What To Do and Eat in Porto

What to do and eat in Porto

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As Porto was named Top 10 Best in Value in 2017 by Lonely Planet we just had to travel there and have put together a guide on What To Do and Eat in Porto for you.

Pre-Planning For Your Trip To Porto

Research is the key to traveling to a new destination.  We purchased the Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2017.

A travel adaptor is your best friend when traveling.

When you are researching the cost of flights we recommend using Skyscanner.

We always recommend that you take out travel insurance as soon as you book your flights.

 

 

From the minute we landed at Porto’s Airport from Madeira where we had spent the last 2 weeks we were impressed. It was easier for us to book an airport shuttle on arrival to take us directly to the Intercontinental Hotel where we were staying.

For our time in Porto Portugal we had some must do’s:

  • Portuguese food
  • Porto Bars
  • Porto Old Town
  • Bolhoa Porto Market
  • Porto Street Food
  • Porto Top Attractions such as a Douro River Cruise, Taste Porto Food Tour, Yellow Hop on Hop Off Bus and Porto Walkers Tour.
  • Lello Bookstore

We managed to do all but the last one – Lello Bookstore which was closed for renovations.  More about the famous Lello Bookstore later.

Map of Portugal – Where is Porto

What to do and eat in Porto

Map of Portugal showing Porto – courtesy Google Maps

 

Porto is also known as Oporto and is located on the Douro River Estuary 314km north of the capital Lisbon.  It is the 2nd largest city in Portugal, Lisbon being the first.

The country of Portugal in Europe also includes the Azores and Madeira Islands. We had just spent the previous 2 weeks in Madeira and loved it so we had high expectations for Porto.

Portugal borders the country of Spain. The Atlantic Ocean runs the length of the country.

Map of Porto

What to do and eat in Porto

Praca de Liberdade
Map courtesy of Google

What to Do and Eat in Porto

What to do in Porto

There is so much to see and do in Porto.  We spent a total of 4 nights and it was definitely not enough time but what it has given us is the knowledge of what we want to do when we return.

#1 Get the Porto Card

What to do and eat in Porto

Porto Card with Transport

Before you head out sightseeing we recommend purchasing the Porto Card.

There is a 1-day pedestrian card that offers all the benefits of discounts in museums etc but not free public transport.

There is a 1 day, 2 day and 3 day Porto Card that includes:

  • free entry and discounts in 18 of Porto’s museums as well as Serralves
  • a guided tour to the Casa da Musica and Palacio da Bolsa
  • free travel on the bus, tram, metro and funicular systems
  • discounts of up to 15% in many restaurants
  • 25% discount on a panoramic bus
  • discounts of up to 25% on more than 50 touristic routes in Porto and the north of Porto
  • many discounts on cruises, cellars, shops, restaurants, nightlife and shows

You can purchase the Porto Card online here or purchase it from various tourist offices:

(information is taken directly from the Porto Card website):

Porto Tourism Offices
Centre
  • Address: Rua Clube dos Fenianos, 25 – 4000-172 Porto
  • GPS: Lat 41.150175 Log -8.611200
  • Tel. +351 223393472
  • Opening hours: Nov-Apr  Daily 09:00-19:00
    May-Oct  Daily 09:00-20:00
  • Website: visitporto.travel
Sé (Medieval Tower)
  • Address: Calçada de D. Pedro Pitões, 15 – 4050-269 Porto
  • GPS: Lat 41.142741  Lon -8.612164
  • Tel. +351 223393472
  • Opening hours: Nov-Apr  Daily 09:00-19:00
    May-Oct  Daily 09:00-20:00
    Aug Daily 09:00-21:00
  • Website: visitporto.travel

iPoint Ribeira (May-Oct)

  • Address: Praça da Ribeira
  • GPS: Lat 41.140467 Log -8.612793
  • Opening hours: May-Sep Daily 10:00-19:00
    Out  Daily 10:00-18:00
  • Website: visitporto.travel

Porto Airport

 Nova Câmbios
  • Floor 0 (arrivals public area)
  • Opening hours: daily  07:00-24:00

Latest Prices as of 2017

Porto Card – Walker (no transport included)

1 day Euros 6

2 days Euros 10

3 days Euro 13

4 days Euro 15

Porto Card – with Transport

1 day Euros 10

2 days Euro 20

3 days Euro 25

4 days Euros 33

#2 6 Bridge River Cruise down the Douro River

what to do and eat in Porto

6 Bridges River Cruise

From the Porto side of the river in the Ribeira district, you can enjoy a 6 Bridge River Cruise down the Douro River. It is a 50-minute cruise and current prices as of 2017 were Euros 15 per person.

To Travel Too Tip

With the Porto Card, you receive a discount of 10%.

