31 BEST Things to do in Porto [December 2019]

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Enjoying a picturesque location on the northwest coast of Portugal, Porto is an attractive option for travelers hoping to enjoy Portuguese culture, history, and scenery.

From the elegant bridges to the numerous historic landmarks, Porto has captivated travelers from around with world with its unique beauty!

It might not be a big-name destination like Rome or Paris, but Porto has something special to offer every traveler. Check out this list of the top activities in Porto to get you thinking about your next vacation!

Table of Contents

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Porto!

Whether you’re on a shoestring budget or you’re okay splurging a bit for your trip, here are some of the best accommodation options in Porto to fit every traveler’s needs!

Porto Downtown Lovers Suites: Bombarda 451

The best budget option in Porto

Porto Downtown Lovers Suites: Bombarda 451

Porto Downtown Lovers Suites: Bombarda 451 is our pick for the best budget option in Porto

  • Airport shuttle!
  • Norte region of Porto

You can stay on a small budget while still enjoying a luxurious vacation at the Porto Downton Lovers Suites!

Your unit comes equipped with a kitchenette, air-conditioning, and Wi-fi service and the property is walking distance from numerous top attractions.

 

Veracruz Porto Downtown Hotel

The best mid-range option in Porto

Veracruz Porto Downtown Hotel

Veracruz Porto Downtown Hotel is our pick for the best mid-range option in Porto

  • Historic center!
  • Enjoy the atmosphere of Porto

Stay right in the center of the action at the Veracruz Porto Downtown Hotel!

In addition to the excellent location, you can enjoy a continental breakfast, 24-hour reception, and a spacious rooftop terrace to take in the view!

 

Still haven’t booked for Porto? We’ve organized the best places to stay in Porto for all types of trips!

Vila Foz Hotel & Spa

The best luxury option in Porto

Vila Foz Hotel & Spa

Vila Foz Hotel & Spa is our pick for the best luxury option in Porto

  • Historic location
  • Dining, spa, and more!

Enjoy Porto in high-class style at the Vila Foz Hotel & Spa, known for its great amenities such as a sauna, fabulous breakfast, and airport shuttle service.

Top attractions such as Queijo Beach and amazing historic sites are in easy walking distance of the property!

 

The 31 Best Things to do in Porto

 

#1 – Segway Tour around the City

Segway Tour around the City

A great option if you don’t have much time in Porto

  • Great way to sightsee!
  • No experience required
  • All the top sites

Don’t worry about breaking a sweat on a tour in Porto! Riding a Segway, you can cruise around to all the top attractions of the city.

Your local guide will give you the backstories to landmarks like the Cathedral and Clérigos Tower, and of course, there will be plenty of opportunities for photographs!

 

Haven’t found what you’re looking for? Try our hotel guide for Porto!

#2 – Climb Clérigos Tower

Climb Clérigos Tower

One of the best things to do in downtown Porto (Photo Credit – tripadvisor)

  • 255 steps!
  • Great view of the city
  • Opened in 1783

This top historic landmark of the city also has some of the best panoramic views of Porto!

Bring your camera but be prepared to work up a sweat climbing all 255 stairs to reach the top. You’ll be glad you did though once you see the 360-degree view!

Have some time in Porto? These are our favorite day trips from Porto!

#3 – Learn about the Jewish Heritage

Learn about the Jewish Heritage

  • Important city history
  • Beautiful architecture!
  • Unique Porto experience

The old Jewish quarters of Porto contain some of the most spectacular pieces of architecture in the city!

Learn about the stories behind these monuments on a walking tour to see places like the Kadoorie Mekor Haim synagogue and other famous landmarks.

 

#4 – Enjoy the Sunset at Serra do Pilar

Enjoy the Sunset at Serra do Pilar

The perfect romantic activity in Porto (Photo Credit – 123rf.com)

  • Views of the Douro River
  • Hilltop monastery
  • Great spot for photographs!

The hilltop known as Serra do Pilar is particularly famous for its views of the sunset.

In addition to the amazing view, stop by the monastery to learn more about the history of the region and why Porto is recognized as a World Heritage site.

 

#5 – Visit Wineries of Douro Valley

Visit Wineries of Douro Valley

  • Great day trip!
  • Fine wine of Portugal
  • Scenic Douro River

Enjoy the countryside of Portugal by taking a day trip to the famous wine-producing region in the Douro Valley!

Sample some of the locally crafted wines to accompany traditional Portuguese food along with the splendid view.

 

#6 – 4×4 in Peneda-Gerês Park

 4x4 in Peneda-Gerês Park

One of the best fun things to do in Porto!

  • Amazing mountainous scenery
  • Get some adventure!
  • Visit mountain villages

For some truly breathtaking scenery, head out of Porto to the nearby Peneda-Gerês Park, famous for its mountains and rivers.

The best way to see the park is on a 4×4 vehicle tour which includes swimming in lagoons and stopping by local villages!

 

#7 – Admire the São Bento Railway Station

Admire the São Bento Railway Station

One of the best artistic landmarks of Porto (Photo credit – Flickr ->Alona Azaria)

  • 20,000 decorated tiles!
  • World famous train station
  • Beautiful architecture

Whether or not you need to take a train, you should definitely check out the São Bento train station when in Porto!

