The second largest city in Portugal and one of the most beautiful places in Western Europe, Porto is a dream destination. Surrounded by the beautiful beaches dotting the Costa Verde shoreline, the heart of Porto is a Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, and it’s a must-see for any history lover. But the city’s world-famous Port wine is what really put this place on the map! If you are traveling to Portugal or anywhere in the Iberian Peninsula, you absolutely can’t miss the chance to explore Porto.
What to Expect in Porto
Language: The official language of Portugal is Portuguese, and it’s a good idea to learn some basic phrases as English isn’t widely spoken.
Currency: The Euro is the currency used throughout Portugal and other European countries.
Credit Cards and Banks: All the tourist areas will have ATMs that take foreign bank cards. You’ll also be able to pay with your card at most restaurants and shops. Before leaving for your trip to Portugal, make sure your bank card has been authorized for international use.
You don’t need to worry about exchanging money at the airport. You’ll get a better rate of exchange by withdrawing cash at an ATM once you arrive.
Climate: Generally speaking, summer is the best time to visit Porto. The sun is constantly shining, and the city is just glowing. Not only is it perfect for sightseeing, but the summer weather is also ideal for visiting the nearby beaches. May and September are prime times as well. You will still get good weather but avoid some of the crowds.
Getting Around in Porto
Porto is one of the most walkable cities in Europe. Though its hills will give you a workout, they will also give you a perfect vantage point to take in the panoramic views of the city.
Metro: The Metro in Porto has six lines and 81 stations. The trains run from 6 AM to 1 AM and a single ticket costs EUR 1.20.
Bus: There are plenty of bus routes throughout Porto and some that travel to nearby destinations like Vila Nova de Gaia. The service runs every day from 6 AM to 1 AM and single tickets cost EUR 1.85.
Tram: The tram is an iconic way to explore Porto. It’s also an affordable option with tickets costing only EUR 3 for a single trip.
Taxi: Taxis in Porto aren’t that expensive when compared to other major European cities. An average journey in the city center will cost EUR 4-6. Most of the drivers do speak English, but it’s always a good idea to write down the address of your final destination to avoid any confusion. Uber is also available in the city and is perfect for travelers who prefer paying for transportation costs with their card instead of cash.
Where to Stay in Porto
There are so many charming accommodation options throughout Porto, but if it’s your first time visiting the city, I recommend staying in the more central and popular (for tourists) neighborhoods— Centro Baixa, Ribeira, Clérigos, and Cedofeita have a lot of hotels, restaurants, historic sites, and activities.
Porto is a pretty walkable city, and if you’re staying centrally, it will be easy to cover a lot of ground during the day. If you want to travel outside of the city, Portugal’s public transportation is a great option.
Here are the top hotels to stay at in Porto!
Hotel da Música is a 4-star hotel in the heart of Porto. It boasts a beautiful contemporary style, and you can choose from three different room types: Standard, Executive, and Superior. There’s also an on-site restaurant, bar, and a 24-hour reception to help you organize trips around the city or answer any of your questions.
Exmo. Hotel is in the Norte Region of Porto and within walking distance of Ribeira Square and Palacio da Bolsa. It is a beautiful, modern boutique hotel! Among the facilities of this property are a bar, restaurant, a 24-hour front desk, and room service, along with free WiFi throughout the property.
When it comes to staying in Porto, I absolutely love The Yeatman. This luxe wine hotel and spa is a seriously impressive spot. It has an absolutely breathtaking view of the iconic cityscape as well as the Douro River.
Set amongst seven acres of hilly vineyards with outdoor and indoor infinity swimming pools, this well-appointed two Michelin star property is the swankiest pick in the city. The on-site Dick’s Bar has live music on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9:30 pm until midnight.
Where to Eat in Porto
Known for its seafood and wide variety of spices, Portuguese food is Mediterranean food at its finest! I’ve rounded up 10 Local Foods to Try in Portugal and highly recommend you taste some of these local dishes during your trip.
Porto is home to amazing wine, so be sure to check out the neighborhood of Vila Nova de Gaia, across the river, for the best wine cellars.
Here are the top restaurants in Porto!
Antiqvvm is considered one of the top fine dining restaurants in Porto. It earned its Michelin star in 2016 and serves up delicious Mediterranean cuisine using only premium seasonal produce. You can choose from multi-course tasting menus or a la carte.
Casa de Chá da Boa NovaPortuguese, Seafood
Casa de Chá da Boa Nova is set dramatically on the rugged coast of Leça da Palmeira. You’ll have incredible ocean views as you enjoy some of the best food in Porto. Choose from three tasting menus and get ready to dine on lobster and a glass of Port wine for dessert.
Leitaria da Quinta do PaçoBakery
Leitaria da Quinta do Paço is where you can find some of the best eclairs in Porto. Stick to the classic dark chocolate or try something more adventurous like banana mousse or passion fruit! If you’re not a fan of eclairs, there’s plenty of other traditional Portuguese pastries you can try like pasteis de nata, the famous custard pie!
What to Do in Porto
There’s a reason that Porto made it on the UNESCO World Heritage list—every corner is full of historic, Portuguese charm. You can spend hours wandering the cobbled streets, relaxing by the Douro, or hopping from wine cellar to wine cellar. There’s a heavy emphasis on history, art, culture, and food in Porto—and there’s something for every traveler to discover.
Here are the top activities in Porto!
Clérigos Tower is easily the most iconic site in Porto. Located beside the baroque Clérigos Church, this 250-foot tall tower (also known as Torre dos Clérigos in Portuguese) offers the best view of the city so bring your camera– and your walking shoes! It’s 200 steps up to the top.
Ponte de Dom Luis I, the bridge linking Porto and Gaia, is a site to see in and of itself. It is the perfect vantage to both sides of the metro and I’d recommend going during sunset so you can watch the city light up. If you take the cable car in Gaia, you can walk the upper level of the bridge back to Porto.
The 19th century Crystal Palace Gardens, or the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal, is a picture perfect spot to spend a sunny day. Wander the paths and wind through the fountains and lush landscape as you take in the views of the Douro River.
Ribeira is one neighborhood where you can just wander around all day long. Its riverfront square, called Praça da Ribeira, is a tourist fave and it’s easy to see why. Nab some photo ops at the fountain then just explore without a plan.
Porto is famous for its wine. If you want to learn more about how its made and the type of wines available, sign up for a Porto wine tour, you can also go on a day trip to the Green Wine Region. It’s only an hour outside of Porto and you can taste some spectacular green wines, such as Soalheiro and Quinta do Ameal.
Livaria Lello is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. Plus, did you know that JK Rowling used to hang around here when she started writing her Harry Potter series? There is a cover charge to enter, but it’s totally worth it if you’re a book nerd like me.
You’ve probably seen the Azulejo tiles all over Instagram. The titles are unique to Portugal and are used to decorate buildings, streets, and homes. Porto is one of the best cities in the country to see the tiles. Some of the most popular mosaics in the city include Estação São Bento, the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, and the Igreja do Carmo