Looking for fun things to do in Porto? We visited Porto so many times. Every single time it has been a great experience. The city of Porto itself is small, but the surroundings offer so many awesome things to do. From day trips to surfing and so much culture in this tiny beautiful city.
In recent years, the city of Porto has been the target of tourists from all over the world. A beautiful city with small dimensions and a giant in its cultural offer.
With this city guide, I would like to introduce to you the things that a good traveler shouldn’t miss and also some curiosities about local life.
After introducing you to the fun part of Barcelona, and the hilarious things to do in Madrid, we want to share with you our favorite things to do in Porto.
So join us and discover the fun side of this in beautiful city.
So, without further blah blah, let us jump into it right away.
1. Academic traditions
Believe it or not, Portuguese cities with big university campuses make the most fun academic events that you’ll ever see. If you’re planning to visit Porto during the period of April or May, you might see some big parades called “Queima das Fitas”.
It’s the beginning of a new era for those who just started the graduation time and a huge celebration for those who are leaving school. Trust me, it becomes a big show for the tourists and non-university people as well.
During that week of celebrations you have a whole week calendar with some of the local artists playing at night in a place called “Queimódrumo”, it’s open to the public and the ticket costs around 10€/day.
If there is something that Portuguese people know well how to do, that thing would be amazing foods.
Porto is a city with a very peculiar typical dish called Francesinha, inspired by the French Croque Monsieur, but with a huge upgrade on it. To try a Francesinha you should look for a very good place to have it. And I’m going to make your life easier by saying that Cervejaria Brasão Aliados is the best place in the city to have one of those.
You shouldn’t miss that, besides the Francesinha this place has such a beautiful decoration and friendly staff.
Just be aware that for the best Francesinha in town, you might have to queue for a few minutes, and the best option, especially on weekends, is to make a reservation.
For the fans of Harry Potter, it isn’t new to know that the wizard has a Portuguese vein in its creation, and for those who don’t know here goes important information: JK Rowling lived in Oporto while writing the novel between 1991 and 1993. So, can you imagine how much the city inspired her?
In the following list, you can visit some of the scenarios of the Portuguese daily life, which ended up being used as a reference and inspiration for the saga such as a simples broom store and the black capes used by the university students.
Livraria Lelo: Rua das Carmelitas 144, Porto.
Café Majestic: Rua Santa Catarina 112
Escovaria de Belmonte: Rua de Belmonte 34
University of Porto: Praça de Gomes Teixeira, Porto
4. Sunset seekers alert!
If your trip must include a stop for a great sunset view you better take a photo screen because these are the best spots to be when the sun goes down in Porto:
Porto is well known for being a non-expensive destination in comparison to the other European destinations, but this place will blow your mind.
All you need is to be in a good mood, be open to talk with people from all over the world, and get ready to have a Super Bock (the national beer) for ONLY 0.50€. It’s a good call for solo travelers or big groups of friends, it doesn’t matter. After all, who doesn’t love cheap thrills?
Fun fact:Espaço 77 has been selling beers for 6 years at the same price, and it never caused any financial losses.
Address: Tv. de Cedofeita, 4050-157 Porto, Portugal
6. São João (Saint John’s Festival)
Save the date: June 23rd Evening since the 19th century. Every year this is the most expected day for Porto citizens.
St John’s day is on the 24th of June, but the celebrations start early on the day before.
Here goes a list of things to do to complete the tradition with glory:
Have a grilled Portuguese sardine on the street foods, it’s just delicious.
Grab a plastic hammer! Just to get a little bit familiar, it’s a tradition to lightly pound the head of everyone you meet around the streets.
Get close to D. Luís Bridge to watch the fireworks before midnight.
7. Mira Jazz
Music moves people, and especially the ones that make you almost live again that unforgettable trip you loved so much. With a wonderful view and people that you still plan to meet again. So, I would suggest you create some memories at the Mira Jazz terrace.
It’s a very relaxing place on the top of Ribeira, it´s a combination of good wine, good music, and a good environment. Everything you need to chill after a long day of the walk.