#3 Porto Walking Tour with Porto Walkers

What to do and eat in Porto

Our Guide V explaining what we can see from the Mirador

We both love to walk each city we visit and if possible take a walking tour.  Porto Walkers had a Free Walking Tour at 3.30pm departing from Praca de Liberdade – downtown Porto. The tour takes 3 hours and covers the history of Porto, sights, tastes and sounds. Read more here about our adventures.  Did we have a favorite part of the tour? Actually all of it, even walking up and down the steep hills of Porto.  That was one thing we were not prepared for, but it is a great way to walk off all the great food that we had eaten.

#4 Yellow Bus Tours – Hop on Hop off

What to do and eat in Porto

Yellow Bus Tours Porto

Another great way to see the sights of a city is a Hop on Hop off Bus.  In Porto and in Madeira we used Yellow Buses, a great way to get around, enjoy the sights and learn a lot about a city.

To Travel Too Top Tip

Travel on the Yellow Bus Porto Castles Tour and get off at Matsinhos.  The best seafood can be found at Casa Serrao, Rua Herois de Franca 521.  You will need to make it a lunch time visit as the Yellow Bus does not run late at night. If you miss the last bus the #500 bus takes you back to the city center.

#5 Lello Bookstore

What to do and eat in Porto

Lello Bookstore

The Lello Bookstore gets a special mention especially if you are fans of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.  In the U.K. Harry Potter London Tours are very popular but did you know that J.K. Rowling got her inspiration from her time spent in Porto. The Lello Bookstore was a haven for J.K. Rowling, she spent a lot of her time inside the store.

The staircase inside Hogwarts was modelled on the staircase in the Lello Bookstore.  Now what about Platform 9 3/4?  Lello Bookstore is responsible for that as well.  Books were delivered by trolley to the Bookstore and just inside the front door the wall would open up and the books were deposited inside the wall.  Sounds familiar?

To Travel Too Tip

Lello Bookstore has become so famous that they are now charging an entrance fee of Euros 4 just to get inside, but if you purchase a book the fee is deducted from the price.  The best time to visit to avoid the crowds is after 6pm.

#6 Cross The River Douro via the Dom Luis Bridge to visit Vila Nova de Gaia

What to do and eat in Porto

Dom Luis Bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia (photo courtesy of Pixabay)

You can walk across the double deck metal arch bridge across the river to the south of Porto known as Vila Nova de Gaia.

Here you can visit:

or just have a drink or two along the waterfront at sunset.

#7 The Most Colourful Train Station in Portugal – Sao Bento

what to do and eat in porto

Sao Bento Train Station (photo courtesy of Pixabay)

what to do and eat in porto

Tiles inside Sao Bento Train Station

Just a hop and a skip from Praca de Liberdade is one of the most colorful train stations we have ever seen – Sao Bento.  The walls and their colorful blue tiles tell the story of Battle of Valdevez (1140) and the Conquest of Ceuta (1415).  It is very busy with tourists at all times of the day.

#8 Clerigos Tower

what to do and eat in porto

Clerigos Tower

One of Porto’s icons – the Clerigos Tower can be seen from all over Porto.  It is attached to the Clerigos Church.  You can climb the 240 steps to the top for stunning views.

What to do outside Porto

If time permits there are several tours that you can take outside Porto:

What and Where to Eat in Porto

To understand Porto’s gastronomic delights we can recommend a Taste Porto Food Tour to get your taste buds sizzling.

What to do and eat in Porto

Joana explaining our next tasting session

Not only do you get to enjoy 6 different things to eat in Porto and drink coffee and local wine your local guide is a wealth of knowledge on where to eat in Porto. To whet your appetite these are our highlights (there were 6 stops along the way and we have 6 highlights):

  • The lightest flaky pastry known as Chaves in savory and sweet varieties from A Loja dos Pastéis de Chaves at Rua da Firmeza #476
  • Bolhao Market – Bolhao Wine House Store #9 – try the wine, cheese, sardines, olive oil and cheeseless cheese pastries known as Queijadinha
  • Flor dos Congregdaos -Travessa dos Congregados 11, for their famous ‘terylene sandwich’ made from pork loin that has been marinated for 20 hours in olive oil, bay leaves, garlic, wine and spices and then roasted in a wood oven.
  • Cafe Guarany – Avenida dos Aliados, the best Porto Cafe serving great coffee in town set in an art deco setting
  • what to do and eat in Porto

    Chocolate or Lemon Curd eclairs anyone?

    If you have a sweet tooth have we the place for you – Leitara da Quinta do Paco at Praca Guilherme Gomes Fernandes 47/51 for chocolate eclairs and now our favorite lemon curd eclairs.

  • Taberna do Largo Porto at Largo de S. Domingos 69 for great wines, cheeses and meat

For some other recommendations on the best restaurants in Porto:

For other Tripadvisor Porto restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets click here.

