Porto’s Unmissable Sights and Insider Tips

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Porto might be Portugal’s second-largest city, however it is—in our opinion—too often overlooked! After all, it did win the award for Europe’s Leading City Destination at the World Travel Awards 2022… There’s so much to see, even when you just wander around on foot, from its higgledy-piggledy hills and stunning azulejo tiles to its formidable river and majestic bridges. We’ve narrowed down some of the city’s must-see sights, and offered some insider tips to help you get the best out of your time and money.

The Dom Luís I Bridge

Dom Luis I Bridge, Porto

Spanning the Douro River with its iconic double-decker structure and intricate ironwork, the Dom Luis I Bridge was designed by a student of the renowned engineer Gustave Eiffel towards the end of the 19th century. At its time of completion, it was the longest iron arch in the world, and still today, the immense structure is an imposing central point of the Douro. You can walk across both levels of the bridge, from which you’ll enjoy stunning views back over the terracotta rooftops of this hilly, historic city.

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The Guindalense Football Club is a delightful local spot where you can grab a beer and a bite to eat while taking in some truly breathtaking views of the bridge in all its glory. You won’t find fancy cocktails or expensive small plates here, but you will discover some traditional tiles, table football and a fantastic atmosphere.

Port Tasting

Port tasting in Porto
There are dozens of port wineries in the city, many of which you’ll find on the south side of the river. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to booking a tour, you can always decide according to your budget, on whether you’d prefer a guided or self-guided tour. You’ll find plenty of well-known names such as Taylor’s, Graham’s, Churchill’s and Cockburn’s, however we recommend trying some of the smaller, family-run brands that you might not find so easily outside of Porto, such as Quinta dos Corvos and Porto Augusto’s.

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The Espaço Porto Cruz winery boasts a rooftop bar that offers panoramic views across the river. The establishment also offers a menu of port cocktails, if the neat tipple isn’t totally your thing—you might be surprised at how well it works in an ice-cold fruity concoction! If you’re just really not into Port at all, then head to World of Wine instead, which is a sprawling cultural district totally dedicated to vino. It features exhibitions, bars, restaurants and even a chocolate factory!

Foz do Douro

The Serralves Foundation

Porto has the added appeal of being a beach city, so you can hop on a bus in the centre and be barefoot on the sand in around half an hour! The best area to head to is Foz do Douro, and it’s here that you’ll also find the Serralves Foundation, which comprises a slick contemporary art museum, a tranquil 18-hectare expanse of parkland, an art deco villa and the intriguing House of Cinema. You’ll also find examples of iconic works by Portugal’s renowned architect Alvaro Siza in this area. The Boa Nova Tea House, which is currently a fine dining restaurant, was built in 1963 and appears to emerge from the rocks. Similarly, the much-photographed Leça Swimming Pool complex is designed to almost blend into the adjacent ocean.

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If you like seafood, then don’t head back to the city centre to eat. Head to the Mercado Municipal de Matosinhos and learn more about what lies beneath the nearby Atlantic from the local fisherman, then sample some of these riches in one of the area’s fantastic seafood restaurants, where you’ll find the freshest grilled fish that falls off the bone and melts in the mouth. They may not be the fanciest eateries, but they exude that inimitable holiday atmosphere—when you’re surrounded by salty sea air that lures you for a post-dinner stroll along the shore.

Livraria Lello & Irmão

Livraria Lello

It’s easy to see why the Lello Bookstore allegedly served as inspiration for the world of Harry Potter, from its traditional dark wood and ornate carvings to the Daliesque curves of the postbox-red staircase—even the exterior looks like something from a fairytale! As you can imagine, this place is an Instagram hotspot, so you’ll likely have to queue to enter, and you’ll also need to buy a ticket online in advance or on the day. These cost upwards of €5, but are redeemable against book purchases. You can also pay a little more to skip the queue and choose a book from a certain collection.

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The shop can get really busy at peak times, making it almost impossible to browse or get a decent picture. We recommend buying a queue-jumping ticket and visiting near the end of the day, when most people have hopefully gone out for dinner.

Historic Centre of Porto

Bolsa Palace, Porto

The glittering Baroque interior of the 14th-century Gothic church Igreja de São Francisco really is a sight to behold.  Over the centuries, its décor has become more and more extravagant, and its estimated that around 400kg of gold now covers its walls, alcoves and wood carvings. You’ll find more to-die-for design just a short stroll away in the Palacio da Bolsa, which is also known as the Stock Exchange Palace and is the headquarters of Porto’s Commercial Association. Highlights of the interior include the lavish Arab Room, which is covered in ornate detailing, and the majestic central courtyard, the Hall of Nations. The whole of Porto’s Historic Centre is protected by UNESCO, so you could spend an afternoon just wandering around the area and soaking up its awe-inspiring architecture.

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If you happen to be intrigued by a darker kind of tourism, then head down to the catacombs in the Igreja de São Francisco where you’ll find private tombs that were reserved for the wealthier members of society. Make sure you look out for the window in the floor that reveals an ossuary that is home to thousands of human bones…

Notable Mentions

Crystal Palace Gardens, Porto

Crystal Palace Gardens make for a gorgeous picnic spot, especially at sunset when you can gaze across the Douro.

Whether you’re a fan of fast food or not, the McDonald’s in Porto is worth a peek inside to glimpse some of its art deco stained glass and chandeliers.

Blue tiles in Porto

You’ll notice beautiful blue and white azulejo tiles all over the city, but some of the most impressive adornments include the cathedral’s cloisters, São Bento Station, Capela das Almas and the futuristic Casa da Musica. In Porto’s Bank of Materials, you can actually peruse a library of tiles for free!


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You simply can’t leave Porto without eating at least once pastel de nata…per day. At Manteigaria, you can actually see these mouthwatering morsels being made by the chefs in the open-plan kitchen.