Porto, a coastal city in northern Portugal, is a captivating destination that offers an array of attractions, from its historic landmarks to its stunning coastline. A lover of cities with rich cultural heritage and a bustling city center, Porto is ideal for those looking to explore and immerse themselves in Portuguese culture.
Check out these most captivating places to see in Porto:
São Bento Railway Station
As we checked into our Airbnb, we could see São Bento Railway Station from our balcony. This railway station is a stunning example of early 20th-century architecture that features azulejo tile work depicting scenes from Portugal’s history. The station is still used today and is a popular spot for tourists and locals.
Ribeira Square is a picturesque plaza in the heart of Porto’s historic district. With its colorful buildings and lively atmosphere, Ribeira Square is a must-visit destination for those seeking to experience the authentic charm of Porto.
The Porto Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church, also known as Sé Cathedral, located in the historic center of Porto. The cathedral is one of the oldest monuments in the city, and it was built during the 12th and 13th centuries. The cathedral combines architectural styles with Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque influences. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the city from the cathedral’s terrace.
- Hours:9:00 – 18:30 in summer, 9:00 – 17:00 in winter; Sunday Mass 11:00
- Admission: 3 euros
Palácio da Bolsa
The Palácio da Bolsa is known as the Stock Exchange Palace, a historic building built in the 19th century. Although initially designed as a stock exchange, it’s now used for cultural events and exhibitions. The interior of the Palácio da Bolsa is breathtaking, with its elaborate décor and stunning chandeliers. However, the highlight of the building is the Arab Room, which features intricate plasterwork and beautiful stained-glass windows.
- Hours: 9:30-13:00/14:00 -17:30
- Admission: 12 euros (it is a guided tour). Following the tour, you will have free time to wander around and capture pictures.
For stunning panoramic views of Porto, head to the top of the Clérigos Tower. The tower is part of the Clérigos Church complex, built in the Baroque style. The tower’s narrow staircase can be a challenge to climb, but the views from the top are worth it. The best time to visit is early morning before the crowds arrive.
- Hours:9:00 – 19:00
- Admission: Tower + Clerigos Museum 8 euros, Guided tour to Clerigos Museum + Church + Tower 9.5 euros, Night Pass (19:00 – 23:00) 5 euros
Churches in Porto
The city is rich in history that include a variety of interesting churches that are sure to impress you. One such church is the Igreja do Carmo, which features an ornate exterior with intricate baroque and rococo decorations. Another notable church is the Igreja de Sao Francisco, which boasts a simple exterior that belies its opulent interior, featuring gilded wood carvings and a stunning chapel made entirely of gold. The Igreja dos Clérigos is also worth a visit, with its impressive bell tower and elaborate façade. Finally, the Igreja de Santa Clara, located in the heart of the city’s historic district, is a charming church with a peaceful courtyard and a stunning painted ceiling. Click here for all the details of the “Unique Churches to See in Porto.”
Livraria Lello is a historic bookstore that dates back to 1906. For those Harry Potter enthusiasts or those that love books you will discover the stunning Art Nouveau interiors and winding staircases. The staircase leads to a beautiful skylight that bathes the room in natural light. Livraria Lello is widely considered one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world.
- Hours: every day from 9:30 – 19:00
- Admission: 5 euros
Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art
Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art is located in a sprawling park in the western part of the city. With its stunning architecture and diverse collection of contemporary art, Serralves is one of Portugal’s most important cultural institutions.
- Hours:10:00 – 18:00
- Admission:20 euros
Foz do Douro
Foz do Douro, located on the city’s western edge, is a stunning coastal neighborhood that offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. With its picturesque beaches and charming promenade, Foz do Douro is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. In addition, the district is located at the mouth of the Douro River, making it a great place to relax and soak up the sun. You can take the antique trolley from in front of Sao Francisco Church, which ends at the Passeio Alegre stop to get here. Takes approximately 20 minutes.
- Trolley Admission: 3 euros per person
Dom Luís I Bridge
Take a walk across the Dom Luís I Bridge. It is a stunning double-decker bridge that spans the Douro River and connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia. With its panoramic views of the river and the city skyline, the bridge is an excellent spot for photographers and sightseers.
Port Wine Cellars
Port Wine Cellars, located across the Douro River in Vila Nova de Gaia, offers wine lovers various flavors. With their picturesque settings and diverse selection of port wines, the cellars offer visitors an immersive experience of the city’s wine culture.
The Douro Valley is a wine region just outside Porto, one of Portugal’s most beautiful places. The region is known for its terraced vineyards and stunning landscapes. Taken take a boat tour along the Douro River or visit one of the many wineries in the area. The Douro Valley is a great place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some peace and quiet.
- Wine Tours can be booked here.
WHERE TO STAY
Due to our extended stay in Porto, we booked with Airbnb.
Tripas-Coracao’s Place is a lovely studio apartment near the Sao Bento Train Station. The apartment offered a comfortable bed along with a small kitchenette. For two people the apartment offered all the necessary amenities you need. A small grocery shop along with many restaurants are nearby making it easy to grab dinner or breakfast items for your apartment.
Porto is a beautiful city with a rich history and culture. You can easily spend weeks exploring everything the city has to offer. Whether you are interested in history, architecture, food, or wine, Porto has something for everyone.
Enjoy your travels! Please read my blogs about other exciting places around the world at Traveling Lens Photography.