9 Best Things to do in Porto, Portugal

Porto is the second largest city in Portugal, and it’s located in the North of the country straddling the Duoro River. It’s about a 3-hour drive from Lisbon. We traveled there in the spring as Empty Nesters and explored the Portuguese food, port, and architecture (not necessarily in that order).

Aside from being one of the safest countries in the world, with affordable healthcare and low crime, Portugal offers a unique program for citizenship. Portugal is having a moment right now. From what we read, it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular relocation countries for people who want to live in Europe.

Portugal offers a residency-by-investment program, known as the Portugal Golden Visa. This five-year residency-by-investment scheme offers non-EU nationals the opportunity to invest in the economy in exchange for five years of residency. At which point you’re eligible to apply for EU citizenship and voila, you then have the option to reside and work anywhere in the EU.

Porto bridge. Portugal offers a residency-by-investment program, known as the Portugal Golden Visa.

Porto is beautiful and so scenic, and we definitely had the Portugal Golden Visa in the back of our minds as we explored this city. Porto is an old medieval town filled with historic architecture along the picturesque Douro River.

Here are 9 Best Things to do in Porto

1. Walk the Dom Luís I Bridge

2. Climb the Clérigos Tower

Clérigos Tower is the imposing bell tower of the beautiful Baroque church. The church and its tower are one of the most iconic monuments in Porto.

Things to do in Porto - Climb the Clérigos Tower

You’re able to climb 240 steps to the top where you’re rewarded with breathtaking views across Porto and the Duoro River. The number of people able to climb this tower are limited, so be sure to book tickets in advance.

The Porto Cathedral is considered one of the most beautiful places in Porto and impressively sits on a hill overlooking the whole city of Porto.

Porto Cathedral

blue tiles of Porto

The famous cloisters are beautifully tiled with the blue tiles of Porto. This sacred complex has plenty of gardens and terraces to roam around. Or, simply take a seat and soak it all in. There are LOTS of steps so be sure to wear comfy shoes.

4. Sample Port Wine in Porto

When in Porto you drink port wine… It’s as simple as that! Port is a sweet fortified wine made exclusively in the Douro Valley. Many of the larger port cellars are located in Gaia.

Port tasting in Porto

We sampled ruby, tawny, white, and vintage port, and if you’re not a fan of this sweet wine, you are covered…. Porto is surrounded by vineyards offering every variety of wine you can imagine.

5. Wander through the Cais Da Ribeira

This is the Porto of postcards and travel magazines. The Cais da Ribeira district is filled with bright pastel-colored charming buildings stacked on top of each other along the Douro River. This Old Town area is bustling day and night (filled with tourists in the summer) and is one of the most scenic places in Porto.

Cais Da Ribeira in porto - how scenic!

You’ll find great food, great drinks, and it’s the best place to enjoy a sunset cocktail and people-watch. I’d recommend going there with no agenda, just to hang out and soak in the vibrancy of the area and riverfront.

6.  Day Trip from Porto to the Douro Valley

The Duoro Vally is 60 miles outside of Porto, and the incredible landscapes, nature, wines, people, and history are magical. It’s hard to describe the beauty of the Douro Valley. The wineries nestled into the side of the mountains, with the Douro river flowing right through the middle.  The scenery is idyllic, especially while wine tasting. The views are stunning and there’s no wonder why the region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest determined (DOC) wine region in the world.

7. Explore Baixa

Baixa is the downtown area of Porto where you’ll find important landmarks such as City Hall and the Cathedral. There’s a young hipster vibe and you’ll find plenty of trendy coffee shops, boutiques and chic restaurants in this area.

Baixa neighbood

8. Enjoy Portuguese Dishes

The Portuguese love their food, and the local dishes are made with simple ingredients that are perfectly prepared. We sampled many regional Portuguese dishes but our favorites were the Bifana, the local codfish and the very famous baked treat, the pastel de nata.

Foot in Porto is delicious
Bifana is a traditional Portuguese soft bread roll filled with thin slices of pork that’s been marinated in wine and other spices, served with plenty of piri-piri sauce.

The pastel de nata is a traditional egg custard tart, with a smattering of cinnamon often dusted with cinnamon. This delightful pastry was created in the 18th century by Catholic monks in the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon.

9. Sunset at Miradouro da Vitória

Miradouro da Vitoria is located on top of a hill in the heart of Old Town and has one of the best panoramic views of Porto. As you wonder the narrow streets through an old neighborhood admiring the wonderful architecture, you stumble upon this hidden gem.
views from Miradouro da Vitória in porto
After climbing onto the viewing platform (which is free) we were treated to panoramic views of the local landmark. We were able to see the Cathedral, Bishops Palace, Douro River, and Dom Luis I Bridge.
The charm of Porto, get lost in back alleys for real Porto culture

The charm of Porto is the beautiful city full of quirky details and architectural delights as you wander the streets  –  I highly recommend you add to your travel bucket list. 

What are YOUR favorite things to do in Porto?

Let me know in the comments below and join me on Instagram and Twitter!

About The Author

Samantha

I’m a travel and health writer, digital brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising an active family, life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.

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