The Solo Travel Guide to Porto

The Solo Travel Guide to Porto

Ah, Porto. A city where the wine flows as freely as the Douro River, where the cobblestone streets whisper tales of old, and where the charm of Old World Europe blends seamlessly with the vibrancy of modern life. Anna here, the founder of I have traveled to Porto several times, and I still want to come back whenever I have the chance. It is really this kind of destinations that offers lots of sightseeing attractions as well as that cozy, local feeling.

Since you are about to explore Porto as a Solo Traveler, there are a few things I think you should know beforehand. You couldn’t have chosen a more welcoming destination than Porto. It is known for its friendly locals, manageable size, and an atmosphere that makes solo travelers feel right at home.

I will share with you safety tips, my favorite things to do, a few hidden gems, and even a few handy tips on how to meet fellow travelers or locals.

Why Porto is Perfect for Solo Travelers

Safety First: Porto is celebrated for its safety, particularly in areas where travelers roam. The city’s low crime rate means you can explore its charming streets with peace of mind, day or night.

Easy to get around: the public transport is easy to use and to get around. You can even take a tram and be at the beach within 30 minutes. Personally, I rent a bike to cycle a bit. Some parts are hilly, but you can cruise along the river easily.

Warm Welcomes Await: The warmth of Porto’s people is legendary. Locals are known for their hospitality, making you feel at home whether you’re navigating directions or chatting over coffee.

Great Hostel Culture: the hostels in Porto (and Portugal) are one of the bests in the world! The prices are lower than most of Europe’s big cities and a you can expect a bunch of hostel events and activities. These are free walking tours, family dinner nights, and even organized pub crawls. Finding the right accommodation is key for solo travelers. See our recommendations for the best hostels in Porto that are the perfect choice for solo adventurers.

Best Things to Do Alone in Porto

Porto offers countless opportunities for solo travelers to explore, learn, and relax. Here are some of my favorite best things to do alone in Porto, each promising a unique and memorable experience.

Explore the Ribeira District: Stroll along the Douro River in the Ribeira District, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The colorful, historic buildings and lively atmosphere make it a perfect place for solo exploration. Don’t forget to capture the stunning views of the famous Dom Luís I Bridge. I love the views from here over the river and city. A great photo spot!

Taste Port Wine in Vila Nova de Gaia: No visit to Porto is complete without tasting its famous port wine. Head across the river to Vila Nova de Gaia for cellar tours and tastings. Many cellars offer walk-in tours, which are ideal for solo visitors.

Climb the Clérigos Tower: For breathtaking views of the city, climb the 225 steps of the Clérigos Tower. It’s a rewarding experience that offers a panoramic perspective of Porto’s landscape.

Visit the Livraria Lello: Book lovers shouldn’t miss the chance to visit Livraria Lello, one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores. Its stunning interior is said to have inspired J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

Relax at the Crystal Palace Gardens: Spend a leisurely afternoon at the Crystal Palace Gardens (Jardins do Palácio de Cristal), where you can enjoy serene walks, peacock sightings, and magnificent views of the Douro River.

Take a Self-Guided Azulejo Tour: Discover Porto’s beautiful azulejos (ceramic tiles) that decorate numerous buildings throughout the city. Start at the São Bento Railway Station, then make your way to the Chapel of Souls (Capela das Almas) and the Church of Saint Ildefonso.

Enjoy a Coffee at Majestic Café: Experience the charm of the Belle Époque era with a coffee at the Majestic Café, known for its ornate interior and historical significance.

Attend a Concert at Casa da Música: Check the schedule at Casa da Música, Porto’s contemporary music hall, which hosts a variety of performances ranging from classical to modern genres.

Join a Free Walking Tour: One of the best ways to get acquainted with Porto and meet fellow travelers is by joining a free walking tour. These tours cover the city’s history, architecture, and culture, and are a great starting point for solo travelers.

Visit the Serralves Museum and Park: Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Serralves Museum, known for its contemporary art collections and stunning park. It’s a peaceful place to enjoy art and nature.

Take a Day Trip to the Douro Valley: If you have an extra day, consider a trip to the Douro Valley. Solo travelers can join group tours to experience the beauty of Portugal’s wine country and taste some of the world’s best wines.

Climbing the Dom Luís I Bridge: This was one of my favorite things to do! Climbing the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge is just a unique experience. While many visitors admire the bridge from afar or walk across its upper deck, ascending to its heights from below provides a thrilling adventure and unparalleled vistas of the city and the Douro River. Check tickets online beforehand. It is super safe to climb, no worries.

