Porto in Portugal is a great city!! Often people set off on a journey without having too many expectations and plans, yet ready to experience what is to come just as how it will come and ready to let themselves be surprised by any place they’ll be wondering around.
That’s how my weekend in Porto revealed itself to be. Once I got there, ready for my two-day trip around the city centre, I soon discovered that there are so many interesting things to do and see in this fascinating town. No wonder Porto left me pleasantly surprised!
That’s why I’ve decided to share with you a short list of 10 must-see and must-do things in Porto.
Are you travelling to Porto? You may also be interested in:
Where to stay in Porto?
Porto is a beautiful city. It’s not so big, so it’s not difficult choose where to stay. It depends how romantic you’d like to be.
So, here you find many solution:
To stay in Porto – 1 – Absolutely at the Oporto Boutique Guest House, I had a great time. Nice and clean place in an area close to the center.
To stay in Porto – 2 – Near the square a short distance from the train station in a central position -> HERE you find the hotels
To stay in Porto – 3 – On the Ribeira a few steps from the Duoro, an exceptional solution if you want to live the best Porto -> CLICK HERE to see the hotels in Ribeira area
Best 10 things to do in Porto
Do you want to visit Porto during the day? Here you will find a guided tour to discover the most interesting places of the city – CLICK HERE (in ENGLISH with free cancellation)
And now, the must do things.
Ecco invece quello che vi consiglio di fare a Porto:
1 – Getting on the old Tram number 1 or 22
This is definitely one, or THE, of the first things to do in Porto
It is literally impossible not to see these old trams as they keep passing by the people wondering around the city.
The first time I saw an old tram, I couldn’t do anything but grabbing my camera and snap a good picture of it. They are just gorgeous and, I believe, they should be preserved in the best way as possible because they represent an unchanged piece of history in an ever-changing city. I do actually believe that the more time passes by, the more my nostalgia for these plain yet marvellous objects grows.
The tram n.22 goes around the inner city, while tram n.1 takes its passengers until the mouth of river Duoro, almost on the Ocean. The cost of the ticket is 2.5 euros per person, and…well, it’s totally worth it!
HERE you can buy a ticket in advance and not having to queue before boarding, you can also buy tickets for the other historic trams: the 22nd and 18th which pass through different parts of the city.
2 – Visiting Lello and Irmao’s Library
Lello and Irmao’s library: one of the most fascinating libraries in the entire planet and also the set for a couple of the Harry Potter movies scenes.
The library is not very far from Torre dos Clerigos in Rua Das Carmelitas.
To visit it, turists must purchase a ticket from the other side of the road, just opposite the entrance of the library. The cost of the ticket is only 3 euros per person. And guess what! If you were to buy a book in the library, the cost of the ticket would be deducted from the final bill.
One of the most famous features of this late 19th-century library, is its majestic central staircase which amazed me for its singular shape. Entering Lello and Irmao’s library is just like diving into the past. The library is today one of the most popular touristic sites in Porto: that’s why people have to pay for visiting it and that’s why the flow of tourists is constantly monitored and regulated.
The library is a must-see place in Porto and one of the ten things to do absolutely. You may even find a nice little piece of forniture to put on your desk once back home to remind yourself of this beautiful town!
3 – Climbing to the top of the Torre Dos Clerigos
I know, I know… It ain’t something easy to do, right?! Well, please trust me! Because once you’ll get to the top of the “Torre Dos Clerigos” the gorgeous view will make you forget about the muscle ache and shortness of breath. The entrance ticket is very cheap: with the Porto Card it’s just 1 euro per person.
At the beginning, the stairs are wide but once you get closer to the top, they tend to narrow down.
Climbing up to the top may seem like a physically demanding task, but trust me, it is not. And, once at the top, you’ll realise all those steps were worth it as you’ll manage to take a glimpse of many hidden corners of Porto, the Sé Cathedral, the wine cellars area, the river Duoro…
4 – Savouring the best Francesinha in Porto
When I travel and decide I want to eat something typical of that particular country or city, I always try to go in the places which are able to offer me the best quality food, with the original recipe. I don’t exactly know why, but when it comes to food, I’m a bit picky and I like to go for the best option.
After spending a little time on Google searching for words like “food” followed by adjectives like “typical”, “best”, “favourite”, I always end up on Tripadvisor to have a look at some of the restaurant suggested and its reviews. And you know what? I guess this time I got it spot on and I promise you, I did find the right place for the best francesinha in Porto.
