Porto, The Full Travel Guide
Explore Porto, the city where Portugal was born, and discover why it is classified as a World Heritage Center by UNESCO.
In one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal, walk on the narrow streets looking for wonderful architecture, and unveil all of its histories, taste the traditional gastronomy and indulge yourself in some of Portugal’s best wines.
How to get from the Porto airport (OPO) to the city center:
This is probably the best option to get to the city center and it is not expensive. Taking just 30 minutes to get to the city center, as it makes no stops.
The prices are around 2.80 euros per person.
Above Ground Subway:
This is a great option if you are staying in the city center. It goes directly from the Airport to the city center, and it will take you about 40 minutes because it has 15 stops before reaching the city center.
Take the tram E in the Purple Line, with destination Trindade.
The ticket price is about 2.00 euros.
If you are not staying in the city center, there are several options with buses, which can take you to different parts of the city. The Bus company has the schedules very updated on Google Maps.
Of course, this is the most convenient and the fastest way to get to the city center. And the most expensive.
The price should be about 20 euros, depending on where you are going in the city. Just be careful about overcharging. In Portugal, all taxis are mandatory to have fare meters on the dash. Pay only what’s on the meter and tip if you want.
Renting a car to go and drive in Porto is not a good option. Driving in Porto is very difficult, especially due to a lot of traffic outside the city center. And inside, it is very difficult to drive, due to the very narrow streets, complicated traffic signs and parking is very scarce. Unless you are planning to stop in Porto for a day, to drive off to the Douro for example, or your hotel has parking, this is not a good option.
Best things to do in Porto
There is no better way to explore the Historic City Center of Porto than doing a walking tour. Although it can be sometimes difficult due to some uphills, there is no better way to feel the Soul of Porto than if you were a local. Explore the narrow streets, filled with history and Art Deco stores and coffee shops.
This is one of the easiest and most complete ways to discover the city of Porto. These tourist buses take you to all of the most historic and important sights of Porto and even include great discounts on the Port Wine cellars, on the other side of the River. They even include audio guides, narrating everything that you are seeing on the route.
Discover the best bus tours in Porto
Porto is extremely known for its Port Wine. And besides the great Douro region, where the port grapes are cultivated, the other thing that allowed Porto to become a trading power centuries ago, was the Douro river, because of the ease it was to transport the grapes to the cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. These days the Douro river is mostly used for sightseeing purposes, and rightly so. The views of a small tour by boat on the Douro river are priceless and will make your visit to Porto even more romantic.
Discover the best boat tour:
Port Wine Tour
When you are in Porto you can’t skip a Port Wine tour. Discover all of the most famous cellars, their great selection of Port Wines, and all of the histories that helped create the Port Wine empire, centuries ago.
Douro Road Trip
A big part of Porto city is the Douro River. So take this opportunity to explore the riverbanks of the Douro and enjoy the beautiful scenery that this road trip will provide you.
Best Roads in the World Driving Trip
Two of the best driving roads in the World are located in the Porto region of Portugal. The N304 and the N222. Both present excellent driving pleasure with fabulous scenic views.
The food in Porto is just excellent. From little snacks to match with wine, to amazing full meals, Porto has everything.
Try the small wine stores that also serve Portuguese snacks. And don’t forget to try the Francesinha, a caloric bomb of sausage, beef, cheese, bread, ham, chorizo, gravy, and french fries. It will make you wonder how something so wrong tastes so good.
Porto has a great nightlife, with various options and always a welcoming crowd.
There are two main hanging spots in the Porto nightlife: The streets between the Clérigos Church and the University and the Rua de Cândido dos Reis.
Best sights in Porto
Most of these sites are included in our Free Porto Walking Tour guide.
Click on the name to see the location on Google Maps.
Avenida dos Aliados is the main avenue and the center of Porto. Filled with architectural legacy this avenue is divided into several segments from the enchanting city hall building to Liberty Square with its apex in the Pedro IV equestrian statue. The entire area pays tribute to the first-ever European treaty between Portugal and Britain and the liberal ideas of the country’s ruler. A stroll along the ornate buildings in Baroque and Neoclassical styles with the obvious French beaux-arts connotations is going to be rather rewarding. Many cafes around will enable you to soak up the local atmosphere.
