Known as the home of Port wine, Porto is one of the most visited cities in the North of Portugal. Here, historic monuments mix with contemporary buildings and narrow streets lead the way to a riverside promenade framed by pastel-coloured buildings and outdoor cafés.
There are a lot of things to do in Porto, from visiting museums to boat trips along the Douro river and tours of Port wine cellars.
It's worth taking at least two days to visit Porto. This way you can cover the main attractions and explore its surroundings, including the nearby beaches. With a few more days you can also do a tour of the Douro Valley.
This Porto guide includes a 2-day Porto itinerary and features tips on where to eat and where to stay.
Spend your first day in Porto, exploring the streets of Baixa and Ribeira. It’s here you’ll find most of the city’s landmarks, including the São Bento train station, the Clérigos Tower and Cais da Ribeira.
Start at Rua Santa Catarina and then make your way down to the riverfront, passing through gardens and little streets lined with traditional shops. Then cross to Vila Nova de Gaia or hop on a funicular back up to the cathedral, in time for the sunset at Passeio das Virtudes and a visit to the Lello bookshop.
Follow us on our walking tour of Porto’s historic neighbourhoods, so you don’t miss a thing.
Established in the 1920s, Café Majestic is one of the oldest cafés in Porto. It might be a bit touristy these days, but it’s still worth coming here to admire its lavish interior decorated in the style of the Belle Epoque. As you step inside, you can’t help feeling like you’re in a different era, surrounded by gilded woodwork, chandeliers and antique furniture. Look around and grab a quick coffee here before venturing around the city.
It’s hard to look away from the bright tiles adorning Porto’s buildings. One minute you’re walking down the street, and the next you’re stopping to capture a mesmerising façade covered with blue and white tiles. There are at least two places in the city worth passing through to admire its tile panels: the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso and the São Bento train station. Santo Ildefonso is a Baroque-style church featuring tiles from top to bottom that depict the life of Saint Ildefonso. Unlike the church, you’ll need to enter the São Bento train station to appreciate its full beauty. Around 20,000 tiles decorate the walls of this railway station completed in 1903. These illustrate scenes of Portugal’s past, from its most memorable battles to the history of transport.
Other noteworthy façades in Porto include Capela das Almas and Igreja do Carmo.
From the São Bento train station, you can continue to Praça da Liberdade. It’s one of the main squares in Porto and was once a meeting point for politicians and artists. The square leads onto to Avenida dos Aliados, a lively boulevard lined with modernist buildings, including the town hall, as well as several banks and restaurants.
Rising amidst the historic centre is the iconic Clérigos tower. Designed by Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni, this 75-metre bell tower is one of Porto’s most famous landmarks. As pretty as it is on the outside, the main reason to go here is to capture the views. Climb the 240 steps to the top, and you’ll be rewarded with a view of the city’s skyline and the Douro river in the background. Attached to the tower is the Clérigos church, a striking example of baroque architecture also attributed to Nasoni.
A few steps from the Clérigos tower is the Jardim de João Chagas, also known as Cordoaria. This quiet garden dates from the 19th century, but it was renovated in 2001 when Porto was nominated European Capital of Culture. Wandering inside, you’ll find a pond, wooden benches, and several sculptures made by Portuguese and Spanish artists. Nearby is the Portuguese Centre of Photography, where you can see old cameras and photo exhibits.
Rua das Flores is one of the most trendy streets in Porto. It’s full of cafes, restaurants and traditional shops where you can buy local souvenirs. Some of the best shops in the area are Tradições, which offers a variety of cork items and Claus Porto which sells soaps with beautiful vintage packaging. As you walk through Rua das Flores, make sure to look up to admire the wrought-iron balconies and historic façades, some dating back to the 17th century. Also on this street is the Igreja da Misericórdia, a Baroque-style church designed by Nicolau Nasoni.
For lunch, head to Petisqueira Voltaria. Located on a side street off Rua das Flores, this cosy restaurant serves a variety of Portuguese petiscos . We suggest ordering a few dishes to share, so you can try different ingredients. Specialities include codfish and pork cheeks. It’s a tiny restaurant, so make sure to arrive early to get a seat or book a table in advance.
In the afternoon, you can continue your tour of Porto at the Bolsa Palace. Once home to the city’s Stock Exchange office, this historic monument offers more than meets the eye. Beyond its neoclassical façade is a series of magnificent rooms that will wow any visitor. There’s the Salão Árabe with its stucco walls decorated with gold and Moorish motifs and the Pátio das Nações, with its glass dome lined with the coat of arms of several countries. Every 30 minutes, there’s a guided tour of the palace.
