In this article, we have listed the top 10 things to visit in Porto. Porto is the capital of northern Portugal and also runner-up in the number of tourists, second only to the capital Lisbon.
Porto is situated in North Portugal Region. Porto has a different charm, with fog in the morning, spectacular late afternoons on the banks of the Douro River, and colorful streets, with tiled houses, which make any walk through the historic center even more pleasant. A vibrant city, which is constantly being modernized and already has numerous design shops, modern art museums, and award-winning restaurants – where the best option is to enjoy seafood or typical dishes from the north of Portugal, always in the company of a good port wine.
The city of Porto is of great importance in the history of Portugal – it gave the name to this beautiful country. The city is already one of the most popular destinations in the country. In 2017, it was voted Best European Destination by tourists from all over the world. Porto is one of the Portuguese destinations with the richest historical heritage in the country. Let’s have a look at our list of the top 10 things to visit in Porto Portugal.
1. Clerigos Tower
One of the best views of the entire city is at the top of the Clérigos Tower, one of the most important sights in Porto. The construction of more than 75 meters in length was ready in 1763 to be a bell tower, but throughout history, it ended up guiding navigators and also served as a strategic point for military combat.
Visitors must climb more than 200 steps of a narrow staircase to reach the top of the tower, but the reward is one of the best: a 360º view (with or without fog) over the main attractions of Porto, as well as the Douro and Gaia.
2. Riverside Promenade (That’s one of the top things to visit in Porto)
Porto, its many bridges, and its neighbor, Vila Nova de Gaia, offer breathtaking views. One of the best places to see them is along the Ribeirinha, a walk that takes you along the Douro River and past many cafes and restaurants. Start near São Francisco Church and head towards the river. you can grab a cheap snack or drink and take in some of the views or continue towards Ponte Luís I where there are plenty of restaurants.
3. Porto Cathedral
At one of the highest points in the city, next to the Luís I Bridge and with a privileged view of the Douro, is the Porto Cathedral. Built-in the 12th century, the Cathedral has an extensive square in front of it, which is already worth the visit: from there it is possible to see the beauty of the city, with reddish roofs spreading down the hill and the houses covered with the famous blue tiles, so characteristic of Porto.
4. Palacio da Bolsa
Classified as a World Heritage Site by Unesco, the Palácio da Bolsa is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved buildings in Porto. There, important decisions regarding the Portuguese economy were taken over the last century.
Today, the Palácio da Bolsa is the headquarters of the Commercial Association of Porto. On a guided tour, get to know the rich interior of the building, with wooden mosaics and gold paintings.
5. Avenida dos Aliados
Avenida dos Aliados is the center and heart of the city of Porto. At the top of this avenue is the beautiful building that is Porto’s city hall. When you go down to Ribeira, take a short detour through the São Bento train station and enjoy the beautiful tile panels.
6. Rua Santa Catarina (One of the top things to visit in Porto)
Visiting Porto without discovering the famous Rua de Santa Catarina is like going to Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower! Rua Santa Catarina is the commercial artery of the city. But make no mistake: visiting it is not (always) synonymous with shopping.
It is, above all, a place that breathes the history and architecture of Porto. In this article you will find the history of this street, the places not to be missed, the means of transport to get there… I will tell you everything about this emblematic artery, which connects the city from north to south. This place is listed as one of the top 10 things to visit in Porto Portugal.
7. Crystal Palace Gardens
Porto’s original Crystal Palace has been replaced by a sports pavilion, but the real draw here is the surrounding area. As you head towards the river you will see all the different gardens. From these gardens, you get excellent views from different angles of the Douro River and Vila Nova de Gaia. Not overloaded with tourists, this is a great way to relax but still get some sightseeing. It is also well-shaded, helping to stay cool during the summer months. Be sure to explore all the grounds, as they wrap around the river.
8. Clerigos Church and Tower
Built between 1735 and 1748, the Clérigos Church is one of the most visited places in the region not only because of its baroque style but also because it is crowned by the Clérigos Tower, which is undoubtedly one of the most emblematic monuments from the city of Porto.
To get an idea of the importance of this attraction, just check, for example, that the respective tower is over 76 meters high, and to have access to a privileged panoramic view of the city, it is necessary to face more than 200 steps. built by the brotherhood of the Clérigos Pobres in the 18th century.
9. Liberty Square (One of the top things to visit in Porto)
This is one of the most important squares in Porto and that’s because it establishes a kind of connection between the oldest part of the city and its more modern side. Visiting it is essential, because Praça da Liberdade is located right in the central area, close to São Bento Station and the famous Clérigos Tower.
The area has a monument ten meters high, made of bronze, which portrays D. Pedro IV holding the Constitutional Charter to the people. The entire region has avenues and modernist buildings from the beginning of the 20th century, but it is worth highlighting something very curious located on Avenida dos Aliados: McDonald’s.
10. Lello Bookstore
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ve certainly heard of this bookshop, which is a true setting for stories and movies. Located right next to the Clérigos Church and Tower, the neo-Gothic building is considered by many to be the most beautiful bookstore in all of Europe. Built in 1906, the interior of Livraria Lello has huge wooden shelves, a stained glass window on the ceiling and the famous carved wooden staircase right in the center of the store.
11. São Bento Station Porto
Even if you are not going to take any train trips, São Bento Station is one of the must-see sights in Porto. Built at the beginning of the 19th century on top of the remains of the former São Bento de Ave Maria convent, the Station has, in its internal area, a true treasure. Its hall is fully decorated with more than 20,000 tiles that depict the history of Portugal.
12. Soares dos Reis Museum
The oldest public museum in Portugal, the Soares dos Reis Museum, is located in Porto, very close to the Palácio de Cristal Gardens. It is also located in the oldest palace in the country, the well-known Palácio das Carrancas. It was there that illustrious figures of Portuguese history resided, such as General Soult, Duke of Wellington and Dom Pedro IV – in Brazil, known as Dom Pedro I.
13. Majestic Café
One of the top things to visit in Porto is Majestic Cafe. While strolling along Rua Santa Catarina, make a stop at one of the most traditional cafes in Porto, the Majestic Café, from 1921. Order a french toast and a cimbalino, as the people of Porto call a cup of coffee, and breathe in the Bélle air It is an era that the establishment preserves to this day. Ah, this one was frequented by the author of Harry Potter when she lived in the city, according to her “ one of the most beautiful cafes where she has ever written ”.
14. House of Music in Porto
For music fans, it is worth keeping an eye on the programming at Casa da Música, one of the main concert halls in Porto. The space also offers guided tours of the building, designed to have perfect acoustics.
Top 10 things to visit in Porto Portugal
- Clérigos Tower
- Riverside Promenade
- Porto Cathedral
- Palácio da Bolsa
- Avenida dos Aliados
- Rua Santa Catarina
- Crystal Palace Gardens
- Clérigos Church and Tower
- Liberty Square
- Lello Bookstore
- São Bento Station
- Soares dos Reis Museum
- Majestic Café
- House of Music