The second-largest city in Portugal has a loooot to see. And though we know that, as an authentic backpacker, you love to walk around and get lost in its little chaotic city center, we want you to have a list of unmissable places, so here ya go!
Bem-vindo ao Porto! (Welcome to Porto!)
São Bento Station
We looove railway stations. They make us travel in time. This one will specifically make you travel to the 20th-century when it was officially inaugurated. However, it was built on the exact site of a former Benedictine monastery from the 16º century, called São Bento de Avé-Maria, hence the name of the station. Even if you don’t need to catch a train, you have to stop here and admire the hall filled with white and blue tiles!
Escadas dos Guindais
When we think of “romantic Porto” we picture these long-cobbled stairs, with picturesque houses and hanging laundry, and the bridge and river in the background. Go down the stairs to reach Ponte Luís I!
Clérigos Church and Tower
You’ll see the prominent bell tower from any part of the city. Going up costs 5 euros and includes a visit to the exhibition. Most likely there will be people queuing, but, if you like viewpoints, the wait is worth it! Expect 360º views of the city. FYI, the stairs are narrow, making it difficult to fit two people together (one going up and one going down) – but challenges are part of the adventure, don’t you think?
Another “must”. Don’t just see it from outside, please get inside and see the cloister, exhibitions, tower, temple, etc. Also, stay for a while at the viewpoint in front of it, and admire the typical orangey roofs, aka the real “Porto postcard”. For a less busy scene, just take the stairs down to reach the Igreja dos Grilos viewpoint. Great views too!
Don Luís I Bridge
You’ll find lots of spots around the city to appreciate the bridge and river views but crossing the bridge itself is one of the top things to do! You can walk both on the upper level or lower level. Two different experiences! From above you’ll see all houses of Cais da Ribera, from below you can check all the boats crossing underneath you!
Passeio das Fontainhas
From here, you’ll get one of the best views of Puente de Don Luis I. Because let’s be honest, you NEED that instagrammable spot to enhance your feed!
Jardim do Morro
There’s something magical about this place, its light, its vibe, its chill out music, its views. Tip: Come at sunset. You’ll thank us later!
Avenida dos Aliados and Praça da Libertade
Considered the heart of the city, the main square in Porto is one of the big attractions, chaired by the town hall building. Here is where people gather on New Year’s Eve, São João, etc. You’ll call us crazy if we ask you to go and admire the Mc Donald’s building, but yeah, it’s an old café with a modern style that will catch your attention!
Igreja do Carmo
Another beautiful church facade of white and blue tiles that can’t be ignored! Okay, we know there’s a lot in Porto, but this is one of our favorites. It’s located close to Igreja dos Carmelitas, forming a big complex that looks like a single church. But, actually, there’s a tiny house in between to keep the nuns and monks apart, and they say is the narrowest house of the city. You can pay 3,5 euros to visit everything.
Well, you know what they say. Contemporary art is not for everyone! It might hurt to pay to go something that you don’t really get. But, if you’re a fan, the venue hosts good art exhibitions and admission is free on Sunday mornings. The two buildings are worth a visit–the original one, from the Art Decó Epoque, and the actual modern museum. The gardens are incredible for a nice stroll. We restless travelers always jump from one plan to another, why not chill here for a bit? There’s also a restaurant with typical Portuguese food!
Palacio da Bolsa
This is the old Stock Exchange of Porto and, if you’re interested in beautiful architecture, you’ll looove this visit. It’s on the “World Heritage Site” list by UNESCO – just saying! There are guided tours of approximately 45 minutes for €10. But plan your visit ahead as tours only start at certain set hours and not all languages are always available. You don’t want to wait 4 hours for the next tour, do you? So, check in advance!!
Capela das Almas
It’s located on a very busy and commercial street. Its spectacular hand painted tiles attract many visitors. If you go in high season, expect some waiting time for your pic!
The Fernandine walls, which are remains of the defensive wall of the city during the fourteenth century, is another famous attraction. They can be seen from different places and angles, but better from the high walkway of the Luis I bridge or from the funicular that goes from Cais to the upper barrio alto.
Vila nova de Gaia Wine Cellars
You cannot come to the famed port wine city of Porto and not do a tour in a wine house. It’s a unique activity and, naturally, a very touristic one. So, don’t go for the cheapest option and pay a bit more to taste better wines. Don’t hesitate to come to reception and ask for advice!
Igreja de Santo Ildefonso
A church completed in 1739 and built in a proto-Baroque style. Another great instagrammable spot. Okay, if you don’t own an Instagram account, please go and get yourself one!
Mercado do Bolhão
The original venue is now under construction until approximately July 2020, so they have placed a temporary market on the ground floor of the shopping center next to it. Still, it´s worth a visit and a feast for all your senses! Enjoy the smells and flavors and let yourself be advised by the friendly sellers.
You’ll read about Café Majestic everywhere, so we’re not going to kill your excitement about it, but keep in mind that it´s very popular and you may have trouble finding a free spot. Also, Porto has very cheap prices in general, but not in here. The inside of the place is beautiful, though!
Done something on this list already? Share it with the hashtag #forrealbackpackers. We’ll be happy to see your adventures!