This incredible monument is most famous for the decorated tiles completed over the course of 11 years by Jorge Colaҫo.

 

#8 – Check out all the Street Art

Check out all the Street Art

  • Cool murals
  • Fun local galleries!
  • Learn about urban art

In downtown Porto, you can find some spectacular murals and street paintings! Get some great photos and learn a bit about local city culture.

These fun pieces of artwork have become famous in the city, with contributions made by local artists like Lara Luís, Chei Krew, and others.

 

#9 – Walk around the Ribeira

Spend time in the heart of Porto

  • UNESCO World Heritage site!
  • It’s worth the tourist crowds
  • Beautiful bridges

Ribeira is what many tourists to Porto come for-the amazing history, famous city bridges, and unique dining opportunities.

Even with the crowds, the pleasant ambiance of the area is undeniable and something you definitely won’t want to miss when coming to Porto!

 

#10 – Day Trip to Aveiro

Day Trip to Aveiro

Things to do in Porto this weekend

  • “Venice of Portugal”
  • Bright, colorful village!
  • Perfect place for photos

Aveiro is an easy day trip from Porto, and a place every traveler in Portugal should visit!

Known for its water channels and colorful tiled facades, Aveiro is a great place to soak up the ambiance of Portugal, get some photos, and maybe pick up a unique souvenir!

 

#11 – Take a Break at the Serralves Gardens

Take a Break at the Serralves Gardens

Photo Credit – localporto.com

  • Working farm on site!
  • Cool art deco house
  • Meander the walking trails

Both a place to get out in nature and explore some interesting landmarks of Porto, the Serralves Gardens are a great spot to go any time of year!

If you get hungry from walking around, there’s also a restaurant and café in the garden, making it an easy spot to pass a leisurely day in Porto.

 

#12 – Taste the Signature Wine

Taste the Signature Wine

The tasting experience Porto is famous for!

  • World-famous varieties!
  • Incredible wine cellars
  • Learn some history

It’s impossible to travel to Porto without trying some of the famous port wine the region is known for!

On a wine tasting tour, not only will you get samples, but you’ll also get to visit the places where the wine is produced and learn the history of the local grape farmers.

 

#13 – See the Casa do Infante

One of the unique historic sites of Porto

  • “House of the Prince”
  • Top attraction of Ribeira
  • Cool museum

Check out one of the oldest buildings in Porto and a top museum of the city!

The Casa do Infante holds the municipal historical archive and dates back to the time of Dom Hentrique (1394-1460).

 

#14 – River Cruise on the Douro

River Cruise on the Douro

A very cool thing to do in Porto

  • Great view of the city!
  • Excellent romantic activity
  • Perfect photo opportunity

A river cruise is one of the best ways to relax and take in the charm of Porto!

Cruises often include a traditional meal and guided commentary so you can learn more about the history and spot all the top landmarks from your vantage point on the river.

 

#15 – See the Igreja de São Francisco

You’ll be awestruck by the stunning architecture

  • Notable gothic landmark
  • Incredible photo opportunity!
  • Unique monument of Porto

One of Porto’s most famous churches, the Igreja de São Francisco is both a monastery and a church of the Franciscan order.

Be ready for a truly jaw-dropping sight when you enter, including a high domed ceiling and amazing gilt carvings decorated the interior!

 

#16 – Visit the Cities of Braga and Guimarães

Visit the Cities of Braga and Guimarães

A great way to see more of Portugal

  • Important historic sites
  • Cathedrals, castles, and more!
  • Great chance to get pictures

The medieval town of Guimarães is known as the place of origin of the Kingdom of Portugal!

In Braga, you can see amazing historic landmarks such as the Cathedral and a stunning Sanctuary located on top of a mountain! Both cities are easy day trips from Porto and let you see some of the most important sites in Portugal while on vacation.

 

#17 – Ride the Elevador da Lada

A great thing to do in Porto with kids

  • Uphill in a minute!
  • Enjoy the view
  • Fun and exciting for children!

A short, but fun activity in Ribeira is to ride the Elevador da Lada, also known as the Ascensor da Ribeira.

The quirky lift takes you up higher on the hill of Ribeira for a nice view of Serra do Pilar and the Luíz I bridge!

 

#18 – Marvel at the Lello Bookstore

One of the more unique things to do in Porto

  • Incredible collection of books!
  • Top attraction of Porto
  • Like no bookstore you’ve seen

Voted as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, Lello is an important historic site of Porto and a popular tourist attraction.

Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, it’s well worth your time to visit the bookstore to see the amazing decorations and impressive collection!

#19 – See a Fado Performance

See a Fado Performance

The perfect cultural experience in Porto

  • Traditional Portuguese singing
  • Found nowhere else!
  • Local musicians

One of the signature attractions of Porto is the traditional form of singing known as fado.

The nostalgic music is something you won’t be able to hear anywhere else, so make sure you take the opportunity to visit one of the local venues for a singular experience while traveling!

