Porto (Oporto), Portugal is a place you might have heard about, but a place that, once you visit, you’ll never forget. With cobbled alleyways, elaborate blue-tiled churches, imposing bridges, and delicious food and wine, there is so much to see and do!
I took a one-week solo trip to Porto and—as expected—fell head over heels for its charm. Between eating salty cod (bacalhau) and tasting Port wine in the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia, I had plenty of time to squeeze in the best things to do in Porto into the perfect 1-5 days Porto itinerary.
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Many call Porto the crown jewel of Portugal, thanks to its rich heritage and culture which awarded the city with UNESCO World Heritage status. You can easily lose yourself in Porto’s past and present as you wander its medieval Ribeira neighborhood, quaint riverside boardwalk, and its colorful houses and chapels decorated in Azulejo tiles.
If all of that—and more—sounds like your kind of dreamy Portuguese destination, then read more below to discover the top things to do in Porto!
17 Best Things to Do in Porto Portugal
🎟 Get around with the Porto City Card & save! — Enjoy free entry to 6 museums, unlimited transport, and a 20-50% discount on admission to popular attractions (i.e. wine cellar, river cruise, etc).
1. Climb Up Clérigos Bell Tower
Who doesn’t enjoy panoramic city views?
One of the first things you should do after you arrive in Porto is to climb the 225+ winding steps inside the bell tower of the Clérigos Church (Torro dos Clérigos).
- Cost: €5
- Tickets: Get skip-the-line tickets on GetYourGuide
- Hours: 9 am – 7 pm
- Best time to visit: at 9 am to beat the crowds or at sunset
Your admission to the tower also grants access to the Clérigos Museum inside the baroque church (1735-1745) which showcases the history and artifacts from the Brotherhood of the Clérigos.
From atop Porto’s dominating bell tower, you’ll get a wonderful 360-degree view of Porto, the Duoro River, and Vila Nova de Gaia. Starting out your trip this way helps you get a lay of the land.
2. Stroll the Colorful Cais da Ribeira
Ribeira is Porto’s medieval neighborhood flanking the bank of the Douro River.
At its edge is a bustling quay full of street artists, iconic restaurants, and colorfully-tiled houses built upon each other.
The area is ideal for a promenande, if nothing but to visit the Praça Riberia (Ribeira Square) and the Cais da Estiva.
Grabbing lunch or dinner here comes highly recommended, with dozens of restaurants and eateries to choose from along the quay and in the cozy street tucked behind the buildings.
You’ll likely become very familiar with this area over the next couple of days!
3. Cruise the Douro River & Porto’s 6 Bridges
Porto is at the mouth of the river Douro, which spills out into the Atlantic two miles out near Foz.
It’s on this famous river that fisherman, dockers, and tradesmen would travel to bring goods and, in particular, Port wine from the Douro Valley—where the vineyards from Port wine originates.
That being said, it’s somewhat a tribute to go on a Douro River Cruise while in Porto.
Cruising the Douro and Porto’s six bridges are always claimed as “Porto must sees” for first-timers. So I took the tour myself to see if it was worth it! Read more in my review of Porto’s 6 Bridges River Cruise.
4. Tour the Port Cellars (+Tasting)
Speaking of vineyards and Port wine… Porto is kinda the place in the world to drink Port wine.
The history of Port wine dates back to the Romans in the 2nd century. In fact, it wasn’t in Porto that Port wine was birthed, but rather in the Douro Valley. The wine got its name thanks to the city from which it first shipped—Oporto.
There are many Port cellars on the banks of Vila Nova da Gaia (the city just opposite Porto, connected by Luis Dom I bridge) that you can tour and do a tasting with.
Here are some of the top cellars and Port wine tours:
- Live Fado Show with glass of Port wine at Casa do Fado
- Cálem Tour + Tasting — basic or premium (2 glasses or 3 glasses with Tawny)
- Graham’s Port Lodge Tour + Tasting
- Cálem Cellar with Chocolate, Cheese, and Wine Tasting
- 3-Hour Walking Tour with 11 Tastings
- Burmester Cellar Tour
5. Step Inside Livraria Lello (Harry Potter-inspired Library)
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, then you can’t come to Porto and not retrace J.K. Rowling’s steps.
