Last Updated on 8 July, 2021 by Veronica
Porto is one of those cities that you have to visit at least once in your life. This city gives the whole country its name; I’m sure it will captivate you from the walks through the Ribeira neighborhood to the wines of the same name.
From the monuments to gastronomy. This trip will be an unforgettable one.
- Related: What to do in Porto in 2 days
In this post, we will tell you what the must-visits places are in Porto.
What to see in Porto: Best things to do!
There is no specific order of preference in this selection; you can start wherever you want.
Aliados Avenue and Freedom Square
Square Freedom is the most important square in Porto. It was built in the fifteenth century and is located in the city center that divides the modern city from the old one.
From here, it is very easy to get to Sao Bento Station and the Tower of the Clerics.
You will see magnificent buildings, the one in the background is the Town Hall. You will recognize it by the tower, and the main monument is that of King Peter IV, represented on horseback carrying the Constitutional Charter.
If you can, visit during the afternoon or evening, in its surroundings, you will find very lively bars and restaurants.
Sao Bento Station, must-see in Porto
The Sao Bento train station in Porto was built in the early 9th century on the remains of the former convent of Sao Bento del Ave Maria, and what you have to see here is its hall decorated with more than 20,000 tiles in which the history of Portugal is portrayed.
You’ll see these kinds of blue tiles in many places in Porto and northern Portugal, but those at Sao Bento station are spectacular. What you see are scenes representing key moments in Portugal’s history.
My recommendation is to set aside a little time to see these images and learn about Portuguese history.
Chapel of Souls
The chapel of the Souls or chapel of St. Catherine will draw your attention to its exterior completely tiled.
The building that we see today is from the eighteenth century. But the coating formed by 15,947 tiles is from 1929. They were hand-painted by Eduardo Leite and tell the life of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catherine.
It is undoubtedly a work of art in the city center, even if the photo does not do it justice.
Church and Clerics Tower
The Church of the Clerics was built between 1735 and 1748 in the Baroque style. The Tower of Clerics is one of the most emblematic monuments of the city and, as a result, draws more attention.
When you’re walking through Porto, it will also serve as a reference point to know where you are since it’s easily visible from practically anywhere. It was built by the brotherhood of the Poor Clerics in the old town of the City.
The place on which it was built is known as “the hill of hangers” because this was the hill where the criminals who had been condemned to death faced their punishment.
The Tower of Clerics is the tallest in Portugal at 76 meters high and more than 200 steps. We recommend that you climb up and enjoy the panoramic views of Porto. While you ascend to the towers, you will see the railing formed by 49 bells. Very cool.
Lello and Irmao bookstore is a must
This bookstore is considered one of the most beautiful bookstores in Europe. It has some very large wooden shelves that reach the ceiling and a ladder of spectacularly carved wood in the center of the premises. It’s quite old. But beautiful.
Don’t miss the visit to this bookstore that is much more than a place to buy books, but rather a place to get lost in.
You’ll read that it served as a stage in one of the Harry Potter movies as the Flourish & Blotts store, but as far as I know, this is not true. The real Flourish & Blotts of Harry Potter is just a set.
The entrance was 3 euros when we were there, but they discounted it from anything you buy inside. So I think it’s an excellent initiative.
La Sé, Porto Cathedral
From the Cathedral, there is a beautiful view of the banks of the Douro and the old town. It was built in the highest part of the city and is the most important religious building in Porto, and it was also used as a defensive building.
Sometimes, when you get close, it looks more like a fortification than a cathedral. It’s very pretty; I liked it very much.
It is located in the Batalha district, next to the walls. Its construction began in Century XII and is declared a National Monument.
Tour the Ribeira district of Porto
One of Porto’s most picturesque places is the Ribeira district. You’ll know this neighborhood because you’ve seen it on almost every postcard!!!
It’s a must-walk by the banks of the Douro River. Here you’ll see the colorful buildings next to the terraces of restaurants and different souvenir stalls and companies that offer tours around the city and the surrounding area.
Have a drink in any terraces overlooking Vila Nova de Gaia. Take a lot of pictures!!!
Vila Nova de Gaia
After your walk along Porto’s Ribeira, go to the Luis I Bridge, cross it, and visit the city located right in front of Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia.
In Gaia, you have to visit this side of the Douro river bank. See one of the most typical boats, called “rabelos.”
The rabelos are boats that were originally built for the transport of wine barrels and, today, are used as a tourist attraction to make small cruises on the Douro River. Many photos have these little boats as protagonists.
After a cruise along the waterfront, we recommend that you visit a Porto winery. On this side, there are many; you can hire the visit online or at the destination.
Then, go back to Gaia’s waterfront and taste a “francesinha” in some restaurants. If you go in high season, you’re going to have to book or wait a lot.
Visit a Port Wine Cellar
Porto is the wine that has taken the same name as the city in which it is produced. Porto wine is sweet and intense, but you have to pay attention. It has almost 20 percent alcohol, so it might leave with less balance than the one you entered the cellar with originally.
The river’s south bank is full of wineries; curiously, it does not belong to the city of Porto but the city of Vilanova de Gaia.
Luis I Bridge, essential in Porto
If you do the tour of the 6 bridges, we will provide you with a lot of information about the bridges of Porto in another article.
But, the most representative is the Louis I Bridge: an imposing structure of almost 400 meters, with beautiful views of the two banks of the River Douro.
The bridge has two floors, one for the subway and the other for normal traffic, where there are walkways to cross the bridge on foot. It’s definitely a must-visit.
If you go in the summer, you’ll see many young people throw themselves in the river from the bridge.
Recommendations in Porto
1. Eat a Francesinha sandwich
The most caloric sandwich I’ve ever seen in my life, Fer asked for it and couldn’t finish it…
2. If you like markets do not miss the Bolhao Market
It is one of the most lively points in Porto. Watch the schedules, open from Monday to Saturday and closed on Sundays. From Monday to Friday, it closes at 17:00, and on Saturdays, it closes at 13:00.
This market has been operating for more than 100 years. In fact, it began in 1914. Therefore, the building is old; it is a symbolic place of life in Porto and is an emblematic building.
3. If you have time, come to the Crystal Palace and tour its gardens
Cruise the six bridges: It is one of the most typical tours of Porto and costs 15 euros per person.
4. Excursion to Guimaraes
One of the must-see places in Portugal is Guimaraes. It is just 60km from Porto and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Portuguese consider Guimaraes as the place where Portugal was born. It has thousands of years of history and some amazing and picturesque places you have to visit.
5. Best Guided Tours in Porto
To finish our recommendations about the best things to do in Porto, we share with you this website with a lot of guided tours, some of them are free of charge. Take a look!
These tours are ideal for making the first day of your trip.
Prepare your trip to Portugal
- What to do in Portugal in 15 days
- What to see in Porto in two days
- What to visit in Lisbon on a weekend
- Visit Guimaraes in 1 day
- Porto Accommodation
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