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Discovering Porto: Cobblestone Paths and Vibrant Culture

Porto, the beautiful coastal city in the North-west of Portugal is primarily known for its Port wine.  Plus, this beautiful city is definitely worth a visit as many attractions like the beautiful six bridges and the colorful tiled buildings alone add to its charm. It is a stunning Old Town on the picturesque Douro River.

Award-Winning Destinations
  • Porto walked away with the 2022 World Travel Awards’ prestigious award for being the World’s Leading City Destination.
  • Previously, in 2020, Porto was awarded by World Travel Awards for being Europe’s Leading City Break Destination. And in 2023, Porto took the coveted award back!

There is no shortage of fabulous photo opportunities and if you’re looking for beautiful Instagram photo spots,  Porto is a must-visit destination.

Visit Porto Portugal

The Best time to visit Porto

Porto is a sunshine hub come May to October.  The city enjoys a Mediterranean climate, so you can expect fabulous weather during the summer (June, July, and August). 

But, for the best time to visit Porto, I recommend going from mid-September to the beginning of October. The latter period is when students are back at school, ticket lines are busy but not crowded, and it is much easier to find a great table at a restaurant overlooking the Douro River! I also loved the temperature at this time, which is mid to upper twenties. It made for comfortable boat trips, and the most pleasant evenings along the Douro River’s many restaurants.

Porto on a budget

If you’re looking at saving some money, you may find that during Spring (March, April, May) and Autumn (September, October, November) hotel accommodation is less expensive, and the same goes for the prices of the many flea markets because they need to clear their seasonal stock.

Street photo
Porto Highlights of the Northern Capital, audio, self guided tour

“The city of Porto is known as the Cidade Invicta (Never Conquered City) and as the Northern Capital.  The highlights of this tour are the Clérigos Tower, the Cathedral, the Historical Centre, and the Bolhão Market. Moreover, you will get special recommendations on the best wine cellars in the city.”

How much time to spend in Porto

You can see all the main attractions in Porto within two days, but that is literally flying past with no time for exploring and discovering.  So, for a holiday in Porto, I suggest at least 4 to 6 days, excluding your travel days. 

Once you’ve settled into your Porto accommodation, it’s time to carefully plan your days because there are plenty of historic sightseeing, tours and cruises, food experiences, and simply meandering through the narrow streets to discover how life in Porto is lived. And don’t forget to add allowances for people-watching while catching a coffee and pastel de natas at a coffee shop.

Plan your Porto Itinerary like this

Plan a day for sightseeing on land, and plan another day for sightseeing on the beautiful Douro river which you can combine with a Port tasting or food experience. Then, plan at least two days to visit specific sites, go inside, and discover the history behind the historic exterior facade. One day to do so is way too jam-packed because there are many interesting sites. Allow a day for shopping and people-watching. The main street in Porto known for shopping brand names is Rua de Santa Catarina. This bustling street is home to numerous international and local retail stores, making it a popular destination for shoppers. It is also the home of Fabrica Pastel de Nata in Porto, and I suggest to pencil this stop into your agenda the day before you leave Porto. The reason is that here you can buy fresh and super-tasty Pastel de Natas like nowhere else in Porto, and transport them back home – they make for the best gifts from your time in Porto!

Go To The Maria Statue in Porto

porto portugal
  • Located in Alameda das Fontaínhas, the Maria statue sits on Passeio das Fontainhas 18 4000.

The Maria Statue in Porto, also known as the Carquejeiras Monument, pays homage to the women known as “carquejeiras.” These women were a vital part of Porto’s history during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Carquejeiras were vendors who carried baskets filled with carqueja, a type of shrub used for fuel. They would trek the steep streets of Porto, often carrying heavy loads of carqueja on their backs, to sell in the city or exchange for fish brought in by fishermen.

The statue depicts one of these women, laden with carqueja, embodying the resilience, strength, and hard work of these women who contributed significantly to the daily life and economy of Porto. It stands as a tribute to their labor and the integral role they played in the city’s history. The monument serves as a reminder of their perseverance and the historical context of Porto’s past.

Porto hill, Maria Statue, things to see in Porto, Portugal

From labor to legacy: A glimpse of Porto’s past steeped in history, where the resilient carquejeiras once tread, now paved with echoes of their enduring spirit.

Vineyards Terraced

The beautiful Douro Valley

While in Porto you simply must do a wine cellar tour and tasting. In the Douro Valley of Northern Portugal, they produce the world-famous Port wine (also known as Vinho do Porto, Portuguese pronunciation: [ˌviɲu duˈpoɾtu], or simply port) – a Portuguese fortified wine, which is enjoyed all over the world. 

As our Tuk-Tuk guide put it: “We produce thousands of barrels of port wine and we need you to help us to get rid of it. We don’t seem to finish it on our own, we need your help!” 

Lonely Planet's 3rd Most beautiful library in the world

Porto, Portugal, library
The Livraria Lello & Irmão, commonly known in English as the Lello Bookshop. You'll find it at R.das Carmelitas 144 in Porto.

Suggested Read: If you love libraries, you’ll love our collection of the most beautiful bookshops in the world.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Porto is a beautiful city with a rich cultural and historical heritage. The city received its UNESCO World Heritage status in 1996 because of its historic center of Porto which is a charming area known for its narrow winding streets, colorful buildings, history, and beautiful architecture. It’s a great place to explore on foot, with its historic churches, squares, and traditional houses. The Ribeira district, in particular, is a highlight with its stunning riverside views.

Day Trips from Porto

You can extend your trip with various day trips from Porto to other popular destinations like Lisbon, but be warned that this is a very rushed way of for example exploring Lisbon. 

I suggest you have a look at Travel and Home’s experience of Lisbon, and I’m pretty convinced you will want to extend your holiday with a few days in Lisbon. 

Day Trips and Tours

Explore Porto and the Douro Valley. Go on wine tours, food tours, guided walking tours, a river cruise, a bike tour, explore Porto on a Segway, attend a tile painting workshop or book a culinary experience. There are so many options.

To rent a car, or not!

You won’t need a car in Porto – explore by foot, boat, or tuk-tuk! But make sure to pack comfy walking shoes for an unforgettable adventure!

Travel Tip(s)

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Holiday Package

Book a ready-made trip

Book a ready-made holiday with a trusted tour operator to Porto and explore all the best sights.

Is there a language barrier in Porto?

Although the main language which is spoken in Porto, Portugal is Portuguese, everyone within the tourist industry speaks English.  I never once had a language problem that prevented me from enjoying the city.

Iconic photo spot

One of Porto’s most iconic symbols is the 72 meters (240 ft) high Dom Luis I bridge which spans the River Douro.  This iron bridge (one of six across the Douro River) was completed in 1886 and still carries traffic from the Ribeira to Vila Nova de Gaia. 

Where to stay in Porto

Porto is a popular backpacking and budget-friendly holiday destination. You’ll find many affordable hostels and inexpensive restaurants, and for the young-at-heart, the nightlife of the city is definitely bustling with energy.

I stayed at the Eurostars Porto Douro. It sits just before the famous Dom Luis I Bridge. If you want to be slightly away from the crowds and within short walking distance from the action, then Eurostars Porto Douro will do it for you. When, at sunset, you sip your cocktails on top of the hotel’s open-air lounge, remember to send us a photo!

If you’re looking for recommendations on where to stay, look no further. We have a few fabulous ideas: Top places to stay.

Compare price and what is available:  Popular accommodation options in the lovely city of Porto in Portugal:

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Travel Tip(s)

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