There's so much to do in Porto that it was really hard for us to chose the top 101 things to do in the city. These are all the mandatory spots. Enjoy the city, the river and even the beachs. One piece of advise? Start your day early because there is so much to see.
There are no set menus: brunch is pretty much what each customer wants to make of it. And there’s no shortage of options: Brazilian-style tapioca pancakes, smoothie bowls, granola, toasted sandwiches for all tastes, various coffee drinks and a cocktails menu that will be hard to say no to.
Forget the timetable. Holidays are holidays. At Casinha Boutique Café you can order brunch at any hour. It includes a drink, a croissant or scone, soup or Greek yoghurt with raspberries, a sandwich or scrambled eggs with cured ham, and also a slice of cheesecake, apple pie or chocolate cake.
You can spend the whole day at this tea house at Foz. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served, besides great snacks like the apple pie and an incredible chocolate cake. Group dinners are also organized. It’s located by the sea and with birds everywhere.
Located at one of Porto's busiest streets, the Majestic Café, with its Belle Époque decor, is one of the city's ex-libris. Try the cheesecake and, while waiting, take the opportunity to photograph the room decorated with mirrors and crafted ceilings.
The city lacked a mozzarella bar and Luís Américo, one of Porto’s best chefs, filled that gap by opening Puro 4050. His mozzarellas from Caserta are the stars of the show. There you’ll have pasta dishes, risottos and, for dessert, Italian classics reinvented – such as tiramisu made with Port wine.
Ribeira is a mandatory part of visiting Porto. But before, you’ll need a proper meal. At the Adega São Nicolau the menu is filled with traditional dishes, such as Braga style codfish, Lagareiro roasted octopus or Arouquesa veal steak. Don’t ignore the homemade desserts or the wine list.
After years in existence, it’s fair to say that Cafeína has earned a place in the city’s gastronomical pantheon. Try the cod au gratin with aioli sauce, the duck magret with sweet and sour sauce or the beef Wellington. The venue is also famous for its steaks and various egg dishes.
This interesting restaurant in the city’s northeastern suburbs has been going for decades. But the new management that came in a few years ago has really spread its fame far and wide. The kitchen now turns out updated versions of traditional dishes: from grilled octopus to a tender Arouquesa veal.
Artisanal ice cream daily produced on site, with or without milk. Flavours vary according to the fruit of the season and their special creations include Madeira bananas and white chocolate. It also serves crepes, waffles and pancakes with or without ice cream and hot chocolate on top.
Admittedly the usual idea in Porto is to stuff yourself with francesinhas, tripe stew and other traditional dishes. But there are things that you can’t resist, such as the hamburgers at Peebz. The brioche buns are lightly toasted, the meat is super-tasty and the relishes are a dream.
In this restaurant you can taste food with influences from various parts of the world, such as beetroot carpaccio with horseradish yogurt, Vietnamese octopus salad, fish kebabs with tomato sauce and sliced toasted bread, and Thai fish cakes. To go with it, order one of the house cocktails.
This traditional and affordable restaurant in the Bolhão area is so popular that it can even afford to close on Saturday evenings. A meal at the Buraco has to start with hake rissoles; then try the veal pie, the breaded sardines with rice and beans, the fried hake or its legendary duck rice.
Though close to Baixa (downton), Casa Nanda is in a quieter area. It serves a good skinless alheira de caça (traditional game sausage), rancho (a stew with chickpeas, pasta and meat) and mílharas de pescada frita (fried hake eggs). The aletria (a creamy, egg custard with noodles) is good and runny.
Dishes you have to try
Prepare to wait in the queue for a seat at Santiago. Is it worth it? Yes. When it’s a matter of eating Porto’s best francesinha, with a delicious sauce; mortadela with green pepper; nice and spicy linguiça sausage; a thin steak with little fat; lots of cheese melted over it; and an egg on top.
Imagine the following: a thin toasted bun with a filling of sausage and melted cheese, sprinkled with butter and a spicy sauce and then cut up into little pieces. That’s what you’ll find when you sit at the counter at the Cervejaria Gazela, in the Batalha neighbourhood.