Climb a bridge in Porto

Porto Bridge Climb - the best fun things to do in Porto

Sleep: Where to Stay in Porto for Solo Travelers

Finding the perfect spot to lay your head in Porto can significantly enhance your solo travel experience. Here’s a guide to the best neighborhoods and accommodations that cater to solo adventurers, ensuring safety, affordability, and a chance to meet like-minded travelers.

Best Neighborhoods for Solo Travelers

Ribeira: The heart of Porto’s historic district, Ribeira, is ideal for those wanting to be close to major attractions and the Douro River. It’s bustling, filled with cafes, and offers easy access to Porto’s famous wine cellars.

Baixa: Known for its lively atmosphere, Baixa is the downtown area where you’ll find a mix of traditional shops, modern bars, and restaurants. It’s well-connected by public transport, making it a convenient base for exploration.

Cedofeita: A bit more laid back but still within walking distance to the center, Cedofeita is known for its artistic vibe, with plenty of galleries, indie shops, and cozy cafes. It’s perfect for solo travelers looking for a blend of tranquility and urban culture.

Top-Rated Hostels for Socializing

The Passenger Hostel: Housed in the iconic São Bento Railway Station, The Passenger Hostel ranks at the top for solo travelers. Its unbeatable location, combined with spacious, clean facilities, and a bustling social scene, makes it the perfect base for exploring Porto and meeting fellow travelers.

Gallery Hostel: Situated in the artsy Miguel Bombarda neighborhood, Gallery Hostel offers a unique experience with its art exhibitions and stylish design. It’s known for its friendly staff and social atmosphere, making it easy to meet fellow travelers.

Yes! Porto Hostel: Just a stone’s throw from the Clérigos Tower, Yes! Porto Hostel is renowned for its warm, welcoming vibe and the communal dinners that bring guests together, ideal for solo travelers seeking companionship.

I wrote an entire, detailed guide with all my favorite best hostels in Porto.

You can find prices and availability on websites like Hostelworld and You can find a bunch of Youth hostels in Porto that are super cheap and centrally located.

Carefuly designed dorms with handmade, tailored wooden bunk beds - this is the kind of hostel you will enjoy from now on!

Airbnb Options

There’s a plethora of Airbnb listings throughout Porto that cater to solo travelers. Look for private rooms in shared apartments to stay within budget while having the opportunity to meet locals. Areas like Foz do Douro or Vila Nova de Gaia offer great value and a chance to explore beyond the city center. Personally, we are no big fans of Airbnb anymore. And since the hostel scene in Porto is so exceptional, there is really no reason to go for an Airbnb.

Food: Solo Dining

Dining alone in Porto is not just a necessity; it’s an opportunity to get to know the local culture and cuisine. Here’s how to make the most of your solo dining experiences, along with some top recommendations for solo-friendly spots and must-try local dishes.

How to Enjoy Dining Alone: Tips and Etiquette

See solo dining as a chance to truly savor the food and atmosphere. Bring a book, journal, or just your thoughts to keep you company.

Sit at the Bar or Communal Table: Many restaurants and cafes in Porto have bar seating or communal tables, which can be less intimidating for solo diners and offer a chance to interact with locals or fellow travelers.

Be Open to Conversations: If you’re comfortable, engage in light conversation with the staff or those around you. Porto’s locals are known for their friendliness and may share insider tips on the city’s best-kept secrets.

Take Your Time: Don’t rush through your meal. Portuguese dining is meant to be enjoyed slowly. Savor each bite and the unique ambiance of Porto’s dining scene.

Recommended Solo-Friendly Cafes and Restaurants

Majestic Café: Not just a café, but an institution in Porto, offering a glimpse into the city’s Belle Époque past. It’s perfect for solo travelers looking to enjoy a coffee or light meal in an opulent setting.

Cantina 32: Located in the trendy Ribeira district, this restaurant offers a cozy atmosphere with a creative menu that draws on Portuguese classics. The friendly staff and communal dining options make it welcoming for solo diners.

Mercado Bom Sucesso: This modern market offers a variety of food stalls serving everything from traditional Portuguese dishes to international cuisine. It’s ideal for solo travelers looking to sample different foods in a casual, bustling environment.

Casa Guedes: A small, unassuming eatery known for its pork sandwiches and homemade specialties. It’s a great spot for a quick, delicious meal where solo diners can feel at ease.

I summarized all my favorite cheap places to eat in Porto.

A Solo Traveler’s Itinerary

I tried to create a simple day-by-day itinerary for you below. It covers the must-visit spots, hidden gems, and relaxing spots across the city. Again, I recommend joining a walking tour (free or paid) at your very first day.

