A magical city in the north of Portugal, Porto has a lot to offer the visitor. Whether you stay for a weekend or a month, here are some of our favorite things to do, and of course tips for eating and drinking too! And we’ve included a handy google map you can view on your smartphone or computer which you will find below.
The Weekend Guide to Porto
Porto is a wonderful place to visit for the first time and also to return and discover more hidden gems. There are beautiful historic buildings, tiny winding alleyways, delicious wines and amazing food. It is no longer an undiscovered destination but it is still a bit less expensive than its northern neighbors. Let’s go to Porto!
Getting to Porto
It’s easy to get to and from Porto from other parts of Portugal as well as from abroad.
Traveling by car it is about 3 hours from Lisbon to Porto. If you don’t have a car of your own you can rent one or use shared Blablacar.
The Comboios trains serve Porto from Lisbon and other places in Portugal. Check Trainline for ticket and route options. The train takes less than 3 hours from Lisbon and parts of the ride are quite picturesque.
You can also travel to Porto from Spain with ALSA buses and Flixbus. The least expensive option is often with Flixbus, you can find ticket prices as low as €4. Check here for Flixbus prices and schedules.
You can fly into Porto (OPO) airport from most cities in Europe on airlines like EasyJet, Ryan Air and TAP. Sometimes you might want to fly into Lisbon (LIS) and drive or take the train to Porto for a combo trip. Check Skyscanner for the best prices and flight schedules for multiple airlines that fly into Porto and Lisbon.
If you fly into Porto you can catch the local Metro directly from the airport to the city center or wherever you are staying. It takes less than 30 minutes to get to the center of Porto (Trindade Station) by Metro. You can transfer to other parts of the city from here. Of course it is also possible to go by taxi, it will cost about €30 from the airport to the Ribeira area.
Fun Things To Do in Porto
Guided Walking Tours in Porto: If this is your first visit to Porto, you might want to get oriented with a walking tour.
- Explore the hidden secrets and Porto points of interest off the beaten track with the Storyteller Tour.
- The famous azulejos of Portugal are stunning and fascinating. Of course they are beautiful, but did you ever wonder why so many building façades are completely covered in them? Take a tile walking tour to find out, discover special tile displays and visit the tile museum with a guide.
- Porto Walking Tours is a tour company that offers a wealth of information about the city’s landmarks and history. The guides are well-informed, friendly and keep things interesting. You might also get to taste some local specialties on your walk as well.
- Worst Tours is a great option for those who have been to Porto before or people who want to get the inside scoop. Tours focus on the real side of the city, and the current economic and social situations rather than historical buildings and bridges.
- Are you a photographer? You may like to book this photography tour of Porto and find out the best angles and hidden spots to capture amazing images of the river, bridges and historic buildings.
- If you prefer to cover more ground you can also book a bike tour and visit the nearby beaches. Or check out this sunset bike tour. Even more exciting, check out this bike tour combined with a surfing lesson and lunch.
Sightsee on your own: If you’d rather explore Porto on your own that is completely doable as well. Here are some of the top things to see and do in Porto.
- The area next to the river is known as the Ribeira and is a UNESCO Heritage Site. Colorful buildings tumble down the hillside toward the river where historic boats are anchored. The Dom Luis bridge overlooks it all and leads to Vila Nova de Gaia where the port cellars are located. It is very picturesque!
- Be sure to take a walk up hill away from the Douro as well and visit some of the other famous buildings of Porto.
- Some of Porto’s top things to see and do and most famous landmarks and attractions include the following points of interest. See below for a handy google map with all these locations and more.
- São Bento Station: must-see the beautiful tile panels at this historic train station
- Dom Luis Bridge: iron bridge over the Douro, watch the kids jumping from it on a warm day
- Torre Dos Clerigos: visit the Baroque church and climb the tower for terrific views
- Palacio da Bolsa: an absolutely stunning building with amazing decorative details
- Serralves Museum: visit this modern art museum and don’t miss the gardens and pink palace, get tickets here
- Livraria Lello: JK Rowling made this beautiful bookshop an even more popular point of interest in Porto
Enjoy a river cruise: The Douro is at the heart of Porto. A fun thing to do in Porto is to spend a few hours sitting by the river but the best way to see it is on a river boat. You can catch a boat tour by booking in person on the Ribeira side of the river, but you may also want to book ahead if you are visiting in high season or with a group. Here are some options for river cruises.
