In this Porto Travel Blog, we share our top Porto travel tips. This includes the best places to stay in Porto, what and where to eat in Porto, and how to plan the perfect Porto, Portugal city break.
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How to Visit Porto Portugal
After visiting Lisbon numerous times over the years, we found it was time to explore Northern Portugal, and this included the city of Porto Portugal. The city itself is stunning, with an ancient feel to it. It’s also the perfect place to organize day trips from Porto Portugal into the Douro Valley wine region, one of the most famous wine regions in Portugal.
What Is Porto Like?
I want to start our travel guide by sharing a little bit about what Porto is like. Unlike its more popular neighbor to the south, Lisbon, Porto is a little bit of an enigma to travelers.
This means that it is also the perfect destination for travelers who are looking for a more authentic Portugal experience. The city feels a little edgier than Lisbon. And, although there is a strip of touristy restaurants along the water, much of the city still has a real feel to it.
Porto is reminiscent of some of the British and Irish cities just to the North. It’s on a wide river and the houses and buildings climb up from the bank of the river. Many of the buildings are painted in bright colors, which reminds me of some of the seaside Irish towns we’ve visited over the years.
Where Is Porto Portugal
Porto is a city in Northern Portugal located along the Douro River. Porto and the surrounding region extend west to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s one of the oldest cities in Europe and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the 1990s.
The city is only a three-hour drive north of Lisbon. It’s also easily reachable by air from cities across Britain, making it a perfect getaway. The Porto historic centre is the perfect place to wander around and get lost, all while tasting one of the city’s best-known products – Port Wine.
Best Time To Visit Porto
Porto’s weather is similar to other Portuguese cities in the south of the country. Summers are mostly warm and dry with rain and mild temperatures in the winter. The amount of winter rain makes Porto one of the wettest European cities and more like its Atlantic neighbors to the north.
Like many European destinations, late spring, as well as early autumn, are the best times to visit Porto. This is when the weather in Porto Portugal is the nicest. Tourist numbers are fewer compared to the peak summer holiday season of July and August.
Porto hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year. Most notable is one of the Festas Santos Populares, the festival celebrating St. John (Festa de São João). This festival occurs in June of each year. Part of the festival includes a regatta of the traditional Port Wine boats. The city also hosts a wine festival each February.
What To Do In Porto Portugal – Top Porto Attractions
Porto offers a variety of attractions to visit in between glasses of its famous port wine. Among the top Porto attractions to explore is the Clerigos Tower, the 249-foot tall bell tower that dominates Porto providing spectacular views of the city.
For transportation and art lovers, head over to Sao Bento Train Station to view the stunning Azulejo tiles that adorn the lobby. Arguably one of the most beautiful train stations in Europe, if not the world.
For equally breathtaking Porto views venture across the historic Ponte Dom Luis I bridge. Nearly 300 feet above the Douro River, the views of Porto are second to none. Or, check out one of the top Porto museums. There are museums dedicated to the history of the Catholic Church, the military, transportation, and more.
WHAT TO EAT IN PORTO PORTUGAL
Porto sightseeing for us focuses on all of the great Portuguese foods. Due to its location near the water, that means a lot of great seafood dishes, including bacalhau, the salted cod fish. It also means a lot of pork, sandwiches, pastries, and other fresh and local ingredients.
Check out this guide on What And Where To Eat In Porto.
Want to book a wine tour in Porto? Check out our recommendations for the Best Porto Wine And Food Tours.
Porto Portugal Nightlife
Although we didn’t really partake in the typical Porto nightlife, per se, one of the main reasons why we wanted to visit Porto was for the wine. This, of course, includes the famous Port Wine.
One of the most fun things to do in Porto is to visit one of the traditional Port houses on the “other” side of the Douro River, up the river bank and into Vila Nova de Gaia. Or, you can taste Port Wine and Douro Valley wines at most of the Porto bars.
For an evening out in Vila Nova de Gaia, check out one of the best bars in Porto for a view – Porto Cruz. Their terrace bar has 360-degree views over the city and is the perfect destination for wine and a view. Or, there are loads of music clubs and comedy clubs in Porto as well.
During nicer weather, many locals order a drink at one of the bars but end up drinking in the streets. Check out the bars and cafes in Praça de Gomes Teixeira or one these two streets: Galeria de Paris and Rua de Cândido dos Reis.
Best Hotels in Porto Portugal
Luxury: The Yeatman Porto is the destination hotel for food and wine lovers. It’s a luxury gastronomy-focused hotel in Vila Nova de Gaia, up on a hill overlooking the city. It’s also one of the best Porto hotels with a pool. Check the best prices for The Yeatman on Booking.com. Another luxury option, but in the city centre is the Intercontinental Porto at the Palacio Das Cardosas, a historic and restored palace.
Boutique: Hotel Teatro, a unique boutique hotel in Porto, built in a historic theater in the city center. The theme is carried from the restaurant, bar, and lobby, into the dramatic hallways and guest rooms. This is where we stayed during our visits to Porto. The hotel is now part of the Porto Bay hotel group, a Portuguese hotel company. We’ve stayed in one of their properties in Lisbon as well. Rooms start at around €130 a night. Check the best prices for Hotel Teatro on Booking.com.
Value: Hotel Tryp Porto Center is part of the Wyndham hotel chain. It’s a reliable option when it comes to hotels in Porto Portugal City Centre. It’s about a 20-25 minute walk down to the Douro River, but it also offers a great value with rooms starting at only €80. Check the best prices for Tryp Hotel Porto on Booking.com.
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FAQs – How To Visit Porto Portugal
Porto is over 195 miles north of Lisbon. To drive it will take approximately 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take the train which will take around two and a half hours.
With its proximity to the sea, Porto enjoys moderate (not too cold, not too warm) temperatures throughout the year. In winter there’s no fear of being snowed in, but you might want to have a scarf and gloves just in case.
Yes. Porto is a very walkable city but be warned there are some hills. The city has excellent public transportation including buses and underground metro system allowing visits to explore beyond the city limits.