When I first arrived in Porto it was early morning, the train crossed over the bridge with a stunning view of Porto and the light was just starting to glow. It was that moment that I knew Porto was going to be special. There are so many things to do in Porto and the areas surrounding Porto. Here are some of our favourites…
Walk Across The Ponte de Dom Luís I
This striking bridge was designed by Gustav Eiffel. The best way to experience it is to walk over the top of the bridge where you will end in a beautiful park with stunning views over Porto. Here in Gaia you can explore or do a Port Wine tasting, then when you’re finished you can walk back over the bridge along the bottom and finish at the Ribeira.
Taste A Francesinha
First, let me start by saying this is not a sandwich, it’s an experience. This famous Porto dish is something you should try, simply because I guarantee you’ve never had anything like it. Essentially, it’s a sandwich with pork, beef and sausage, covered in cheese which is then melted by a hot sauce being poured over the top of the entire thing. Oh, and to top it all off, if French fries don’t come with it already, definitely get them to mop up all the sauce.
Although the locals seem to easily chow through one or two by themselves, I struggled through half a Francesinha. That may sound like I didn’t make much effort, but hold your judgement until you try one (or half) for yourself. These sandwiches are massive! If I had to finish the entire thing I think it would have been the closest I’d come to feeling like I was in an eating competition.
That being said, I loved the experience and liked the sandwich (Chris loved the sandwich). I think it was just a bit too much meat, but otherwise, I strangely enjoyed it. Oh, and if you don’t want your Francesinha to fall apart after your first bite, a local tip is to continuously eat from the corners. We tried our Francesinha at Bufete Fase.
Visit Sao Bento Train Station
The Sao Bento train station is a beautiful train station lined with Portuguese Azulejo tiles. Although you will see these stunning tiles all over Porto, Sao Bento is one of the best places to see them.
Eat At A Traditional Taberna
It’s no secret that food is one of my favourite ways to explore a place. In Porto, I wanted to get a feel for traditional Portuguese food and thought going to a traditional taberna would be the best way to discover this. We chose Taberna Sto Antonio and it was such a fun evening. The place is tiny and packed, you will probably need to wait to get a table, the atmosphere is cosy and buzzing and the food is pure comfort.
Take in the Views at the Miradouro da Vitória Porto Look Out
One of the best things to do in Porto is to look at this beautiful city. We stumbled onto this lookout whilst exploring the streets. It definitely has some stunning views over Porto. From rooftops to the bridge, to port wine cellars and the Douro River, it’s the perfect spot to take in the city.
Visit The Lello Bookshop
Thought to be an inspiration for J.K Rowlings for Harry Potter, you can already imagine that this bookshop must be something special. Although it is busy, and perhaps a little too overcrowded, it’s such a beautiful, unique bookshop. Tickets can be purchased online or in person, and the price will come off any book purchases you make. A must for any book lover or Harry Potter fan.
Take The Old City Tram To Foz
You will see the old city trams around Porto as you explore. Line 1 will take you from the Riberia area to Foz beach, with water views most the way. Tickets can be purchased on the tram.
Go To Foz Beach Or Walk Along The Esplanade For Sunset
When you think of things to do in Porto, going to the beach might not be the first thing that comes to mind. The beaches in Foz are some of the closest beaches you can visit in Porto. Foz has a beautiful esplanade to walk along to take in the beach at sunset or visit the beach during the day to swim and relax.
Visit The Mercado do Bolhao
This historic market is open every day except Sunday. It is said to be at its best Friday and Saturday mornings.
Visit The Ribeira
One of the most popular things to do in Porto is to visit the Ribeira. The Ribeira area is full of character, albeit quite touristy. Walk along Cais da Ribeira, or riverfront, take a look at the traditional boats, or stop to take it all in at one of the many bars and restaurants. For wine and cheese, try Wine Quay Bar, or for a meal try Bacalhau restaurant.
Walk Down Rua de Santa Catarina
Rua de Santa Catarina is one of the main shopping streets in Porto. There are many shops, businesses and restaurants lining this street.
Go On A Guided Port Wine Cellar Tour
This ended up being one of my favourite things to do in Porto. We went on a guided tour of Croft Port cellar and our guide was really interesting and there’s a lot to learn. The tour starts and finishes with Port tasting and in between, you get to see the cellar and learn about Port.
Relax At The Jardim do Morro And Take In The Stunning Views Of Porto
You will come across this park at the end of the Ponte de Dom Luis I. It is a beautiful place to relax or have a picnic. It was one of my favourite views of Porto and the river.
Eat At A Seafood Restaurant In Matosinhos
This is one thing we really wanted to do but didn’t get to. Matosinhos is known for its fish restaurants and seafood. One that came recommended by local friends was O Valentim.
Take A Boat Ride Down The Douro River
There are numerous different boat trips you can take down the Douro River, from short to long, take your pick and see Porto from the water.
Church Of Sao Francisco
The Church of Sao Francisco is both Gothic and Baroque in its construction. The interior of this church is absolutely beautiful.
Spend The Day At The Douro Valley
If you have time you can do a day trip to the Douro Valley and visit the vineyards. There are lots of different ways to experience this. You can get a standard train or the historical train, a boat or a guided tour. If you have time, staying in this region would also be great.
Visit Porto Cathedral
From just outside Sao Bento train station, you can see the Porto Cathedral. A beautiful cathedral that’s definitely worth a look.
Torre dos Clérigos
Walk up to the top of Clerigos Tower for beautiful views over Porto or simply just experience the Clerigos Church below.
Day Trip To Guimaraes & Braga
Although there are so many things to do in Porto itself, the surrounds of Porto are definitely worth some time. From Porto, you can catch a train to Guimaraes in just over an hour. Here you can see Guimaraes Castle and the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza. From Guimaraes, you can get to Braga by bus which takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. In Braga, have a lunch, discover the Se Cathedral and visit the Bom Jesus do Monte. From Braga, you can catch the train back to Porto.