Porto is often forgotten as a worthwhile destination for a city trip. With 250,000 inhabitants, a great old town and the chance to take tours and discover many interesting places in the surrounding area, Porto is quite wrongly in the shadow of Lisbon. Whether day trips to the beach, a stroll through the old town or a visit to the wineries of the Douro region - Porto has convinced us as a great destination with its activities and sights. Our tips for a perfect trip to Portugal's secret pearl:
The best travel time
Porto is beautiful in every season. In winter, temperatures rarely drop below 15 degrees, whereas in summer the climate is pleasantly warm with up to 30 degrees. Even in autumn, when it can get really cold in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, with a little luck you can still swim in the sea in Porto. The best time to travel to Porto is in April and September. Then the temperatures are warm and mild, perfect for trips to the beach and tours through the city. However, you should always have an umbrella with you in Porto.
Postage in the rain
Rain on holiday is never nice - but you can make the most of it almost everywhere. Porto is a city where it can rain even in summer. Those who catch a rainy day on their trip may have to give up the trip to the beach, but Porto offers great activities even when it rains. Take a city tour in one of the covered sightseeing buses or explore one of the numerous museums. We recommend the Port Wine Museum or the Museum of Photography right in the old town. Go on a culinary discovery tour in the Mercado Bom Sucesso, a market hall with many small stands where you can try dozens of delicious Portos.
From the airport to the city
Only 16km separate the airport from Porto and the centre of the city. The airport is optimally connected to public transport. Use the metro to travel from the terminal to the city centre. Metro line E takes about 25 minutes to get to the city centre. Those who prefer to travel by bus can use the bus lines 601, 602 and 604 for the bus transfer to the city. Tickets for bus or subway cost about 1,40€ per way.
Beaches in Porto and Piscinas das Marés
One of the most popular beaches in Porto is the city beach Praia de Matosinhos. It is located on the northern bank of the Duero estuary and is very close to the metro and bus stations. From the city centre it takes about 30 minutes by metro to Portos beaches. The Praia de Matosinhos is a long, wide sandy beach, which also in summer offers enough space for playing, building castles or lazing around. It is also a popular destination for surfers. And those who want to have a slightly different beach experience will visit the pool complex Piscinas do Marés. It consists of two pools, which are embedded in the rocky landscape of the beach and offer a fabulous view over the sea.
Visit of the wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia
Porto is the home of port wine. Those who visit the Portuguese metropolis should definitely take part in a tasting in the wine cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia. Vila Nova de Gaia is located on the other side of the Dom Luís I bridge and houses all the wine cellars and warehouses for the famous Portuguese port wine. During a tasting you will not only be shown the deposits, you will also be able to enjoy a variety of different port wines. The wineries are lined up here along the slope, so you can not only look forward to wine tasting, but also enjoy the best view over the city of Porto.
The nightlife in Porto
There is a lively nightlife in Porto. There is an exciting bar, cute café or delicious restaurant on every corner. Nights are long in Porto. Starting in the city centre, many night owls move on to Piolho, a popular student pub. Drinks and cocktails at good prices are also available in the direction of Galeria de Paris. The people of Porto know how to celebrate. From traditional fado sounds to dance clubs with modern hits, everything is there and one thing is for sure: Porto's nightlife is everything, but not boring!
The city of Porto enchants with real culinary delights. It is a place with numerous culinary delights. Because, as the name suggests, the world-famous port wine is at home here. When visiting the city, tasting at a Portuguese winery is almost obligatory. Those who prefer a beer should try the Portuguese Super Bock. But also in the kitchen there is a variety of delicacies to try, such as the sweet Baba de Camelo or the famous Francesinha. At the Tia Aninhas you can experience what the Portuguese do at lunchtime. Here you can get the lunch offer already for 5,50€ and contains besides the lunch dish also a soup and a bottle of water. Tours of Portuguese cuisine are among the most popular activities in Porto.
10 sights you should definitely see in Porto
Porto is an absolute insider tip that not everyone has on their screen. But Portugal and its cities, beaches and coasts worth seeing have not without reason dusted off the "World Travel Award" in the category "Most Popular Travel Destination Europe" in 2017. Porto is also slowly creeping into the hearts of holidaymakers who appreciate the exciting mixture of old town flair and beach holidays. Just like the possibility of great day trips and tours in the surrounding area. These are the sights & attractions you should see in Porto:
1. Ribeira - the old town
The Ribeira is the beautiful old town of Porto, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996 and is an absolute highlight of the city. The district is located on the southern bank of the Douro and offers a legendary view of the Dom Luís I bridge and the famous port wine boats that sail along the Douro. There are numerous cafés and restaurants along the shore, which invite you to linger. Also the many colourful houses in the Ribeira and the narrow streets make the old town to what it is: an incredible highlight and must-do for every visitor of Porto!
