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21 Best Things To Do In Porto 

From museums to parks, cathedrals to towers, bridges to bustling squares. 

Home of the famous Port wine, the second largest city in Portugal boasts colorful buildings that rise from the water and give the impression of stacking on top of each other like a big wedding cake. Just inland on the Douro River, the city grew rich from trade and the sale of its eponymous wine. It’s also renowned for its architecture, bridges, and cable cars, which are a great way to explore the downtown along with the Villa Nova de Gaia—heart of the Port wine industry. The historic old town has preserved well its classical architecture, but the city also surprises with contemporary masterpieces like the Museu de Arte Contemporânea (Museum of Contemporary Art) and Rem Koolhaas’ striking Casa da Música.

With so much to do, see, and eat, it's hard to know how best to plan out your itinerary for optimal sightseeing—whether it's your first time visiting or your fifth. This list of the best things to do in the Douro Valley city of Porto in northern Portugal is a great place to start. 

But remember—no list of things to do can compare to a custom-built itinerary from Journy. Leave it to the experts to build a daily travel plan from scratch just for you—complete not only with activities and day trips, but also restaurants, cafés, bars, transportation, and accommodation. 

Interested in a multi-city Europe trip that includes Lisbon, too? We've got you covered

And if Spain is on your list, look no further than our top list of things to do in Barcelona and Madrid.

1Climb To The Top Of Clérigos Tower


R. de São Filipe de Nery, 4050-546 Porto, Portugal
For some of the best aerial views of Porto, head to the top of Clérigos Tower. This Baroque masterpiece was constructed in the mid-18th century. Be sure to fuel up with a hearty meal beforehand—you'll have to climb over 200 steps to reach the top, but the bird's eye view is well worth it. If you have the time, stop by the tower exhibit to learn about the history of this 249-foot structure, which was once used to spot boats approaching the Douro. 

2Admire Beautiful Tiles At São Bento Train Station


Porto District, 4000-069 Porto, Portugal
The São Bento Railway Station is far more than a transportation hub in the heart of Porto's UNESCO-listed city center. Built at the turn of the century in 1900, it is adorned with more than 20,000 blue and white azulejo ceramic tiles, which were subsequently added between 1905 and 1916. The visuals depict Portugal's history, from its war-torn years to royal splendor. Be sure to take in the exterior as well—the French Beaux-Arts style is stunning.
Sounds like something you’d like to experience? Trust the experts at Journy to build an itinerary from scratch just for you with all the must-see sights and hidden gems.

3Admire The Impressive Architecture Of The Bolsa Palace (Palacio da Bolsa) 


R. de Ferreira Borges, 4050-253 Porto, Portugal
Palácio da Bolsa is a majestic Neoclassical structure dating back to 1842. Upon entering, you’ll notice the glass-domed Patio das Nacoes (Hall of Nations)—the former exchange location that honors Porto’s past and present money merchants. However, the real highlight is the opulent ballroom, known as Salao Arabe or Arabian Hall. It’s outfitted with stucco walls and Moroccan designs and gilded with more than 18 kilograms of gold. If you’d like to explore more of the palace’s rooms, tag along with one of the guided tours that depart every 30 minutes.

4Visit The Porto Cathedral


Terreiro da Sé, 4050-573 Porto, Portugal
Porto Cathedral is one of the most important Romanesque monuments in Portugal. While you're visiting this historical and architectural landmark, pay particular attention to the azulejos ceramic tiles inspired by the Song of Solomon, the Chapel of Saint Vincent near the cloister, and the Gothic rose window of the monument's facade (it's one of the few original elements that remains).

5Admire The Views From Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar


Largo de Aviz - Santa Marinha, Vila Nova de Gaia, Norte, 4430-329, 4430-329 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
This former monastery is located across the Douro River from Porto, in Villa de Gaia. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 as a celebration of the unique circular design of its church and cloister, which resembles that of the Church of Santa Maria Redonda in Rome. It took longer than expected to build (72 years, to be exact) due to the political and economic turmoil that ensued when the Kingdom of Portugal fell to the Spaniards. While you're there, be sure to head out on the balcony which overlooks Dom Luis I Bridge, along with the historic center of Porto. The views can't be beat.

6See The Stunning Church of Igreja dos Carmelitas Descalços


R. do Carmo 1, 4050-011 Porto, Portugal
The Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas are two of the most famous churches in Porto, the former built for monks and the latter for nuns. They stand side-by-side at the corner of Praça de Carlos Alberto and Rua do Carmo, although there is a tiny house that separates the two (which was actually inhabited up until the 1980s). 

