bridges by riding this cable car.
Located in the city center, Rua de Santa Catarina is a bustling pedestrian street. As one of the city’s most popular shopping boulevards, Rua de Santa Catarina offers a delightful mix of international brands and traditional Portuguese shops, providing a unique shopping experience.
This lively street is not only a shopper’s paradise but also a hub for street performers and local artisans. Make sure to keep an eye out for Capela das Almas, adorned with striking blue-and-white azulejo tiles that depict religious scenes. This blend of shopping, dining, and cultural sights makes Rua de Santa Catarina a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Porto.
Whether you’re hunting for the latest fashion trends, unique souvenirs, or just enjoying a leisurely walk through the heart of the city, Rua de Santa Catarina promises an unforgettable experience.
16. Café Majestic
Major Porto attractions along this street include the gorgeous Café Majestic, a historic café known for its exquisite Art Nouveau décor and rich cultural history. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor coffee in this iconic establishment. It was once touted as the most beautiful cafe in the world.
While I think there are more beautiful cafes out there, we enjoyed going inside for a Pastel de Nata and cappuccino. It’s expensive, but the ambiance is lovely.
This is probably all that you will be able to fit in two days in Porto. And even then, it will be a bit rushed. If you are staying longer, read on to see other things to do in Porto.
17. Praça da Liberdade
Start day three in Porto at Praça da Liberdade, a grand plaza in the city center, brimming with history where the old meets the new in Porto.
Surrounded by impressive architectural landmarks, including the striking Town Hall and various classical buildings, Praça da Liberdade is a perfect blend of Porto’s rich past and dynamic present.
The square is not just a visual treat but also a hub for cultural activities and events, making it an ideal spot to experience the local vibe. Stroll along the wide avenues, enjoy the elegant ambiance, and indulge in the numerous cafes and restaurants lining the square.
Don’t miss the iconic statue of King Pedro IV, a symbol of Portuguese liberalism, which dominates the plaza. Praça da Liberdade is also a gateway to the famous Avenida dos Aliados, leading to more architectural wonders and shopping opportunities.
18. Porto Cathedral
Porto Cathedral is a symbol of Porto’s historical and architectural heritage. Nestled in the city center, this formidable Romanesque structure dates back to the 12th century. Its imposing façade and twin towers offer breathtaking views of the city and the Douro River.
The cathedral’s interior is equally impressive, featuring a beautiful Baroque altar, exquisite Gothic cloisters adorned with azulejos (traditional Portuguese tiles), and a treasure trove of religious artifacts.
Its strategic location atop the Pena Ventosa Hill makes Porto Cathedral a perfect starting point for exploring the historic center of Porto. Take a deep dive into Porto’s history, or simply enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
19. Climb the Bell Tower of Clérigos Church
A visit to the iconic Clérigos Church and its towering bell tower is a must-see landmark that offers a unique glimpse into Portugal’s history. Known for its distinctive Baroque architecture, this historic building is an exquisite example of 18th-century design, captivating visitors with its intricate carvings and ornate interior.
The real highlight, however, is the Clérigos Tower, standing as one of the tallest structures in the city. Climbing the 225 steps to the top of this remarkable bell tower rewards you with panoramic views of Porto’s colorful buildings and the Douro River, making it a photographer’s paradise.
Located in the heart of Porto’s city center, the Clérigos Church and Tower are easily accessible by foot and close to other major attractions, making them an ideal addition to any Porto itinerary.
20. São Francisco Church (Saint Francis Church)
As a UNESCO World Heritage site and National Monument, São Francisco Church is one of the most visited churches in Porto. Saint Francis Church is a 14th-century Gothic church located in the historic center of Porto and is famous for its opulent Baroque interior.
The striking contrast between the austere Gothic façade and the lavish gold-plated woodwork inside captures the essence of Porto’s diverse architectural influences. The church’s interior is adorned with exquisite carvings and elaborate gilded altarpieces, showcasing the skill of 17th and 18th-century local artisans.
For those interested in the artistic heritage of Porto, the church’s museum offers valuable insights into its history, including its role in the Franciscan Order.
