Looking for things to do in Porto? The Bumper Crew has it covered! Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, has an unrivalled blend of historic charm and vibrant energy. Situated along the Douro River, Porto is renowned for its centuries-old architecture, the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge, ornate churches with their iconic blue ‘azulejo’ tiles, and, of course, port wine. You’ll also find gorgeous cobbled streets, colourful neighbourhoods and a vibe unlike anywhere else.
You’ve probably already decided to visit Porto and are looking for things to do, which is perhaps how you stumbled upon this list. Let us tell you – you’ve made a great choice to visit Porto. It quickly became one of our favourite city breaks. Athens remains Stacey’s, but Porto tops mine (Joel). We spent three nights in Porto and stayed in the Miragaia district, just up the road from one of the most famous churches in Porto, which we’ll tell you about shortly. The area was cultural in the day and vibrant at night, and we recommend the area if you’re looking for a central location to stay.
Porto is a dream if you love travel photography, with its rustic charm, beautiful buildings and bohemian vibes. It’s also pretty cheap for a major European destination, which is a bonus if you’re a budget traveller. Because there are too many pictures to put in this post, we’ve created a Porto photo diary post to accompany it, to showcase Porto’s rustic charm and beauty, and to give you a better look into the city – see Porto photos.
Things to Do in Porto
There are so many things to do in Porto, given the city isn’t huge, and this list compiles the best things to do while excluding one or two things we didn’t see the value of. It also contains one of Portugal’s best exports and foods to eat, but you’ll have to keep reading to find out what they are!
The things to do in Porto we didn’t feel were worth adding to the list were cable car and Torre dos Clérigos tower; because we thought the hills and viewpoints offered such incredible views, we didn’t need to bother doing them. It would have been better if the cable car crossed the river because it’s a pleasant walk along the river under the cable car. The London cable car, for example, offers something unique – it’s transport across the river, and you get a unique view of London. However, these things are available to do if you want to.
You won’t find Pastel de Nata on here, either. That’s reserved for Lisbon, but you will discover another edible treat down at #13, which originated in Porto. Anyway, on to the best things to do in Porto, Portugal!
1 | Visit a Port Cellar
Visiting Porto and not going to a port cellar should be a crime. Ha. But we have news for you – none of the port cellars are in Porto. Thankfully, you don’t have to go far because they are all over the other side of the river in Vila Nova de Gaia, which turns out to be a different city on the south side of the river. Who knew?! We thought it was all Porto, but according to our tour guide, this is not the case. Back to the port cellar tours, we recommend the Cockburn’s one. It’s not the cheapest, but the largest and arguably the best.
Of all the wine, beer, whisky, gin (or any alcohol for that matter) tours we have ever been on, this is the best one we’ve done. The Cockburn’s Port Lodge tour was visually impressive, interesting, comical, excellent value for money and ended with some gorgeous port to taste. After all, that’s what we’re in for, right?
Cockburn’s is one of the most expensive port lodges, yet the value was excellent. Some tours are only 15 minutes long and a few Euros less, but they don’t pack the visuals of Cockburn’s. We spent over an hour in Cockburn’s Port Lodge. They also have a cooperage, which is one of the last remaining ones, if not the last, in the valley. If you arrive at the right time, you might even catch a glimpse of the coopers at work. It’s brilliant to see Cockburn’s keep a dying trade like this alive, not because it’s good value for money, but because of its authenticity – kudos to Cockburn’s.
🕙 Daily, 0930 – 1830
📞 +351 913 007 950
2 | Take a Walking Tour
We’ve done walking tours all over the place. We try to do one wherever we can and usually look for the free ones. They aren’t free, but you pay what you think they are worth or can afford. But any general walking tour will inevitably tell you about the history, the best places to eat, drink and visit, and some insider tips from a local.
We opted for the History, Culture and Local Life tour on Freetours.com, which we really enjoyed. The tour took us to some well-known and lesser-known spots, which paid dividends over the following days. We did the tour on the first night to get the Porto-low down, you see.
3 | Explore Mercado do Bolhão
Mercado do Bolhão is a historic, bi-level food market in a neoclassical building, although you wouldn’t think so. It’s pretty clean and modern, but it’s well worth a visit. Inside, you’ll find stalls selling prepared food, fresh food, and ingredients because the market still serves the local population and isn’t yet a tourist trap. You’ll find the famous sardine tins, other seafood, juices, coffee and the odd restaurant.