What makes the éclairs here stand out from all others is the filling - homemade sweetened whipped cream rather than industrial custard cream. But the lightness of the pastry and the icings, such as milk chocolate, coffee or lemon also help. You can order them in the normal miniature size.
The queues out the door make clear that something good is happening inside Casa Guedes. That something is a delicious pork-leg sandwich with or without queijo da Serra (a traditional cheese from Serra da Estrela). The pork is swimming in sauce, the cheese is creamy and the bread lightly toasted.
Parks and gardens
In the middle of Porto and laid out in the 19th century by the landscape architect Émile David, these gardens are a product of the Romantic era. One of their strong points is the view of the Douro River, but it’s worth checking out their botanical wealth, sculptures, and the Carlos Alberto chapel.
An unusual garden on a series of terraces on a south-facing slope. More of a place to lounge than to stroll, it draws lots of young people, especially at weekends - sometimes, in the summer, for parties that are held here. The view of the river and the city’s old houses are other strong points.
It may be small, but it has some interesting secrets – starting with the decorative elements from various periods, as well as a mini-golfe and a chalet with a terrace to sip a drink. We also recommend a rather unusual visit: to the loos, for their Art Nouveau tiles and antique British fixtures.
A world-class garden, showcasing the best of landscape design from the first 20th century. It’s divided into areas laid out along geometric lines, offering captivating landscapes at every turn. Then there’s the rest: the Art Deco house, the Museum of Contemporary Art and a series of sculptures.
A private property that displays the dedication of several generations of keen botanists, with gardens meticulously laid out according to the taste of various different periods. Visits are guided by a member of the family and may include a Port wine tasting.
Four hectares of carefully tended vegetation surround a beautiful late-19th-century house, on different levels. There’s a bit of everything, with formal gardens, rare trees and other plants, greenhouses and two lakes. It’s a great place to get away from crowds and mandatory for plant lovers.
The best place to bring the little ones. On skates, waveboards or bicycles, let them roam around the 83 hectares of the country’s largest city park. You can also take some rackets, a football and a bag of bread crumbs to feed to the ducks. To feed you, there’s Soundwich, a good sandwich kiosk.
A terrain with 35 hectares and hundreds of species of animals and plants to discover. There is also a small zoo with native animals, a nature reserve with birds, amphibians and mammals – including some protected species –, and an ecomuseum where children can see a watermill, among other cool things.
City lifers will tell you that everyone in Porto should watch the sunrise at the Morro garden at least once. We think the garden is great at any time. Its view is, anyway. You can get there by subway but crossing the upper deck of the Luiz I Bridge by foot makes the experience even more gratifying.
Things to do
Besides being one of the most important monuments in Porto, it also has one of the best panoramic views over the city – if you feel like taking all the 240 steps to the top of tower, of course.
If you cross the bridge to Gaia, you’ll get the chance to know how Port wine cellars are on the inside. Caves Ferreira is one of the eldest in the city and if its historic relevance is of no importance to you then just go for the Port wine.
Hop on Eléctrico Número 1
It’s time to leave Foz and there’s no better way to do so than to take the tram. Buy the ticket directly from the driver and enjoy the trip all the way to Ribeira. There are only three of these in town, the number 1 (which offers the best views), 18 and the 22, and all of them cover different routes.
The oldest brand, born in 1914, is called Avianense and its top product is the Imperador bonbons; another classic is Imperial, which sells Regina umbrellas and Jubileu almonds; at Arcádia you’ll have to try their “línguas de gato” cookies.
Jump on a boat to Afurada
This way you’ll have a meal of grilled fish in one of the good restaurants of Afurada, a town of fishermen. You’ll catch a boat named Flor do Gás — departures are every 15 minutes; it’s almost like a taxi ride. Once you get there, enjoy a magnificent view of Porto.
Some say J.K. Rowling took inspiration from it for her Harry Potter books; international media call it one of the world’s most beautiful; we say it’s worth it to buy a ticket and wait in line to enter the Lello & Irmão bookstore.
The expertise in building traditional rabelos boats in miniature has been in Sr. Fernando’s (Náná) family for generations. At the Oficina do Náná you can watch the master sculpting the models that people love to photograph, but not everyone remembers to buy.
Portuguese footwear is selling well and deserves to. If you don’t believe it drop into The Feeting Room, a shop that stocks various Portuguese brands, and try it for yourself. There are shoes for all feet (that’s to say, for men, women and children) as well as accessories and clothes.
One of the most popular places in Baixa. At Almada 13 you'll find clothing, illustrations, footwear, accessories and much more from three Portuguese brands: Águas Furtadas, Rota do Chá and The Yellow Boat. The team is complemented by Miss Pavlova, that serves the city’s best pavlovas.
Behind one of Porto’s most photographed doors (painted by a design student), there’s one of the city’s prettiest stores — Coração Alecrim. It describes itself as “green, vintage, indie” and you'll understand why. The handmade products stress ecological sustainability and are really worth a look.
Vida Portuguesa opened in Porto in 2009 and has ever since showcased the country’s history through products familiar to generations - such as Paupério biscuits, Viacro pencils, Couto toothpaste, Bordalo Pinheiro's tableware pieces in faiança and Fábrica Coração silver polish.
A former ironware workshop built in the 1930's has given way to a multi-purpose space that serves as a showcase for dozens of brands of clothing and accessories, tableware and plants. At the back of the Workshops Pop Up there’s a kitchen studio that often hosts cooking lessons with great chefs.
When you enter this shop it’s impossible not to notice the stone walls and tree trunks. Look more carefully and you’ll also find hand-painted ceramics, wooden toys, tote bags with screen-printed designs, Danish furniture and bicycles – one of the things that Mercado 48 is famous for.
The Portuguese Claus Porto is one of the most recognized soaps' brands in the world. With 130 years of history, it has recently opened a store at Baixa, which, in addition to selling its products such as soaps, lotions and colognes, also has a barbershop, a small museum and a workshop laboratory.
A, B, C, D, E, F. For the time being, this is where the beer alphabet from Letra ends, a small national brand that opened a bar in Porto. But there are many others to taste, 50 in total. There are two spaces inside to sit and drink, but it's in the huge garden in the back that everyone wants.
Porto is a small city but has a considerable number of bars where you can have a late afternoon post-work drink. The locals love it. Don’t take our word for it, just go to Aduela and see for yourself. It’s a good place to sample Portuguese wines from several regions at affordable prices.
Base is already better known than lupini beans. But, as incredible as it may seem, it's not as old as that. Whenever the skies are clear in the late afternoon, few are those who resist its wooden terrace, filled with sofas and tables, perfect to sip a drink while chatting with friends.
No, Noémia da Costa Pinto doesn't own this space. It's a fictional character created by the owners João Pinto and Andreia da Costa, who opened a guesthouse recently and gave the world a new terrace. And if there are still secret terraces around this is undoubtedly one of them.
Like no other place in this city, Armazém is a gigantic warehouse (that’s what the name means), with 1500 square meters to be more precise, where antiques are sold, drinks are had, food is shared, art is shown, music is played, workshops are held and people get together.
One of the few veggie-friendly spots in Porto, Essência, in Constituição, is a great bet. They also serve non-green dishes as well – two for lunch, four for dinner. The ever-changing menu is always mouthwatering, with delicacies such as asparagus and fennel risotto or the Thai vegetable curry.
It’s a two-for-one restaurant. Downstairs, they serve the city's best focaccia, made from homemade bread in a relaxed setting with high tables and an Italian style outdoors area. Upstairs there is a steakhouse with some of the best beef cuts in the city, many of them cooked in a Josper oven-grill.
The Bolhão BB Gourmet (there are six of these around the city) is a great choice any time of the day. At the start of the day you can go there for breakfast and bring a take-away meal for lunch. You can have a hot bun (baked in the premises) in the afternoon and then return for a dinner of, let's say, veal with risotto alla parmigiana.
There are few things in life that feel as good as the sea breeze caressing your face in Matosinhos. But hot summer days demand more than a bit of fresh air; they call for Caipirinhas and Mojitos at Sandhouse. To go with it, order some samosas or chicken thighs as an aperitif.
Sea, sun and nice cold cocktails being turned out at a frenetic pace by the barmen on duty is the perfect combination for any late afternoon. Head out to L’Kodac, a bar/restaurant in Leça da Palmeira, right on the beach, and order a Margarita, a Gin fizz or perhaps a house Mojito.
Here you’ll have the ideal frame to start planning your weekend, as you sit back gazing at the city and stirring up envy on Instagram. Ask for a cold fino (as draft beer is called in Porto) along with a hot dog, a francesinha or just a simple ham-and-cheese.
The Miradouro Ignez started last year and quickly became part of the routine of many locals, thanks to the view of the river and the old town. The terrace overlooking the city is good for photosynthesis and for lazy early evenings gazing at the boats sliding by down on the Douro river.
We promise you’ll have plenty of fun here as well as history in this magnificent old building – above all on the ground floor, where the proper club is found, powered by indie rock and electronic music. For some fresh air, head out to the beautiful garden at the back.
The Rua Galeria de Paris has lots of bars. Café au Lait, one of them, has usually nice music selected by good DJs - some of them talented local producers. You might stumble upon an electronic festival or one featuring hip hop or funk. You could very well start and end your night here.
On another key street in Porto’s nightlife scene, Rua Cândido dos Reis, there’s a city institution – as well as a club great for Instagram snaps. It has three proper rooms and various intermediate ones, each with its own decoration. There’s even a statue with a fountain on the ground floor.
Maus hábitos is one of the city’s best bars, in a very special building. It has monthly programme featuring various parties that come highly recommended (Hard AssSessions, GrooveBall, Arena, CandyWaves), concerts, film screenings, tango nights and exhibitions by independent local artists.
Overlooking Douro River in Porto, the 5-star Palácio Do Freixo is set in a restored 18th-century Baroque building. Classified as a National Building, it offers aristocratic public areas with stately architecture, combined with modern rooms with a flat-screen TV.
If you’re a wine aficionado with five-star taste, The Yeatman is your place. This incredible hotel stretches across the hillside of Vila Nova de Gaia, directly across the Douro River from Porto, meaning the views from all 83 rooms are spectacular. You’ll never want to leave.
Those who pass through the blue-tiled façade on Flores Street can hardly imagine what exists inside door number 139. This 18th century house still has many of the original features, such as the ceilings painted by Luigi Chiari, and it’s one of the best hotels in town.
One of the most beautiful hotels in the city had to stay in one of the best streets in Porto. The Porto A.S. 1829 Hotel is located in Largo de Santo Domingo and it’s impossible to ignore the façade decorated with traditional tiles. Blue ones, of course.
The building of this guesthouse was constructed in 1872 and by that time this wasn’t a proper touristic accommodation. What gives name to this River House is the footbridge of iron and colorful stained glass that gives access to this beautiful house of the century XIX.
You have to enter this former factory and seek out the artists’ interventions, but the effort is well worth your while to find a gallery lined with works by Portuguese ‘writers’ HBSR, Hium, Klit, Mars, Vhils, Youth One, Caos, Oker and Mr. Dheo and, over from London, Best&Ever.
Look up to the walls
There are plenty of works by Hazul around town, as well as from many others that have disappeared. One of the most iconic pieces is right in Rua Miguel Bombarda, with many art galleries. Take also a look at the mural by Tina Siuda on the Hotel Mercador and, further along, the D. Quixote.
Rua Miguel Bombarda
Admire the giant face
Vhils is Portugal’s best known exponent of urban art, and already well known internationally. This is one of just two works of his in Porto and it is easily found. It features his signature style, with a giant face sculpted out of a building’s façade.
Rua da Atafona/ Rua da Ancira, 6-8 (Miragaia)
Feed your Instagram with the old man on the wall
Frederico Draw, a famous Portuguese artist, chose this wall for strategic reasons: it is next to Ponte Dom Luís I (Dom Luís I bridge), so that the figure he painted welcomes all those who arrive in Porto from Vila Nova de Gaia. Wasn’t it a great idea?
Avenida de Vimara Peres
Find the answer to the question “Who are you, Porto?”
This work is made up of 3,000 ceramic tiles contributed by dozens of participants, each of whom had four tiles to answer the question “Who are you, Porto?”. The idea came from ±maismenos±, one of Portugal’s most socially and political active artists.
Rua da Madeira
For those who don’t know, Soares dos Reis Museum was the country’s first public museum. Founded in 1833 (back then it had another name and address) it was one of liberalism’s biggest conquests. It has a varied and vast collection of Portuguese artists (especially those from Porto).
The Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art is always worth a visit. Designed by architect Álvaro Siza Vieira, its collection has around 4000 works, mostly from the late 20th and 21st centuries. Many of them belong to the Serralves Foundation itself. There are always temporary exhibitions.
The history of Porto’s Santa Casa da Misericórdia – a royal-backed Catholic foundation to help the needy – is told here, at the museum created for this purpose. It harbours the precious Fons Vitae, painted in the 16th century by a Flemish master and contemporary work by sculptor Rui Chaves.
Renovated in 2012, it now has a cafeteria, a bookshop, a museum and a garden full of sculptures and, most importantly, a great modern art collection, which has works of art from artists such as Amadeo Souza-Cardoso, Almada Negreiros, Sarah Afonso and, of course, from Teixeira Lopes himself
It recreates 19th century life, linking it with the romantic movement and Porto. It has a billiards room, a ballroom and a dining hall. This late 18th century building is located in the Quinta de Sacramento or Macieiras, and aims to preserve the feel of a bourgeois house of this era.
The Museum of Transport and Communications comprises several exhibitions, from the history of the building itself – once a busy customs house – to the theme of communication, to a display of official vehicles of Portugal’s presidents from the declaration of the Republic into the present day.
Pharmacies seen from a historical perspective, with valuable pieces from years of history. Among the many surprises there are two old pharmacies that were literally transported to this space: Porto’s own Farmácia Estácio and na Islamic pharmacy from a palace in Damascus.
Porto’s Jewish Museum is housed in the Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue, and the visit starts with a tour of its interior and through various items and documents that reconstitute the history of Judaism in Portugal - in which Porto has had a major role.
Snack with a view
Aguda Beach, Vila Nova de Gaia (17km away)
By car: 20 min // By bus: 32 min
Spot traditional fishermen along the way, with their colourful boats and nets. On your way back, take advantage of the wooden boardwalk over the dunes and stop at Chez Maurice to enjoy a panini with an ocean view.
Catch a wave
São Pedro da Maceda Beach (35km away)
By car: 32 min // By bus: 46 min
If you've got wheels and want a leisurely day out, head for the Praia de São Pedro da Maceda, in Ovar. It’s good for surfing and windsurfing, and there are stretches used by nudists. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Pull out your body surfing skills
Canide Sul Beach, Vila Nova de Gaia (8km away)
By car: 16 min // By bus: 58 min
Vila Nova de Gaia’s beaches are considered to be Northern Portugal’s best, and Canide Sul beach is a perfect example. It’s easy to get to, there’s loads of space and it has lifeguards. Watch out for watersports fans: in the summer it’s stiff with ’em.
Work on your tan
Moreiró Beach, Vila do Conde (19km away)
By car: 30 min // By bus: 1h 15 min
Probably the quietest beach on this list – it doesn’t even feature any massive building sites! Moreiró Beach is a typical family destination, for people after a fuss-free sunny day out. If you’re some kind of unreconstructed sophisticate, there’s a bar here too.
Hit the sand for some people watching
Leça Beach, Matosinhos (13km away)
By car: 16 min// By bus: 15 min
The Leça da Palmeira beach is Matosinhos’s most crowded – and the easiest to find, thanks to its iconic giant advertising sign, giving it the popular nickname ‘Nivea Ball Beach’: snappy! It’s a hangout place for a younger crowd, but don’t worry – there’s plenty of room for everybody.