21. Ride the Trolley
I will admit that riding the trolley was high on my list of things to do in Porto. However, once we hopped aboard the tram it was a disappointment. The train is loud and hot, and you can’t see a lot from it. We recommend taking a photograph of it rather than riding the tram. It is quite expensive as well, with a return ticket costing €14 for two people.
This tram is simply a ride out to the Foz district and back. If you want to go to the beach on a sunny day, this may be a fun way to get out there, but you can save yourself time and money by hiring a taxi or Uber.
22. Walk Along Porto’s 14th-century Wall
Known as the Fernandina Wall (Muralha Fernandina), the old city wall dates back to the 14th century and is steeped in history. Walking along these walls offers a glimpse into the past and offers unbeatable views of the Douro. A picturesque portion of the city wall runs parallel to the funicular on the North Bank of the river at the Dom Luís I Bridge.
The elevated position of the city walls provides spectacular views of Porto’s picturesque landscape, including the Douro River, traditional houses, and the famous Dom Luís I Bridge. The walk is relatively easy for most fitness levels, making it a suitable activity for a wide range of tourists, including families.
23. Porto Bridge Climb
If you have several days in Porto, why not add a little adventure to your trip and book a Porto Bridge Climb? Located along the Douro River, this unique experience offers a guided climb on the Arrábida bridge.
For just 15 euros, you’ll ascend to the top for panoramic views of the river and Porto creating the chance to snap that perfect Instagram-worthy photo. Its popularity stems from the blend of adventure, affordability, and the opportunity to see Porto from a rare vantage point.
24. Eat Traditional Portuguese Food
The Portuguese are passionate about their food, and when visiting Porto, you must stop to enjoy a culinary journey. Portuguese dishes include the Francesinha sandwich, fresh seafood, and the famous Pastel de Nata. You must also pick up some sardines at the Fantastic World of Portuguese cans and enjoy a Pastel de Bacalhau. Read more: Portuguese Food: 26 Traditional Dishes to try in Portugal or at home.
25. Wow Cultural District (World of Wine)
The newest art district in Porto, Portugal, is not to be missed. Located in Vila Nova de Gaia, take the winding streets up from the river to enjoy the cobblestone streets of Gaia. There are restaurants, art galleries, patios, and beautiful views of both Porto and Gaia.
You will find Taylor’s Port Wine here, a Chocolate Factory, the Instagram-worthy Pink Palace, and other museums. You can get the WoW pass to enjoy it all.
26. Palácio da Bolsa
If you have four or more days in Porto, you’ll want to add going into The Palacio da Bolsa to your itinerary. The Palacio da Bolsa is a 19th-century neoclassical marvel that stands on the waterfront. This former stock exchange is home to the breathtaking Salão Árabe (Arab Room). The Arab Room is definitely a highlight as it is an exquisitely decorated chamber inspired by Moorish designs, offering an awe-inspiring backdrop for the many events held here.
The grandeur continues as you step into the Pátio das Nações (Hall of Nations), where a stunning glass dome illuminates the intricate details of this grand hall, showcasing Porto’s historical significance in global trade.
Another highlight of a visit to Palacio Da Bolsa is the Noble Staircase which is an elegant and opulent architectural feat that leads you through the palace’s various rooms.
27. Casa da Música
If you have more than a couple of days in Porto a visit to Casa da Música is an excellent stop to add to your itinerary. Casa da Música is a renowned concert hall with a radical design offering a wide range of musical performances. You don’t need to see its performances to appreciate it.
Visitors can join guided tours of this iconic music venue, which are available two times a day, from Monday to Friday. The first tour starts at 11 am and is conducted in Portuguese, while the second tour, which begins at 4 pm, is offered in both Portuguese and English. The cost of participating in a tour is 12 euros.
28. Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
Jardins do Palácio de Cristal or Gardens of the Crystal Palace is a beautiful garden with fountains, sculptures, and peacocks. If you are spending more than a few days in Porto, the Crystal Palace is a lovely place to visit set on eight hectares. It dates back to the nineteenth century and is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Porto has become very popular and crowded so any chance to avoid the crowds is a welcome change.
