Are you ready to explore the top ten things to do in Porto, Portugal? Portugal made it on to tons of top travel lists this year. After two weeks spent in this spellbinding country, I can see why! There’s delicious (and affordable) wine, miles and miles of coastline, and breathtaking views around every corner. One of the highlights of our trip was the city of Porto in the north. It’s wonderful to visit during the summer especially, since it’s a little cooler than Lisbon and other southern cities. Plus, it sits right on the Douro River, making it the perfect stop for a river cruise!
To introduce you to the city, here are our top 10 things to do in Porto, Portugal:
Top 10 Things to Do In Porto, Portugal No Travel Agent Tells You About
1. Go to a port tasting at a boutique
The city of Porto is littered with boutique shops selling port — since this is where port was born! In many of these shops, a sommelier will happily walk you through a tasting of a fine selection of ports.
Usually, you’ll get to taste a white, tawny, and ruby port.
Go to a few of these boutique shops and you’ll quickly discover your favorite type. I recommend Portologia, a charming boutique on a street that leads down to the Douro River — friendly staff and tasty port!
2. Visit cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia
No list of 10 top things to do in Porto, Portugal, would be complete without this!
Once you have a basic understanding of port, thanks to your tastings, it’s time to head across the river.
In Vila Nova de Gaia, you’ll find dozens of port houses, from famous names like Sandeman to more boutique-style set ups. While away an afternoon touring the houses, which often include visits to their cellars and a port tasting to boot.
For a more intimate experience, I recommend Ramos-Pinto. It’s a bit smaller than some of the big names, with a handsome courtyard and welcoming reception area for tasting your ports.
3. Stroll through the Crystal Palace Gardens
These beautiful gardens are a little out of the way from the old city center of Porto, but the long walk to get here is worth it for the stunning views alone.
You’ll see clear across the Douro River to Vila Nova de Gaia, where the picturesque port houses stagger down the hill.
The other fun surprise waiting for you here?
Plenty of peacocks strutting their stuff! Peacocks, roosters, geese, and other birds roam the gardens freely. When I went, little peacock babies were trailing their mothers — such an “aw”-worthy sight. It’s definitely one of my top things to do in Porto, Portugal.
4. Stop for lunch at Restaurante Antiqvvm
Our lunch at this beautiful Michelin-starred restaurant was one of the highlights of our trip.
It’s right next to the Crystal Palace Gardens, so it’s the perfect place to stop before or after your garden visit. The chicly decorated restaurant overlooks the Douro, so you get lunch with a view. The three-course lunch menu, at 25 euro, was also a steal for some of the best food you’ll eat on your trip!
5. Lounge in Praça de Lisboa
This little slice of greenery sits amid one of the busiest, most touristy sections of Porto — so it’s the perfect place for a pit-stop after you do some touring.
Elevated above chic shops below and studded with olive trees, this square overlooks Porto landmarks like the Torre dos Clérigos and Livraria Lello (the stunning bookstore said to have inspired J.K. Rowling’s vision for Hogwarts!).
6. Tackle the Francesinha
This is the equivalent of those “5-pound burger” challenges you find at pubs in the states. The Francesinha is a MASSIVE sandwich famous in Porto.
It’s made from bread, ham, sausage, steak, and melted cheese, and then smothered in a beer sauce. For extra protein (not that you need it …), you can even get it served with an egg on top.
Trying this sandwich at least once in Porto is a must — though once will probably be enough!
7. Take a boat tour of the Douro
One of the best ways to orient yourself to the city is by hopping on a boat tour down by the river.
Outfitters line the docks, offering hour-long rides that leave about every half hour. They’re a great way to see some of the magnificent bridges that span the Douro.
Of course, if you arrived to Porto via a river cruise, this excursion isn’t necessary!
8. Take in the lights along the Douro
If you’re looking for a pleasant after-dinner activity, nothing beats a stroll along the river.
You’ll hear the notes of street musicians wafting through the air and spy the signs of the port houses lighting up in the night across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Beaches in Porto, Portugal
9. Boat over to Afurada
Porto sits right where the Atlantic runs into the Douro River, so beach trips are possible.
Take a short boat ride over to Afurada, a charming fishermen village that’s bustling during the summer.
When we were in Porto, we could spy carnival rides and hear festive music coming from across the river in Afurada. It looked like a riot! It’s only a 20-minute walk to the Praia do Cabedelo do Douro beach from there.
Day Trips from Porto, Portugal
10. Tour the Douro Valley wine country
I’ve heard the Douro Valley described as Tuscany 30 years ago — breathtaking, and without all the tourist hordes.
If you’re a wine lover, a tour of the wine country a few hours outside Porto is a must. You can join small group excursions via van from Porto, many of which will pick you up right from your hotel.
If you run out of things to do in Porto, Portugal (or even if you don’t!), this is a great way to take a break from bustling city life. My friends went on an excursion organized by EFun Tours and had a splendid time.
So there you have it: our list of 10 top things to do in Porto, Portugal.
Has this inspired you to take your own trip to this magical city?
Whether you’re itching to do a river cruise down the Douro or a land tour of Portugal, get in touch with the travel experts at Southern Travel Agency in Augusta, GA and our online travel advisors to start planning!