Best things to do in Porto: Famous for its quality wine production, the Portuguese city keeps it medieval heritage and hundred year old commerce
313 km from Lisbon, Porto is already part of wine lovers’ route, but it has many attractions that delight tourists who go through its charming cobbled streets. The city is one of the oldest in Portugal and it keeps the tradition with many museums and medieval remains, and it is considered World Heritage by UNESCO.
The city’s main postcards are in the historical center and preserve the local past. The highlights are the churches of Santa Clara (1416), San Francisco (1425), and San Nicolau (1758) and the Fernandina Wall, a structure that began to be built in 1336 with the purpose of protecting the city.
Other tourist attractions in Porto are the traditional shops such as Armazém Fernandes, Mattos & Companhia, opened in 1886, Livraria Lello, opened in 1906, and the colorful houses on the slopes of Baixo Sé neighborhood.
The neighboring city is where wine lovers focus. Vila Nova Gaia is on the other side of Douro River and has 19th century wine cellars. The wine producers also allow free visits and tasting.
What to Do in Porto
Overlooking the Douro River, it is surrounded by narrow cobbled streets and colorful houses. The tourists also have many bar and restaurant options. This is where the city’s main firework show happens on New Year’s Eve.
São Bento Railway Station
The station began building in the year 1900 and was already a convent headquarters. The walls are cream-colored and covered with blue illustrations depicting battles and everyday scenes.
Church of San Francisco
Built between 1383 and 1425, it has a very rich interior with walls covered in gold details.
Church of St. Nicholas
Next to the Stock Exchange Palace, this church was rebuilt in 1762 after a fire destroyed much of its structure. The space is not very big, but the visit is worth it to appreciate the baroque style of the XVIII century.
Considered one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, it is in a neo gothic building on Rua das Carmelitas. The interior is full of wooden bookcases that surround a red staircase leading to the second floor café.
Mercado do Bolhão is a traditional market in a building built in 1917. The attraction is near São Bento Railway Station, and offers different types of cheeses, breads, sweets and flowers, as well as many city souvenirs.
Stock Exchange Palace
The majestic building is one of the city’s main tourist spots. Built in the XIX century, it allows guided visits and receives more than 200 thousand people per year, interested in the luxurious Arab Salon decorated in gold, the grand staircases, and the Patio of Nations, which is covered with mosaics and a glass ceiling. Another attraction is the Viniportugal, where they offer wine tastings from all over the country.
Other Things to Do in Porto:
- Allied Avenue
- Porto Cathedral
- Monastery of Serra do Pilar
- Fernandina Wall
- Liberty Square
- Ribeira Square
- Dom Luís I Bridge
- Douro River
- Chã Street
- Carmelite Street
- Rua das Flores
- Santa Catarina Street
- Rua dos Clérigos
- Loureiro Street
- National Theater of São João
- Tower of the Clerics
- House of the Infant
- Wine Museum
- Military Museum
- Soares dos Reis National Museum
- World of Discoveries
- Vila Nova de Gaia
How to Get to Porto
The Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport in Porto is only 11 km from downtown. Those coming from other European destinations can choose a low-cost airline.
The Porto railway station receives daily trains from Lisbon, Madrid and Paris. From Lisbon, you can come by two different companies: the Intercity train that connects all the main cities of Portugal, and the Alfa Pendular train, the fastest option, since the journey only goes though the main cities from the south to the north of the country.
Best Season to Go to Porto
The city of Porto has mild temperatures all year round, but despite having many sunny days, the weather is totally crazy and confusing. Regardless of the season, always have a coat in your backpack. During winter and autumn (October to April) there is the rainiest season in the city. Between the months of May and September, the weather gets hotter and drier.