There's a lot to discover in the capital of Northern Portugal! Did you know that Porto is divided into different areas? All of them deserve to be visited and all of them will complement each other during your discovery of the undefeated city (as the city of Porto is known as).
Marvel at the city's most traditional and historical side in the Historic Centre ; feel the cosmopolitan vibe and the new movement (Movida) in Baixa ; let yourself be seduced by the modernity of Boavista , while walking toward the estuary ; breathe in the air that comes from where the Douro river meets the ocean along the Riberinha Riverside, and; venture beyond Porto .
We shall help you choose the most important tourist and cultural sites in each area of Porto, but don't forget the most important thing: when you come to Porto, you must walk through its streets and feel the city as its people do.
Classed as a World Heritage Site since 1996, in the Historic Centre you will find a wealth of monuments and scenery where medieval buildings sit side-by-side with others from early modernity.
Start at the São Bento station, built at the beginning of the XX century on the exact site of the old São Bento de Avé-Maria convent. The station's lobby is lined with twenty thousand narrative tiles, by the painter Jorge Colaço, which illustrate the evolution of transport and scenes from Portuguese history and life.
Built between 1842 and 1910, the Palácio da Bolsa, belonging to the Porto Trade Association, is one of the prettiest in the city and has guided tours.
Following your visit, cross the D. Luís I bridge and head toward Porto's wine cellars. On the south bank of the Douro river there is a gazebo with stone benches that offers a superb view of the bridge and from where you can observe and photograph the houses of Ribeira do Porto, before setting off to discover the wonderful world of port wine.
Another of the major symbol of Porto, the Torre dos Clérigos, was built between 1754 and 1763. It has six floors and is 76 metres tall. To reach to top visitors have to climb 255 steps, but the view more than makes up for it. In 2014, the church reopened to the public, following refurbishment; another reason to include it in your visit!
The Sé Cathedral was built in XII century and underwent several modifications in a Baroque style, such as the main chapel's magnificent altarpiece. Stand before the grand and elegant Episcopal Palace building, a XVIII century construction also designed by Nasoni. Around here, you will find several places where you can have a meal, or have a coffee or juice during your trip. There is a also a good selection of hotels where you can recharge your batteries.
This area has gone through an incredible transformation during the last three years. Today, it's the home of fashion designers, as well as cake designers. It hosts urban grocery stores and regular craft fairs. It has cellars with the best Portuguese wines and wine bars that introduced the habit of after work drinks.
It's the ideal place for lunch - or dinner! There are options for all budgets, from traditional family restaurants to gourmet places, right up to the “signature” restaurants. Generally, they all have menus and special prices at lunchtime.
Pass through the Lello Bookshop . Situated on the Rua das Carmelitas, it was rated by the British newspaper The Guardian as the third most beautiful bookshop in the world. As a rule, the owners do not allow tourists to photograph the inside of the shop, but they may make an exception in special cases. Prepare an irrefutable argument!
Rest your legs and treat yourself to French toast at the Café Majestic , Porto's historic café. Located on the busy Rua de Santa Catarina (where one can find the main fashion and accessories shops) and is one of the city of Porto's most emblematic sites. Its building was constructed in 1916 and is one of the best examples of Art Nouveau in the city.
As well as its history and culture, Porto also boasts leisure, entertainment and nightlife. At night, the famous streets surrounding Rua Galeria de Paris, with their cafés and terraces, and during the day the Miguel Bombarda area and the shopping on Rua Santa Catarina are landmarks not only for leisure, the arts and culture, but also for purchases.
Along the Avenida da Boavista, you will notice the hotels and other accommodation that can be found here, as well as its restaurants. The Casa da Música is the area's main architectural landmark and, despite only being inaugurated in 2005, is a legacy of the Porto 2001 event - European Capital of Culture.
There are free shows that you can take in while you visit the building; and, once a month, there is an event that, if you have the chance, you must “check out”: Clubbing is a party with live bands and DJs, usually of the more alternative variety, that already has a guaranteed place in the city's nightlife.
The Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art , is Porto's most important museum and one of the best in the country. Immerse yourself in the stunning gardens and park. On Sundays, entry is free until 1pm and gives you access to the museum and this immense green space.
The Crystal Palace Romantic Gardens occupy an area of 8 hectares in the centre of Porto. Here, you can admire magnificent panoramic views over the city and the river from strategically placed viewpoints. It's worth mentioning that these gardens, taking advantage of our botanical heritage and recreational and cultural dynamics, host an environmental education centre.
At Porto's estuary, the city meets the Atlantic Ocean, so it's no surprise that this area's sites of interest are related to water. Sea Life fits into this mould and has diverse types of marine creatures: sharks, tropical fish, starfish and sea urchins.
If you still haven't tried the city's signature dish, Francesinha, order one at Cufra Grill or the Transparent Building, from where you watch the local surfers. Alternatively, hop on to the Matosinhos Lota area to eat grilled fish and seafood.
The inescapable City Park is also found in this area and is considered the green lung of Porto. With 83 hectares of green spaces, walking route and diverse sports facilities, this is the largest park in Porto. It's a pleasant place, with around 10 kilometres of paths with rich and varied wildlife.
Here you will also encounter the Castelo do Queijo, parks and gardens like the Pasteleira Park and the Calém Gardens, the Pergola Viewpoint and several surf schools where you can learn this sport or improve your technique in it.
The highlight of Riberinha Riverside is, besides the landscape, the selection of restaurants and bars that you will find here and where you can enjoy a traditional or more contemporary meal while contemplating the river Douro. Pay attention to the bridges over this river; many of them are architectural landmarks.
To learn more about port wine, visit the Museum dedicated to it located in this area.
Be adventurous and go beyond! Discover other areas of Porto and travel into its surroundings where you will find more places that are worth a visit, such as the Santo Inácio Zoo and the Casinos in Espinho and Póvoa .
Before your trip, buy a Porto Card! In addition to being able to travel on all public transport in the city, you will also get discounts on many of the points of interest that we have mentioned here. If you forget to buy online, you can always do so at one of the tourist offices found throughout the city.
And as we are here to help you make the most of the city, please contact us with any questions or for us to design you a detailed plan to ensure that you don't miss out on anything during your visit to Porto and Northern Portugal .There's a lot to discover in the capital of Northern Portugal!