5 Fun things you must do in Porto

View from the bridge D. Luis, image by R. Neves CC-BY SA3.0

If you are visiting Porto for a few days and want to make the most out of it stick to this list to ensure a great experience. Below are my suggestions for the “must do” things in Porto.

Cathedral also called "Sé" of Porto. Image by P.B. Hemings CC-BY SA2.0

Visit the Cathedral and admire the view

When in Porto, one of the first things you might notice is the steep hills on which the city is built, and the amount of church towers you manage to see from view points. To get a nice view of Porto, nothing is better than to start at the cathedral of Porto, also called “Sé de Porto”. After paying at the entrance, you can walk up the stairs and enjoy one of the best views over the city while admiring the azulejo tiles decorating the walls inside.

Other good locations from where you have a great view is the bridge Dom Luis I and the Clérigos church:with an impressive tower of 75 meter (246 foot). Many locals regard it as the symbol of the city of Porto, however, the Sé was built almost 600 years before it, making the cathedral as old as Portugal (the kingdom was founded in 1143).

Eat authentic Portuguese food and listen to Fado

A visit to Portugal would not be complete without trying its food. Portuguese cuisine is very underrated and I have done a lits of my favorite authentic places to eat in Porto that are also affordable, click on this link.

Apart from its food, Portuguese culture is also defined by its national music, namely Fado. The music style goes back centuries and is usually performed by a singer accompanied by one or two guitarrist. The best is also to combine eating and listening to Fado: in Porto there are places that offer both, click here on this link to read my post on where to dine and listen to Fado in Porto.

Image from restaurant Solar do Moinho
Port wine served at Sandman

Visit Sandeman cellar and do port-wine tasting

One thing that seperates Porto from the capital Lisbon is its port wine. Porto has historically exported its characteristic wine to England since the 1700s. Today, the culture around wine is still very strong and the Douro Valley where the grapes grow is also worth a trip in itself. However, if you want to stay in the city, you can still learn about the history and the production process of port wine. There are still cellars in Porto that you can visit, one of them is Sandeman. Located on the other side of the river, in the Gaia district, there is a Sandeman cellar and museum that you can visit. Here is also an excellent opportunity to do wine tasting. Make sure to eat something before as port wine is stronger in alcohol than regular wine! 

Interior of library Lello with its trademark winding staircase

Discover Livreria Lello, the “Harry Potter library”

When J.K. Rowling was writing on her first novel she was living in Porto and the Livreria Lello amongst other things left an impression on her. The idea of the moving staircases in Harry Potter were inspired from this place.

“Livreria Lello & Irmão” is its full name and was founded already in 1881. It is often mentioned as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world by Lonely Planet and The Guardian. Unsuprisingly, it is also one of the oldest bookshop in Portugal with Bertrand in Lisbon. The bookshop is very popular as it is a place worthy seeing both from Harry Potter fans and history lovers alike.

Facade of the library Lello
View of the Douro river from the park Jardim do Morro

Experience the sunset from Gaia

Not many tourists know this but Porto is only north of the river and ends halfway across the bridge Dom Luis I. The town south of the river is actually Vila Nova de Gaia. Therefore, when people say “let’s catch the sunset at Gaia” it means watching the sunset from the garden Jardim do Morro on the hill connected to the bridge D. Luis I, 5 min walking from the Porto cathedral.

Jardim do Morro offers a great view of both the city of Porto as well as the sun as it glimmers in the Douro river while setting in the horizon. This garden is beloved by locals and tourists alike as it is one of the best way to end a day, not just in Porto but any day in my opinion.

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