Right next to the Bolsa Palace is the Igreja de São Francisco. It may seem like a Gothic church at first, but when you enter, you’ll see a magnificent Baroque interior. Everywhere is covered with gold leaf, from the altar to the side chapels and its statues. Under the church are the catacombs which hold the tombs of Franciscan monks and an ossuary with hundreds of bones that you can see through holes on the floor.
If there’s a place in Porto that encapsulates the city is Cais da Ribeira. Ribeira is Porto’s waterfront, but also a historic neighbourhood. Flanked by pastel-coloured buildings, Cais da Ribeira is the signature image of Porto. As you walk along the riverbanks, you’ll see boats departing on half-hour city tours or day-long trips to the Douro Valley. Street musicians play in the background, and there are numerous cafés and restaurants with outdoor terraces that come alive early in the evening.
Standing amid it all is the imposing Ponte de Dom Luís I, a metal bridge designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel in the 19th century. If you’re only staying one day in Porto, you can take this opportunity to cross the bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia, and a have a tasting in one of the Port wine cellars.
From Cais da Ribeira, you can take a funicular up the hill. Completed in 1891, Funicular dos Guindais makes the connection between Ribeira and Rua de Augusto Rosa. The trip takes a little less than five minutes, but it’s a great way to avoid the steep hill while enjoying the views of the city’s medieval walls and the wine cellars across the river.
Not far from the funicular stop is the Guindalense Football Club. This unassuming sports association offers a terrace with a privileged view of the Dom Luís I Bridge. It’s a favourite spot with the locals who come here to grab a quick afternoon drink at the bar. Order a beer and join the young crowds watching the busy promenade below. If you visit during the São João festival in June, this is one of the best places to capture the fireworks. For this sort of events, you’ll need to book a table in advance!
Like the Clérigos tower, the cathedral is a trademark of Porto’s skyline with its fortress-like towers rising above the Ribeira district. While established in the 12th century, it was renovated several times along the centuries, giving it a mix of architectural styles. The nave shows off its Romanesque origins, the rose window and the cloister give it a Gothic style, and there are also a few Baroque details around the church’s interior and exterior.
As the sun begins to set, make your way to Passeio das Virtudes. This charming park has become one of the most sought-out viewpoints in the city. The views from here are incredible, stretching down to the river and the margins of Vila Nova de Gaia. Buy a bottle of wine or beer from one of the nearby bars and then come here to watch the sunset.
The century-old Livraria Lello is only a few steps away from the Clérigos tower but, to avoid the crowds, it’s best to visit it in the afternoon. Founded in 1906, Lello is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. It lures visitors with its ornate façade and Art-Nouveau interior featuring plastered shelves made to resemble wood, a stained-glass skylight and a quirky crimson staircase. Some say the library served as inspiration for the Harry Potter series written by JK Rowling who spend a few years in Porto. To access the library, you need to purchase a voucher, but you can use it later to buy a book. There’s a vast collection of books in Portuguese, though you can also find English and French editions.
After visiting the library, you can grab dinner at Travesso. Set near Avenida dos Aliados, this local restaurant gives a modern touch to traditional Portuguese dishes. You can order several small dishes to share or one big dish if you’re feeling hungry. We recommend the feijoada de borrego , lamb stew with beans or the polvo à lagareiro , delicious roasted octopus soaked in olive oil. To pair with your meal, they offer a selection of cocktails, some of them using Port wine.
If you’re still up for another drink or want to stay out partying, you should head to the Galerias de Paris. This street is the heart of Porto’s nightlife, and it’s brimming with bars and clubs. In the summer, you can find many people enjoying a drink outside their favourite bar or even going on a bar crawl. To make the most of it, you should come here after midnight, when the bars start getting busy. We suggest starting at the quirky Galerias de Paris, a cosy bar surrounded by vintage memorabilia. From there, you can continue to Casa do Livro, a former bookshop converted into a bar, or to La Boheme for some wine.
Once you’ve seen Porto’s main sights, you can experience other activities like a cruise along the Douro river or a Port wine tasting in Vila Nova de Gaia, if you didn’t make it the day before.
In the afternoon, you can head to Serralves to visit the contemporary art museum, and then continue west towards the coast and wander around the beaches of Foz and Matosinhos.
Below is an itinerary of things to do on your second day in Porto.
