Are you planning to visit Porto and don’t know where to start? Ribeira? Aliados? Too many names and you’re confused? Don’t worry, we have chosen for you “the 10 Best Things to See in Porto”, where we highlight the emblematic places of the city that should always be on any visitor’s list.
10 Best Things to See:
1. Clérigos Tower
Of course, we have to start our list of the Best things to see in the city of Porto with the Clérigos Tower, the exlibris of the city. The Clérigos Tower is omnipresent throughout the city, as it marks the landscape of Porto with its baroque architecture, which is one of the best examples of Portuguese Baroque.
You’ll easily find it near Avenida Aliados. Those who aren’t afraid of heights will certainly venture up the more than 200 steps to the top, where you’ll find one of the most impressive views of the city of Porto, stretching all the way to the River Douro. It’s the ideal spot for photos and that selfie that will make your friends envious.
2. Lello & Irmão Bookstore
From the top of the tower, you’ll see a long queue for a nearby place in the parallel street. Don’t be surprised, it’s the famous Lello & Irmão bookshop. But why do people queue to get in? Lello & Irmão is considered one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world and through the ornate shelves and the famous staircase you’ll find a bit of Harry Potter magic, as it’s said that author JK Rowling sought inspiration here to create a scene in her book… Can you figure it out? Lello & Irmão has existed since 1869, and in the current building since 1906.
3. D. Luís I Bridge & Ribeira
When you arrive at Praça da Ribeira it’s impossible not to notice Porto’s second most famous monument, the beautiful iron bridge over the River Douro, which connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia. It’s an impressive feat of iron engineering.
At the top, you’ll find the perfect spot for more selfies and a fantastic view over the river and the Ribeira area.
If you cross the bridge into Vila Nova de Gaia, where you can visit the famous Port Wine Cellars, you’ll find the perfect spot for that “postcard photo”. A visit to the D. Luís I Bridge isn’t complete without a stroll along the Ribeira. This old fishing neighbourhood is one of the most typical in the city, where tradition is still very strong. The narrow streets, flowery restaurants and riverside terraces make for some of the most pleasant afternoons of your visit to Porto.
4. Aliados Avenue
It is the heart of Porto. Avenida dos Aliados, with its imposing buildings, is where the city’s big festivals are held, such as the Festa de São João, which takes place on the night of 23rd to 24th June. This area is ideal for your accommodation, as you’ll be close to most of the places on our list of the 10 Best things to see in Porto, most of which are within walking distance.
5. Porto Cathedral
As a city with great religious traditions, it’s easy to find several Catholic churches in the streets of Porto. However, none of them have the imposing importance of the Sé Cathedral. Entering a 12th century building is always fascinating. As well as being one of the oldest monuments in the country, Porto’s Cathedral is an impeccable example of Romanesque religious architecture, a style that is very rich in Portugal. Considered one of the best things to see in the city, the Cathedral stands out as a must-visit for those wishing to explore Porto’s rich history and magnificent architecture.
6. Majestic Cafe
In the mood for a coffee? Some say that the Portuguese spend all their time in cafés, but with cafés like the Majestic, the question is: how can you not? Located on Rua Santa Catarina, the main shopping area in the centre of Porto, the Majestic is as beautiful as it is exquisite.
It was considered the sixth most beautiful café in the world. So if you fancy a snack, go to the Majestic. But beware, it’s a bit pricey.
7. Serralves Foundation
The Serralves Foundation is home to one of the most beautiful gardens in the city, as well as one of the most important museums of contemporary art. If you’re visiting Porto with children, the Serralves Foundation is one of the places you MUST go – they’ll love it! However, the visit to the Serralves Foundation doesn’t stop there. Its building, designed by Siza Vieira, the first Portuguese winner of the Pritzker Prize, is an incredible construction that blends in harmoniously with the nature of the Serralves Garden, inviting you to enter and stay inside.
A perfect plan for visiting the Serralves Foundation is to do it with time to visit the whole museum, have a mid-afternoon tea and then linger in the gardens.
8. São Francisco Church
The São Francisco Church, right next to Praça da Ribeira, is another church in our Best things to see in the city. But unlike the city’s imposing Sé Cathedral, we chose this church for its interior, meticulously crafted with gilded carvings, and for its organ ensemble. It is therefore one of the most popular religious sites for visitors.
9. Palácio da Bolsa
The Palácio da Bolsa, the simple name for the Palácio da Associação Comercial do Porto, is one of the city’s most imposing buildings. It’s a real mix of architectural styles, but the highlight is the Arab Hall, which will surprise you with its golden stuccoes. Did you know that this is where many heads of state who visit Porto are honoured and received? Don’t forget to go there. The guided tours are extremely interesting and very comprehensive.
10. São Bento Train Station
For those arriving in Porto by train, São Bento station couldn’t be a better place to arrive. Its French-influenced building welcomes travellers with its numerous panels of typically Portuguese tiles, which depict various historical episodes of Portugal in great detail. In the Aliados area, São Bento station, considered the eighth most beautiful train station in the world, is another must-see even if you’re not travelling by train and rounds off our list of the Best things to see in the city.