And it is on this avenue, that you will find the most beautiful McDonald’s in the world. We are not joking! Located on the old Cafe Imperial, a coffee shop that opened in the 1930s, with an Art Deco style, it still keeps its original chandeliers, stained glass, and counters.
The most beautiful shopping street in Porto. Paved with the Portuguese cobblestone, filled with vintage facade stores and buildings covered with traditional tiles, this street is amazing for a short walk.
Take a look at some of the most impressive facades, like the Livraria Latina and of the Ourivesaria Reis & Filhos. The impressive 1914 whooping center, the Galerias Palladium.
And of course the Cafe Majestic, the meeting place of the Porto elite intellectuals, back in the day.
And if you were impressed with the vintage facades of the Rua de Santa Catarina, right at the end of this street, you will find the Mercado do Bolhao. A 1914 food market with a neoclassic style, classified as a monument of public interest. But in 2021 is still under renovation, although it is possible to visit and the merchants are still there, be aware that depending on when you are going here, some areas can be closed.
Right around the block of the Mercado do Bolhao, you will see the Capela das Almas. This chappel is a masterpiece. Practically completely covered in blue and white Portuguese tiles, you will be mesmerized looking at this chappel and enjoying the scenes painted on the titles.
One of the most visited places in Porto is the Igreja dos Clérigos and its Tower, and rightly so. The construction of the three elements of this church ended in 1763, the main church, the tower, and the Casa da Irmandade, the cuddling connecting the church and the tower. Designed by the Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni, this church is a perfect example of the late baroque style. And there is nowhere else in Porto that will give you a wide view of the city.
This masterpiece is located in the heart of the Historic City Center of Porto. It is one of the most important and oldest monuments in Portugal. Its construction began in the XII century with a Romanesque style and during the centuries many changes were done to the Cathedral and now you can see not just the Romanesque style, but also Gothic, and Baroque tendencies. And the inside of Porto’s Cathedral is even more impressive, with its baroque style, paintings, Portuguese tiles and you can even see an altar completely made of silver.
The construction of the trading market of Porto began in 1842 with a neoclassical style. This building was built due to the closure of the original House of Trading when the businessmen had to discuss their trades in the street. The outside of the building was designed with a mixture of Tuscan architecture and English Neopaladian, while the inside has an extremely luxurious style. You can even see the original gold-plated decorations.
Right in the middle of the city center of Porto, you will find a wonderful sight from the XVII century, classified as a Nation Monument in 1910. The Igreja de Sao Francisco has a Baroque style on the outside and an inside filled with gilded carving, this church began with very humble construction, as it was a part of a Franciscan convent.
With a troubling story, visiting this church will make you feel as if you were transported centuries back, right to the middle of a medieval time.
The train station of São Bento is one of the main monuments of Porto. Located right in the city center, it has been a working train station since 1896.
With an outside influenced by French design, the inside is wonderfully covered in Portuguese titles, with more than 100 years and 551 square meters. These white and blue tiles portray past scenes of the history of the North of Portugal.
Going back to Roman times, the Cais da Ribeira is one of the oldest places in Porto and a part of the Historic City Center. Filled with some story in every corner and on every stone of this area, right next to the river Douro, it is a romantic place. And, it is also a great spot for a late dinner, an evening stroll, and a late-night drink, with many restaurants and bars.
One of the most emblematic symbols of Porto. The Ponte de Dom Luis I was built entirely in iron and was inaugurated in 1886 to replace an old suspended bridge. A masterpiece of engineering and art quickly became a symbol of Porto.
Connecting Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia, where the cellars of Port Wine are. It does not matter if you are on the riverbank, underneath it, or on it, the views are spectacular.
The Monastery of Serra do Pilar is one of the most remarkable examples of Classical European style. Built on Vila Nova de Gaia, the south bank of the Douro River, in 1538. After the abolition of the religious orders in 1834 in Portugal, it was then used and fortified as a military complex.
This Monastery is included in the classification of Porto as a World Heritage Center by UNESCO.
Where to stay in Porto
If you are on a short trip to Porto, there is no better option than the historic city center. You will be close so everything and the accommodation can be cheap.
If you are on a road trip in a vehicle, the best-recommended area on the outskirts of the Historic City Center. The traffic inside the city center can be very difficult and parking is a nightmare.
If you are coming with your family, be aware that the accommodation in the city center is generally small. So pick your hotel carefully. A great option is: