© Marco Duarte

The top 11 attractions in Porto

Planning a trip to Porto? These are the places you have to see


Move over Lisbon, you've had your time. It's Porto's moment to shine. Like the larger capital, Porto is coastal, has its fair share of hills and awe-inspiring architecture, and must-see attractions. The city's modest size makes it easy to navigate, which, in turn, means you can easily visit more than one of our top ten attractions in one day. Take a dip in an azure ocean-front pool, get snap happy in a nineteenth-century station or simply get your fill of the gorgeous Duoro River and the megalithic Dom Luis I iron bridge crosses it, connecting Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia. And don't forget to try a tipple (or two) of port – this is the drink's hometown after all. Cheers!

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Best Porto attractions

1. Porto Wine Cellars

Porto’s sister city Gaia has beaches and those famous Port wine cellars. They’re gorgeous, with guided tours to teach you the history of the stuff and the distinguishing features of each variety (there are many varieties of port). Every tour has a happy ending: a Port tasting. We recommend the Sandeman Cellars (Largo Miguel Bombarda, 3; the ones with the chap in the black cape), which include a museum; Taylor’s (Rua do Choupelo, 250), featuring the highly rated O Barão de Fladgate restaurant; and Cockburn’s (Rua Serpa Pinto, 346), where you can enjoy a picnic with some lip-smacking Portuguese delicacies.

Best for wine lovers and history buffs

Time Out tip: If you're not a fan of tours that seem to drag on, this one is the perfect length and can be enjoyed either in the morning or afternoon.

2. Foz do Douro

Foz is almost a mini-city within Porto. In the nineteenth century, it was a seaside resort where Brits and well-heeled Porto residents went on holiday. Nowadays, visit it for its beaches (several of them have a blue flag), seaside-y outdoor cafés (try the ones at the Praia da Luz and iBar’s, located among the rocks), or a stroll in the sun along the Avenida do Brasil with its view of the Atlantic. Nearby is the Queijo Fort, the Passeio Alegre Fountain, the Felgueiras lighthouse, the Molhe Breakwater and Old Foz (a quainter part of the district). You can eat very well around here: try chef Pedro Lemos’s eponymous restaurant (for a splurge), Casa Vasco, Cafeína, or a burger at Peebz.

Best for beach walks

  • Attractions
  • Monuments and memorials
  • Baixa

This ornate, 75-metre bell tower, which watches lovingly over the city of Porto, is arguably the city’s most iconic silhouette. It was opened in 1763 and is blessed with a beautiful barrage of Baroque motifs thanks to its Italian designer Nicolau Nasoni. Given its prominent position, you can get some amazing 360° views of the city from the top, but you’ll have to climb 225 steps to get there.

Best for historical architecture

  • Shopping
  • Bookshops
  • Galerias

The Guardian and travel website Lonely Planet picked this as the world’s third most beautiful bookstore. Are they having a laugh? It’s gorgeous! More than a century old, Lello is an art nouveau pearl with gothic details, stained glass and a fabulous red staircase, said to have inspired the one in Hogwarts (JK Rowling once lived in Porto). Harry Potter fans: make a beeline here immediately. There are so many visitors these days that you are now charged to enter, but this is discounted with any purchase. Plenty of tours go to the Lello Bookstore.

Best for: bookstore lovers

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites

Porto’s Cathedral (‘Sé’) is the city’s most important church. Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, it’s a national monument. Look out for the gothic cloister, the chapel frescoes, the Teixeira Lopes sculpture in the baptistery and the medieval portrait of Our Lady of Vandoma, the city’s patron saint. When locals talk about the ‘Sé’, they don’t just mean the cathedral: the name also applies to the historic district at Porto’s heart. Wander its streets, keep Google Maps turned off and you’ll thank us for it.  

Best for: awe-inspiring arches and frescos, duh

  • Attractions
  • Railways
  • São Bento

The classic train station is a means to an end: it’s where you go to get somewhere else. And let’s face it, most train stations are not exactly great places to pass the time (although they do beat airport departure lounges). Estação de São Bento is a different beast. This former convent combines a Belle Epoque facade with an iconic interior decorated with 20,000 painted tiles. Artist Jorge Colaço adorned the walls with images from the country’s history, including – fittingly – scenes of everyday life and modes of transport. Just don’t get so caught up in gawping that you trip over a commuter. This busy station also links to Miramar, Braga, Guimarães and other popular destinations.

Best for: Intricate design

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Massarelos

When Googling this park, if you’re faced with a bunch of fibreglass dinosaurs, then you’re in the wrong Crystal Palace. Despite the lack of prehistoric models, these gardens are somewhat more exotic than what London has to offer. Not only does this verdant paradise have a maze of walkways, tree-lined waterways, sculptured topiary and a huge domed pavilion (all thanks to German landscape architect Emile David), but it overlooks the Douro River too. Well worth the hike up there.

Best for: idyllic walks

  • Things to do
  • Leça da Palmeira

The benefits of a saltwater swim are legion, but as even the most dedicated wild swimmer will know, covering a decent distance in the open ocean can be tricky (not to mention, potentially dangerous). At Marés Pool, you get all the health-boosting pluses that an open-air salty swim brings with the luxury and calmness of a delicious lido. Stretch out tired muscles with a few good lengths of the pool, then retire to the surrounding rocks to admire the epic sea views surrounding Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira’s incredible creation.

Best for: a unique paddling experience by the sea 

  • Things to do
  • Cultural centres
  • Porto

This bucolic attraction is an absolute dream. A pink 1950s house stands proudly overlooking lush, beautifully manicured gardens, with its bountiful flora, fountains and modern art museum. What more could you want? The Álvaro Siza Vieira-designed, white box of a museum stands in stark contrast to its Art Deco neighbour, but is a wonderful addition to the grounds. Leave yourself the best part of a day to explore every bit of Fundação de Serralves thoroughly.

Best for: picturesque views - seriously, this place is a bucolic paradise 

Time Out tip: If you dig filmography, We highly recommend leaving yourself enough time to catch some of Manoels del Oliviera's work on display in the House of Cinema. 

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Vila Nova de Gaia

The Serra do Pilar is a jagged hill above the Douro river on the Gaia side. Needless to say, the view is spectacular, especially at sunset. Visit the thirteenth-century monastery to find out more about the four World Heritage sites in Portugal’s northern region: the historic centres of Porto and Guimarães, the Douro wine region, and the Côa Archaeological Park.

Best for: hilltop views


11. Ribeira Square

If you’re in Porto you absolutely, positively must visit Ribeira Square. This old city district located by the Douro is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Yes, it’s swarming with tourists, but don’t let that put you off. Cross the river in a rabelo boat; go wobbly looking at the Luíz I, D. Maria II and Arrábida bridges (great backgrounds for dramatic photos); visit the Bacalhoeiros Wall, the Casa do Infante museum, the Rua da Reboleira, Cubo square, São Nicolau Church and the ‘Alminhas da Ponte’, a sculpture by artist Teixeira da Lopes. Eat at the Adega de S. Nicolau (they sometimes have fado nights), drink at the Pestana Vintage Hotel’s amazing RIB bar, and then head up to the heights on the Guindais Funicular Railway. Phew!

Best for quaint cobblestone streets, cafes and a blend of Romanesque and Gothic architecture

Keen for more Porto inspo?

  • Things to do

Doing any city in a weekend is a challenge, so allow us to give you a hand. Here’s where to eat and drink in Porto, what to do and see, and the places you shouldn’t miss. Hey, you can always come back!

  • Things to do

The smell of the sea, the sound of the waves and its endless gardens are what makes Foz one of the most beautiful areas in Porto. Promenades that go for miles and good food by the seaside – we give you ten reasons to fall in love with Foz. 


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