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Farah's Top Things to do in Porto Portugal

Farah's Top Things to do in Porto Portugal

You may know Porto as the land of Port wine. Sure, we could spend days visiting the city’s wine cellars and the vineyards along the Douro Valley. But that’s not the only reason why we love it here.

There are also stunning neoclassical monuments, photo-worthy tiled facades, and a riverside promenade lined with lively alfresco cafés, not to mention an endless supply of art shops and galleries.

Our guide has all the top things to do in Porto to help you plan your trip to this vibrant Portuguese city.

Porto Buildings

Tile Facades in Porto

Porto Museums

Despite its small size, Porto has its fair share of museums. Among the most famous institutions is the Fundação Serralves, a space dedicated to contemporary art amid a vast park on the city's outskirts.

Then there's the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis, one of the oldest art museums in Portugal, and the Centro Português de Fotografia, which hosts regular photography exhibits. 

Another place worth visiting is the Banco de Materiais. It’s not really a museum, but a repository where locals can deposit and request tiles to help restore the city’s facades. Visitors are welcome to step inside and marvel at the collection that keeps on growing.

On the Gaia side of the river you will find Porto's new WOW The World of Wine, a large collection of interactive museums with exhibits on Portuguese wine, cork, textiles and other iconic Portuguese cultural points. While the tickets are pricey, the exhibits are fabulous and worth the price tag. This museum also boasts restaurants, wine tasting and fabulous gift shops. 

 Porto's WOW Museum

Wine tasting at the end of the WOW Museum's wine exhibit 

Porto Art Galleries

There’s a large creative community in Porto, as you’ll notice by the numerous art galleries scattered around the city. Most are in Rua Miguel Bombarda, Porto’s art district, or within the Bonfim neighborhood.

Porto Monuments

The most iconic monument in Porto has to be the Torre dos Clérigos. From the top of this Baroque bell tower, visitors can take in the views of the whole city. 

Alongside it, you’ll find many churches and chapels with stunning blue-and-white tile facades. Some of our favorites include the Igreja do Carmo, Capela das Almas and the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso.

Blue Tiled Facade

Blue and white tiled facades of churches in Porto

But there’s also the Porto Cathedral, with its imposing Romanesque and Gothic features, and the golden ornamented altars of Igreja São Francisco and Igreja Santa Clara.

Indeed, many buildings in Porto hide beautiful interiors. Take the Estação de São Bento, a local train station adorned with tile panels of historical scenes, or the Palácio da Bolsa and its elegant Moorish-style room.

The city’s main boulevard, Avenida dos Aliados, also stands out with its Neoclassical buildings. Meanwhile, by the Douro river, you can spot the Ponte Luís I, a 19th-century bridge that connects Porto with the nearby wine cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia.

Ponte Luis Bridge Porto

Ponte Luís Bridge in Porto

Porto Gardens

If you’re looking for a break from sightseeing, you can rest up at one of the city’s parks. Dating from the 19th century, the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal remain one of the most charming gardens in Porto with its rewarding river views. A few minutes from here is the Parque das Virtudes, a popular spot to catch the sunset.

Further west, you’ll find the Jardim Botânico do Porto, a large botanical garden featuring two lakes and plenty of tropical plants, and the Parque da Cidade, an urban park with several sports fields and walking paths.

Alternatively, you can cross the river to Vila Nova de Gaia and visit Jardim do Morro. It's the best place to capture the picturesque buildings lining Porto’s riverside promenade.

Jardim do Morro

Jardim do Morro

Porto Shopping

Porto is home to a mix of historic and modern concept stores. Traditional shops include the Claus Porto, which sells luxury soaps and fragrances, and the Pérola do Bolhão, an old-style deli where you can sample Portuguese smoked sausages, cheese, and wine. 

Book lovers will enjoy a visit to the Livraria Lello, one of the prettiest bookshops in the world. It’s so popular that you need a ticket to get in, but you can redeem it for a book.

For artsy souvenirs, don’t miss the shops and galleries at Rua Miguel Bombarda. A bit off this street is the Coração Alecrim, a cozy shop that stocks handmade Portuguese items like ceramics and wool blankets.

And of course, we can’t help recommending a visit to Burel Porto, an off-shoot of the Burel Factory Textiles, famous for their sustainable and multicolored wool pieces.

Porto Bookstore

Livraria Lello

Port Wine Tasting

Of course, you can’t leave Porto without a Port wine tasting. Most of the wine cellars are just across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia and offer guided tours. We recommend visiting Churchill's or Graham's.

If you’re looking for something slightly more casual, you can settle down with a drink at one of the local wine bars. Prova is one of our favorite spots to end an evening in Porto.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joana Taborda

Hi! My name is Joana, I am a travel writer from Portugal, based between Lisbon and Madeira Island. I love hopping on a train to little-known towns and drinking the local craft beer wherever I get off!

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