The only problem is that it lacks enough seating for everyone because it’s so popular. The market is also flanked by beautiful streets and buildings, including the Capela das Almasde Santa Catarina (Chapel of Souls) and A Pérola do Bolhão shop.
🕙 Mon – Fri 0800 – 2000, Sat – 0800 – 1800, Sun – closed
4 | Scoff at Mercado Beira-Rio
Next up on our list of things to do in Porto is another food market, but a different kind. This one is on the other side of the river and serves only prepared food and Superbock beer, which has its own stall. Mercado Beira-Rio is a great place to hang out in the evening with some decent grub and a beer after wandering down the street from the famous Luís I Bridge. You’ll find a great atmosphere along the waterfront leading to Mercado Beira-Rio, which we recommend soaking up one evening.
🕙 Daily, 1100 – 2200
5 | Admire Átrio da Estação de São Bento Train Station
The Átrio da Estação de São Bento is the beautiful atrium of São Bento train station known for its stunning ‘azulejo’ tile work. The tiles share similarities with ones around the city, but these depict scenes from Portuguese history, daily life and some train-inspired ones. The Átrio da Estação de São Bento is a beautiful place to visit just to admire the architecture. What else is remarkable about the train station is that the tracks go straight into tunnels in the hillside, which is quite unusual.
6 | Visit Igreja do Carmo Church
There are a few famous churches in Porto, but Igreja do Carmo is arguably the most famous. It’s actually two churches – Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas, and sitting between them is the Hidden House. Entry to Igreja do Carmo is paid for and also gives you access to the hidden House, where Igreja dos Carmelitas is by donation.
The former church is quite magnificent, though, with these intricate and impressive carvings of Jesus, and you even get to walk inside one of them. You can head onto the roof and even into the crypt, where you’ll see human remains under the floor and in a coffin. It’s a little strange but fascinating at the time time.
💷 Paid – 5 Euros
🕙 Daily, 0930 – 1800
📞 +351 222 078 400
7 | Drink at the Passeio das Virtudes
The Passeio das Virtudes was one of our favourite evening spots in Porto. Overlooking the Douro River, it offers breathtaking views over the river down to Ponte da Arrábida, and it’s where the locals hang out, which always indicates it’s a good spot that isn’t yet a tourist trap. It’s relaxed, cheap and offers one of the best views down the river for sunset, which is the view below. So, grab a beer at one of the bars, or bring your own like a local, secure a spot on the wall, and watch the world go by, soaking up the atmosphere.
8 | See Porto from the Jardim do Morro
Jardim do Morro is a scenic garden in Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the Douro River from Porto. Positioned on a hillside, the garden offers stunning panoramic views of Porto’s historic Ribeira district, the Douro River, and its iconic bridges, particularly the Luís I Bridge. It’s a popular place to have a picnic, so consider stopping here for lunch, but it’s also the single most popular spot to watch the sunset in Porto.
The crowds get busy, like in the picture below. We preferred the Passeio das Virtudes to watch the sunset, but this is a good alternative. Sadly, it can’t compete with the sunset on offer in Santorini, either, which is one of the most famous sunset locations in the world. It’s easily accessible by walking over the top route of the Luis I Bridge, or you can take the cable car up because there’s a station next to it.
🕙 Open 24 hours
9 | Visit the Portuguese Centre of Photography
I think photography is one of the most important inventions of all time, so it’s great to see Porto has a museum to celebrate photography. And I’m a photographer, so of course, I will recommend this place. Ha. Almost everyone is into photography somehow, even if it’s just taking snaps on your phone. But you don’t need a love for photography to appreciate this place – an appreciation of history and architecture will do.
That’s because it’s set in an old prison and retains some of its original features, which is cool. Plus, entry is free. You can also pay for exhibitions, but the centre is good enough to wander around for a short while. There is an exhibition space downstairs, the old cameras and another display upstairs. Finally, did you know you can visit the birthplace of modern photography in the Cotswolds village of Lacock?
🕙 Mon – Fri 1000 – 1800, Sat – Sun 1000 – 1900
📞 +351 220 046 300
10 | Walk Around the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
This is the place to go if you want to escape the city bustle but not head too far. The Jardins do Palácio de Cristal are lush and expansive gardens surrounding the Palácio de Cristal, a now-demolished glass palace, which the Super Bock Arena has replaced. The gardens feature manicured lawns, colourful flower beds, and walking paths lined with trees. The gardens boast panoramic vistas of the Douro River and Porto’s skyline, and you’ll find various sculptures, fountains, and peacocks roaming the grounds.
