Your Ultimate Porto Travel Guide 2023
Porto is a vibrant and historic city located in northern Portugal. Rich in culture, art, and stunning landscapes, it’s no wonder that Porto is quickly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. From its charming cobblestone streets to its delicious gastronomic delights, this city has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to explore the city’s rich history or simply soak up the sun and enjoy the local cuisine, this ultimate guide to Porto will help you make the most of your trip. You may also want to check out our Milan, Italy travel guide!
Top 5 Things To See And Do In Porto
- Explore The Historic Center: Porto’s historic center, also known as Ribeira, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a beautiful maze of narrow streets, colorful buildings, and stunning views of the Douro River. Don’t miss out on visiting the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge and the lively Ribeira Square.
- Visit The Port Wine Cellars: Porto is famous for its sweet and fortified Port wine. A visit to one of the many wine cellars along the Douro River is a must-do activity. Take a tour and learn about the history and production of Port wine, and of course, enjoy a tasting.
- Discover The Beautiful Churches: Porto is known for its many impressive churches, such as the Igreja de São Francisco and the Sé Cathedral. Admire their stunning architecture, intricate details, and religious art.
- Wander Through The Gardens: If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, head to one of Porto’s beautiful gardens. The Jardins do Palácio de Cristal, located on a hilltop, offer panoramic views of the city. The Jardim Botânico is a peaceful oasis with a wide variety of flora and fauna.
- Learn At The Museums: Porto is home to many museums that showcase its rich history and culture. The Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis is one of the most popular, with its impressive collection of Portuguese art. The Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Photography are also worth a visit.
Where To Stay In Porto
- Ribeira: Located on the banks of the Douro River, Ribeira is the most popular neighborhood in Porto. Its narrow streets are filled with colorful buildings, cafes, and restaurants. This historic area is perfect for those who want to experience the city’s vibrant nightlife and enjoy stunning views of the river.
- Cedofeita: Cedofeita is known for its trendy shops, boutiques, and bars. This up-and-coming neighborhood has a bohemian vibe and is perfect for travelers who want to experience Porto’s hipster scene. Cedofeita is also close to many of the city’s major attractions, including the Torre dos Clérigos and the São Bento Train Station.
- Foz Do Douro: Located on the Atlantic coast, Foz do Douro is a peaceful and upscale neighborhood. This area is known for its beaches, promenade, and seafood restaurants. Foz do Douro is perfect for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a relaxing vacation by the sea.
- Vila Nova De Gaia: Vila Nova de Gaia is located across the river from Porto and is famous for its port wine cellars. This neighborhood is perfect for wine lovers who want to taste the famous Porto wine and enjoy stunning views of the city. Vila Nova de Gaia is also close to the Arrábida Bridge and the Jardim do Morro, which offer panoramic views of Porto.
- Miragaia: Miragaia is a charming and historic neighborhood located in the heart of Porto. This area is famous for its beautiful houses, traditional shops, and quaint alleys. Miragaia is perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in the city’s history and culture.
Top Porto Hotels
- Pestana Vintage Porto Hotel & World Heritage Site: Located in the historic Ribeira district, this hotel offers stunning views of the Douro River and the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge. The building is a restored 16th-century building that was once a wine warehouse. The hotel’s rooms are elegant and comfortable, with modern amenities and classic decor.
- The Yeatman Hotel: This luxury hotel is located in Vila Nova de Gaia, across the river from Porto. It offers stunning views of the city skyline and the Douro River. The hotel is known for its wine-themed decor and its extensive wine cellar. The rooms are spacious and luxurious, with balconies or terraces that offer panoramic views of the city.
- Porto A.S. 1829 Hotel: This boutique hotel is located in the heart of Porto’s historic center, just steps away from the famous São Bento train station. The building is a restored 19th-century mansion that retains its original charm and elegance. The rooms are beautifully decorated with antique furnishings and modern amenities.
- InterContinental Porto: Palácio das Cardosas: This luxurious hotel is located in a restored 18th-century palace in the heart of Porto’s city center. It offers spacious and elegant rooms with marble bathrooms and modern amenities. The hotel has a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city, as well as a restaurant that serves traditional Portuguese cuisine.
- Eurostars Porto Centro: This modern hotel is located in the historic center of Porto, just a few steps away from the Clérigos Tower and the Lello Bookstore. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, with contemporary decor and modern amenities. The hotel also has a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city.