That’s right—the author of the franchise we all know and love used to live in Porto, where it is rumored she got her inspiration for the Hogwarts Library from the real-life Livraria Lello.
The inside of this magical little bookshop does whisk up images of wizards and students in long cloaks. But there’s more than meets the eye in this store, considered “the world’s prettiest library.”
If that’s not enough, you can even visit the Majestic Café where J.K. Rowling used to visit. Another rumor says she even wrote her first words of the books here. Even if you’re not a fan, it’s worth peeking inside this beautiful ornate café—the oldest in Porto.
6. Discover Porto’s Azulejo Tiled Churches
Azulejo tiles are glazed tiles that are said to have originated from Moorish rule in Portugal in the middle ages. The word is derived from Arabic—azzelij—and means “small polished stone.”
You will see all types of Azulejo tiled buildings in Porto—not just the ones dominated in blue and white. However, that style remains popular and is what adorns many churches and chapels in Porto.
Beautiful Azulejo tiled places to see in Porto:
- Capela das Almas — Chapel of Souls on Santa Catarina street)
- Igreja de Como — not far from Clérigos and Lello Library)
- Santo Ildefonso — at the other end of Santa Catarina’s shopping street)
- São Bento Railway Station — near the Sé cathedral
- Inside the Sé Cathedral
Azulejo history records that it was only after Spanish influence in the later 16th–17th centuries that the Portuguese integrated Azulejo tiles to decorate their homes, façades, and monuments; telling stories of their culture and ancestors through diverse colors and geometric shapes.
7. Visit Sé Porto Cathedral
The Sé district is the oldest neighborhood of Porto, dominated by the imposing Sé Catedral do Porto.
The cathedral’s construction started in the early 12th century and has since become the most important monument of the city. Its interior courtyard and blue-tiled walls are simply not to be missed.
8. Walk Down Porto’s Oldest Street (Rua das Flores)
If you haven’t gathered by now, Porto is pretty ancient. Its oldest street is over 500 years old!
Rua das Flores is now a timeless pedestrian street busy with tourists, cafés, and Airbnbs. Even though some say to skip it because it can get crowded, I loved discovering its hidden secrets.
For example, the Trevassa do Ferraz is a wonderful (steep) alleyway that, if taken, will give you the shortest route up to Clérigos Tower and the Mirador da Vítoria. Not to mention it has one of the coolest viewpoints on the Sé cathedral; I stumbled upon this view by hazard and kept going back to it during my trip.
Another thing to see on the Rua das Flores is the historic Misericórdia do Porto Museum and church displaying ancient religious art, silverware displays, and paintings.
And if you enjoy street art, don’t forget to pay a visit to Perspéntico — Porto’s Blue Cat.
9. Stroll the “Shopping Street” (Santa Catarina)
Rua de Santa Catarina is a sprawling shopping street filled with local Portuguese shops as well as large name-brand stores.
I’m not much of a shopper, but I loved wandering down this street because there is a lively air about it, with lots to spot! The street officially starts from Praça de Batalha.
Here’s what not to miss on your stroll down Santa Catarina Street:
- Chapel of Souls
- Ildefonso Church
- Batalha Square
- Majestic Café
- ViaCatarina shopping mall (the food court upstairs is so cute)
- Fabrica de Nata (pasteis de nata — delicious and cheap)
- Mercado do Bolhão is also nearby!
10. Tour the Palácio da Bolsa
Everyone who visits Porto will be recommended to visit the city’s former Stock Exchange Palace—the Palácio da Bolsa.
While this isn’t one of the most thrilling things to do in Porto, it’s one of the most popular.
The short yet detailed tour of 30 minutes offers a wonderful insight into the history of Porto and even Portugal and runs daily in several languages. It’s wise to go early!
Most tourists visit because they want to see the ornate Arabian Room decorated in gold leaf, plaster, and Arabic script. It is very beautiful, but I think the other rooms inside this neoclassical building are just as fascinating.
✨ Touring the Palácio da Bolsa is a very popular thing to do in Porto. Click here to get your skip-the-line tickets online.
11. Peek Inside the Beautiful São Bento Railway Station
Unless you’re actually traveling by train, the São Bento Railway Station is only a must-see rather than a must-do.
