Last Updated on March 23, 2023

Porto, also known as Oporto, is a vibrant city located on the northwestern coast of Portugal. It is the second-largest city in the country and well known for its rich cultural heritage, stunning architecture, and delicious cuisine.

Porto is situated on the Douro River which flows out to the Atlantic Ocean, and is surrounded by picturesque hills offering breathtaking views of the cityscape. As a popular tourist destination, Porto attracts guests from all over the world who come to explore its historic landmarks, sample its famous port wine, and experience its lively street culture.

Whether you’re into history, art, food, wine, or just want to soak up the city’s laid-back vibe, Porto is a destination that makes it easy for travelers to fall in love with her.

Let’s look at some of the places and experiences you shouldn’t miss when visiting Porto.

Visit the Historic Centre of Porto

Ribeira is not only the center of Porto’s history but also designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the oldest part of the city filled with narrow cobbled streets, colorful houses, and a myriad of cafes and restaurants.

The main square, Praça da Ribeira, is the perfect place to relax and soak up the atmosphere.

You can also take a boat trip along the Douro River from here.

Take a Port Wine Tour

Porto is famous for port wine produced in its picturesque Douro Valley. There are many wineries in the city where you can take a tour and taste some of the best wines in the world.

The most famous of these is located across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia where you can visit the cellars and learn all about the wine-making process.

Ramos Pinto

This wine producer is usually acknowledged as the best-preserved of any Porto winery. Owned since 1991 by the French champagne company Roederer, it showcases the creation in 1880 by Adriano Ramos Pinto of an outfit placing enormous interest in the advertising campaigns of its era.

Guests will be given a guided tour of the cellars with detailed information about port wine followed by tastings at the end of the tour.

One of the largest collections of posters ever assembled during the Belle Epoque is located on site, works of art in their own right, each proclaiming the virtues of port as a defining part of the elegant lifestyle.

One of the most celebrated and most frequently showcased products of Ramos Pinto is its 10-year-old tawny port named Quinta de Ervamoira, named after a beautiful villa in the region where some of the company’s grapes are produced. It might be a good idea to take a bottle of it home with you as it’s not widely available elsewhere.

Climb the Clérigos Tower

The Clérigos Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in Porto. The bell tower is located in the city center and offers stunning views of the city from the top.

The climb up the 75-meter tower on 225 steps is steep, but the views are well worth the effort.

Take a Boat Tour on the Douro River

The Douro River is one of Porto’s main attractions and there are plenty of opportunities to explore this beautiful city by boat. You can take a leisurely cruise down the river and admire the stunning scenery or opt for a more adventurous rafting tour.

A boat tour is a great way to see the city from a different perspective. You can enjoy stunning views of Porto’s historic center, as well as the many vineyards that line the river along the relaxing cruise.

Visit the Serralves Museum and Park

This amazing Porto venue is a contemporary art museum showcasing modern and contemporary artworks by Portuguese and international artists. Housed in a stunning Art Deco building, the museum’s associated park features beautiful gardens, sculptures, water features, woodlands and meadows.

In addition to its permanent collection, the Serralves Museum hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing the work of both established and emerging artists. 

Dine on Traditional Portuguese Cuisine

Porto is known for its delicious cuisine which features fresh seafood, hearty stews, and plenty of pastries and sweets. Be sure to try some of the city’s traditional dishes, such as bacalhau (salt cod) and francesinha, a hearty sandwich filled with layers of beef steak, cured meat and fresh sausages, topped with cheese, covered with a beer sauce, and accompanied by French fries.

Attend a Fado Performance

Fado is a traditional Portuguese style of music characterized by its mournful melodies and lyrics. The music genre is often described as the soul of the Portuguese culture. 

There are many places you can enjoy a Fado performance, typically held in intimate venues where the singers are accompanied by Portuguese guitar and acoustic guitar. During the performance, the musicians create a melancholic and emotional atmosphere perfect for experiencing the essence of Fado.

Some performances even include an accompanying traditional Portuguese meal or tapas.

Explore the São Bento Train Station

This Portuguese train station is one of the most beautiful in the world and its interior is adorned with over 20,000 azulejos (traditional Portuguese tiles) depicting the history of Portugal.  

The construction of São Bento Station began in 1900 on the site of a former convent, and the station opened to the public in 1916. The architect, José Marques da Silva, designed the building to blend seamlessly with the surrounding area, incorporating elements of traditional Portuguese architecture.

Visit the Palácio da Bolsa

Late in the 19th century, Porto’s municipal council decided to build a stock exchange so ornate that it would earn the instant credibility of investors throughout Europe. The result is a testimonial to the economic power and savvy of north Portugal during the late Industrial Revolution.

Though no stock trading occurs today, the palace with its massive staircases, library, president’s room, hall of nations and portraits room in the Louis XVI style are on permanent display. The architectural highlight of the palace is the Arabian Hall, a pastiche of the Alhambra in Granada, decorated with stunning Islamic designs and adorned with arabesques, carved woodwork, and stained-glass windows, all evocative of the Moors of long ago.  

Walk across the Dom Luis I Bridge

The Dom Luis I Bridge offers stunning views of the city and the river. You can walk across the top level of the wrought-iron arched bridge reserved for pedestrians, or take a tram across the lower level.

This bridge connects the city of Porto on the north bank with Vila Nova de Gaia and on the south where many of the famous port wine cellars are located.

Fundação Serralves

Run by the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, this National Museum of Modern Art is the most visited museum in Portugal. It occupies a new building in a 44-acre park next to the sherbet-pink Art Deco mansion where the collection was formerly displayed.  

The museum exhibits the work of an exemplary coterie of contemporary Portuguese painters, designers, and sculptors. Exhibits change constantly, but there’s always something interesting on display.

The descriptions of the works are in Portuguese, but you can ask to see an English-language video on the artists. It’s also worth the time to wander through the sculptured gardens and see their fountains and the rolling hills of Douro in the distance.

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No Comments Yet.