Why am I so sure about it?
Well, judging by the queue of people I found outside the restaurant, I’d happily say that I can’t be wrong. Above all, because the majority of people queueing were actually inhabitants of the city!
The francesinha is a maxi-toast stuffed with cheese, sausage and meat. Everything covered up in melted cheese and seasoned with a delicious beer sauce.
The best francesinha can be found in Café Santiago, in Rua de Passos Manuel. The Café offers many different varieties of francesinha: the basic one is 9 euros, whereas the ones served with french fries and eggs can go up to, more or less, 11 euros.
It’s absolutely one of the 10 things to do in Porto!
5 – Fare una visita guidata alle cantine del Vino Porto
This is surely a must-do if you’ll visit Porto.
Porto wine is very renowned. The whole course of the Duoro river is crammed with different kind of vineyards cultivated on artificial ledges as the hillside are too steep.
The river Duoro has always played a fundamental role for both the cultivation of the grape and the transportation of the wine barrels with the so called Barcos Rabelos, traditional Portuguese cargo boats.
These boats are still used today for touristic purposes. Many are the agencies which offer one-hour cruises on the Barcos Rabelos.
Most of the wine cellars can be found in Vila Nova de Gaia district, which is basically the opposite river bank right in front of the Riveira.
To get to Vila Nova de Gaia there are a few possibilities from which to choose:
- walking under the bridge to reach the wine cellars directly;
- walking on the bridge, enjoying the beautiful view, and then getting on the cableway (4 euros per person) which will take you along the river.
The Porto wine cellars that can be visited vary from the most renowned to those less known that are run by Portugueses families. I’d like to recommend visiting a “less touristic” cellar, some of them also offer the possibility of a guided tour in different languages.
I opted for the Càlem cellar which, unlike the other cellars, offers a very unique experience. At the Càlem wine cellar, the visitors can enjoy a spectacular Fado-show (a classic guitar and a Portuguese guitar both accompanying a male and a female voice) while sipping a delicious glass of Porto wine. The music is enchanting and the wine is just delicious.
You may be interested in these tours with free cancellation:
The Fado Show in the Cálem Wine Cellar including wine tasting is available from Tuesdays to Sundays from 6.00PM. The visit to the wine cellar starts at 6.00PM sharp and lasts about half an hour.
Fado-show follows straight after the visit and lasts about 40 to 50 minutes. The glasses of wine that will be offered to you are a White Port and a 10-year-old Port.
The cost for this amazing experience is 17.50 euros per person.
Absolutely recommended -> HERE you can book a visit to the winery
6 – Visiting the Palàcio da Bolsa of Porto
What a fascinating and elegant palace!
I have to be honest… I’m not really into historical palaces, but in this case, Palàcio da Bolsa, left me pleasantly surprised. The building is very well kept and it is surely amongst one of the top 10 things to do in Porto.
7 – Food shopping at the Confeitaria do Bolhao
Just opposite the South exit of the Mercado do Bolhao, you’ll find the Confeitaria do Bolhao: an historical pastry shop/bakery overflowing with any savoury or sweet portuguese delicatessen you can think of. Please, do stop here and get something to eat or something to take back home for your family and friends. You won’t regret it!
8 – Stopping for a coffee at the Café Majestic
The Café Majestic is just like an istitution for Porto. It is, therefore, amongst the 10 must-do things when visiting the city. Sit down, relax and linger over a cup of coffee diving into the past of Porto. Enjoy the ride!
9 – Taking a stroll on the Dom Luís I Bridge at sunset
Porto is a unique city, and even more unique is its Dom Luís Bridge.
Its construction began in 1831 when a steel arch was built to connect the two river banks of the Duoro. The bridge is particularly romantic at night, when all its lights are turned on creating a magic atmosphere.
Would you miss the chance of strolling leisurely on it while looking at the sunset!?
And taking a cruise on the Duoro in Porto what do you say? CLICK HERE for alle the Tours for the trip on Duoro is the possibility to buy the cruise.
10 – Reaching the lighthouse in the middle of the Ocean
It might be because I’m a sucker for nature and landscapes, it might be because it was a gorgeous day, it might be for whatever reason, but this was definitely one of the most unforgettable experiences I had in Porto.
Just hop on the old tram n.1 which departs from St.Francisco’s Church and enjoy the ride. I’m not gonna say anything else: no spoilering!
A great alternative is to hire a bike and cycle to the beacon running along the river banks. Why not?!