Dos Carmelitas was built in the mid-17th century, which makes it a bit older than do Carmo, which was built between 1758 and 1768. When you gaze at the exterior of the two churches, you'll notice that the facade of dos Carmelitas is built with granite and characterized by three arched entrances, accompanying statues, and an imposing bell tower. Do Carmo, on the other hand, was designed in the Rococo/late Baroque style and has a rectangular entrance with two statues (Elijah and Elisha, one on either side). 

7Visit The Gothic Church Of São Francisco (Igreja de São Francisco)


Rua do Infante D. Henrique, 4050-297 Porto, Portugal
The Church of São Francisco is the premier Gothic monument in Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with Baroque finery. The interior is entirely gilded, covered with cherubs and monks adorned in nearly 100 kilograms of gold leaf. Make sure to visit the nave (the main body of the church), which includes a 13th-century statue of St Francis of Assisi and the 18th-century Tree of Jesse. Also keep your eyes peeled for works by Nicolau Nasoni (an Italian artist and architect who worked extensively in Portugal) and Antonio Teixeira Lopes (a Portuguese sculptor).

8Take In The Historic Views At Praça Ribeira


Praça da Ribeira
Praça Ribeira (or Ribeira Square) is an historic, picturesque plaza down by the Rio Douro that's flanked by narrow streets and grand houses adorned with neutral and warm-colored tiles. Head to the designated UNESCO World Heritage site to experience stunning views of the Port wine lodges, the stunning Ponte de Dom Luís I, and the entire São Nicolau parish.

9Relax In The Jardins do Palácio de Cristal


R. de Entre-Quintas 20, 4050-240 Porto, Portugal
Jardins do Palacio de Cristal, or the gardens surrounding the Crystal Palace, offer some of the best views over Porto, Gaia, and the Douro. Charming paths weave through the botanical garden, which is dotted with idyllic fountains, sculptures, and olive trees. As you walk, keep an eye out for  the domed sports pavilion, Museu Romântico, and Biblioteca Municipal Almeida Garrett. 

10Sample Port Flights At Portologia - La Maison des Port


30, R. de São João 28, 4050-552 Porto, Portugal
Vinologia is a cozy and quaint wine bar with a highly knowledgeable staff. It's the ideal spot for a wine tasting as you kick back with a distinctly local flight; they only stock their Port wine cellars with bottles from small producers.

Protip: With over 200 different varieties available, most of which you can’t find in your average wine shop, Vinologia is THE place to purchase a bottle to take home.

11See The Beautiful Paço Episcopal (Episcopal Palace)


Terreiro da Sé, 4050-573 Porto, Portugal
The Paço Episcopal (Episcopal Palace) is the former residence of Porto's bishops. It's perched atop a hill next to the Porto Cathedral (Sé), which makes it stand out on the city skyline. A part of the UNESCO-designated historical city center, the palace serves as one of the best examples of late Baroque and Rococo architecture.

Protip: Purchase a combined ticket to gain access to both the cathedral and palace. 

12Relax In The Jardim do Morro


Jardim do Morro, 4430-999 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
This scenic hilltop park is a must-visit at sunset to sip a glass of Port and admire the stunning views. It's accessible via cable car or the upper level of the Luis I bridge. Once you've ascended to the park—the highest point in Villa Nova de Gaia—you'll be greeted by panoramic views of the pastel-colored houses in Ribeira and the banks of the Douro River. 

13Check Out Liberdade Square


Praça da Liberdade, 4000 Porto, Portugal
Liberdade Square, aka Praça da Liberdade in Portuguese, is Porto's main square that once served as an important political, economic, and social center of the city. Today, it connects the old town with the more modern part of the city and is recognizable by the soaring bronze equestrian statue of King Peter IV in the center of the square. Nearby, you'll find the bustling Avenida dos Aliados, along with the Torre dos Clérigos (Clérigos Tower), Sao Bento Railway Station, and D. Luis Bridge. 

14Visit The Museu Romântico da Quinta da Macieirinha


R. de Entre-Quintas 220, 4050-240 Macerelas, Portugal
When Charles Albert of Sardinia abdicated the throne after his defeat by the Imperial Austrian army, he sought refuge here, in this striking 18th century mansion that now houses the Museu Romântico da Quinta da Macieirinha. Inaugurated in 1972, the museum features rooms redecorated in his memory using period Portuguese furniture. Guests can wander through the drawing room, chapel, and chamber before taking in the surrounding Palácio de Cristal Gardens.

