Quaint, colorful streets, a stunning harbor and the finest port wine in Portugal, Porto is one of the finest cities in Portugal for globe trotters. With a river as well as the sea framing it from all sides, the tradition soaked city and its friendly locals will welcome you with unassuming hospitality whenever you decide to visit it.
Porto is a romantic pop-up city, a vibrant dream of medieval relics, a culturally bombed establishment with art dripping from its graphitized walls and extravagant museums. Its preciousness is evident from the fact that UNESCO has declared Porto as a World Heritage Site. However, the modern art, futuristic music, and blooming technology make it a unique blend of architectural treasury, historical preservation, and chic global culture. While restaurants like A-Grade and Taylor’s make it a food heaven, at the same time the shopping centers and sightseeing places satisfy the wander luster in you and give options for things to do in Porto. Breathe the freshness of breeze while measuring the Porto skyline puffing up to your vision at the Taste of Port. Visit Cais da Riberia, the medieval district, to find countless cultural things to do in Porto. Take a quick tour of the city in Douro Cruise or visit the Time-Warp shops in Downtown to buy ancient medieval souvenirs. If an evening walk is included in your list of things to do in Porto then The Atlantic Walk is your safe bet. For nature lovers, the Gardens Overlooking the Rivers offer tranquil environment along with occasional events and things to do in Porto.
Apart from medieval to modern hotels and resorts, there are many other places to visit in Porto. The Serralves Garden and Museum is an extraordinary union of nature and culture, spanning over 18 hectares. The Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Deco Villa are also located in the gardens. Washed in grass green and peach, the Ribeira is a must-visit gem among places to visit in Porto. Located in the heart of the city, it offers a perfect view of Douro River with Hill of Gaia rising from the other side of the river. Gel in with the locals by taking a stroll in Foz, one of the oldest Porto quarters located at the river mouth. Foz Velha, the Old Foz offers a spectacular view of the gorgeous sunset —offering serene and scenic moments for the writer in you to write a novel upon it. Other points of interest for sightseeing, observing the medieval development, and things to do in Porto include Palacio da Bolsa — the former stock exchange of Porto; Igreja de Sao Francisco —the St. Francis church with crisp 18th century interior; Ponte de Dom Luis, Igreja de Carmo — the 18th Century Carmo Church, and Casa da Musica — the Music House.
Casa da Música was only inaugurated in 2005 but it was deemed an instant classic. You will want to see this just after seeing a picture of it. This is a concert hall but it is the most unique and beautiful concert hall in the world. Instead of going for a traditional look or a simplistic modern look the architect Rem Koolhaas went with something completely new. The building immediately drew wide acclaim in the world of architecture and was deemed one of the most important architectural constructs in recent history. It is the type of building people will be coming to look at even centuries later. We would highly recommend putting it on your things to do list.
Casa da Música is the most trendy concert hall in the area and is home to some fantastic performances. If you are coming to Porto then make sure that you look at the schedule of this place. There are many interesting performances here and there is bound to be something which will pique your interest. The concert hall is also unique because it is the only one in the world that has glass walls on both sides. This allows for daytime concerts with beautiful natural illumination.
Queijo Castle is a great place to visit in Porto, especially if you are interested in history. The thing you will notice about it first is its location, as it seems to be guarding the whole city at the coast. That was indeed the original purpose of the castle, it was meant to able to protect the city and there were many attempts to cross it. If you have any interest in military strategy then this place is a must on your things to do list. People who do not have much of an interest in history will not find it as interesting as the people who do, but they will still be able to enjoy the great views from the place.
Queijo Castle looks much bigger on the outside, the insides are much smaller. It was made some time in the 14th century and has been well maintained since. The castle makes for a fantastic photo opportunity especially when the sea is not calm. There is a small exhibition inside showing the history of the local military, plus a few vendors selling art. Entry to the castle is very cheap and it doesn’t take too much time to explore the place in full.
The Church of Saint Ildefonso is very different looking from other churches. The color and the building materials are a bit similar to what you would usually see in big mosques. The rest of the design features do make it clear that this is a church. It has a beautiful façade with great tile work on it and the architectural style can best be defined as proto-baroque. There is a daily mass at the church if you are religiously inclined. This place is a must see because it is a beautiful site in a popular tourist area. Even if this isn’t on your things to do list something near to it most definitely will be.
The Church of Saint Ildefonso is located near to Batalha Square, which is frequented by tourists a lot due to the various sites and entertainment venues in the square. Thus if you were to take a few steps from the square you will end up at a beautiful looking church with great blue tiles and designing on it. The church was made in 1709 and has been an important part of the locale ever since. The daily mass here attracts many tourists all year round.
Igreja de Santa Clara is a beautiful church and an even better point to view the rest of the city from. When you look a the church from afar you will notice how it’s dome seems to rise above everything around it, and when you go to the church and have the option to get a vantage point of the city we would highly recommend you do not miss it. The view of Porto you get from this church is phenomenal, and we would recommend you take a photo here to remember the city by. We would recommend going there close to sunset because that is when it looks the most beautiful.