One of the best things to do in Porto is to take a cruise along the Douro river. Several boat trips depart from Cais da Ribeira. You can book the Six Bridges Cruise, a one-hour tour that follows the old wine merchants route, passing through Porto’s historic bridges or if you have more time, you can take a one-day cruise to towns like Régua or Pinhão located along the Douro Valley. These cruises will often include breakfast and lunch.
You’ll probably spot the Monastery of Serra do Pilar during your cruise, but it’s worth climbing up there for the panoramic city views. Set in Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the river from Porto, this 17th-century monastery stands out on a hill with its circular cloister. From here, you can admire the Dom Luís I Bridge and the multicoloured façades of Cais da Ribeira on the other margin.
While in Vila Nova de Gaia, you must visit the Port wine cellars. There are dozens of lodges on this side of town where you can taste Vinho do Porto , a delicious fortified wine often paired with dessert. Most of them will offer a guided tour where you’ll learn the history of the brand, as well as the process of making Port wine, how it’s stored and the different varieties you can find, from Tawny to Ruby. We recommend trying the Graham’s Port Lodge, a hilltop cellar where you can enjoy your wine with a view of the city, Caves Ferreira, a Portuguese brand created by a local woman in the 18th century and Churchill’s, where you can sample vintage port.
After touring the cellars, you can go for lunch at Dom Luís. Located just down the street from Caves Ferreira, this family-run restaurant serves delicious homemade Portuguese meals at an affordable cost. Highlights include the fried hake, and the house steak served with a Port sauce. For dessert, don’t miss the creme brulé.
In the afternoon, head back to Porto and go for a stroll around the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal. Overlooking the Douro river, these picturesque gardens are only a few minutes away from the city centre, but far from the hustle and bustle. Inside there are fountains, sculptures, a rose garden and a variety of tree species. If you’re lucky, you might even run into a peacock or two. Dotted around the gardens are several buildings including the municipal library, the Museu Romântico and the Palácio de Cristal, a modern dome pavilion that often hosts sporting events and concerts.
From Palácio de Cristal, take a bus or drive up to the Serralves Foundation. This cultural institution is home to a remarkable contemporary art museum designed by local architect Álvaro Siza Vieira. The museum holds a collection of artwork that ranges from the 1960s to the present days. Next to it is the Casa de Serralves, a striking pink-washed building decorated in Art Déco style. Both these buildings stand inside a magnificent 18-hectare park featuring a lake, romantic gardens and colourful art installations. You can visit each attraction separately, but to make the most of your visit, you should get the all-included ticket.
Foz do Douro is a seaside neighbourhood located 5km away from Porto’s city centre. For a while, it used to be a fishing port, but today, it’s one of the most affluent areas in the city featuring numerous mansions. It’s where the Douro river meets the Atlantic, so you’ll find many beaches around this area, which we’ll get to in a second.
Start your tour at the Farol de São Miguel and then walk along the Jardim do Passeio Alegre, a 19th-century garden with an outdoor kiosk and a mini-golf course. From there, follow the tree-lined promenade along the sea, stopping to admire the views at the Farol de Felgueiras and the Forte São João Batista. Capture a picture under the Pérgola da Foz, and then continue down to the Forte São Francisco do Queijo, a 17th-century stronghold sitting on an outcrop overlooking the ocean. Along the way, you’ll also pass by numerous bars and restaurants where you can grab a drink. If you’re travelling with kids, you can visit the Sea Life Porto, an aquarium housing thousands of creatures like sharks and jellyfish.
During your visit to Foz, you should also stop by the beach. The best beaches near Porto are Praia do Homem do Leme, Praia de Gondarém and Praia de Matosinhos. Homem do Leme is ideal for families as there’s a playground for kids behind the beach and plenty of restaurants to grab a meal. Gondarém offers a quiet sandy stretch with calm waters that are ideal for a swim. Finally, there’s Praia de Matosinhos, a beach famous for its strong waves that attract a crowd of surfers and bodyboarders all-year-round.
Before returning to the city centre, you can take a walk around Parque da Cidade. Stretching for 83-hectares, it’s one of the largest urban parks in Portugal offering a seafront view. Within the park, there are numerous facilities, including tracks for running and cycling, as well as sports fields for football and volleyball. There’s also a lake with ducks and swans swimming around and plenty of space for picnics.
End the day with a traditional Francesinha at Brasão Aliados. Francesinha is a hearty sandwich from Porto which contains a variety of meat, including cured ham and fresh sausage, topped with melted cheese and a spicy sauce made of tomato and beer. There are many cafés around the city serving this delicacy, but Brasão Aliados is one of the best spots to try it.