Day 1: Discovering the Heart of Porto

Morning: Start your day at the iconic São Bento Railway Station to admire its stunning azulejo tiles that depict Portugal’s history. From there, take a short walk to the Sé Cathedral, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city.

Afternoon: Head down to the Ribeira District along the Douro River. This area is perfect for a leisurely lunch at one of the many riverside cafes. After lunch, explore the narrow streets and colorful houses of Ribeira, making your way to the Dom Luís I Bridge for an unforgettable view of Porto.

Evening: Join a Port Wine Tasting Tour in Vila Nova de Gaia, across the river. Many cellars offer evening tours, which are a great way to meet other travelers and learn about the wine that made Porto famous.

Day 2: Art, Culture, and Parks

Morning: Visit the Serralves Museum and Park, a contemporary art museum set within a beautiful garden. It’s a peaceful place to enjoy art and nature together.

Afternoon: Explore the Crystal Palace Gardens (Palácio de Cristal), offering some of the best views of the city and the river. Then, make your way to the Miguel Bombarda Art District, known for its art galleries, quirky shops, and cafes.

Evening: Experience Porto’s lively nightlife. The Galerias Paris street is a great starting point, with numerous bars and restaurants catering to a diverse crowd.

Day 3: The Soul of Porto

Morning: Begin your day at the Bolhão Market, where you can sample local delicacies and observe daily life in Porto. Then, visit the Lello Bookstore, one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, rumored to have inspired J.K. Rowling.

Afternoon: Take a leisurely walk through the Clerigos Tower and Church for another perspective of the city. Nearby, the Portuguese Centre of Photography is a hidden gem that photography enthusiasts will appreciate.

Evening: For dinner, venture to Foz do Douro, where the Douro River meets the Atlantic Ocean. The area is perfect for a sunset meal by the sea.

Self-Guided Walking Tours and Group Tours

Self-Guided Tours: Porto’s compact size makes it ideal for exploring on foot. Download a map or use a smartphone app to guide you through the city’s historic districts, with stops at major landmarks and hidden spots.

Free Walking Tours: Of course you will find many free walking tours in Porto. You can either find them with your hostel or accommodation, or simply google it. Free walking tours are a great way to get an idea of the city. I recommend doing this tour at the very first day as an introduction. It is also a great way to meet fellow travelers.

Group Tours: Joining a group tour can enhance your experience and is a great way to meet people. Look for themed tours, such as food tours, wine tours, or history walks, which are often led by local experts.

The Sao bento Station is one of the main sights in the city - and this is where you sleep

Meeting People & Socializing in Porto

Porto, with its friendly locals and welcoming atmosphere, offers solo travelers numerous opportunities to meet new people and socialize. Here are some tips and resources to help you connect with others during your stay.

Tips on Making Friends in Porto

Stay in Social Hostels: Choose hostels known for their communal areas and social events. Many hostels in Porto organize nightly gatherings, tours, and activities that encourage guests to mingle.

Join a Tour: Participating in group tours, especially those focused on interests like food, wine, or history, can be a great way to meet people who share your passions. Porto’s diverse range of tours ensures there’s something for everyone.

Visit Local Cafes and Bars: Porto’s cafe culture and nightlife are conducive to meeting both locals and travelers. Places with communal tables or bar seating are particularly friendly environments for sparking up conversations.

Attend Cultural Events and Festivals: Keep an eye out for local events and festivals happening around the city. These gatherings are perfect for experiencing Porto’s culture and meeting people in a lively, shared setting.

Local Meetups, Events, or Language Exchange Groups A fantastic resource for finding local groups and events based on specific interests, from hiking and photography to language exchanges and dining out.

Couchsurfing Events: Even if you’re not couchsurfing, the platform’s local meetups can be a great way to meet people. Check the Couchsurfing website for Porto gatherings, which often include casual meet-and-greets, language exchanges, and city tours.

Language Exchange Groups: Porto has an active language exchange scene, with regular meetups for those looking to practice Portuguese, English, and other languages. These events are usually informal, taking place in cafes or bars, and attract a diverse group eager to learn and share.

Facebook Groups: Search for expat or traveler groups in Porto on Facebook. These groups are often filled with people looking to meet up, share advice, and organize social events.

Local Workshops and Classes: Consider joining a workshop or class during your stay. Whether it’s a cooking class, a photography workshop, or a yoga session, these activities can be a great way to meet locals and fellow travelers with similar interests.

Planning your Porto adventure? Don’t miss our complete Backpacking Porto Travel Guide.

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