Where To Eat In Porto
Portugal is famous for its delicious cuisine, and Porto is no exception. From traditional seafood dishes to modern fusion cuisine, Porto has it all. Here are the top 5 places to eat in Porto:
- The Yeatman Restaurant: This Michelin-starred restaurant located in the heart of Porto offers stunning views of the Douro River while serving delicious contemporary Portuguese cuisine. It is one of the most famous restaurants in Porto, and its menu features locally sourced ingredients.
- Cafeína: If you are looking for a classic and authentic Porto dining experience, Cafeína is the place to go. It has been around for over 25 years, and its menu is inspired by traditional Portuguese dishes with a modern twist.
- Cantinho Do Avillez: Owned by famous chef José Avillez, Cantinho do Avillez is a popular restaurant in Porto that serves contemporary Portuguese cuisine with international influences. The menu is extensive and includes both meat and seafood dishes.
- Adega São Nicolau: This charming and rustic restaurant is located in the heart of the Ribeira neighborhood and offers traditional Portuguese cuisine. It is famous for its bacalhau (salt cod) dishes and excellent wine list.
- Casa De Pasto Da Palmeira: This casual and friendly restaurant is located in the Foz neighborhood and serves delicious Portuguese comfort food. The menu changes frequently depending on the season and availability of fresh ingredients, and it also has an excellent wine selection.
Whether you are looking for a fancy dining experience or a casual meal, Porto has a restaurant to suit your taste and budget. Make sure to try some of the local specialties, such as bacalhau and francesinha, and don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of port wine. Bon appetit!
How To Get Around Porto
Getting around Porto is easy and convenient with its reliable public transportation system. Here are some of the options you have:
- Metro: The metro system in Porto is clean, fast, and efficient. There are six lines that connect the city center with its suburbs, the airport, and the neighboring cities. The fares are based on zones and start at €1.20 for a single trip.
- Bus: If you want to explore the city at your own pace, taking the bus is a good option. There are over 70 bus lines that operate throughout Porto, and they are especially useful for reaching destinations that are not covered by the metro. The fares start at €1.95 for a single trip.
- Tram: The historic trams of Porto are a charming way to get around the city. There are three lines that run through the city center and the riverfront, and they offer great views of Porto’s landmarks. The fares start at €3 for a single trip.
- Taxi: Taxis are widely available in Porto and can be hailed on the street or ordered by phone. The fares are metered, and there are extra charges for luggage and night rides. Make sure to use only licensed taxis to avoid scams.
- Bike: Porto is a bike-friendly city, and there are many bike rental companies that offer affordable rates. Cycling is a great way to explore the city, especially along the riverfront and the beaches.
- Walking: Porto is a compact city, and many of its attractions are within walking distance. Walking is a great way to soak up the atmosphere of the city, discover hidden corners, and stumble upon unexpected treasures.
No matter what mode of transportation you choose, always keep your belongings safe and watch out for pickpockets, especially in crowded areas. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to get around Porto easily and safely.
The weather in Porto can vary throughout the year, with distinct seasons that bring different temperatures and weather conditions.
- Spring (March – May): During spring, temperatures start to rise, and the city becomes more vibrant with blooming flowers and festivals. Temperatures can range from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F), with occasional rain showers.
- Summer (June – August): Summer is the peak tourist season in Porto, and temperatures can soar up to 30°C (86°F) on the hottest days. Expect sunny days, crowded beaches, and warm evenings. The city also hosts numerous outdoor concerts and festivals during this season.
- Fall (September – November): Autumn in Porto is a lovely time to visit, with mild temperatures ranging from 12°C to 22°C (54°F to 72°F). The city is less crowded than in summer, and the foliage takes on a beautiful golden hue.
- Winter (December – February): Winters in Porto are mild compared to other European cities, with temperatures ranging from 5°C to 15°C (41°F to 59°F). Rain is common during this season, but the city is still worth visiting, especially during the holiday season when it is adorned with festive lights and decorations.
Overall, the weather in Porto is pleasant throughout the year, with each season bringing its unique charm and attractions. Regardless of the season you choose to visit, make sure to pack appropriately and check the weather forecast before embarking on your adventure in Porto.
Best Time To Visit Porto
Porto is a city that can be visited all year round, but the best time to visit depends on what you are looking for. The peak tourist season is between June and September, with warm temperatures and lots of tourists. However, if you prefer cooler weather and fewer crowds, the best time to visit is during the spring or fall.
Spring (March to May) is a great time to visit Porto if you want to see the city when it is in full bloom. The temperatures are mild, and the city’s parks and gardens are bursting with colorful flowers and foliage. You can also take advantage of lower hotel rates and fewer crowds.
Summer (June to September) is the peak tourist season, with hot temperatures and lots of crowds. The beaches in Porto are popular during this time, and there are plenty of festivals and events to enjoy. However, be prepared for high prices and long lines.
