Porto is a beautiful city full of life! Cobblestone streets lined with restaurants and shops, buildings decorated in azulejos, a lively waterfront promenade with boating opportunities, and live music around every corner.
We found inexpensive tickets from Frankfurt Main on RyanAir and spent three nights in this great city. In October, the weather was warm enough for t-shirts and shorts during the day and a light jacket in the evening.
Things to do
Walk around & see the sights
There is a lot to see in Porto! Colorful buildings line the streets with intricate tile designs covering their exterior.
Be sure to stop inside São Bento train station to see the elaborate tile interior.
Cais da Ribeira, the riverfront promenade, delivers the postcard view of Porto including the Dom Luís I bridge, Vila Nova de Gaia’s picturesque setting and the flat-bottomed boats once used to transport port from the Douro Valley lined up along the riverbank.
Stop inside some of the churches, such as São Francisco, Clérigos, Porto Cathedral and the twin churches of Carmo and Carmelitas. They are each unique and quite beautiful.
Porto is a very walkable city; however, it is full of steep cobblestone streets. Make sure you have appropriate footwear for a lot of uphill walking. We easily walked around five miles each day.
Take a boat tour
Our Airbnb host gave us discounted tickets for a Six Bridges boat tour that included an optional winery tour and port tasting. It was fun to be out on the water for an hour and we took some lovely photos. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do the winery tour due to limited time, but I do wish we had.
Ride a tram to the beach
The idea of riding the tram to the beach is lovely, but keep in mind it can be very crowded!
Line 1 runs from Porto to Foz, a lovely beach and park area. The ride takes about 20 minutes and the tram runs two or three times per hour during the day.
We attempted to ride at around noon on Sunday, but we would have had to wait well over an hour due to the line at the stop. We came back around 4 p.m. and there was still a crowd, but we were able to get on a tram within about 30 minutes.
They crammed more people onto that little tram than I thought possible, and we stood packed like sardines. It would have been lovely if we had a seat next to the window and got to enjoy a peaceful ride along the coast.
We really enjoyed Foz, though. The park beside the beach had a market going on with crafts, souvenirs, food, drinks and live music.
By the time we left, the tram line was so long in the hot sun that we opted to take a cheap Uber back to Porto instead. Perhaps during the colder months this is a less-crowded attraction.
Cross the Dom Luis I bridge on foot
Cross the bridge on both the low level and the high level! Crossing low offers a quick passage from Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia; crossing high provides stunning views of Porto.
Watch the sunset from both sides of the river
Since the sun sets in the west, both the north and south side of the river (Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia) offer magnificent sunset views. The golden light shining beautifully on the riverbank is a must-see, and there are great places to watch from.
On the Porto side, anywhere along the Cais da Ribeira (riverfront) provides a lovely view.
On the Vila Nova de Gaia side, the Jardim do Morro sits high on top of the city and offers a spectacular panoramic view of Porto. There is a cafe with food and drinks and plenty of places to sit and take in the sunset from this spot. There was live acoustic music when we were there, which made it a special experience.
From Jardim do Morro, you may hop on the Teleférico de Gaia cable car and ride down to the riverfront. The ticket includes a free port tasting at a nearby winery!
Taste port wine
Port is a strong sweet wine that comes from the Douro Valley and ages in Porto, where it is then shipped all over the world.
Even if you are not a wine drinker, you should sample a bit of port wine while in Porto — just to say you did! You can do this in basically any restaurant in Porto, but you can also visit the wine cellars (‘caves’ as you’ll see on the signs) in Vila Nova de Gaia and do tastings or tours there.
Unfortunately, we did not leave enough time in our weekend to do a wine cellar tour, but I recommend looking into it if this is something that interests you. There are also cellars that let you come in and taste port without doing the full tour, which we did at a couple places.
Visit Mercado do Bolhão
Open every day of the week except Sunday, this market is a must-see while in Porto. Locals gather to sell produce, meat, fish, flowers and souvenir items in a large outdoor square. We bought fresh produce for breakfast in our Airbnb and picked out a couple souvenirs.
Where to eat & drink
Tapabento is our No. 1 recommendation! This restaurant came highly recommended by our Airbnb host, so we checked it out on our first night in Porto. The hostess told us they were fully booked for the next two nights and the earliest possible reservation would be Sunday — so, if you want to eat here, be sure to stop in as soon as you arrive in Porto to set up a reservation! When we arrived for our reservation on Sunday, there were several parties being turned away at the door.
The food was incredible. We enjoyed mushrooms, bruschetta, oysters, cheese from the Azores and a delicious wild tuna tataki plate complete with caviar and cucumber mint ice cream. The service was fantastic and the presentation was an A+.
The Beira-Rio Market is similar to a street food market, with different booths featuring small menus of many varieties of food. There was everything from burgers to sushi, along with wine and beer. I really enjoyed the chicken burger topped with garlic aioli sauce that I had here.
BASE is an adorable outdoor bar on a grassy rooftop next to the Clérigos Church. The bar has swing seats, bean bag chairs and couches with heat lamps.
We showed up around 9 p.m. and there were a decent amount of people, but by 11 p.m. the place was packed and the bouncer at the front stopped letting people in unless they had a reservation.
Tip: Get a mojito here as it seems to be their specialty, and definitely won’t disappoint!
BASE is a block away from Rua Galeria de Paris and Rua Cândido dos Reis — two parallel party streets. These streets are lined with bars, but everyone hangs out in the street. It’s worth a walkthrough to get a glimpse of nightlife in Porto.
Overall, we really enjoyed Porto and would definitely return! You can’t go wrong with good food, great views and a city with a heart and soul like Porto.