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Best sights Porto

The ultimate list for the best sights in Porto

Porto is the second biggest city in Portugal and a must-see city during your holiday. Porto, or Oporto, lies along the river Douro, and it’s one of the oldest European cities. There are many historical sights, and Porto is famous for its wine! Not sure what to do in Porto? Discover sights, restaurants, and more! This ultimate guide helps you find the best places to visit in Porto.

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Table of Contents

How to get around

Porto is a very walkable city, but boy, those hills are brutal at times! Don’t want to exhaust yourself? Then the Porto Card will come in handy. Your card is valid for 1, 2, 3 or 4 days (24, 48, 72 or 96 hours), and all public transport is included.

On top of that, you’ll receive free tickets for Casa do Infante, Casa-Museu Guerra Junqueiro, Casa-Museu Marta Ortigão Sampaio, Museu Romântico, Museu do Papel Moeda, and Museu do Vinho do Porto! You’ll also receive many discounts on monuments, museums, restaurants and cruises.

Get your Porto Card

Free public transport and many discounts!

The historical city centre

The history of Porto goes way back, and the parish of São Nicolau is the oldest part of the town. You’ll find plenty of tiny streets, alleyways and squares in this part of town. One of the most beautiful spots is Largo da Pena Ventosa, a quaint courtyard with cobbled streets and colourful houses. The Historic Centre of Oporto has a 2,000-year history, and the Romans gave the city the name Portus, or port. In 1996 the historic centre of Porto was classified as a Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Cais da Ribeira is situated along the Douro river in the historical centre of Porto. It’s one of the oldest areas in the city, and the colourful facades are simply stunning. Along the river are many restaurants and cafes where you can wine and dine with a gorgeous view. The traditional Rabelo boats float in the river, and boat tours along the Douro depart regularly. You have a magnificent view over Gaia and the Ponte Luís I from the riverbank.

Sights to visit in the old part of Oporto are Praça da Ribeira, Rua da Lada and Reboleira, Rua da Fonte Taurina, and Praça do Infante. If you want to learn more about the history of Porto, a visit to Casa de Infante (House of the Prince) is highly recommended.

Palácio da Bolsa

Behind the historical part of Porto, you’ll discover Palácio da Bolsa. It’s known in English as the Stock Exchange Palace, and you can only visit by appointment. You can book your timeslot at the palace or online. Porto’s Commercial Association headquarters is located here, and it’s a landmark not to miss when you visit Porto!

Palácio da Bolsa was built in 1842 in a neoclassical style, and the national monument is simply stunning inside. The central courtyard (Pátio das Nações) consists of richly decorated walls, and the glass roof lights the place in a beautiful, natural way. The guide will ring you upstairs to the Golden Room, the General Assembly Room, and ultimately the Arab Room.

Best sights Porto

Ponte Luis I

One of the most iconic spots in Porto is the Ponte Luis I. The iron arch bridge crosses the river Douro and connects the city of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. The construction of the Dom Luís I Bridge started in 1881 and was completed in 1886. The lower deck is 172 metres long, and the upper part has a length of 395.25 metres.

The 6 bridges boat tour

The best way to enjoy the view of Porto’s bridges is from a boat. You can take a tour on a traditional Rabelo or a touring ship. Tours regularly leave the docks at Cais the Ribeira, and tickets can be purchased on the shore. The evening tour, especially, sells out quickly. Therefore making a reservation online is recommended, especially in the high season.

You’ll cruise along the 6 bridges, the historic centre of Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia, and the mouth of the river Douro. If you wonder about the 6 bridges? They are Ponte Infante Dom Henrique, Ponte D. Maria Pia, Ponte de São João, Ponte do Freixo, Ponte Luís I, and Ponte da Arrábida. Click to read more about boat tours in Porto.

The many viewpoints

In a hilly city like Porto, it is no surprise that there are plenty of excellent viewpoints. Examples are Miradouro da Vitória, Miradouro da Rua das Aldas, Miradouro das Fontainhas, and Miradouro do Infante. A favourite spot to enjoy the sunset is from Jardim do Morro. From this viewpoint, in Gaia, you overlook the historic centre of Porto and the river Douro. Click here to discover all viewpoints in Porto!

The Golden Church

The golden church has its nickname for a reason! Igreja de São Francisco is Porto’s most prominent Gothic monument with a Baroque interior. The church is literally covered in ornate gold details and is one of the oldest convents in Portugal. The church hasn’t always looked like this, and in the small museum, you’ll discover the complete history of this impressive building.

Azulejo spotting

Like many places in Portugal, Porto has many buildings covered in azulejo tiles! The most stunning examples in the city are Igreja do Carmo, Capela das Almas (Chapel of Souls), Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, and São Bento Station.

