Porto is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After Lisbon, it is the largest city in the country. A city with historical monuments, centenary bridges, parks, and the magnificent Douro River. Without the typical gastronomy of the region, namely the famous specialties of the region: from Francesinha, to Tripas à Moda do Porto and Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá.
In 2001 it was elected European Capital of Culture and in 2012 it was elected Best European Destination, by the European Consumers Association. Famous also for the Port wine cellars, for the quality of its restaurants, for its gastronomy, the city of Porto also has several cultural spaces of reference such as the Serralves Museum, the Casa da Música and the unmissable Livraria Lello (Herry Potter bookshop).
A city full of life that is also known for its arts, research, innovation and entrepreneurship. Porto was elected the Best City Break Destination in Europe in 2020, and the best European destination in 2017 for the third consecutive time.
10 Places to visit in Porto
1. Avenida dos Aliados
Avenida dos Aliados is the centre and the heart of Porto. At the top of this avenue is the beautiful building that is Porto's town hall. When you walk down to Ribeira take a short diversions through São Bento railway station and enjoy the beautiful tile panels.
2. Livraria Lello
Considered one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world, the Lello Bookshop inspired J.K. Rowling to write Harry Potter. Inside, in addition to the books, you will be able to admire a unique environment, where the imposing staircase to the top floor rises.
Information: you will have to pay admission, but if you buy a book, the cost of the ticket will be deducted.
3. Clérigos Tower
One of the places to visit in Porto that could not be forgotten is the Torre dos Clérigos, considered by many as the city's ex-libris. With a height of 76 metres, it was the tallest building in Portugal at the time of its construction (between 1754 and 1763), and is still the highest tower in the country. It served for a long time as a beacon for ships entering Porto; since then, it offers visitors one of the best views over the historic centre, the Douro and the Port wine cellars.
Buy your ticket here: www.torredosclerigos.pt
4. Palácio da Bolsa
The Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace) is for me the most beautiful monument in Porto. Built in 1862 in neoclassical style and inspired by the Moorish style, the Palácio da Bolsa was intended to be the headquarters of the Porto Trade Association. During your visit, you cannot miss the Nations Courtyard and the magnificent Arab Room.
Buy your ticket here: https://palaciodabolsa.com
The construction of the Cathedral began at the beginning of the 12th century and was only completed during the 13th century. This cathedral was fortified to protect the city from invaders. The windows are very narrow and let little light through; the main chapel was completely rebuilt in the 18th century.
Part of the historic centre of the city of Porto, classified by UNESCO as World Heritage since 1996, Ribeira is perhaps the most emblematic district of this city.
Stroll through the narrow streets to discover the charm of this place. From the Ribeira quayside you can admire the Douro river and the Luís I bridge, built by the engineer Théophile Seyrig, a disciple of Gustave Eiffel.
7. Port Wine Cellars
On the other side of the Douro River, in Vila Nova de Gaia, there are over 50 Port wine cellars. These cellars are in our top places to visit in Porto due to their historical and other importance.
If the wine is named after the city, it is 100 km away where the vineyards are located, in the Douro valley. From there it is then transported to Porto to be aged and sold. Many cellars can be visited, with the right to taste various Port wines.
8. Serra do Pilar Monastery
Although it's on the other side of the river, I also decided to include this monastery in my top places to visit in Porto because it's a unique viewpoint to the city of Porto and because it has a unique beauty. The Serra do Pilar Monastery maintains the interesting church (and cloister built in 1538) of circular plan, a replica of the church of Santa Maria Redonda, in Rome, and a unique example in Portugal. In 1832, during the Siege of Porto, the monastery was converted into a makeshift fortress. It became a military barracks in the early 20th century and is currently under the responsibility of the Serra do Pilar Artillery Regiment.
Enjoy the beautiful landscape from the belvedere located in front of the church and enjoy the best views over Porto and the Douro River.
9. Crystal Palace Gardens
Considered one of the green spaces preferred by the city's inhabitants and beyond, the gardens of the Crystal Palace are undoubtedly one of the places to visit in Porto! Surrounding the entire Rosa Mota Pavilion, these gardens will impress you by the diversity of flowers and plants that can be found there.
Take the opportunity to stroll along authentic avenues flanked by beautiful trees and admire real wonders that are hidden there, such as the beautiful Chapel of King Carlos Alberto, built in the mid-nineteenth century. All this under the watchful eye of some of the birds that wander about, such as beautiful peacocks. To finish the visit to this fantastic place, nothing like enjoying some of the most beautiful panoramic views over the cities of Porto and Gaia and the Douro River.
10. WOW Porto, The World of Wine
WOW Porto, The World of Wine, is located on 55,000 square metres of former cellars in the heart of Vila Nova de Gaia, transformed into a world-class exhibition, cultural and gastronomic centre.
WOW Porto houses no less than seven museums with themes as varied as wine, cork, chocolate, fashion and The Bridge collection, which features a wide range of multi-century vessels and glasses.
The Wine Experience wine museum will allow you to learn about all the stages of wine production, understand the different styles and how to taste them. Before the end of the visit, you will have the pleasure of tasting a glass of wine to test your knowledge.
Porto Region Across The Ages is a museum that will show you the history, culture and genuine people of Porto.
Planet Cork will tell you about the history of cork in Portugal, the country that produces most cork in the world, the whole process and the different uses of this material (corks for bottles, architecture, car engineering, etc.).
The Chocolate Story" chocolate museum is ideal for lovers of this sweet delicacy. You will learn about all the stages of production, from cocoa bean to chocolate bar, and you will even have the opportunity to taste it.
The Bridge Collection is a museum that will show you the history of alcohol consumption through the glasses used throughout the centuries.
The Porto Fashion & Fabric Museum will give you an insight into the Portuguese textile industry and the art of filigree.
The last museum on the list is the Pink Palace dedicated to rosé wine. During the visit, you can taste five rosés from different brands (Quinta do Vale do Bragão Rosé, AIX Gran Vin de Provence Rosé, Mateus Rosé, Vértice Rosé Bruto and Croft Pink Rosé Port).
Info: it will be impossible to visit all the museums, unless you plan to stay at WOW Porto for several days! I suggest you visit The Wine Experience and the Porto Region Across The Ages as a priority.
In addition to the museums, the WOW Porto has nine restaurants and bars, including the 1828 Steakhouse, the Golden Catch (fish and seafood), Root & Vine (vegetarian), T&C (Portuguese gastronomy) and the spectacular Angel's Share (wine bar).
Of all the restaurants available, I tested Golden Catch and T&C. You are unlikely to be disappointed with the quality they offer!
Besides the restaurants, bars, museums, shops, WOW Porto will offer you one of the most beautiful views of the authentic city of Porto.
How to get There?
Porto's Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO) is located 11km northwest of the centre.
Buses: 1,80 euros (about 20 minutes travel time, stop in front of the airport)
Taxi: between 20 and 35 euros (about 10 minutes travel
Metro: 1,85 euros (trips to the centre of Porto every 20 minutes)