The Top Things to See and Do in Porto, Portugal

Ribeira is one of the best neighbourhoods in Porto to explore
Ribeira is one of the best neighbourhoods in Porto to explore | Marina Watson Peláez / © Culture Trip
Mandi Keighran

Foodies, culture vultures and adventurous types will all find plenty to keep themselves occupied in the vibrant northern capital of Portugal. Porto is characterised by its Medieval, Unesco-listed old town, the mighty Rio Douro and port wine. Expect beach promenades, the most beautiful bookshop in the world, vibrant markets and impressive neoclassical monuments. Here’s our pick of the best things to see and do in Porto.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Praia dos Ingleses

Natural Feature

If you prefer your beach visits to involve more promenading and people-watching and less salty water and sand, head to Praia do Ingleses. This large sandy beach, in the upmarket Foz do Douro district of Porto, features a long promenade lined with buzzing cafes that stay open long after dark. There’s even a popular cafe on the beach itself, where you can watch locals and tourists strolling by as the sun goes down. It can get quite windy, however, so make sure to bring a light jacket.

Livraria Lello


© Marcin Jamkowski/Adventure Pictures / Alamy Stock Photo

This historic bookshop has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world – and is rumoured to be an inspiration behind the Harry Potter series. Built in 1906 by engineer Xavier Esteves, the store was once a popular haunt for the city’s creative set and features a colourful, neo-gothic facade adorned with paintings. The interior is just as impressive, with a stained-glass and carved-plaster ceiling, a room for rare books and a double spiral staircase at the heart of the store carved from timber and carpeted in striking crimson. Make sure to arrive early to avoid the long queues – the store receives up to 5,000 visitors each day.

Mercado Bom Sucesso


© Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 18+ / Alamy Stock Photo

This formerly dilapidated late-1940s market hall has been transformed into a bright and modern marketplace housing fresh produce stalls, a food court and the Hotel da Música design hotel. Stock up on fresh fish, meat, fruit and vegetables, and flowers at the market, followed by lunch at the food court, which serves everything from traditional pork-filled pastel (pastries) to pastéis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts). There are also regular events, including live music and cooking demonstrations.

Zoo Santo Inácio


© Owe Andersson / Alamy Stock Photo

Discover more than 200 species of animals – including rare snow leopards and southern white rhinoceros – less than 10 minutes from Porto’s city centre at Zoo Santo Inácio. The spacious green habitats housing more than 600 animals are set across 15ha (37 acres), making it the biggest zoo in north Portugal. Highlights include the Asian Lion Tunnel, the daily feeding of the Humboldt penguins – which includes an educational talk by a zookeeper – and a sprawling African Savannah populated by giraffes, rhinos, wildebeest, zebras and ostriches.

Câmara Municipal do Porto

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark

© villorejo / Alamy Stock Photo

Porto’s imposing town hall, Câmara Municipal do Porto, stands at the top of Avenida dos Aliados and dates back to 1920, although construction was only completed in 1955. The palatial, neoclassical building is crafted from marble and granite, and it features an impressive clock tower at its centre. The statue that stands proudly at the front of the hall depicts poet Almeida Garrett, known as the founder of Portuguese Romanticism. The popular restaurant Cervejaria Brasão Aliados is also nearby – try the hearty francesinha sandwiches and the fried onion in black garlic mayo.

Rua das Flores

Architectural Landmark

© Felipe Rodriguez / VWPics / Alamy Stock Photo

This historic 16th-century street takes its name, Flower Street, from the many gardens that once surrounded it. Today, it’s one of the city’s most charismatic – and busy – streets. Aristocratic homes from the 17th to 19th centuries still line the street, resplendent with coats of arms and ornate balconies, alongside the baroque Misericórdia Church. The area has been recently restored and is now classed as a pedestrian zone, making it the perfect place to while away an afternoon exploring its many cafes, restaurants and boutiques. Grab lunch at chef Luís Americo’s Cantina 32, or head to Mercearia das Flores for gourmet souvenirs.

Jardim do Morro


© Gabriele Dessi / Alamy Stock Photo

Looking for a romantic spot to watch the sunset over the Rio Douro? Gaze down on Porto’s winding cobbled streets and pastel-hued houses from above at Jardim do Morro, a hilltop park in Vila Nova de Gaia. There’s a lake, a bandstand and an impressive variety of plants, including a grove of shady palm trees and linden trees lining a stretch of Avenida da República. The park can be accessed either by a cable car or by crossing the upper level of Ponte de Dom Luís I.

Igreja do Carmo


© villorejo / Alamy Stock Photo

Some of the most awe-inspiring architecture in Porto can be found in its many churches, which range in style from gothic to ornate baroque constructions. Igreja do Carmo – the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Carmo – was built between 1756 and 1768 and features a stunning, azulejo-covered facade that was added in 1912 and showcases the beautiful blue-and-white tiles the country is well known for. It’s separated from the Igreja dos Carmelitas, a 17th-century convent, by a narrow, 1m-wide (3ft) house designed to prevent any relationship between the nuns and the monks who originally inhabited the twin churches.

Piscina das Marés

Swimming Pool

© Serrat / Alamy Stock Photo

Fancy a dip in the Atlantic Ocean without having to worry about waves and currents? Head to the iconic Piscina das Marés, a pair of tidal ocean pools – one for children and one for adults – designed in the early 1960s by architect Álvaro Siza Vieira. Built into solid rock along Leça da Palmeira beach in the town of Matosinhos, the pools appear to be a part of the landscape itself. After a refreshing dip, take a wander down the beach – it’s the longest stretch of sand in northern Portugal.
Planning your trip to Porto? Make sure to check out the best places to stay in the city, or book one of the top boutique hotels. Discover Porto’s most beautiful neighbourhoods before relaxing at one of the city’s beautiful beaches. Finish your trip off with an excellent meal at one of the top restaurants in town.

This is an updated version of an article originally by Nina Santos.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article