The interior of Igreja de Santa Clara isn’t any less beautiful than its exterior. There is extensive art all over the walls of the church and it evokes a very grand feeling from within you. The church was closed for renovations in 2015 but it should be open now, however we would recommend inquiring about its status before leaving. Most tourists say that this is the most beautiful church in Porto, and we agree and think this should definitely be on your things to do list.
There are many beautiful churches in Porto and among them Church of São Francisco is famous for its Baroque interior. The location of the church is also fantastic and it has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is in the historic center of the city. It is a very popular tourist attraction and any decent tour of the city will surely include it. Right from the exterior you can tell that you are about to enter a beautiful building; the baroque work on the gate and the classic window are very majestic.
The interior of the Church of São Francisco is the raison d'être of its popularity. The interior is one of the most jaw dropping beautiful and grand things we have seen in our lives. Everything seems to be covered in gold and art seems to be in every nook and cranny of the church. Do note that photography is not allowed inside the church so do not go in hoping to take vacation pictures. This place should be a must on your things to do list as it is the finest specimen we have of baroque interiors in the world. Even if you aren’t interested in architectural styles, you will be after visiting this place.
The Clérigos Tower is easily the most iconic sight of Porto. The tower is not a separate entity; it is the tower of the Clérigos Church. However the tower has such a dominating presence and is visible from such a large part of the city that it has become something which represents the city. It plays sort of the same role as Eiffel Tower does in Paris, only it is a bit smaller but much more beautiful. The construction of the church was completed somewhere around 1750. The church is as beautiful as the tower, and both are even more beautiful when looked at from a close distance.
The Clérigos Tower is loved by tourists and locals alike. The tower was actually made around 5 years after the construction of the church had been completed. It follows the same architectural style as the church. Not only is the tower beautiful but its surroundings are just as great, as being in the historic center of the city means that it is surrounded by other beautiful structures as well. This is our favorite spot in the city to take a vacation picture at, because the tower makes it easily identifiable where you are while at the same time capturing the historic beauty of the city.
The Coliseu do Porto is one of the most happening places in Porto. The design of the building is very modern and was part of an art deco movement which was going on when the design was first proposed. The building immediately stands out from its surroundings; it is hard to believe that it was made in 1941. However nothing in the exterior of the building prepares you for how grand and beautiful the interior venue is. It is easy to see why this is such an important cultural landmark for the locals.
The Coliseu do Porto was almost sold to a foreign entity but the deal was cancelled due to immense pressure and demonstrations from the locals. The reason that people demonstrated is the same reason that you need to put the Coliseu do Porto in your things to do list; it is the most vibrant cultural venue in all of Porto. All the best events in Porto happen here and become a part of the local culture. The auditorium is huge, with seating for more than 3,500 people and the performances that can be seen here are diverse. We highly recommend checking the schedule of the Coliseu and going to watch a show here.
The Dom Luís I Bridge is a wonderful sight and a marvelous feat of engineering. When going to a city, many people make a mistake of only going to the historic sites or entertainment venues. In our opinion, modern feats of engineering are just as worthy of our admiration as historic sites. When you see a huge bridge hanging from the air and supporting so much weight you cannot help but wonder how it was possible. Thus, whenever we have the chance to see a megastructure in a new city, we make sure we avail the opportunity.
The Dom Luís I Bridge was built in 1886 and it is easy to see why people have been so amazed by it since then. You can easily see that the people who made this bridge were ambitious people; who else would think of building a double-decker bridge in that era? Previously the lower road and the higher road were used for traffic going separate ways but nowadays the upper floor is used for the rail system. The bridge is recognized as a cultural heritage site by the federal government and plays an important part in the city and local culture.
The Douro is a massive river and it has an outlet at Porto. What people commonly refer to when they mention Douro in Porto is the beautiful and serene wine region which lies very close to Porto. The wines that are made here are famous all over the world and the beautiful meadows and greenery only makes it even more worthy of being on your things to do list. Originally Douro was famous for its port wines however nowadays even the red and white wines of the region are famous. Even if you aren’t a big fan of wines, you will love the peaceful nature of the place.
The place where Douro river and Porto interject is also a must see. Taking a boat cruise here should be compulsory for tourists as it is bound to make you fall in love with Porto. You will see the beautiful sights of the city and will also be able to see the beautiful sights of the Douro wine region. If you like wines then you cannot miss the wine tours available here. Trust us, your palate will thank us later. The local flavors of the wine are sublime and you can reach the wine region easily from Porto.
You probably won’t know this if you are from one of the few countries in the world not crazy about football (soccer), but Porto has a very well respected team called FC Porto. Estádio do Dragão is the home ground of the FC Porto team and you haven’t really toured Porto unless you come here to see a match. Matches are held regularly in the stadium and you can feel the vibe of the match all around the stadium. The stadium itself is very beautiful and the great atmosphere inside it when a match is going on means that it is a must item for your things to do in Porto list.
Estádio do Dragão is huge and has a seating capacity of more than 50,000. It was constructed in 2003 and has been host to some amazing matches since then. The stadium is also used for performances by huge artists, and has played the host to such well respected artists as The Rolling Stones, Muse, and Deep Purple. Coldplay has also performed here. When you have finalized the dates of your Porto tour, make sure you check the schedule of the stadium and catch a match while you are in the city.