- Combine a river cruise with the hop on hop off bus.
- Take a 2 hour sailing cruise on the river.
- Enjoy a day trip by boat to Pinhão in the the Douro Valley and return by train.
Taste Port in Vila Nova de Gaia: Of course you can taste the famous port wine at almost every bar and restaurant in Porto. But for the real experience you have to visit at least one of the Port cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Walk across the iron bridge and head to one of the cellars for a tour and a tasting. Maybe you already have a favorite brand of port? Otherwise we’d recommend visiting some of the following:
- Taylors: comprehensive self-guided tours and tastings in their lovely garden
- Croft: fabulous tasting room and guided tours. Try the pink port on their terrace on a sunny day.
- Calem: take a tour of the cellars and the interactive exhibits then taste some port
- Grahams: you’ll have to make a reservation to visit the port lodge here
- Sandeman: take a tour or just sit on their lovely terrace by the Douro
Food and wine tours are also fun things to do in Porto. Here are a few ideas:
- Four hour food and wine walking tour
- Visit 2 wine houses and a port house on this Porto wine tour
- Discover the Porto’s traditional pubs called tascas, on this tour
- Take a day tour to the vinho verde region for wine tasting and lunch
Take a Walk to the Sea: From Ribeira you can head down to the mouth of the river to the sea for a relaxing day in Porto. How to get to the beach in Porto? You can walk, go by historic tram or even rent bicycles.
The walk to Foz do Douro is about 6km and takes around an hour one way. Perhaps you can plan to have lunch or a drink at one of the beachside bars in Foz do Duoro. I’d recommend Praia da Luz. It is not the least expensive but the decor is beachy chic and the tables have a button to call the servers. It sits right on the sand where you can watch the waves and the sunbathers. Great for a drink before heading back to the city center. You can also try Bar Tolo if you’d like to eat a meal.
You can take the tram there or back, or even roundtrip. Find the tram #1 in front of Igreja de São Francisco in Ribeira or Jardim Passeio Alegre in Foz. If you are interested in learning more about Porto’s historic trams, click here.
Locals will also take the Metro to spend the day at Matosinhos beaches, eat seafood and then go drinking and clubbing in the areas bars and clubs.
Day Trips from Porto
If you have a little extra time, here are some things to do outside Porto and some wonderful day trips from Porto.
- Do you love wine and beautiful natural settings? Then I’d definitely recommend a day trip (or longer) to the Douro Valley. You can rent a car and drive or get there by train. You can even take a week long river cruise from Porto to Spain. Take a look at my guide to doing the Duoro without a car, including tips for wine tasting, restaurants and rabelo boat cruises.
- Aveiro is another fantastic destination that is close to Porto and makes an excellent day trip. You can also take a guided tour that includes Aveiro, Ilhavo and a boat ride. Or just go for a half day tour exploring Aveiro.
- Visit the lovely university town of Braga and the nearby Bom Jesus do Monte church with its famous steps. Take a full day tour to Braga and and also discover Guimares.
- Craving a bit of nature? Take a trip to the National Park of Gerês. You can go on a canyoning tour, spend the day hiking with a guide, or even learn about herbs and make your own remedies. These activities could make an amazing day trip from Porto with the family.
Places to Eat & Drink in Porto
Porto has fantastic food for all budget levels. Here are some of our favorite places to eat in Porto. And of course some of the best places for a wine, port or even a cocktail or craft beer. See below for a handy google map with all these locations and more.
- If you want to try the crazy francesinha sandwich you should check out Bufete Fase or Capa Negra I.
- For super yummy hipster brunch you have to head to Zenith.
- Delicious seafood meals can be found at tiny Taberna Dos Mercadores. Reservations are a must. I still dream of their tender and flavorful octopus rice. Heaven.