29. Parque da Cidade do Porto (City Park)
City Park or Parque da Cidade do Porto is another escape from the city. It is one of the largest parks in northern Portugal spanning 205 acres of greenspace. Spend some time in this tranquil escape with its lush landscapes, meandering paths, and sparkling lakes, perfect for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
This park is perfect for a picnic, a romantic stroll, or a ride with children who admire the peacock’s wheel. The Pavilhão da Água (Water Pavilion) was part of World Expo 98 in Lisbon and was transported here.
The park runs out to the Atlantic Ocean and is a delightful blend of natural beauty and leisure activities, all with free admission.
30. Casa de Serralves
Located in the upscale Boavista district Casa de Serralves is a must-visit cultural landmark in Porto if you have more than a few days in Porto. This striking Art Deco mansion is nestled in the Serralves Foundation’s sprawling gardens and is a masterpiece of 20th-century design.
With an entrance fee of 10 euros, visitors can explore the museum’s contemporary art exhibitions and the lush, beautifully landscaped gardens. It’s an artistic and architectural wonder that attracts visitors to see its fusion of art, architecture, and nature.
How to Get to Porto, Portugal
Porto is located in Northern Portugal and traveling to Porto is easy to get to by plane, train, bus, and car.
The main airport in Porto is Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO), also known simply as Porto Airport, and is easily connected to major cities in Europe and some international destinations.
Many airlines operate flights to Porto, including low-cost carriers like Ryanair and EasyJet, as well as traditional airlines like TAP Air Portugal, Lufthansa, and British Airways.
Once you arrive at Porto Airport, you can reach the city center via the metro (Line E – Violet), bus, taxi, or rental car. The metro is a popular and efficient option, taking about 30 minutes to reach the city center, where you will come to Sao Bento Train Station.
If you’re traveling from other parts of Europe or within Portugal, trains are a fast, affordable, and convenient option. Major cities like Madrid, Paris, and Lisbon have train services to Porto. We took the train from Gemaresh to Porto for a cost of about three euros.
Main Train Stations: Porto’s primary train stations are Porto-Campanhã Station and São Bento Train Station. Campanhã is the main hub for international and long-distance trains, while São Bento is centrally located and known for its beautiful azulejo tilework. If traveling from within Portugal, we recommend booking your ticket to São Bento Railway Station as it is very central to the old city and major attractions.
Train tickets can be booked via the Portuguese Railways (CP) website or at train stations. It’s advisable to book in advance for long-distance or high-speed trains.
If you are traveling on a budget, we recommend booking a bus as buses are often more economical than trains and planes, though travel times can be longer.
Buses connect Porto with various cities in Portugal and other European countries. Companies like Eurolines, Flixbus, and Rede Expressos offer long-distance bus services.
The main bus terminal in Porto is at Campo 24 de Agosto, conveniently located within the city.
We traveled through Portugal by renting a car. RentalCars.com is easy to book and car rentals are affordable in Portugal. When traveling to places like the Algarve or other off-the-beaten-path destinations, it is great to have flexibility. But if you are staying in the cities, it is not worth it as parking is expensive and transit is excellent.
Where to Stay in Porto
We recommend staying in the city center so that you are within walking distance of many of the top Porto things to do. Ribeira is where to stay in Porto if it is your first time in the city and you want the whole experience. This neighborhood sits right along the banks of the Douro River and it is extremely central.
Baixa is still a central location in Porto, just north of the major tourist hotspot, Ribeira. Baixa is the christened ‘Downtown Porto’. So expect a typical downtown experience; Downtown Porto does not disappoint. We loved staying in this area because we were still within close walking distance of major attractions, but it was a lot less crowded. The best way to decide on where you should stay would be to read our article Where to Stay in Porto: A Complete Guide For Your First Visit.
Porto is a beautiful city lined with many architectural styles and attractions. From Romanesque cathedrals to Neoclassical designs, you can spend days simply taking in the city’s architecture.