When I visited Portugal, Porto took me completely by surprise. While Lisbon was like being transported back in time, Porto was more contemporary, cosmopolitan, while still retaining the historical elements.
Had I known how much I would love Porto, I would have elected to spend more time there. Even a short visit is worthwhile, though, and I’m sharing the things you can’t miss in this Porto Travel Guide!
This is the book store that everyone talks about. The one with the famous red staircase. One of the oldest bookstores in Portugal. The bookstore that reportedly inspired J.K. Rowling as she dreamed up the world of Harry Potter.
Many would say that a trip to Porto without seeing Livraria Lello would be a trip incomplete. Pick up a souvenir here (I love collecting children’s books as souvenirs), get a cup of coffee or a glass of port wine, and take a photo with the famous staircase. Being a popular tourist spot, it will most likely be crowded, so expect that you may wait in line to get in.
Oporto Craft Market
This indoor market is right up my alley! Ceramics, cork crafts, handmade jewelry, clothing and other goodies from several vendors can be found here. I picked up the most gorgeous, delicate gold filigree earrings here. It’s the perfect place to pick up something for yourself, or get a unique gift for someone back home!
Port wine is made exclusively in the Douro Valley, where Porto is located. A trip to Porto is the perfect opportunity to visit to a winery! When I went, I did a tour of Sandeman cellars.
The winery is located at the edge of the River Douro and the tour takes you deep into the cellars, where you’ll see barrels of wine that range from fresh pressed to over a hundred years old. You learn a little bit about the history of the winery as well, but the best part is the tasting at the end.
I did the 1790 tour, which for 20 Euros included the tour and five generous samples of port wine. I felt really good stumbling out of that tasting room, and exploring the city is more fun when there’s wine involved.
Article: Delicious Restaurants in Portugal
Lucky you, I already did a whole article about the best restaurants in the city of Porto. You can read about the best places to eat here!
Rota do Cha
This adorable tea shop is an oasis in the middle of the city. The food selection varies daily and they have an extensive tea collection to choose from. Grab a seat in the outdoor Zen-inspired garden and take in the relaxed, unhurried atmosphere.
Confeitaria do Bolhao
Bring your sweet tooth with you to Porto! Portugal has so many amazing pastries and this bakery is no exception. It’ll be hard to choose just one treat! You can’t go wrong with the classic pasteis de nata. Pão de Deus – a sweet bread flavored with coconut – is another favorite of mine.
World of Discoveries
Okay, from the outside this museum looks a little corny. It practicallu screams tourist. But sometimes you’ve got to the touristy things because – hey – they’re fun! World of Discoveries teaches visitors about Portugal’s history of colonization through interactive exhibits. The most memorable part was a Pirates of the Caribbean-like boat ride depicting Portuguese explorers interacting with people across the world.
Porto is centered on the Rio Douro. This river makes the area an ideal climate for growing grapes and producing wine. You can either enjoy the view of the river by the shore, or take a cruise down the river for a more comprehensive look.
Dom Luis I Bridge
Walking across the Dom Luis I Bridge was my favorite way to enjoy the Rio Douro. The bridge connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia, a hilly town that’s fun to walk around and explore. Check out the view of those warm-colored rooftops!
You can find lots of different attractions at Liberdade Square depending on time of year. It’s home to art installations and festivals and events year-round. It’s the center of the city’s activity, close to many of the other attractions in this guide such as Livraria Lello and Safe Santiago.
We used Airbnb and stayed with an awesome couple of ladies who spent the evening chatting with us, going over a map of the city, and sharing their favorite places. We loved hearing about the city from locals, and their enthusiasm for the city was completely contagious.
You can get $25 off your first Airbnb stay using my referral link!
Planning a trip to Portugal?
Also check out my guide to Lisbon – it’s worth checking out both cities in one trip!
Share this post with anyone you know planning a trip to Porto!