Porto is the second largest city of Portugal and one of the most popular destinations in Europe. It attracts thousands of tourists year by year, looking for an immersion in its history and culture. This historical core was the reason for Porto being proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996.
Nonetheless, in every building or place you go in the city, is possible to see a good mixture of that traditional environment with the contemporary buzz and amazing landscapes. One interesting curiosity about the city is that its name comes from the word Cale or Cailleach wich is a settlement in the North of the Douro river.
The city of Porto is very well-known for its Port Wine, also one of Portugal's most famous exports. The name of the wine represents the metropolitan area of Porto, specifically the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia. The cellars were responsible for the packaging, transport, and export of fortified wine.
Now, as a good traveler coming to Porto, you should be asking: What to do in Porto? Well, this is what we gonna answer in this post with our best selection of 10 must-see attractions.
What to do in Porto?
If you are not sure yet what to do in Porto, we can assure that a visit to the city may include a number of activities. Walk through downtown´s old streets, have a cruise along the river and check the colourfully painted houses. Or you can enjoy the Portuguese cuisine and, of course, taste wine and visit the Port wine Cellars. No matter what you are looking for, in Porto you gonna find it and more. Check the 9 attractions we prepared for you. But before that, see the video bellow for an overview of the city.
1. São Bento Railway Station
Depending on how you came to the city, this station is where you gonna arrive through. It has a precious history dating back to 1906 when it was created. It is full of tiles (azulejos), each of them representing a different moment of the history of Portugal and the traditional scenery of everyday life in the city back then. But be aware that the tiles are not only in São Bento Station, they are everywhere in the city.
Image from: Marie-Flore Pirmez
2. Torre dos Clérigos
A short walk away from São Bento, towards the up left, you find Torre dos Clérigos. From the top of the tower you will have a panoramic view of the entire city. It is just like you are in a museum observing a masterpiece in from of your eyes. A truly must visit experience.
Image from: Fotolia
3. Palácio da Bolsa
This is a neoclassical monument built in the late 18th and beginning 19th century to represent and honour the past and present money merchants. Going past the entrance you find the Hall of Nations, where stock exchange once happened. Inside the building you also find the library, the noble staircase, the Courtroom and the Jury Room.
Image from: palaciodabolsa.com
4. Palácio de Cristal
If you are lost and don't know what to do in Porto, this is the perfect choice indeed. Located just 19 minutes walk away from the Clérigos Tower, you have the Palácio de cristal gardens. Built in the 18th century as an extension of the crystal palace, the gardens are full of wonders. Strolling around there you can find the marvelous chapel of King Charles Albert. Besides, you can be enchanted by the peacocks and special birds flying in and out the space. Near there you can head towards our next attraction.
5. Santa Catarina Street
This is a very famous commercial street in Porto, where you find stores from almost all huge brands in the World like Zara and Lacoste. Most of the street is only for pedestrians, made it a perfect spot for street artist performance. Further down the street you also find one of the most know cafés in the world: the Café Majestic. A really must visit and walk.
6. Lello Bookstore
Going back to where you began this journey, you can drop by the Lello bookshop. It is the inspiration for the Harry Potter´s library in Hogwarts castle. Taking a stroll in there is like being in a magical space where you can learn more about Porto´s history. It is for sure one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world.
With our 5 days luxury tour in Porto you can discover all those attractions and stay in the famous Yeatman Hotel, all set in the city center.
Image from: Pixabay
7. Casa da Música
If you wanna enjoy a night out, watch a concert at Casa da Música is definitely a must have experience. Located in the Boa Vista Avenue, another famous venue in the city, it is an innovative concert house designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.
Image from: casadamusica.com
When looking for what to do in Porto, Serralves is just a must see attraction for travelers all over the world. With 18 hectares of occupying area, the complex has several elements to explore in it. First you have the museum, opened in 1999 and designed by the architect Siza Vieira. It has a massive representation of contemporary art with Portuguese and International collection. The exhibitions hold in there are made to be temporary, but with a high-profile.
Outside the museum there is the gardens, where you will be able to admire a great biodiversity composed with very exotic and native species. Furthermore, the woods, the fields and forest are embedded with fine sculptures that certainly embellished the place.
In another day you can visit Cais da Ribeira or just Ribeira. In there you will be able to enjoy a spectacular view of the Douro river ornamented with the mountains at the back of it. One interesting thing to notice while having your beer on a terrace, is the typical Rabelo boats. Back on time, it was was these boats that wine used to be transported on the Douro river.
10. Port Wine Cellars
To close this visit nothing better to take a boat from Cais da Ribeira and go on a cruise across the Douro River. During your cruise you can observe the Luís I bridge, another famous attraction for travelers. In the other side of Douro, at Vila Nova de Gaia, the Porto´s twin city, you can visit the famous Port Wine Cellars. Much of them are just like a museum as the history behind it goes back to hundreds of years. At Wine Tourism in Portugal you can visit some of them like Real Companhia Velha, Caves Sandeman and Taylor's Port. Check our wine tours page for more information about it.
Therefore, as you could see from this post, Porto is a magical city where you have the perfect combination of everything. In one side you have the history of São Bento Station and Clérigos, for example. On the other side you have the innovation inside the building of Casa dsa Música in its high tech sound structure and architecture. So, if you now feel willing to discover all of that wonders, we always find the perfect combination just for you. Ask a custom proposal and see what our qualified concierge can do for your next trip to Porto.