Fall (October to November) is another great time to visit Porto. The temperatures are still mild, and the crowds have thinned out. You can enjoy the changing fall foliage and take advantage of lower hotel rates.
Winter (December to February) is the least popular time to visit Porto, but it can be a great time to explore the city if you don’t mind the cold temperatures. You can enjoy the city’s Christmas markets, try some traditional winter dishes, and take advantage of lower hotel rates.
How To Stay Safe In Porto
Porto is generally considered a safe city, but like any major city, it’s important to take precautions to ensure your safety while traveling. Here are some tips to help you stay safe in Porto:
- Keep An Eye On Your Belongings: As with any city, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and keep a close eye on your belongings, especially in busy tourist areas. Pickpocketing can be a problem in Porto, so make sure you keep your valuables close to you at all times and use a money belt or secure bag.
- Stay In Well-Lit Areas At Night: Although Porto is generally a safe city, it’s always a good idea to stay in well-lit areas at night. Avoid walking alone in dark or isolated areas and take a taxi if you’re traveling at night.
- Beware Of Scams: Like any tourist destination, there are people who will try to take advantage of travelers in Porto. Beware of scams, such as people offering to sell you fake goods or services, and never give out your personal information to strangers.
- Use Common Sense: The best way to stay safe in Porto is to use common sense. Be aware of your surroundings, stick to well-traveled areas, and avoid walking alone at night. Trust your instincts and if something feels wrong, don’t hesitate to remove yourself from the situation.
Overall, Porto is a relatively safe city and most travelers have a trouble-free experience. However, by taking a few simple precautions, you can help ensure your trip is enjoyable and stress-free.
Porto Customs And Etiquette
When visiting Porto, it’s important to respect the local customs and etiquette. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Greetings: In Porto, people usually greet each other with a handshake or a kiss on each cheek. Men should wait for women to offer their hand first.
- Dress Code: Porto is a relaxed city, but it’s still important to dress appropriately. When visiting churches or religious sites, make sure to cover your shoulders and wear pants or a long skirt.
- Tipping: Tipping in Porto is not expected, but it’s appreciated. If you receive good service in a restaurant or bar, leaving a small tip is a nice gesture.
- Timekeeping: In Porto, punctuality is appreciated. If you’re meeting someone, make sure to arrive on time.
- Language: Portuguese is the official language of Porto, but many people speak English. It’s polite to learn a few basic phrases in Portuguese, such as “bom dia” (good morning) or “obrigado” (thank you).
- Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in most public places in Porto, including bars and restaurants. Make sure to ask before lighting up.
- Religious Customs: Portugal is a predominantly Catholic country, so it’s important to respect local religious customs. When visiting a church, make sure to dress appropriately and behave respectfully.
By keeping these customs and etiquette in mind, you’ll have a more enjoyable and respectful experience in Porto.
Other Things To Know About Porto
Porto is a vibrant city located in northern Portugal, and it is the second-largest city, after Lisbon, in the country. The official language in Porto is Portuguese, and the local currency is the Euro. Portugal is in the Western European Time Zone, which is GMT/UTC+0 during the winter months and GMT/UTC+1 during the summer months when Daylight Saving Time is in effect.
Portugal is a part of the European Union, and it is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. Porto has a rich cultural heritage, and it is known for its historical landmarks, delicious cuisine, and of course, the world-renowned Port wine. It is also famous for its lively nightlife, with many bars and clubs open until the early hours of the morning.
As a traveler in Porto, it is always helpful to have some basic knowledge of the local customs and etiquette. The people in Porto are friendly and welcoming, and it is common to greet each other with a handshake or a kiss on the cheek. Tipping in Porto is not expected, but it is appreciated for good service. One thing to note is that Portugal is known for having a relaxed pace of life, and things can move at a slower pace than you might be used to. Don’t be surprised if shops and restaurants close for a siesta in the middle of the day, and it’s important to be patient and understanding in these situations. Overall, Porto is a fantastic destination to explore and enjoy all that Portugal has to offer. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, food, or wine, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful city.
Porto Travel Costs
Porto is one of the most affordable cities to travel in Europe, making it a great budget destination for travelers. The average daily travel cost in Porto is approximately €60, which includes accommodation, food, and transportation.
- Accommodation: The cost of accommodation in Porto varies depending on the season and location. Hostels can be found for as low as €10 per night, while hotels can cost around €40 to €100 per night. It is recommended to book your accommodation in advance to get the best rates.