 

#20 – Walk along the Sea in Foz

One of the best free things to do in Porto

  • Beautiful Portuguese coast
  • Jump in if it’s hot!
  • Rent a bicycle

The neighborhood of Foz in Porto is known for its beaches, and it’s the perfect place to simply relax and enjoy the scenery.

On hot summer days, the chilly water is the perfect way to cool down, or you can rent a bike to take on the cycle path or simply sit and enjoy the sound of the waves!

 

#21 – See Art at the Serralves Museum

See Art at the Serralves Museum

One of the best museums of Porto

  • 18 hectares of park!
  • Contemporary exhibitions
  • 14 exhibition galleries

A great spot for art lovers to visit in Porto, the Serralves Museum holds numerous gems of contemporary and modern art.

Browse through the galleries then take a tour of the large park area surrounding the museum known for its beautiful landscaped design!

 

#22 – Take a Dip in Maréz Pool

A great way to cool off in the heat of summer

  • Amazing natural scenery!
  • Built into the rocks
  • Famous city landmark

The perfect combination of ocean and swimming pool, the Maréz Pool is built right into the sea rocks, giving you a safe swimming environment while still being on the ocean!

Splash, float, play around, or just bask on the rocks to take in the view! The Marés Pool is great for young children as well as adults.

 

#23 – Bike along the River

Bike along the River

One of the best cheap things to do in Porto

  • Scenic and fun
  • Great city to cycle!
  • See top landmarks

Porto is an excellent city for biking with safe routes and scenic surroundings. Taking a bike tour is a fun way to get exercise and visit some of the city attractions!

From the historic buildings of the UNESCO listed city center to pleasant parks, you can cover a lot of ground on a bike in a short amount of time, giving you maximum sightseeing ability.

 

#24 – Try Local Food at the Mercado da Foz

Try the famous local cuisine of Porto

  • Make sure you’re hungry!
  • Fruits, snacks, desserts, and more
  • Great local attraction

If you’re a foodie, the Mercado da Foz is a place you won’t want to miss!

From Brazilian treats to local grilled burgers, there’s plenty of yummy things to try and fresh fruits and veggies if you want to cook your own meal!

 

#25 – Take a Surf Lesson

Take a Surf Lesson

A cool beach activity in Porto

  • Professional instructors!
  • Awesome surf spot
  • Try something new!

If you’ve ever dreamed of going surfing, going to Portugal could be your chance!

The Matosinhos coast close to Porto is known for its excellent waves, and with an instructor to guide you, you’ll be riding the waves in no time!

 

#26 – Enjoy the Landscape at Jardim do Passeio Alegre

A great activity for all ages

  • Mini-golf, bandstand, and more!
  • Traditional tile art
  • Nice spot to relax

If you’re in the Foz neighborhood, check out Jardim do Passeio Alegre, a park whose name literally translates to “the garden of happy walking!”

The beautifully landscaped area is right by the sea and you can view some of the traditional azulejos tiles that decorate the park.

 

#27 – See all 6 Bridges

See all 6 Bridges

A must for every traveler coming to Porto

  • Famous landmarks of Porto
  • View them from a boat!
  • Unique history

The famous 6 bridges of Porto are part of what caused the city center to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A boat ride is one of the best ways to view each of them and a great way to learn the backstories from a local guide!

 

#28 – Check out the Art on Rua Miguel Bombarda

  • Lots of local galleries!
  • Fun designer shops
  • Nicknamed the “Art District”

A great place to shop and sightsee in Porto, the Rua Miguel Bombarda is a street known for its artsy vibe and fun local shops!

Pick up a cool souvenir or simply browse through the galleries to see up-and-coming artist’s creations.

 

#29 – World Heritage Center of Porto

World Heritage Center of Porto

One of the most important historic sites of Porto

  • Incredible architecture
  • Learn about local legends
  • Best photos in the city!

The UNESCO World Heritage Site at the heart of Porto is what draws many travelers to this charming town in the first place.

Make sure you spend time touring the center with all the fantastic landmarks including the Palácio da Bolsa and the Sé Cathedral.

 

#30 – Walk through the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal

A great option for nature-lovers in Porto

  • Centrally located
  • Amazing plant diversity!
  • Cool historic landmarks

Get your dose of nature in the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal by walking around the beautifully landscaped botanical gardens!

You’ll have a great view of the Douro River, plus you can see some interesting buildings like the Carlos Alberto Chapel and the Porto Municipal Gallery.

 

#31 – Visit the Snowy Slopes of Serra da Estrela

Visit the Snowy Slopes of Serra da Estrela

A ‘cool’ thing to do in Porto in winter

  • Unique landscape of Portugal
  • Local cheese and bread!
  • Try snowboarding or skiing

Close to Porto is the stunning mountainous region known as Serra da Estrela, known for its native wildlife and great snow sport opportunities.

Check out local shops with breads, cheeses, and souvenirs, then hit the slopes for some awesome sledding and snowboarding!

Conclusion

Porto is somewhere every traveler to Portugal should visit thanks to its history, stunning architecture, and beautiful coastal scenery. From the excellent cuisine to the charming local atmosphere, you probably won’t want to leave when your vacation time is up!

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About the Author Nicola Smart

Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!