Best Things To Do in Porto 

Nestled beside the picturesque Douro River lies Porto, a colourful city bursting with history, culture, and culinary wonders at every turn. Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Portugal’s second-largest city or returning to rediscover its magic, Porto has a treasure trove of experiences awaiting. From wandering through the historic centre to savouring renowned Port wine and admiring the intricate hand-painted ceramic tiles adorning the city, Porto promises an unforgettable adventure for all ages. Keep reading to discover the best things to do in Porto, Portugal. 

Visit Livraria Lello 

Step into the famous Livraria Lello, often hailed as Portugal’s most beautiful bookshop. The exquisite, wood-panelled interior and sweeping red staircase are credited with inspiring JK Rowling, who lived in Porto while she was writing her first Harry Potter book. Lello really is a beauty, but don’t expect a hushed, library-style environment – it’s packed to the rafters with Potter fans, all trying to get a shot on the infamous stairs. We recommend beating the crowds by securing tickets online and aim to visit at opening or just before closing. 

Livraria Lello bookshop in Porto, Portugal_The Villa Agency Best Things To Do In Porto blog

Walk across the Dom Luís I Bridge 

As you amble along Porto’s renowned double-deck cast-iron bridge, you might sense a hint of familiarity with a certain Parisian landmark, and that’s no coincidence – the Dom Luís I bridge was crafted by a disciple of Gustav Eiffel. While the lower level accommodates vehicles and the upper level hosts the metro, pedestrians can cross both. Brace yourself for an exhilarating challenge by ascending to the higher level, soaring 60 metres above the Douro, where breathtaking views await. To celebrate your daring adventure, indulge in refreshing drinks at Bar Ponte Pênsil, nestled beneath the arch on the pier of the bridge that replaced the original Dom Luís I. 

Dom Luís I bridge in Porto, Portugal_The Villa Agency blog Best Things To Do in Porto

Explore The Port Lodges 

A visit to Porto is incomplete without diving into its famed Port wine culture. Head to Vila Nova de Gaia, where the historic wine cellars line the riverbanks, making it one of the best places to enjoy Port wine tastings. From well-known British brands like Sandeman to Portuguese brands like Ferreira, you’ll have plenty of choice. Some have museums in the cellars, others offer premium tastings so you can really get an idea of their top Ports. One of the most popular is Taylor’s, which was founded in 1692 and is still going strong as an independent wine house. 

Port wine in Porto, Portugal

Cruise the Cafes 

Much like Italy, the heart of Portuguese culture beats to the rhythm of coffee, making visits to charming cafés an integral part of everyday life. Locals kick start their day with a bica (espresso) paired with a delicious pastel de nata (custard tart), creating a delightful morning ritual. Cafés spill onto the pavements throughout the city, inviting you to join the lively atmosphere. Among the most emblematic is Café A Brasileira, boasting an iron and glass facade and opulent interiors. Another gem is Café Guarany, nestled on the enchanting Aliados Avenue since 1933, earning a reputation as a haven for musicians. Café Majestic, established in 1921, was once a cherished space for intellectuals and writers and is known to be one of the best historic cafes in Europe.  

coffee and pastel de nata in Porto, Portugal

Climb the Clérigos Tower 

Sacrifice your thighs for the sake of your eyes and climb the Torre de Clérigos, Porto’s tallest bell tower. It’s lovely to look at, but the church, at 76 m high, is even better to look out from; it’s here that you’ll get the best views over the city, stretching right to the ocean. Avoid the heat by climbing the 240 narrow steps to the top early in the day or book an evening ticket to see Porto by moonlight. 

Clérigos Tower in Porto, Portugal

Spend a Day at the Beach  

Embarking on a beach day adventure in Porto is a joy, particularly with the city’s iconic trams as your delightful mode of transport. Hop aboard Line No. 1 as it soars along the river’s edge, whisking you away to the charming Foz do Douro suburb. Alight at Praia das Pastoras, where the Douro River converges with the Atlantic, all beneath the watchful gaze of the Felgueiras lighthouse. Walk a little further to the wider, prettier Praia dos Ingleses, where a quaint café on stilts perches over the sandy shores – the perfect spot for indulging in ice creams or enjoying a laid-back sundowner experience. 

Felgueiras lighthouse in Portugal

Photo: Felgueiras lighthouse

Spot the Tiles  

Azulejos are the hand-painted ceramic tiles that clad so many of Porto’s buildings. The word is derived from the Arabic meaning ‘small, polished stone’. Mainly blue and white, many of the tiles in Porto tell tales of the Saints’ lives or portray Portuguese history. Begin at São Bento railway station with its 20,000 tiles, then wander to the church of Santo Ildefonso for an 11,000-tile spectacle against a cloudless sky.  

Santo Ildefonso church in Porto, Portugal

Photo: Santo Ildefonso Church 

Enjoy Culinary Delights in Ribeira 

Venture into the Ribeira district, where the vibrant atmosphere and culinary wonders converge. Exploring the local cafes and restaurants to savour traditional Portuguese dishes like Bolinhos de bacalhau and the iconic Francesinha sandwich is undeniably one of the best things to do in Porto for any food enthusiast. 

Francesinha sandwich in Porto, Portugal

Visit the Minho Region 

Extend your exploration beyond Porto by venturing into the captivating Minho Region. Nestled in the northwest, this picturesque area invites you to discover Portugal’s rich heritage and natural allure. With its lush landscapes, mediaeval towns, and historic sites, the Minho Region offers a delightful escape. Explore the charming city of Braga, known for its ancient cathedrals and vibrant atmosphere, or step back in time in Guimarães, the birthplace of Portugal, where mediaeval castles and well-preserved architecture transport you to another era. Don’t forget to indulge in local delicacies like Vinho Verde wine. 

Our Villa Enchante, Villa Paradela, Villa Claudia, and Villa Calvario all make the perfect holiday base for exploring this exquisite region. If you’d prefer to be close to the beaches, Villa Barros and Villa Marco are great options.

Braga, Portugal

Photo: Braga in the Minho Region

 Discover the Douro Valley 

Embark on a scenic journey east of Porto to the enchanting Douro Valley, a region celebrated for its prestigious vineyards and breathtaking landscapes. A four-hour drive unfolds a picturesque tapestry of terraced vineyards along the Douro River, where the origins of Portugal’s renowned Port wine come to life. Explore small rural towns like Pinhão, where the traditional atmosphere mirrors the region’s deep connection to winemaking. Stop by some of the wine estates, known as quintas, which open their doors for intimate tours and tastings. 

Our lovely Villa Vineyard is located in the heart of the Douro Valley and sits on a high plateau on the banks of the River Torto, a tributary south of the Douro River.

Douro Valley  portugal 

Walk in the Park  

Conclude your Porto adventure with a leisurely walk in the lush parks. There is the treetop walk in the Parque de Serralves, which is suspended above the park in the canopy line of the trees. There is also the São Roque Estate, where ancient gardens surround a recently restored 18th century manor house, now a contemporary art museum, but best of all are the large gardens that surround the Palácio de Cristal (Crystal Palace). Filled with peacocks and offering views of the Douro River, it’s the perfect place to relax, take some photos, and enjoy a picnic!

Crystal Palace porto

Photo: Crystal Palace in Porto 

We have a great selection of villas in Porto. We can also help with car hire 

Simply get in touch today with your requirements and let us help you find your dream holiday villa in Porto, Portugal. 

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Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with any of the businesses mentioned in our blogs. This information is gathered from client and staff experiences and feedback and we are happy to share as a helpful guide. We do not vouch for or recommend any service or establishment.