Address: Escadas do Caminho Novo 11, 4050-554 Porto, Portugal
8. Porto Cruz
Now let’s talk about something that everyone thinks about when it comes to the city of Porto. Port Wine!
Porto Cruz is a brand of port wine and has its building located in Gaia, the heart of the wine caves. The structure from outside is very traditional, the surprise is when you get inside of the building, it’s all so modern with a very prepared staff ready to explain everything you might ask about Port Wine.
This place is very well located, and has a 360º Terrace Lounge where you could go for a happy hour on a sunny day, and have a refreshing cocktail based on Porto wine.
If you’re more into wine tasting, go straight to the 2nd floor to understand a little deeper. There are prices for all budgets starting from 7,5€ with 3 options of wine tasting to 45€ for the premium tasting.
Background information: Port wine is actually never ever from Porto itself. It is from the Douro Valley. Back in the days, the wineries from the Douro Valley shipped their wine to Porto. From here, the port in Porto shipped it to the United Kingdom and all the world.
Since the harbor in Porto was the last harbor for the barrels of wine before leaving the country, the barrels got the stamp from the city of Porto.
Now, since the wine was so good, and the barrels had Porto-Stamps all over them, everyone in the world thought this wine comes from Porto.
Fun story, right?! If the harbor would have been located on the other riverside, in Vila Nova da Gaia, maybe this town would be the famous one today. Who knows?!
Anyway, don’t let this stop you from tasting this unique wine.
Good to know: Sorry, just one more thing. Port Wine is a wine you have for dessert. It is not a regular wine, there is a more sweet flavor to it.
A whole bottle of Port wine comes with an extra headache the next morning. We are not your mammy and pappy, but let’s enjoy a bit more of Porto! 😉
9. Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
If the mix between architecture and nature is your thing, Jardins do Palácio de Cristal is the place you should go to appreciate this balance.
You can spend a really great time in these gardens and lose yourself a little bit on the top 5 things to do in the following list:
Buy a Portuguese romance on the book stands available
Admire the Cristal palace from the outside
Walk among the peacocks
And once more get to see another corner of the Douro river
Address: R. de Dom Manuel II, 4050-346 Porto, Portugal
10. Mc Donald’s
After the language, the food is normally one of the first contacts that a traveler has after getting to a new country, in some cases after a long time tasting only typical food, some people like to get back to ‘’regular’’ once in a while, what brings us to the cliché Mc Donald’s.
Who never did that?
In this case, I would say that you should stop in the most beautiful Mc Donald’s in the world even if you’re in a city break. I bet these following pictures will make you order a Big Mac, just to appreciate the stained glass around the fast-food restaurant.
Good to know: You don’t need to eat here. You are in Porto, a foodie haven. You can enjoy fantastic and cheap food all around.
Address: Praça da Liberdade 126, 4000-322 Porto, Portugal
Let’s put some adrenaline on the list.
For the big fans of sports, it was about time to list some adventure in Porto to make this trip more fun. It’s time for Wake Surf!
The cool part of this program is that you can choose between the river or the sea to practice. All you need is to bring with you one or two friends to share, and some excitement.
The price for 1 hour up to 3 people is 75€ (equipment and insurance included). Solo trip available upon request.
Address: Av. General Norton de Matos, 1177, Armazéns Sul, Escola A,, Matosinhos, Porto 4450-208, Portugal
12. Porto Photoshoot with a guide
Here goes a tip for solo travelers or just bad photographers, what about to have a photoshoot day in a good company?
For those who love posing, that would be a perfect solution to make a low-cost photoshoot + a tour around the best Instagramable places in Porto.
Football is a sport that makes people laugh and cry around Portugal, I could even say it’s a religion because everyone supports its own football team as a family.
More known by the name Estádio do Dragão, Porto stadium is rated 5 stars by UEFA. And if you are also a big fan of sports, you got to visit the museum and have 2 hours tour to understand a bit more of FC Porto’s big history.
In case you’re planning to visit the stadium for a match, be prepared because it isn’t just a match, it’s a choir, a huge family, everyone cheering together no matter if Porto wins or loses.
If you don’t know any Portuguese and wish to be spoiled around here, all you gotta say is “Força Porto!”