Most of the walking tours in Porto will stop inside this decorated railway station, but only briefly to tell you about the history and story told through its elaborate tiled designs.
12. Watch Sunset from Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar
- Cost: €2
- Hours: 10 am to 7 pm, closed on Mondays
Visiting Porto’s former monastery (well, technically, it’s in Vila Nova de Gaia…) cannot be missed, especially at sunset!
That’s right—along with the adjacent Jardim do Morro, the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar is the place to watch the sunset. From atop the hill, it has the highest vantage point overlooking the Dom Luís I Bridge and the historic center of Porto across the River Douro.
The tour of the monastery tower and church requires a guide, but it only costs €2. The cloisters and the square (with the great viewpoint) are free to visit.
Tip: Pack a picnic treat and bring a blanket to enjoy the hip and slightly-overcrowded spot in Jardim do Morro to catch the sunset over Porto. How romantique!
13. Visit the Heart of Porto at Liberty Square
Liberty/Freedom Square (Praça da Liberdade) lies at the heart of Porto. As such, you can’t—literally—explore the city without at least crossing this enormous square at least once.
Circling the square are myriad 5-star hotels, restaurants, and shops. In the center stands a statue, a monument to King Pedro IV riding on horseback.
The bustling and modern boulevard of Avenida dos Aliados crosses the square; connecting the city’s Baixa, Vitoria, and Sé neighborhoods.
14. Explore the Mercado do Bolhão
The real Bolhão market is temporarily closed, but it’s one of Porto’s top places to see! However, you can still visit the Temporary Bolhao Market which is just nearby off Rua Santa Catarina shopping street.
Here, you can get lost in the semi-open-air market filled with fresh fruits, veggies, and handmade items from farmers and vendors in Porto.
Best of all, they have some stalls with prepared food! It reminds me of the food market when we spent one day in Madrid during a layover.
15. Check Out Porto’s Best Viewpoints & Passageways
Porto is a fairly small city. You can cross the downtown area in just 10–15 minutes on foot and pretty much check off your bucket list in a matter of a few days.
However, in between those moments are opportunities to see Porto unlike many others get to do! Below are some of my favorite viewpoints and side streets to get lost in.
- Trevassa do Ferraz
- Miradouro da Vitória
- Miradouro da Rua das Aldas
- Rua Santa Ana (super medival and cute with a great lunch spot called Portugues de Gema)
- Miradouro da Ponte da Arrábida
- Kittie Rock (actually across the bridge in Vila Nova da Gaia)
- Miradouro Bandeirinha da Saúde
- Dom Luis Bridge Viewpoint
- Escadas da Sé
- Miradouro das Fontainhas
16. Go on a Food & Wine Tour
If you’re a food lover, then there’s no better activity in Porto than going on a gastronomic food and wine tour!
This GetYourGuide-certified tour takes you on a culinary-themed walking tour around Old Town Porto.
On this trip, you’ll taste the best of Porto—from its coffee to its cinnamon-topped nata pastries to its aged cheese and charcuteries to its world-famous Port wine!
Need I say more? 😋
16. Bike to the Beaches of Foz Do Douro
Even though Porto can be hilly, there are lots of scenic opportunities to get around by bike.
If you’re looking for a fun near-to-Porto day trip idea, then rent a bike and head to Foz Do Douro—where the Douro River spills into the sea.
Similarly, there are several tours (both guided and self-guided) and the rental prices are affordable.
17. Take a Day Trip to the Douro Valley
Last but not least, many people who visit Porto take advantage of the all-inclusive day trip to the Douro Valley.
On these day trips, you travel by bus/shuttle from Porto to the Douro Valley, where you’ll tour the vineyard from which Port wine is made. Lunch, wine tasting, and a Douro River Cruise are also included.
With over 550+ raving reviews, it’s certainly one of the best things to do when visiting Porto.
Porto is such a cute city to explore with plenty of fun things to do and see. You can knock out most activities within just a couple of days. I spent five days in Porto in January and had plenty of time to sightsee coupled with relaxing back in my hotel.
I already can’t wait to revisit and take my partner with me next time and play the “tour guide”!
If you have any questions about visiting Porto, let me know! Also, feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.