The capital city of Portugal, Lisbon, probably receives more attention than is fair. The discerning traveler, however, is aware that Porto, the tiny sister city, is packed with its own must-see delights.
Take a soak in a magnificent pool, snap a photo of a train station that’s interesting enough to visit on its own (yes, really), or just enjoy the Duoro River and the massive Dom Luis I iron bridge that spans to Gaia. Finally, keep in mind that you are actually in the port region; therefore, a visit to the Vila Nova de Gaia wine cellars to understand more about Porto’s most well-known export is practically required.
Best Places to Visit in Porto Portugal
With this list of the greatest attractions in Porto, you can find even more places to explore.
1. Ribeira Plaza
Ribeira Square is an absolute must-see if you’re in Porto. A Unesco World Heritage Site, this area of the old city is situated beside the Douro. Yes, there are a ton of visitors there, but don’t let that deter you.
Take a Rabelo boat across the river; sway back and forth while admiring the Luz I, D. Maria II, and Arrábida bridges (fantastic backdrops for dramatic photos); and stop by the Bacalhoeiros Wall, the Casa do Infante museum, the Rua da Reboleira, Cubo Square, the So Nicolau Church, and the sculpture “Alminhas da Ponte” by Teixeira da Lopes.
2. Wine Cellars in Porto
Beaches and those renowned Port wine cellars may be found in Gaia, Porto’s sister city. They’re stunning, and you can take guided tours to learn about the history of the product and the characteristics that set each port type apart.
The highlight of every tour is a port tasting. We suggest the O Baro de Fladgate restaurant at Taylor’s (Rua do Choupelo, 250), the Sandeman Cellars (Largo Miguel Bombarda, 3; the ones with the guy in the black cape), and Cockburn’s (Rua Serpa Pinto, 346), where you can have a picnic with some mouthwatering Portuguese treats.
3. Foz Douro
Within Porto, Foz is really a tiny city. It served as a coastal vacation destination for wealthy Porto locals and Britons in the nineteenth century.
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Visit it now for its beaches (a few of which have blue flags), seaside-style outdoor cafés (try the ones at the Praia da Luz and iBar’s, which are tucked away among the rocks), or a sunny stroll down the Avenida do Brasil with its Atlantic Ocean panorama.
The Old Foz neighborhood’s more charming area, the Queijo Fort, the Passeio Alegre Fountain, the Felgueiras lighthouse, and the Molhe Breakwater are all close by.
4. Cristo Tower
Perhaps Porto’s most recognizable landmark is this beautiful, 75-meter bell tower that guards the city with tenderness. Its Italian architect, Nicolau Nasoni, is to thank for the stunning onslaught of Baroque themes that grace this 1763 opening.
You can enjoy some magnificent 360° views of the city from the summit because of its prominent location, but you’ll have to climb 225 stairs to get there.
5. Serra do Pilar
On the Gaia side of the Douro River, there is a rough hill known as the Serra do Pilar. The vista is breathtaking, especially at dusk.
To learn more about the four World Heritage sites in Portugal’s northern region—the historic centers of Porto and Guimares, the Douro wine region, and the Côa Archaeological Park—visit the thirteenth-century monastery.
6. Lello’s Livraria
This was ranked as the third most beautiful bookstore in the world by both The Guardian and the travel website Lonely Planet.
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They appear to be laughing. It’s stunning! Lello, a more than a century-old art nouveau gem with gothic accents, stained glass, and a stunning crimson staircase, is thought to have served as inspiration for the staircase in Hogwarts (JK Rowling briefly resided in Porto).
Fans of Harry Potter, hurry over here right away. Due to the increased number of visitors, there is now a fee to enter; however, this fee is waived with any purchase. The Lello Bookstore is visited by many excursions.
7. Porto Cathedral
The most significant cathedral in the city is the Cathedral of Porto, or “Sé.” It is a national monument and was constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Keep an eye out for the chapel frescoes, the Teixeira Lopes sculpture in the baptistery, the gothic cloister, and the medieval portrait of the city’s patron saint, Our Lady of Vandoma. When locals use the term “Sé,” they don’t just refer to the cathedral but also to the central historic area of Porto.
8. Train Station in So Bento
The traditional train station serves as a transportation hub for getting to other locations. And let’s face it, while they do beat airport departure lounges, most train stations aren’t exactly wonderful locations to kill time.
Estaço de So Bento is an entirely separate animal. A Belle Epoque façade and a famous interior with 20,000 painted tiles characterize this former convent. The walls were decorated by artist Jorge Colaço with pictures from the nation’s past, including — appropriately — scenes from daily life and types of transportation.
9. Parks at Crystal Palace
If, when searching for this park, you come upon a herd of fiberglass dinosaurs, you’re looking for the wrong Crystal Palace. These gardens are somewhat more exotic than what London has to offer, notwithstanding the absence of prehistoric models.
Thanks to German landscape architect Emile David, this lush paradise not only has a network of walkways, tree-lined ponds, sculptured topiary, and a massive domed pavilion, but it also looks out over the Douro River. Definitely worth the ascent.
10. The Marés Pool
While swimming in salt water has many advantages, even the most ardent wild swimmer would attest that swimming across a significant distance in the open ocean may be challenging and even dangerous.
At Marés Pool, you may enjoy the comfort and serenity of a magnificent lido along with all the health benefits that swimming in salt water outdoors has to offer.
Stretch out sore muscles by swimming a few lengths of the pool, then retire to the nearby rocks to take in the breathtaking sea views that surround the magnificent structure designed by Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza Vieira.
Portugal’s second city, Porto, dazzles with a vast variety of cultural attractions and appears to have been hewn out of granite close to the mouth of the River Douro.
The Ribeira serves as Porto’s historical core. This seaside neighborhood really demands that you get lost among the maze of winding streets and look for some of the most treasured architectural landmarks in the city. In fact, UNESCO designated this historic area a World Heritage Site because of how rare and valuable the structures that make up it are.