2. Dom Luís I Bridge
The Ponte Dom Luís I is one of the six bridges in Porto and is one of the most popular sights of the city. The two-storey bridge crosses the river Duoro and connects Porto with the municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia. The bridge is made of iron and strongly reminds of the Eiffel Tower. This may be because the architect of the bridge was a former student of Gustave Eiffel, who designed the Eiffel Tower. The Ponte Dom Luís I is an integral part of the Porto skyline and is one of its landmarks. From the middle of the bridge you have a fabulous view of the old town of Porto.
3. The railway station of São Bento
The station of São Bento is probably not a jewel from the outside, but from the inside it is absolutely worth seeing. The walls of the arrival hall are decorated with the typical Portuguese tiles, the azulejos. The blue tiles reflect an extract from the history of the city and transform the interior of the station into a magnificent eye-catcher. May not be missing on any sightseeing tour!
4. Torre dos Clérigos
The Torre dos Clérigos is the name of the bell tower of the church of Clérigos. It is the highest church tower in Portugal and is also considered the symbol of the city of Porto. With its 76 meters it is also the highest point of the city. And whoever climbs the 225 steps into the obolus of the bell tower enjoys a wonderful view of Porto.
5. The cathedral of Porto
The cathedral of Porto is also known as Sè Cathedral. It is located directly on the hill Pena Ventos in the old town of Porto. The cathedral is the main church of the city and also the bishop's church of the diocese of Porto. Already built in the 12th century, but rebuilt several times over the centuries, today it rather resembles a castle and characterizes the cityscape of Porto. Since 1996 the cathedral of Porto has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
6. The Douro Valley
Those who have a little more time for their stay in Porto should definitely make a side trip to the Douro valley. The two and a half hour drive from São Bento railway station to the small village of Pinhão is worthwhile. Because the valley is not only the home of the famous port wine and therewith the perfect place to visit a quinta, a Portuguese winery, but also offers a fantastic landscape. On this excursion you will experience the original Portugal up close. After a boat trip on the river Duero you can enjoy a hearty Portuguese meal and experience Portugal in all its facets.
7. Casa da Música
The Casa da Música was officially opened in 2005 and is the most modern concert hall in Portugal. The Casa da Música has two concert halls. One for classical concerts and the second hall for all artists from Portugal and other countries. Even if you are not attending a concert, there is the possibility of a guided tour of the Konzerthaus. Or you can visit the restaurant on the top floor and one of the nightclubs in the house.
8. Avenida dos Aliados
The Avenida dos Aliados is the shopping mile in Porto. Whether small boutiques or renowned designers, they are all to be found here. The Avenida dos Aliados runs through the historic centre of the city and is framed by the traditional business district. Also the famous Câmara Municipal, the city hall, is located on the boulevard. The Avenida dos Aliados is a beautiful sight in Porto and is an excellent orientation and starting point for great activities in Porto.
9. Livraria Lello e Irmão
It is probably one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world and an absolute tourist magnet, the Livraria Lello e Irmão in Porto. José Pinto de Sousa Lello opened the bookshop together with his brother António Lello in 1906. To this day it is one of the most fascinating sights of Porto. The crush for the visit to the Livraria Lello e Irmão is so big that meanwhile, even a small entrance fee is required. However, if you buy a book, the amount will be refunded. The Livraria Lello e Irmão is even said to have had an influence on the Harry Potter novel world, as the author, J.K. Rowling, lived and taught in Porto in the early 1990s.
10. The gardens around Palacio do Cristal
The perfect place for a little time out. The Palacio do Cristal is a spacious green area. Originally, the former crystal palace stood in the middle of the gardens. However, this was replaced in 1956 by a pavilion, where concerts and sporting events are now held. The Palacio do Cristal invites you to take a walk and linger, peacocks are running around freely and there are different viewpoints everywhere, which provide a breathtaking view over Porto, the Douro and the sea. Little insider tip!