15See One Of The Most Beautiful Buildings In Porto, The Chapel of Souls


Rua de Santa Catarina 428, 4000-212 Porto, Portugal
Porto's Chapel of Souls was originally built as a holy place of devotion to Saint Catherine of Alexandria, a 4th-century Christian martyr. At the turn of the 18th century, it was restored and enlarged to become the Chapel of Santa Catarina, aka Chapel of Souls. While you should certainly take the time to walk around inside, the exterior is the monument's true claim to fame. The exterior facade is covered in splendid tiles that depict the lives of various saints, including the martyrdom of its namesake, Saint Catherine, and the death of Saint Francis. Also keep an eye out for "Las Lamas," a famous stained glass window by the 19th century artist, Amândio Silva. 

After visiting, linger for a bit on Rua Santa Catarina—it's one of the best shopping streets in the city. 

16Walk Through Batalha Square


Praça da Batalha, 4000 Porto, Portugal
This historic public square in Porto is a tourist hotspot due to the high concentration of restaurants, cafés, hotels, and souvenir shops. Notable attractions within the square include: São João National Theatre, Batalha Cinema, Santo Ildefonso church (with a facade covered in tiles by Jorge Colaço, who also worked on the São Bento Station), and the D. Pedro V monument in honor of the king whose nickname was "The Hopeful" due to how strongly he fought for the modernization of Portugal. 

17Hang Out At Praça da Ribeira


Praça Ribeira, Porto, Portugal
Ribeira Square, aka Praça da Ribeira in Portuguese, is one of the oldest squares in the city (dates back to medieval times). Located on the bank of the Douro River in the UNESCO-designated historical city center, this square once served as an important point of entry and exit for both people and goods due to its close proximity to the port. Points of interest include a statue of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of the city, which was inaugurated in 2000, as well as a three-story-high fountain in the northern corner decorated with Portugal's coat of arms. From the square, you can catch views of Villa Nova de Gaia, Douro River, and the two bridges that cross it. 

18Relax In Jardim da Cordoaria


R. Campo dos Mártires da Pátria, 4050 Porto, Portugal
This serene, leafy park—whose name translates to "Garden of Ropery" due to the rope makers that once worked there—dates back to 1924. It's known for its statues created by Spanish artist Juan Muñoz, the most popular of which translates to "Thirteen people laughing at one another." Installed in 2001 when Porto was the European Capital of Culture, the statue depicts thirteen figures sprawled on a bench laughing with (or at) a figure that's laying upside down below them—a convivial depiction that mirrors the liveliness of the surrounding park itself. 

19Stroll Across Ponte Luiz I


Pte. Luiz I, Portugal
When most people picture Porto, they likely imagine this double decker bridge spanning the Douro River—it's an icon of the city. The bridge, which was completed in 1886, connects the Port wine houses of Vila Nova de Gaia with the downtown district of Ribeira. Upon its completion, it was the longest-spanning metal bridge in the world. Although originally intended for car traffic, today the upper level carries Line D of the Porto Metro train, along with a pedestrian walkway that offers views of the Porto Cathedral and Torre dos Clérigos. The lower level is reserved for car traffic. Dom Luís (or Luiz), along with the neighboring D. Maria Pia bridge, were both designed by Théophile Seyrig, a German architect and student of Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower acclaim). 

20See The Old Castle Walls Of Muralha Fernandina


Trecho dos Guindais e Trecho Caminho Novo, 4000-173 Porto, Portugal
Muralha Fernandina consists of a series of walls and towers that were built as early as 1336 during the reign of King D. Alfonso IV. Intended as medieval fortifications, the structure was eventually re-built in the 15th century (with money from the wine transfer tax) as the population grew. Today, visitors flock to the Trecho dos Guindais and Trecho do Caminho for scenic views of the city and river. 

21Get Lost In Livraria Lello, One Of The Oldest Bookshops In Portugal (and one of the best in the world)


R. das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161 Porto, Portugal
Livraria Lello & Irmão (also known as Livraria Chardron or Livraria Lello) is a beautiful, central, Harry Potter-esque Porto bookstore situated in an early 1900s neo-Gothic building. It feels magical and intricate, with expertly carved plaster elements, a dizzying twisted staircase, and a stunning stained-glass skylights. Simply explore or get into the spirit and buy a book or postcards to treasure once you return home.

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