Cities can be quite overwhelming. So much to do, so much to see, so little time. At least, that’s my problem when visiting cities. Whether you’re staying in a city for three days or got a full week to discover all its gems, it’s never enough. Porto is no exception in this, and that’s why we figured we should help you out a bit. With a bit of help of locals, some online searching and lots of wandering, we came up with a top 10 of our favorite things to do in Porto!
1. Do a Port tour
You can’t go to Porto and not try out the port. Go to Vila Nova de Gaia and get yourself in one of those tours with accompanied tastings (best part). I did the one at Sandeman, which was really nice! Of course I don’t have any comparisons, but this one is definitely recommended. The ultimate excuse to start drinking port around noon and just keep on going till dinner.
2. Walk the Ponte Dom Luis I
Designed by the partner in crime of mister Gustavo Eiffel this bridge will give you stunning views over both the Ribeira and the Gaia sides of the river Douro. The red rooftops of the port houses on the one side and the colorful houses and churches on the other make a beautiful picture. Of course those views are pretty at every moment of the day, but at sunset the city gets a golden glow that will make it extra special.
3. Eat at La Cafeína or Terra
Probably one of my favorite restaurants in Porto. Compared to other restaurants this might be a bit of a splurge, but so so worth it! Everything that comes out of those kitchens is absolutely delicious. In combination with the gorgeous interior (serious envy here) and good wine selection, both restaurants are a treat for the taste buds.
Make sure you make reservations if you’d like to go here!
4. Visit Praia da Luz for sundowners
Drinks just simply taste better with your feet in the sand and the sun setting. No better place in Porto to have this ultimate drinking experience than Praia da Luz. Get there around 4/5pm, order a bottle of wine and some typical Portuguese snacks, and I’ll guarantee you, you’ll have the time of your life.
5. Stash Sandwichroom
The Stash Sandwichroom makes the best sandwiches in town. Their Iberico pulled pork sandwich is to die for and will make you go back for every single lunch you’re having in Porto. Don’t forget about their rosemary fries either.
6. Have a drink at night in one of the many bars of R. de Candido dos Reis
The place to be for drinks for almost every night of the week (exept for tuesdays so I’ve heard) is definitely this street. Packed with both locals and travelers enjoying their buckets of Sangria, this is one bustling place. Do your own pub crawl or find a spot on one of the terraces and have a great night.
7. Eat fresh fish from the grills in Matosinhos
This beach suburb north of the city centre is not only the place to surf in Porto, but also the place for the best fresh fish. It doesn’t really matter which restaurant you’ll choose, cause they all know how to grill their snappers and cods. Seafood heaven is right here, and what better way to experience this than to test them all.
8. Wander the streets of Ribeira
Don’t make a plan but just start walking. With the small streets, beautiful tiled houses and charming little restaurants the Ribeira area is like a labyrinth. Walking up and down the steep streets will give you the perfect experience of Porto.
9. Jardins do Palacio de cristal
The gardens of the crystal palace are a tranquil contrast to the rest of the bustling city. The gardens offer you the most stunning views of Porto and the opposite city of Gaia. Perfect for picnics and siestas.
10. Have a drink at Botequim Nostalgic
The river side of the Ribeira area is one big tourist happening, but this little bar is quite the opposite. With good looking hipster waiters, a cute terrace with river views and ever tasty drinks. So skip all the other bars and head straight to this spot for some well deserved drinks after a long day strolling the city.
Europe might be the continent of cities with all its history and culture. Normally people are mainly visiting the capitals of European countries, but I do advise to make an exception for Portugal. Porto has been an absolute blast with its beautiful architecture, amazing food, friendly people (who all speak so well English!) and relaxed vibe. So planning a city trip? Take Porto in consideration, keep this top 10 in mind and enjoy every single moment of it.
Photos by: M. Barends, J. Roeland©