22 unmissable things to do in Porto, Portugal
Separated from the cellars of the wine to which it lends its name by the River Douro, Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and it preserves its roots with pride.
In Porto, the past blends with the present. The story of the city is told by its historical buildings.
At the same time, the emerging commerce breathes new life into the city, transforming the historical cobbled streets into open air shopping centers.
Along the riverside, the Ribeira quarter shows Porto’s most traditional side: houses in a variety of colors, alleyways, the locals and the river. The River Douro is an invitation to walk along its banks or to go on a cruise, and the terraced cafés suggest a riverside cocktail or a glass of Port wine.
With world-famous cuisine and a hospitable people, Porto is the starting point for a memorable trip! It’s about this trip and what you can’t miss that we’re going to talk about next.
Be sure to visit the top 22 locations in the beautiful city of Porto. As the Porto AS 1829 Hotel is right in the center of Porto, most of these places are accessible on foot or by public transport, without the need for a car.
1. IGREJA DA MISERICÓRDIA DO PORTO
Distance from hotel: 89m
The Igreja da Misericórdia do Porto is located on Rua das Flores. It was initially built in 1559 in a Renaissance style with Gothic reminiscences. Unfortunately, this church was only used for the chancel, due to a lightning strike that destroyed the façade in April 1621.
2. PALÁCIO DA BOLSA
Distance from hotel: 180m
Impressive neoclassical building
More than 250,000 visitors a year enter Palácio da Bolsa and for a small fee they can also participate in a guided tour. This huge living room is full of tiled floors connected by fine woods brought from the colonies. Impressive frescoes, paintings and sculptures proliferate in different rooms and salons.
3. PORTO CATHEDRAL
Distance from hotel: 400 m
Imperious work from the 12th century
It started out as a Roman-Gothic building, but has undergone several renovations and extensions, from notes in the Baroque style to an intervention by Nicolau Nasoni. After visiting the church and the cloisters, discover the houses and the alleys that surround it.
4. RIBEIRA SQUARE
Distance from hotel: 450m
One of the oldest squares in the city
For those who want to know the award-winning Porto Historic Center, Praça da Ribeira is a must-visit place. The picturesque buildings and the fantastic proximity and views of the Douro River and Vila Nova de Gaia, as well as the bridges over the river, leave no doubt that it is a place of unparalleled beauty.
5. SÃO BENTO RAIL STATION
Distance from hotel: 500m
Magnificent tile panels
São Bento Rail Station, just around the corner from Avenida dos Aliados, is the most central of the train stations in Porto. This Parisian-style building is definitely worth visiting. See the huge tile panels inside painted by hand and installed by Jorge Colaço at the beginning of the 20th century.
6. LELLO & BROTHER BOOKSHOP
Distance from hotel: 600m
One of the most beautiful bookstores in the world
Its neo-Gothic style fills the eyes of those who admire it with details, curves and ornaments, without forgetting the bookshelves loaded with books. Nowadays the entrance is paid, due to the flow of visitors, but the amount can be used to buy books.
7. LUIS I BRIDGE
Distance from the Hotel: 750 m
One of the most emblematic attractions in the city of Porto
The Luis I Bridge connects Porto and the neighboring city of Vila Nova de Gaia. Made of metal, the bridge measures about 395 meters long and 8 meters wide and is divided into two decks that connect both the upper and lower parts of the city. The person responsible for its construction is Théophile Seyrig. Seyrig, who had worked with Gustave Eiffel, followed his master’s architectural style. The work was completed in 1888. The D. Luis bridge continues to be one of the most emblematic points of the city of Porto.
8. CLÉRIGOS CHURCH AND TOWER
Distance from hotel: 750m
The most visited monument in Porto
The Clérigos architectural ensemble, classified as a National Monument since 1910, is one of the main points of interest due to its Church and Tower, and a must-visit place for all who visit the city of Porto.
Distance from hotel: 800m
The central avenue of Porto
Avenida dos Aliados is a wide avenue in the center of Porto. It is surmounted by the Porto City Council and flanked by a line of Art Nouveau and Art Deco facades. The avenue is named after the historic alliance between England and Portugal at the end of the 14th century.
10. MERCADO DO BOLHÃO
Distance from the hotel: 1 km
The most awaited reopening
Mercado do Bolhão is finally reopened. It is one of the most emblematic markets in the city of Porto. A much awaited renaissance by the people of Porto, as this market has been under construction since 2016.. The original tiles inside the possible and a renewed and fresh market will now be born, maintaining its original concept with 81 stalls, 38 street-facing stores and ten restaurants.
11. NATIONAL MUSEUM SOARES DOS REIS
Distance from hotel: 1 km
History and culture
Over centuries of history, the Soares dos Reis Museum is the oldest public museum in Portugal. Next to it is the Crystal Palace with its beautiful gardens and the Romantic Museum.