- Taste port at Portologia – La Maison des Port
- Everyone recommended ODE Porto Wine House to us. We liked it but found it a bit fussy and overpriced. I say go next door to the following address instead.
- Adega São Nicolau was one of our favorite Porto restaurants, friendly staff and fabulous food. Reservations are a must. In nice weather try to dine outside with a view. Unless you have a huge appetite remember the dishes are meant to be shared family style.
- Go to the rooftop of trendy Espaço Porto Cruz for amazing views over the Douro and surprisingly affordable drink prices considering the location
- Don’t miss the famous pasteis de nata at Manteigaria (Delta Q)
- Grab a bifana at a local cafeteria. A simple filling pork sandwich that tastes great after a few drinks.
- For a cold treat try Gelataria Sincelo, the best in town
- Craving craft beer? Check out Letraria Craft Beer Garden
- Don’t miss our list of 7 Portuguese foods you must try!
Traditional Portuguese Grocers: Porto’s beautiful weather calls out for a picnic. I recommend visiting some of the city’s traditional food shops for supplies then heading out for an alfresco meal. Here are some traditional shops where you can find beautiful local food products like bread, cheese, sausage, canned fish, preserves and of course wine and port. These also make wonderful gifts. And if it’s gifts or souvenirs you are after, check out A Vida Portuguesa. Our favorite traditional grocers include:
- Casa Ramos
- Comer e Chorar por Mais
- A Pérola do Bolhão
- O Pretinho do Japão
Be sure to check out the map below for the addresses of these shops.
Places to Stay in Porto
If this is your first visit to Porto I would recommend finding accommodations in the Ribeira neighborhood. This is the UNESCO Heritage area of the city and has beautiful views along the river. There are also plenty of sights, activities and restaurants within walking distance. Following are some places to stay in Porto for a range of budgets and lodging needs. In high season I definitely recommend you use HotelsCombined to compare lodging prices across all booking engines when searching for accommodations.
Budget lodgings in Porto:
Apartments in Porto:
- Bluetile Sol Apartment
- Vitoria Clerigos Apartments
- Apartamento City Center
- Janika’s Apartment
- Oporto Old in New
- Casa Portuguesa
Luxury accommodations in Porto:
Getting Around in Porto
If you are only visiting Porto for a weekend you will probably be able to see all the sights on foot if you are based in the Ribeira area. However, the rest of Porto is well served by Metro and bus. You’ll want to purchase the Andante card which you can top up to use multiple times.
As mentioned above, if you fly into Porto you can catch the local Metro directly from the airport to the city center. You can also use the Metro to transfer from the main train station at Trindade to the São Bento station near Ribeira.
You can also purchase 24 or 48 hour tickets for the hop on hop off bus which can be a convenient way to get around and see the sights.
Porto is quite hilly so unless you are super fit you might not want to get around by bicycle. However bicycles could be handy when exploring along the Douro to the beaches.
Tourists might also enjoy riding the historic trams and funiculars.
Travel Guide Map to Porto
All of the above locations (and more) are included on the below map which you can view on your computer or smartphone. Click here to access the map complete with addresses and names. If you open (click the square bracket in upper right) and star it when you are logged into Google you should also be able to access it in the Google Maps app on your phone. I hope it helps you find some amazing places and fun things to do in Porto!
To see the list of addresses, click the popup legend on the top left of the map.
I hope you liked this weekend guide to Porto and that you enjoy your visit to this fascinating city.
Headed to Europe this spring? Take a look at this handy list to decide what to pack for a spring trip to Europe.
You might also like these posts:
- Weekend Guide to Cordoba
- Take the ferry from England to Spain
- Weekend Guide to Marseille
- Weekend Guide to Toledo
- Getting tickets and visiting the Alhambra
- 13 Weird Things To Do in Las Vegas
- The Weekend Guide to Rotterdam
- The Weekend Guide to Utrecht
- 7 Portuguese Foods You Should Try
- The Weekend Guide to Antwerp