The price of the museum and the stadium costs: 15€
Porto isn’t only made of Porto wine, in the Douro region, you can try one of the finest wines of Portugal. Furthermore, how about spending a whole day aboard a cruise and navigating one of the most beautiful landscapes of Portugal?
The cathedral in Porto is located in the very, very city center. BUT, it’s located on the hill actually. From the upper part of the Dom Luis Bridge, you can walk right to the Cathedral.
From here you have another wonderful view. I also recommend walking down the area next to the bridge. The small alleys, little roads are beautiful. It is a very local area. You will walk by locals drying their laundry and tiny cafés.
As for the cathedral: You can actually enter here as well! Just keep an eye on the opening schedule.
Very good to know: There is an upper part and a lower part of the Dom Luis Bridge. You cannot really go and down quickly.
You have to walk around completely or take the little train up or down. This costs around 5€. When you are at Sao Bento station, looking towards the river, you will see two roads. One to the left, one to the right.
The one on the left will take you to the cathedral and the upper part of Dom Luis Bridge.
The one on the right will take you along a major shopping road to the lower part of the bridge.
21. Librería Lello
This list would not be complete without the world-famous Liberia Lello. Rated as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, the Lello Library is a must-thing to do.
Here comes the kicker:
Yes, it is touristy.
No, it is not free anymore. The entrance is around 5€.
Yes, it is worth it 100%.
Yes, it’s busy pretty much all day long.
(We could not figure out any best time to visit the library. If you have some insights, please share them! 😉
Quick note: Personally I think it is a pity that the library now charges an entrance, but it’s more than understandable. This place is treated as a museum and with all the maintenance work and the general amount of work that comes with mass tourism, they needed to adapt.
First of all, you help the library to stay in business, and 2nd you can actually buy a book here. You know why? Because it is an actual book shop!!
Bolhao Market place is one of the very first places I entered without having a glue what it actually it. Here you can buy fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, you name it.
You can also nowadays purchase souvenirs like leather wallets, magnets, postcards, you name it. The market itself is a really beautiful one. It is one of the many free things to do in Porto. Just enter, walk around, and if something piques your interest, have a closer look.
I like the friendly attitude you will experience at Bolhao Market. The sellers are not pushy and quite relaxed. This makes it more comfortable. And again: You can support the local business by buying some things.
In my defense: I am a coffee junky. No, wait, coffee lover.
The Kombi Coffee is a beautiful, hipster-ish café. The cafe itself is also great to visit. The creamy coffee, black and white, clean design. Great. However, their real highlight, in my opinion, is their coffee truck.
They drive around the city with it, park, and serve coffee from here. I was lucky enough to catch them right next to The Passenger Hostel, next to Sao Bento train station.
Their truck looks so cool. Keep an eye out, that could be one of your cool Porto Instagram shots.
Oh, and have coffee, obviously!
24. Tea Time at Rota do Chá
Tea time! Let me explain first.
The longest alliance between the two countries in the world is between Porto and the United Kingdom. These two countries shared a lot of goods along with the history of time.
Tea is something that came along time ago to Porto.
Anyway… for having a tea in Porto in a cute, little garden, head over to Rota do Chá!
Address: Rua de Miguel Bombarda 457, 4050-378 Porto, Portugal
25. Travel back at Cafe Majestic
Travel back in time and visit the vintage, classic Cafe Majestic. It is so beautiful from the inside, it is really worth it to stop by. It is located in the main shopping street of Porto, just a 5 minutes walk from Sao Bento Train station.
Personally, I would never have a coffee here. I prefer the hipster coffee – don’t judge me! Anyway, it’s said the coffee is great. Overpriced, but great. So, up to you!
Address: Rua Santa Catarina 112, 4000-442 Porto, Portugal
26. Wander the Flea Market of Armazém
Flea markets are great – also sometimes a temptation. Armazém, is a cool vintage shop and bar where you will be able to see those old cool things to decor and also taste a wine… on their terrace.
Drinks are affordable, so only for that the walk to Armazém is worth it.
27. Join a free walking tour
One of the best FREE Things to do in Porto is the famous free walking tour. Every bigger European city has one, and so does Porto.