Traditional Portuguese Food

There is one dish that stands out from all others.  Francesinha.

We researched Tripadvisor for you to source the best Francesinha Porto restaurant. There are several  located in Porto City Centre.

A local we spoke to recommended Cafe Santiago F in Rua Passos Manuel.

What is Francesinha? Some call it a ‘heart attack on a plate’ sandwich – what do you think? Each restaurant will have their own special recipe:

  • bread
  • ham
  • fresh sausage or roasted meat
  • egg
  • covered with melted cheese
  • hot thick tomato and beer sauce
  • french fries
What to do and eat in Porto

Francesinha – photo courtesy of Cafe Santiago F

Francesinha means ‘little Frenchie’ and the dish was inspired by the French ‘Croque Monsieur’.  It probably is best if 2 share the meal.

Best Bars in Porto

We have turned to Tripadvisor for their top Bars and Pubs in Porto for a complete list recommended by travelers everywhere.

McDonald’s – Praca de Liberdade (yes! McDonald’s read on).

what to do and eat in Porto

Entrance to the McDonald’s Restaurant

We are not suggesting you go there for Porto specialties but to look inside this magnificent art deco building with glass chandeliers.  It is one of the most beautiful McDonald’s in the world.  It is famous as it used to be called the Imperial Cafe and it is where the dictators use to meet.

Cafe D’ouro

what to do and eat in Porto

Cafe D’ouro

Cafe D’ouro is also a famous cafe where students, teachers and businessmen used to meet.  The locals also call it Cafe Piolho.  It was one of the cheaper places we found in Porto for a beer.

Majestic Cafe

When you visit the Majestic Cafe you are actually visiting one of the Top 10 Most Beautiful Cafes in the World.  It is located along Rua Santa Catarina, Porto’s most famous shopping street, so you can combine the 2 – shopping and eating.

Rua Das Flores

The pedestrian only street close to Sao Bento Train Station full of restaurants and bars.

Top Vegetarian Restaurant Porto

If we had more time in Porto we would have tried out one of the Vegetarian Restaurants available.

Our favorite Seafood Restaurant Porto

If you want atmosphere, great food and excellent local wines we highly recommend a visit to Casa Serrao (we have mentioned it above in the Yellow Hop on Hop off bus section) in Matosinhos. If you head to Rua Herois de Franca in Matosinhos you will find a row of seafood restaurants all very busy at lunchtime when we visited.  The food is cooked on barbeques in front of the restaurant on the street.

what to do and eat in Porto

Casa Serrao Lunch

For the best food in Porto Portugal, this is the place to go.  How did we choose Casa Serrao? We actually fell into it literally and a couple beside us told us that according to their travel guide this was the best restaurant in the strip. The best Porto food specialties can be found here – grilled sardines and the freshest catches of the day. We choose sardines and fried fish served up with garlic potatoes and a salad.

The house specialty dessert ‘dulce de leche’ was tantalizing.  A chilled Vino Verde completed a lovely lunch.  Total cost? Would you believe Euros 40 for the two of us including two beers when we sat down with local bread and olive oil.

There are 4 Michelin Star Restaurants – Porto

In fact, there are 20 Michelin Star Restaurants in the whole of Portugal.  For those who enjoy eating out at Michelin Star Restaurants around the world here are the 4 listed for Porto Portugal:

Good Cheap Places To Eat In Porto

Here are 4 recommended cheap places to eat in Porto as recommended by a local:

Where to Stay in Porto

We believe the best area to stay in Porto is downtown in the historical center.  It is in walking distance of the best of Porto.

Where to Stay in Porto
Where To Stay In Porto Check out one of our recommended guides to assist you.

 

 

Luxury Accommodation

What to do and eat in Porto

Photo courtesy of Intercontinental Hotel Porto

We stayed at the luxurious Intercontinental Hotel Porto.  We believe it is one of the best locations in downtown Porto, it is well located for sightseeing, close to the Douro River and faces the Praca de Liberdade.  It is well located for transport with the Sao Bento Train Station close by and Metro stations. The Yellow Hop on Hop Off Bus is located here and Porto Walkers start their walking tours here as well.

Here are some other suggestions in the 5-star luxury brand to stay in Porto:

4 Star Accommodation Hotels in Porto

3 Star Accommodation Hotels in Porto

Airbnb Properties:

There are many Airbnb Properties to choose from.  If you have not booked an Airbnb property before we have a special discount voucher for you to use.

Where to Stay in Porto
For More Suggestions On Where To Stay in Porto

Car Rental

Car Rental is available from the airport or in Porto.  We recommend:

Eurail Pass

If you are traveling around Portugal you may want to consider purchasing a Eurail Pass which will take you down to the Algarve, Lisbon and Porto as well as other parts of the country.

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What are you looking forward to when you visit Porto?

 

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What to do and eat in Porto

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