- Food And Drink: Porto offers a variety of dining options that cater to different budgets. A meal at a mid-range restaurant costs around €15 to €25 per person, while street food or small snacks cost around €5 to €10 per person. If you are on a budget, you can save money by buying groceries from local markets and cooking your own meals.
- Transportation: Public transportation in Porto is relatively affordable. A single metro ticket costs €1.50, while a day pass costs €5. If you prefer to travel by taxi, it costs approximately €1.20 per kilometer. If you plan to explore the city on foot, it’s a great way to save money and get some exercise.
- Activities: There are many free or low-cost activities to do in Porto. Most museums have a small entrance fee, ranging from €2 to €10. However, many of the city’s landmarks and churches are free to visit, including the iconic Porto Cathedral and the Clérigos Tower.
Overall, Porto is a budget-friendly destination that offers plenty of affordable activities and accommodations. By carefully planning your expenses and choosing budget options, you can easily enjoy this beautiful city without breaking the bank.
Finding Affordable Flights To Porto
If you’re looking to visit Lisbon on a budget, finding affordable flights is key. Here are some tips to help you save money on airfare to Lisbon:
- Use Flight Search Engines: There are many flight search engines that can help you find the best deals on flights to Lisbon. Some of the most popular ones include Kayak, Skyscanner, and Google Flights. Be sure to compare prices across multiple search engines to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
- Book In Advance: Booking your flight well in advance can help you save money on airfare. Try to book your flight at least a few months in advance if possible.
- Fly Midweek: Flying midweek (Tuesday-Thursday) is often cheaper than flying on the weekend. If your travel dates are flexible, consider flying during the week to save money.
- Avoid Peak Season: Peak travel season in Lisbon is from June to August. If you can avoid traveling during this time, you may be able to find cheaper flights.
- Consider Connecting Flights: Connecting flights can often be cheaper than direct flights. If you’re willing to take a longer flight with a layover, you may be able to save money on airfare.
- Use Airline Miles: If you have airline miles or credit card rewards, consider using them to book your flight to Lisbon. This can help you save money on airfare or even get a free flight.
By following these tips, you can find affordable flights to Lisbon and save money on your trip.
Backpacking Porto Suggested Budgets
Porto is an affordable destination, making it an excellent choice for budget travelers. Whether you are a solo backpacker or a budget-conscious traveler, there are plenty of ways to save money without compromising on the experience.
Here are some suggested budgets for backpacking in Porto:
Low Budget (€20-€30 per day)
If you are on a tight budget, you can still enjoy all that Porto has to offer by staying in a hostel and eating at local cafes and street vendors. You can find hostel accommodation for as low as €10 per night, and a meal at a local cafe will cost you around €5-€10. This budget will allow you to visit some of the top attractions, but you may need to skip some of the more expensive ones.
Mid-Range Budget (€30-€50 per day)
If you have a little more to spend, you can upgrade your accommodation to a budget hotel or Airbnb and indulge in a few more meals at restaurants. You can also take advantage of public transportation to explore more of the city. With this budget, you can visit all the top attractions, enjoy a few more experiences, and even take a day trip outside of Porto.
Luxury Budget (€50+ per day)
For those who want to splurge a bit, Porto has plenty of luxury options, from high-end hotels to Michelin-starred restaurants. You can also book private tours and indulge in more activities such as wine tastings or river cruises. With this budget, you can enjoy all the top attractions and experiences without worrying about the cost.
Remember that these budgets are just suggestions, and you can always adjust them based on your travel style and preferences. Keep in mind that Porto has plenty of free and low-cost activities to enjoy, so you don’t need to break the bank to have a fantastic time in this charming city.
Porto Money Saving Tips
Porto is a beautiful city that can be enjoyed on any budget. Here are some money saving tips that can help you stretch your euros further while exploring this enchanting city:
- Eat At Local Restaurants: Eating at local restaurants, called tascas, is not only a great way to try traditional Porto cuisine, but it can also be a lot cheaper than eating at tourist spots.
- Take A Free Walking Tour: Free walking tours are a great way to get a feel for the city and its history, and they won’t cost you a dime.
- Buy A Porto Card: If you’re planning to visit a lot of attractions, the Porto Card can save you money on admission fees and public transportation.
- Drink Wine From The Supermarket: Porto is known for its wine, but buying a bottle at a supermarket can be much cheaper than ordering it at a restaurant.
- Use Public Transportation: Porto’s metro system is clean, efficient, and affordable. Consider using it instead of taking taxis or renting a car.
- Stay In A Hostel: Hostels in Porto are clean, safe, and affordable. They can also be a great way to meet other travelers.