🕙 Daily, 0800 – 2100
11 | Head to Porto Cathedral
Perched atop a hill in the heart of the city, Porto Cathedral, also known as Sé do Porto, dates back to the 12th century and offers panoramic views of Porto’s charming streets and the Douro River and a great view looking back towards São Bento train station and Igreja de Santo António dos Congregados church.
As one of the city’s oldest and most important religious structures, Porto Cathedral stands as a testament to Porto’s rich history and architectural heritage. It’s next to Porto’s famous Luís I Bridge, which you’ll want to walk over, so it’s a manageable detour to pop by, even just for the views.
💷 Free, cloisters are paid entry
12 | Absorb the View at Miradouro da Vitória Viewpoint
Miradouro da Vitória is a hidden gem, not far from the Passeio das Virtudes, and offers some pretty epic views over Porto. You’ll see Porto Cathedral, the famous Luís I Bridge, Vila Nova de Gaia on the other side of the Duoro River, all the port lodges, and the Jardim do Morro. You might even find the odd busker in there, too!
🕙 Daily, 0900 – 2100
13 | Eat Francesinha
We said the pastel de nata wasn’t on this list. That’s because it’s reserved for things to do in Lisbon. After all, that’s where it originated. Hence, Franceshina is on this list because it originated in Porto and translates as little French (or something like that) because it’s an evolution of the famous French dish, the croque monsieur.
Despite the fancy French name, it’s basically just a cheese and ham toastie. Anyway, the Portuguese took it one step further to create the ultimate cheese and ham toastie. It’s cheese, ham, maybe some sausage, sauce, more cheese, and finished with a meat gravy. It’s to die for. You will also find vegan and veggie options around the city if meat or animal products aren’t your thing. We tried ours at the atmospheric Bonaparte Downtown bar, just around the corner from the Igreja do Carmo church.
14 | Visit Livraria Lello
Last up is the Livraria Lello, which made this list by the skin of its teeth. If you’ve seen anything to do with Porto on Instagram, you’ve likely seen this Livraria Lello. It’s a fancy book shop in Porto, which has gained fame from its connections to J. K. Rowling and the Harry Potter books.
Unlike the best bookshops in London, this Livraria Lello charges for entry. It’s lovely inside but overcrowded, and there are huge queues. If you’re a die-hard Harry Potter fan, then go for it; otherwise, save your money and give it a miss.
💷 Paid entry
🕙 Mon – Fri 0900 – 1930
📞 +351 222 002 037
Things to do in Porto Map
To help plan your visit to Porto and navigate around the things to do, here are all the locations on a map.
Things to Do in Porto FAQs
Is Porto worth visiting?
Yes, 100%. Porto quickly became one of our favourite cities because of its unique character, rustic charm, and affordability. There are plenty of things to do in Porto to occupy you for a long weekend, too.
Is Porto cheap?
By UK standards, Porto is a pretty cheap place to visit, on the whole. Food, drink and tourist attractions are all pretty reasonable, although you can pay a premium if you go to the wrong places, just like you can anywhere. But for you budget-friendly travellers, Porto is a great option.
How to get from Porto airport to Porto?
The easiest way is to get straight into Trindade station on tram E. You can use contactless, too. Getting to and from Porto airport is one of the most straightforward airport transfers anywhere, plus it’s cheap.
Can I use contactless on the Porto airport tram?
Yes. There’s no need to queue for a ticket – tap your bank card on the machine by the stairs and head to the platform.
Things to Do in Porto, Portugal
- Visit a Port Cellar
- Take a Walking Tour
- Explore Mercado do Bolhão
- Scoff at Mercado Beira-Rio
- Admire Átrio da Estação de São Bento Train Station
- Visit Igreja do Carmo Church
- Drink at the Passeio das Virtudes
- See Porto from the Jardim do Morro
- Visit the Portuguese Centre of Photography
- Walk Around the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
- Head to Porto Cathedral
- Absorb the View at Miradouro da Vitória Viewpoint
- Eat Francesinha
- Visit Livraria Lello
If you want to keep up with our travels, please subscribe to our mailing list. We won’t spam you. We’ll only be in touch with exciting news and new stuff!