I recommend taking a free walking tour on your first day. It is the perfect start to get to know the city.
You can join the free walking tours usually from hostels. It’s worth to check them as well on Airbnb Experiences.
Remember: A free walking tour is tip-based. You tip the guide at the end of the tour whatever you think the tour is worth it. For a backpacker, this is usually around 5€. For tourists it can be around 10€ per person. Just to give you a rought idea.
28. Visit a Fado Show
Fado is the traditional dance from Portugal. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a Fado show, preferably in a wine cellar. You will find many places around the city.
29. Walk the waterfront
The river bench, the boardwalk is beautiful! Although it is obviously one of the most touristic things to do in Porto, there is no way you can skip this. Walk along the boardwalk, starting from Dom Luis 1 Bridge.
There is as well a weekend market you can visit.
From here you have the perfect view to the Dom Luis Bridge as well as Nova Gaia on the other riverside.
Did you assume the other riverside is as well Porto?
Well, you are not alone. In fact, I thought so on my first visit as well. It is actually Vila Nova, a different city with even different mayor. Here you can visit all the famous wine tastings with Sandemans and such.
Fun Fact: The Dom Luis Bridge was NOT built by the famous architect Eiffel. You know, the world-famous architect that planned the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Since the Dom Luis Bridge looks similar to the Eiffel Tower in a way, and somehow architect Eiffel built a bridge in Porto, the widely spread „knowledge“ says: This is the one built by him.
But, it’s not. The Dom Luis Bridge was built by 1880.
On June 24th, you can walk around Douro River to see the regatta of Rabelo boats, it starts regularly at 03:00 p.m.
30. Take a vintage tram
Oh, this one is great. And it is great for solo travelers, couples, groups, and families. For everyone!
Take the vintage tram to the beach. The #1 Tram takes you all the way from Porto to the beach. I would take the tram during daylight, so you can actually enjoy the scenery.
31. Sleep inside a monument
When was the last time you slept inside a monument?
Here is a list of things you can easily skip, not mention, and how to make Portuguese friends of a lifetime:
36. Call Lisbon more beautiful
Lisbon is beautiful, Porto is beautiful. There is no need to start any discussion since both cities are so different and unique. Some tourists argue over this topic that nobody in this world needs to listen to.
I say: enjoy both cities, they are both fantastic!
Locals from Porto do not want to hear Lisbon is more beautiful, and vice versa.
This is for the football fans. There are 3 big teams in Portugal:
Since you are in Porto, it’s quite obvious you should support this team during your stay.
Some are more successful than the other, but those are the three big ones summed up. Same as the discussion above, don’t dive into this. Portuguese people love their football and especially their own team.
Very, very smart tip: Portuguese love especially their National team. So if you want to score some sympathy points, let them know how well they play!
Quick note: Portugal has a really good team anyway. It wouldn’t be even a lie. If you have no idea about football, just quote from this sentence: „Portugal has a great football team!“
Congrats, you probably just made a Portuguese friend!
38. Put Messi over Cristiano Ronaldo
That brings us to the one and only Cristiano Ronaldo.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the national hero. Do not get into any discussion here. For the last decade, Cristiano and Messi are the top football players on this planet, there is no way around it. Maybe skip this topic if you disagree…. 😉
39. Eat at any food chain
Talk about food: I consider it almost a crime to eat in a food chain in Portugal.
Porto is foodie heaven and there is no reason on earth to skip this and go with fast food.
Actually, I never eat in food chains anyway. This might be a very good overall travel tip.
Confession time: on my very first travel on my own, it was to Budapest, I went to McDonald’s simply out of convenience and lack of communication. I am not ashamed of this…well, okay, actually I am.
There are some fantastic cafés all around Porto. This is one of the hipster things to do in Porto.
Here is a list of great cafés in Porto we love:
Oficina cafe creativo cc
Another confession time: When I started to travel around and I needed WiFi, I instantly went to Starbucks. Honestly, it was never for the incredible coffee, but it was the best option to get WiFi and a coffee. Obviously, I don’t do this anymore.