Funicular dos Guindais

Porto has a bunch of steep hills, and the best way to conquer them is by public transport. An excellent way, however, is with the Funicular dos Guindais! It’s a super steep cable car that runs between the river Douro and the city. The Guindais Funicular was built in 1891 and has been fully restored. The funicular was designed by Engineer Teófilo Seyrig, a disciple of Eiffel. A trip on the funicular is an excellent opportunity to view the city and the Ponte Luiz I bridge. Anything to travel in style in Porto! The journey only takes a couple of minutes, though, as the rail is only 395 meters long.

Try a Francesinha

A visit to Porto is simply not complete without trying a Francesinha. A Francesinha is a traditional sandwich from Porto, and the ingredients are thick bread, Portuguese ham, sausage, melted cheese, and steak or roast beef. Most restaurants have several options, including a particular sausage, meat or fried egg. Vegetarian and vegan options are available in a few restaurants. Francesinha is often served with a portion of chips and a slightly spicy sauce.

It’s a heavy meal, so come prepared! If you try a Francesinha for lunch, you’ll have time to walk off the calories in the afternoon. If you have one for dinner, be prepared to collapse in bed happily! Suggested place to try a Francesinha: Brasão Aliados.

Parque de Serralves

It’s not hard to stay a full day at Parque de Serralves as there is an immense amount of things to see and do here. Serralves Park is a whopping 18 hectares and contains formal gardens, a traditional farmhouse, a treetop walk, and woodlands. It’s a lovely spot to enjoy some nature, and you’ll enjoy many beautiful sculptures.

Aside from the park, you can visit the stunning Serralves Villa. The villa is located on the top of the hill, and the view is magnificent! It’s a fantastic example of Art Deco architecture, and the villa was built in the 1930s.

Casa do Cinema Manoel de Oliveira hosts a permanent exhibition, film screenings, and a documentation centre. The Museum contains two exhibition wings with contemporary artworks on display. You can book your online ticket by clicking here.

Clérigos Church and Tower

The Clérigos Church and Tower is a beautiful Baroque church in the heart of Porto. The 75-meter-tall bell tower is a popular spot during sunset, and booking your tickets online is recommended to skip the queue.

Wherever you look in Porto, Torre dos Clérigos can be seen from many places. It’s a characteristic and iconic symbol of the city, and you’ll need to climb 200 steps to be rewarded with the best view over Porto. If there is a line, it can easily take up to 2 hours. If there is no queue, a visit will take around 30 minutes.

The most beautiful bookstore in the world

Another place you’ll be tested for your patience is Livraria Lello, one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. The exterior doesn’t give away what’s hidden inside, but it’s up to you if it’s worth the wait. Thankfully, you book your tickets online, but this queue is also not short in the high season. When you book your ticket online, you can select a date plus timeslot. A ticket voucher costs € 5,00, which will provide you with a € 5,00 discount on the purchase of any one book.

Douro Valley Tours

Porto is also famous for its Port-wines and wines from the Douro Valley. For that reason alone, wine lovers should not miss a trip to Douro Valley! Not only will you discover the lush green vineyards of Portugal, but you’ll also be able to taste some of the best wines in the country.

Day trips depart from Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia daily, and most tours include a cruise along the Douro River. You’ll get to taste port wine and olive oil and enjoy a traditional lunch while looking over the stunning landscape. It’s a fabulous way to discover the best typical products from the Douro region and visit Portugal’s gorgeous wine country.

Find unique storefronts in Porto

Walking around Porto’s city centre, you’ll quickly spot some beautiful storefronts. You’ll find the most high-street shops in Bolhão in Rua da Santa Catarina. Here you can find the beautiful Majestic Café with belle époque decor, mirrors and chandeliers. Other unique shops with beautiful façades are Pérola do Bolhão, Livraria Latina, and Reis & Filhos, Lda.

Pérola do Bolhão is a traditional grocery store founded in 1917, which began as a shop dedicated to tea, coffee and spices. Look inside and purchase some tasty Serra da Estrella cheese or candied fruit.

Museu do Carro Eléctrico

Do you know those cute trams that run through the streets of Porto? Well, they have a long history, and you can learn all about it in the Museu do Carro Eléctrico. The museum is located in a former power station, and you’ll discover the story of urban public transport on rails in the city of Porto. Inside there is a gorgeous collection of trams. Some were animal-drawn, some electric and some ran on steam. There are various other objects to discover, such as historical tram tickets and uniforms.

