An Art Lover's Guide to Porto

As one of Portugal’s major cities, Porto has a thriving and vibrant art scene. Whether you are into contemporary art, historic masterpieces, cutting edge street art, or stunning architecture, Porto has it all.  

For art lovers visiting the Douro River Valley and hoping to maximize their time, here are the locations that will provide the greatest treat for both the eyes and the mind!

Art Galleries and Museums

When it comes to galleries and museums, this city has lots to offer. Here are some of the must-see locations

Espaco Mira

Espaco Mira is located in a restored warehouse. Conveniently located near the Campanha railway station, this gallery showcases work from emerging Portuguese artists. As a multi-disciplinary space, it also hosts film festivals and photography nights.

This part of the city is on the rise in the art scene and a visit here will not disappoint.

Serralves Museum

Visiting the city of Porto and not stopping at the Serralves Museum would be a complete and utter waste -- even for those who don’t love art!

The museum itself is a work of art with an unmistakable art deco exterior. Surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens, this museum allows for a quiet escape from the busy cobblestone streets.

Inside, you will find some of the best, most cutting edge contemporary art. If you want to see what’s going on in the European art world, this is where you need to be. 

Galeria Fernando Santos

Galeria Fernando Santos has been around since 1993 and has served as a gateway between international and Portuguese artists and art collectors.

This gallery has a goal to promote up and coming Portuguese artists while also advancing some international artists. Through its exhibitions and contacts with prestigious collectors, Galeria Fernando Santos helps drive the scene and keep it strong in both Porto and Portugal as a whole.

Galeria Nuno Centeno

Like Serralves Museum, Galeria Nuno Centeno displays some of the best contemporary art in the country. In 2016, the gallery’s founder Nuno Centeno was nominated as one of “Europe’s 10 Most Respected Art Dealers.”

For anyone planning an art tour of Porto, pay a visit as this gallery and its founder have their finger on the pulse and may be able to share some insights into the rest of the city’s scene. 

Galeria Presenca

First opened in 1995, Galeria Presenca is a force to be reckoned with. Having displayed exhibits from artists like Alexandre Farto aka Vhils, Pedro Calapez, and Vasco Araújo.

With the ability to draw big names, and regular appearances at some of Europe’s top art fairs, the exhibits here will blow your mind.

Porto Street Art

While the galleries and museums here are amazing, art in Porto is not confined to traditional, indoor spaces. Street art might as well be synonymous with Porto. In fact, street artists are so popular here that there are guided tours devoted to exploring their artwork!

If you want to take your own walking tour, we’ve got you covered. While walking the streets and taking time to drink a little wine and visit some of the city’s best restaurants is a satisfying adventure all on its own, imagine how thrilling it will become when you can also take in some of Porto’s street art! 

Here are the can’t miss locations:

Rua de Miguel Bombarda

Known as the gallery district, Rua de Miguel Bombarda has dozens of examples of street art covering a range of mediums that include graffiti, stickers, and mosaics.

Works on this street include pieces from the famous street artist Hazul as well as those of Costah and Tina Siuda.

Escadas do Codecal

For a truly unique perspective on the city, pay a visit to Escadas do Codecal. This staircase goes down from the upper levels of the Dom Luis I Bridge down to the Douro and the Ribeira district. It is here that you will find some hidden gems!

This area features works from Costah, Hazul, and Chei Krew and provides stunning views of both the bridge and the river. Take your time and soak it all in.

Rua das Flores

If you are leaving the Sao Bento station and heading to the Ribeira district, you will come across Rua das Flores.

This street is perfect for a wine tasting, shopping, sampling Portuguese delicacies like pasteis de nata, people watching, AND viewing street art.

At the beginning of the street, you will find a massive cat portrait by the Spanish artist Liqen. But if you keep your eyes open, you’ll spot all of the brightly adorned electrical boxes.

With more than a dozen boxes painted by Porto’s most popular street artists, walking this street is like going on a little treasure hunt!

Rua da Madeira

Located behind the Sao Bento train station, is the steep and narrow Rua da Madeira. This tiny street leads the way from the station to Batalha Square and is lined with some incredible works. Again, you will find art from some of Porto’s most famous street artists including Costah and Hazul.

Porto Architecture

Architecture and design are also stand out features in the city of Porto. With such a diverse history, Porto is home to wide-ranging architectural styles like art nouveau, art deco, gothic, and even modern.

While you can observe stunning design and architecture all over the city, here are our favourite, can’t miss spots:

Sao Bento Train Station

More than your average train station, Sao Bento is one of the most visited locations in Porto!

The station’s lobby is adorned, floor to ceiling, with azulejo tiles depicting scenes from Portugal’s history. Whether traveling through the station on route to another location or making a special trip to see the tiles, Sao Bento station will take your breath away.

Livraria Lello

Livraria Lello is easily one of the most beautiful bookstores in the entire world. With a combination of art nouveau and gothic architecture, the store is a treat for the eyes. Stained glass ceilings, wooden walls, and a stunning red staircase. Incredible.

Serralves Museum

While we mentioned Serralves Museum already, it is worth mentioning again. The art deco exterior alone is worth a visit. One of several buildings designed by architect Álvaro Siza Vieira, this estate was named a national monument in 2012. How can you not visit?

Dom Luis Bridge

Porto has several famous bridges but the most famous is the Dom Luis Bridge.

This double-decker metal arch bridge first opened in the late 19th century and at the time, was the longest arch bridge in the world. The bridge connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia, an area known for its wine cellars. Whether you are crossing the bridge for a sip of wine or looking to view Porto from a different angle or want to see an architectural masterpiece, head to Dom Luis Bridge.

Clerigos Church

The Clerigos church is where you will find the Clerigos tower, one of the most identifiable landmarks in Porto. The tower was completed in 1763 and was the tallest building in the city.

Today, it stands as the perfect example of classic Baroque architecture. Climb the tower steps or admire from the outside.

Majestic Cafe

There are lots of coffee shops and cafes in Porto but none of them are quite like Majestic Cafe.

Located on Rua Santa Catarina, Majestic Café first opened in the 1920s and has the lavish and elegant interior that was common during the Belle Époque. Walking through the doors is like stepping into a different time. Gilded woodwork, antique furniture, beautiful chandeliers,  this cafe is worth braving the crowds.

Palacio da Bolsa

This Stock Exchange Palace stands in the Infante D. Henrique Square in the historic center of Porto. 

Built in the 19th-century to attract European businesses, this building’s architecture is a perfect example of the neoclassical style and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. All of the rooms are stunning but be sure to pay special attention to the Arabian Hall and the Patio das Nacoes.

This list covers many of the points of interest in Porto for art and design lovers but the reality is, everywhere you look, there is something remarkable to see!

Take this list and hit these places all on your own or book an Art and Architecture tour with us!

Back to Porto Holidays