41. Eat at the waterfront
This is the most expensive area to have a seat and eat out. It is really beautiful, especially when the sun comes out. However, for me, it is a bit too touristy. I would rather go into the smaller alleys and hop into a smaller restaurant.
Good to know: That is not to say you cannot eat good food here. You actually can. It is only more pricey and there are too many people, well, tourists.
42. Change the clock of the train stations tower
This is not actually a serious thing to do.
The Passenger Hostel is located inside the train station. And the hostel has access to one of the two train station towers. When coming up here, you could actually climb up to the clock and change it.
Matt was considering it. You know, changing the time. We didn’t do it…
Okay, back to some serious recommendations for things NOT to do in Porto.
43. Stay at a crappy hostel
Life is too short to stay in bad hostels.
Portugal and especially Porto and Lisbon is dotted with awesome hostels. Pick a great one!
Even better: Pick the most beautiful design hostel in the world: The Passenger Hostel.
You can stay in this design-led hostel and sleep in an actual monument, the Sao Bento Station. No, I am not kidding
About bad hostels: Low-quality hostels can be really cheap. But, when you start to calculate your costs and
the value you get for it, you can directly stay at a better one.
Usually, low-cost hostels do not include sheets, towels, cleaning, and breakfast. It’s also usually badly located, meaning you need to walk a long time to the city center or take transportation. That costs either time or money.
44. Stay only 1 day
I have seen it over and over again: people either regretting staying only 1 day or people extending over and over again.
1 day is simple enough although Porto is small.
I would at least stay 2 nights. Do not rush it! Porto is certainly not a city to visit in a rush.
Taking your time is part of the experience!
45. What about the nightlife in Porto?
Porto is a great place to go out at night. There are many places you will enjoy: dance clubs, bars, live music… There is a place for every taste.
Here you have my favorite places (all local recommendations):
Adegas sport club
Galerías paris – plan B
Club rugby Porto ( sports bar)
Embaixada do porto – ( go on tuesday for their brasiliana night)
Amazed de cerveja
Beer cerveja letra
77 – beer for
Maos habitos (4th floor parking lot)
You will find all the places marked in our map.
Day trips from Porto
Porto has many things to do, and also many places nearby that you can visit just for a day (or stay overnight).
Here you have the day trips to do from Porto that I most enjoyed. It is a personal taste, both were easy to do, beautiful, and a great experience to add to your Porto trip.
You have more ideas in the map.
An easy way to move around is to rent a car. We use Discovercar to find the best deals.
46. Aveiro and Costa Nova
Located just 40 Minutes South from Porto you can visit the „Venice of Porto“, the town called Aveiro.
Here you find bigger Gondolas than in Venice, and you can take a short boat ride along the few canals.
The city Aveiro itself is beautiful to walk. It has gorgeous buildings and on a Sunday morning, you can enjoy a local flea market.
Costa Nova is just 10km away from Aveiro. This is my highlight of this day trip from Porto.
Costa Nova is a strip of Beach with a few streets. Come here to take your Instagram shots in front of the striped houses. Many many houses are vertically striped in red, yellow, green, or blue. Really amazing!
You can enjoy here as well the ocean and dunes. Have a seat in one of the few beach bars and enjoy the moment here.
For lunch or dinner, I want to give you one of my favorite restaurants in Portugal on the hand: the Restaurante Clube De Vela da Costa Nova.
We ate here a fish soup as a starter and a rice fishbowl as the main course. All that is a great restaurant, with lovely staff (speaking English as well), very few tourists, mot locals and a view of the port.
We ordered the rice fishbowl for two people, but we were actually three. It was more than enough! Portions in Portugal are big!
In the summertime, a day trip to the Douro Valley is a MUST-DO!
Hop on a river cruise and take the journey along the water to the Douro Valley.
Here, exactly here is where the Port-wine is being produced and born in its essence.
This activity is not just one of the many fun and romantic things to do in Porto for couples.
It also recommended for families. The kids will have a blast on the boat, and the parents can enjoy the culture.
It is time to see what you should pack in your backpack or suitcase. Make sure you always pick a quality accommodation, it totally reduces the things you need to pack. Here is our ultimate packing list. It features 23 items you should really throw in your backpack.