11. RIBEIRA DE GAIA
Distance from hotel: 1,1km
Fantastic view to Porto
A pleasant place to stroll along the Douro River and with a fantastic view to the other bank, to the historic center of Porto … Cais de Gaia is today a tourist attraction, with several restaurants, bars and cafes where you can pass relaxing and quality moments!
13. PORTO CRYSTAL PALACE GARDENS AND 360 VIEWPOINT
Distance from hotel: 1,3km
Stroll among peacocks, greenery and flowers without forgetting the 360 viewpoint
Situated on a small cliff overlooking the Douro River, not far from the historic center of Porto, these gardens offer na escape from urban life. From the lake, which contains a small island with a waterfall, to the Concha Acústica and the Almeida Garrett Library, there is much to entertain you in this green space. Even more so now with the inviting semi-spherical dome with 150 steps that elevate us and allow us to see the beautiful Porto and Douro river.
14. GAIA CABLE CAR
Distance from the hotel: 1.5km
See Porto and Gaia from above
The cable car in Gaia connects the high and low levels of the city of Gaia. A 6-minute journey that gives access to two different perspectives depending on whether you choose the north or south bank. The north bank allows you to glimpse the historic area of Porto. On the south bank, the Porto Wine Caves. We advise both. This way you will have both perspectives and you will certainly not regret it.
15. PORT WINE CAVES
Distance from hotel: 1,5km
A unique wine in the world
Located on the other bank of the Douro River, in the city of Vila Nova de Gaia, due to the more favorable climate for the conservation of Port Wine, they have always been closely linked to English families, fans of this wine, who transported it to various parts of the world.
16. WOW – WORLD OF WINE
Distance from the hotel: 1.7km
An immersive experience
The World of Wine is located in the historic center of Gaia. A true experience where you can find museums (The Wine Experience, Planet Cork, Porto Region Across The Ages, The Chocolate Story, The Bridge Collection, Porto Fashion & Fabric Museum, Pink Palace Experience), restaurants and cafes.
17. MONASTERY OF SERRA DO PILAR
Distance from hotel: 1.7 km
Ex-libris of Gaia
Inserted in the area classified in December 1996 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Monastery of Serra do Pilar, maintains the church and the cloister, with a circular plan. Unique copy in Portugal.
The Church, characterized by its circular shape, is a replica of the Church of Santa Maria Redonda, in Rome, and is covered by a hemispherical vault. It was built in 1538 by the masters Diogo de Castilho and João de Ruão for the Canons Regular of Santo Agostinho. It took 72 years to complete. As the kingdom of Portugal had been taken over by neighboring Spain, this place took the name of a Spanish saint, Nossa Senhora do Pilar.
18. CASA DA MÚSICA
Hotel´s distance: 2,7km
Architecture and culture
Casa da Música (The House of Music) was commissioned to coincide with the selection of Porto as the European Capital of Culture in 2001. Located in Rotunda da Boavista, Casa da Música is a cube-shaped concert venue that contains a café, educational center, showrooms, music store and restaurant.
19. BIODIVERSITY GALLERY
Distance from the hotel: 3.1 km
Science and art
The Galeria da Biodiversidade – Centro Ciência Viva is the first Ciência Viva Center specifically dedicated to biodiversity. It is installed in Casa Andresen, in the Botanical Garden of Porto.
A cultural platform that will take visitors on a journey through science, literature and art.
20. PORTO BOTANICAL GARDEN
Distance from the hotel: 3,2 km
Gem of biodiversity
This garden is the jewel of Porto’s biodiversity. It has centenary trees, rare and exotic plant species, two lakes, one with water lilies, a cactus and succulent garden, a rose garden, a Jotas and a fish garden.
21. SERRALVES HOUSE, MUSEUM AND PARK
Distance from the hotel: 5.1 km
A journey through time and nature
Visiting Casa de Serralves is like taking a trip back in time. Unique example of Art Deco architecture dates back to the 30s of the 20th century. The Serralves Museum is the work of the architect Álvaro Siza. This new building was opened in 1999 . A project that skillfully dialogues with the urban environment and with the surroundings of the Serralves Park itself. The location for the building’s implantation was chosen in order to generate the least possible impact.
Serralves Park has 18 hectares and is made up of a wide range of spaces from formal gardens, woods and a traditional farm.
22. DOURO RIVER MOUTH
Distance from hotel: 5,8km
When Douro meets the Atlantic
The real name is Foz do Douro but the locals simply call it Foz. The coast has a mix of cliffs and sandy beaches, and there is an excellent geological walk with informative signs right next to the cafes and restaurants in the area.
If you liked these suggestions of things to do in Porto, stay tuned to our blog where we will continue to introduce you to our Porto, among other beautiful cities in Portugal.