Sé do Porto

The cathedral in Porto is one of the oldest buildings in the city. Porto Cathedral was built in the 12th century and is the city’s most important religious building. You can visit the cathedral and the cloisters almost every day. You can find Sé do Porto on top of a hill, but it’s well worth the climb.

Porto Cathedral

Torreão do Jardim do Palácio

Torreão do Jardim do Palácio and Jardins to Palácio de Cristal are THE places to be for a chill walk in the park. It’s located next to the river Douro, and you’ll enjoy some stunning views over Porto. The best view is from Miradouro da Ponte da Arrábida, and the rose garden cannot be missed when the flowers bloom.

Mercado Bom Sucesso

Foodies will enjoy a visit to Mercado Bom Sucesso, where you can find local produce, clothes, and concept stores. It’s an iconic market with more than 40 shops and restaurants. You can enjoy a tasty lunch, a fine wine or a cocktail, or a memorable dinner. The market is open daily from 8 AM until 11 PM, and most shops and restaurants are open from 10 AM until 11 PM or midnight.

Vila Nova de Gaia

A visit to Porto is incomplete if you haven’t crossed the Ponte Luís I bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia. The first building you’ll spot is Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar, a 16th-century monastery on top of the hill. It’s open every Tuesday to Sunday, and you’ll learn more about the history of Porto and the sanctuary. On top, you’ll enjoy one of the best views over Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia from here.

From Jardim do Morro, you can walk down the hill and discover two tasty museums. The first is the Chocolate Story Museum, and the other the Wine Experience Museum. Vila Nova de Gaia is the home of most Port houses, and at WOW Porto, you’ll discover the story of Port. Of course, there are plenty of tastings also! Afterwards, there are plenty of places along the river to enjoy lunch or dinner.

If you don’t want to walk up to the bridge, you can take the Gaia cable car (Teleférico de Gaia) back towards Jardim do Morro. From the cabin, you have a mesmerising view over Porto and the Ponte Luís I bridge.

Foz de Douro

If you have time, it’s well worth visiting the western parts of town. Here you can discover Foz do Douro with some gorgeous beaches and sights. For example, you can see Praia do Carneiro, the lighthouse Farolim de Felgueiras, Fortaleza de São João da Foz, and Pérgola da Foz.

Where to eat

All this sightseeing makes everyone peckish, and thankfully there are some outstanding restaurants in Porto. Some favourite restaurants for lunch are Bacalhoeiro, daTerra Baixa, and Taberna Santo António. 

Are you looking for a tasty coffee and cake in the afternoon? Then Fabrica da Nata, Manteigaria, and Confeitaria Império are your best friend. Or visit Majestic Café to enjoy a break in style!

For dinner, head over to Aduela, Brasão Aliados, Cantina 32 or Brick Clérigos. For a fine dining and Michelin experience, you’ll love Casa de Chá da Boa Nova, O Gaveto, and O Paparico.

Where to sleep

There is a lot to see and do in Porto, and thankfully you’ll get a good night’s rest in a beautiful hotel. For the best Porto experience, staying at least a couple of nights in the city is recommended. If you add a tour to Douro Valley, you’re looking at three nights or more. Favourites are Exe Essenzia if you have a little more budget, or The Poets Inn right in the city centre.

Booking.com

Conclusion

Porto is a must-see city when visiting Portugal! There is so much to see, and you can easily discover nearby cities like Guimarães and Braga. Dive into the local culture, enjoy a Francesinha, and be amazed by the views from the Douro River! And don´t forget to taste the beautiful wines in the Douro Valley!

Written by Marga

Written by Marga

Content creator, travel writer and photographer

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I’m Marga, the blogger and photographer behind this site! I live in Lisbon, and I’m a cat-mum to 13-year-old Savage. I love coffee, cheese, a good book and exploring this beautiful country. I write about Lisbon and the rest of Portugal, and I hope this website will help as an inspiration for your holiday.

11 Responses

  1. We loved our visit to Porto but left knowing there was much more to discover. Your post has certainly given us a start for our next visit of things we must see. Last time we did not get a Porto Card but agree this is a great option to get around the hilly city. I would definitely want to spend some time inside Palácio da Bolsa. The tile work looks amazing. And we sadly missed the Parque de Serralves. So many great reasons to go back.

  2. This is such a detailed post with so much great information! I would love to explore the historical city center and visit Livraria Lello because I love bookstores!

  3. Wow! What a comprehensive post of things to see and do in Porto. This country has always been on my bucket list, but I think I need to move it up to the top. Great photos!

  4. Oh my! Porto is so gorgeous! Porto has always been on my list of cities to visit but seeing these pictures; I think it has moved to the top of the list. Enjoying Francesinha will probably be my first thing to do when in Porto 🙂

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