- Take Advantage Of Free Activities: Porto has plenty of free activities, such as visiting the city’s parks and gardens, or attending a local festival or concert.
By following these money saving tips, you’ll be able to enjoy all that Porto has to offer without breaking the bank.
What To Pack For Porto
When it comes to packing your luggage for a trip to Porto, it’s important to keep the city’s weather and culture in mind. Here are some essentials to consider packing for your visit:
- Comfortable Shoes: Porto’s hilly terrain and cobblestone streets require sturdy and comfortable footwear.
- Lightweight Clothing: In the summer months, temperatures in Porto can get quite hot, so pack lightweight, breathable clothing. However, Porto can get chilly in the winter, so it’s important to pack layers.
- Sunscreen And Hat: Protect yourself from the sun while exploring Porto’s many outdoor attractions.
- Rain Gear: Porto is known for its occasional rain showers, so it’s a good idea to pack a rain jacket or umbrella.
- Adapter: Portugal uses European electrical outlets, so make sure to pack an adapter if you plan to use electronic devices.
- Camera: With its stunning architecture, colorful buildings, and breathtaking views, Porto is a photographer’s dream destination.
- Swimwear: Porto has several beaches and outdoor pools, so don’t forget to pack your swimwear.
- Phrasebook Or Language App: Although many Portuguese people speak English, it’s always helpful to know some basic phrases to make your interactions smoother.
By keeping these essentials in mind, you’ll be ready to explore all that Porto has to offer with comfort and ease.
Can You Drink Tap Water In Porto?
Yes, tap water in Porto is safe to drink. In fact, Portugal has some of the best quality tap water in Europe. The water is regularly tested and treated, and it meets all the standards set by the World Health Organization. You can confidently drink water from the tap in hotels, restaurants, and homes in Porto. However, some people might find the taste slightly different than what they are used to. If you prefer, you can always buy bottled water from supermarkets and convenience stores.
Drinking tap water is also an environmentally-friendly choice as it reduces the use of plastic bottles. Plus, it’s free and easily accessible, saving you money during your trip. Overall, tap water in Porto is safe and of high quality. Don’t hesitate to refill your water bottle and stay hydrated while exploring the city.
Other Things To See And Do In Porto
Aside from the top attractions and must-visit spots in Porto, there are still plenty of other things you can do to maximize your trip. Here are some other noteworthy activities you might want to consider adding to your itinerary:
- Visit The São Bento Train Station: This train station is one of the most beautiful and famous in Portugal, thanks to its stunning azulejo tiles depicting scenes from the country’s history. Don’t miss the chance to marvel at this masterpiece.
- Explore The Foz Do Douro Neighborhood: Located west of the city center, Foz do Douro offers a more relaxed vibe with its scenic promenade, sandy beaches, and trendy restaurants and cafes.
- Take A Day Trip To Guimarães: Known as the birthplace of Portugal, this historic city is just a short train ride from Porto and boasts a charming medieval center and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Sample Port Wine In Vila Nova De Gaia: Just across the Douro River, this district is where most of the Port wine cellars are located. Take a tour and tasting to learn more about the history and production of this beloved drink.
- Admire The Art At The Serralves Foundation: This contemporary art museum and cultural center features exhibitions by local and international artists, as well as beautiful gardens and a park for leisurely strolls.
- Take A River Cruise: Get a different perspective of Porto by cruising along the Douro River and enjoying the stunning views of the city skyline, bridges, and hillsides.
- Discover The Nightlife: Porto has a vibrant nightlife scene with plenty of bars, clubs, and live music venues catering to different tastes and styles.
With so many things to see and do in Porto, you’ll surely have a memorable and enjoyable trip. Don’t be afraid to wander off the beaten path and explore the lesser-known corners of the city – you never know what surprises you might discover!
The Bottom Line
Overall, Porto is a charming and affordable destination with plenty to offer travelers. From its stunning architecture to its delicious cuisine, Porto is a city that’s worth exploring. If you’re planning a trip to Porto, make sure to check out the top attractions like the Clerigos Tower and the Dom Luis I Bridge. Consider staying in the trendy Cedofeita or Baixa neighborhoods, which offer a great blend of old-world charm and modern convenience. As for food, don’t miss out on trying the local specialties like francesinha and port wine. Transportation in Porto is easy and affordable, with options like buses, trams, and metro lines. However, be mindful of pickpockets and scams, as these can be common in tourist areas. To fully enjoy your time in Porto, pack accordingly for the weather and bring comfortable walking shoes for exploring the city. Ultimately, with its rich history, vibrant culture, and budget-friendly offerings, Porto is an ideal destination for travelers of all interests.