What to see in Porto in 3 days – Top Sights
Porto is the second largest center of Portugal and the northern capital of the country. Porto is not at all like Lisbon: the only similarity can be seen in the fact that both of these cities are located on the coast. Porto has a very special atmosphere, unique historic architecture, footballing spirit and stunning views.
There are so many sights in the city that it is impossible to visit them all in a few days. They are literally located at every step. To make your task easier, we have compiled a selection of the most interesting sights of Porto with photos and descriptions.
So, what to do and see in Porto to get the most vivid impressions?
1. Take a walk around the Ribeira quarter
The best place to start sightseeing in Porto is the atmospheric Ribeira neighborhood. Many tourists fall in love with this quaint neighborhood and understandably so, since every house is interesting. Walking along the promenade or down the narrow streets and admiring the authentic beauty of the charming homes with shingles on the roofs, this is the place to experience the spirit of Portugal.
There are plenty of little cafes overlooking the waterfront in the Ribeira quarter – and at reasonable prices. Be sure to stop in and, best of all, try the signature Portuguese francesinha sandwich, baked in the open oven right in front of you.
In the evening, the Ribeira quarter turns into the most romantic place in the city, so if you’re going to Porto with someone you love, go here for dinner or an evening stroll.
From the Ribeira promenade you can take a river cruise on the Dora or walk to the Don Luis Bridge, which offers a beautiful view of the neighborhood.
For your information. Detailed information about Porto, its beaches and prices in the city are presented in this article.
2. Admire the view from the Don Luis Bridge
The Don Luis Bridge, designed by a pupil of Eiffel himself, is one of Porto’s main attractions. You could say that this bridge for Porto is like the Eiffel Tower for Paris. Its unusual silhouette is often depicted on Portuguese port wine labels. In the evening, when the lights come on, the bridge takes on a special charm. To visit Porto and not take a picture of it is simply unforgivable.
Travelers are unanimous in saying it offers the best views of Porto, the Douro River, and the Ribeira neighborhood, with its red-orange rooftops. Photographs of such a magnificent panorama are like postcards. But the landmark is also interesting in its own right, with its unusual two-tiered design: the lower tier is used by cars and the upper one by subway trains. There are sidewalks for pedestrians on both levels. From the lower tier local daredevils jump into the water, charging tourists one euro each for their exploits.
The Don Luis Bridge connects the city center to Villo Nova di Gaia, where they hold port wine tastings at the historic winery. Therefore, the final point of the walk can be planned here. Be sure to walk across the bridge and look at the panorama, it will give you a special experience.
From the upper level, you can take a cable car that takes you down to the Porto seafront. Those who buy a ticket for the cable car sometimes get fliers for tasting wines produced in Portugal. The trip costs 6€ one way.
Getting to the attractions is most convenient by metro. Get off at the Jardim do Morro or Sao Bento stations and then walk a short distance.
3. Go to a soccer match at the FC Porto Stadium
Everybody knows that Portugal is a soccer country. A visit to the home stadium of the legendary soccer club is therefore worthwhile even for those who do not identify themselves as fans of this sport. Who knows, maybe after visiting this stadium you too will become an ardent fan!
The enormous Dragau Stadium was built for the European Championship in 2004. During this time five matches of the championship have been held there. Here everyone can feel the sports and soccer atmosphere of the city. Many people think it is one of the main modern attractions of Porto and Portugal in general.
If you can’t buy a ticket to a match, you can just look at the stadium outside and inside, visit the soccer museum and book a tour in English. Inside, there is a Porto Club store, which sells numerous souvenirs for soccer fans at fairly high prices.
It is most convenient to get to the stadium by metro. Get off at the Estádio do Dragão (yellow line) station.
- Location: Via do Futebol Clube do Porto, Porto 4350-415, Estádio do Dragão Stadium
- Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10:00 – 19:00.
- Web site: www.fcporto.pt.
4. Visit the FC Porto Museum
The FC Porto Museum is located inside the Dragão Stadium we wrote about above. From what tourists have told us, this museum is of great interest to all, and for soccer fans it is a feast. You can also learn a lot about sport in Portugal.
This is a very large and informative museum with lots of trophies, artifacts, and interactive screens. Even if you know nothing about FC Porto, you will still realize and feel its significance. It is best to book a tour which includes a visit to the stadium. They will tell you about the history of FC Porto and show you the inside and the soccer field itself.
Allow at least an hour and a half to visit the museum. The combined museum and stadium tour costs 15€ for an adult, 10€ for a child under 16, and free for children under 4. A visit to one museum will cost 12 € for an adult and 8 € for a child. Pensioners over the age of 65 enjoy discounted tickets.
- Address: Estádio do Dragão, Porto 4350-415.
- Open Mon-Fri 10:00-19:00.
- Ticket price (stadium tour + museum): 15€.
5. Climb the bell tower of the Church of Clerigos
Portugal’s tallest bell tower, the Clerigos, should be a must on the list of things to see in Porto in 3 days. This tall tower (75 meters) can be seen from various points in Porto, so it is considered one of the most recognizable structures in the city. It used to serve as a landmark for ships that entered the harbor.
The bell tower belongs to the baroque church of the same name, built between 1732 and 1748, which is also very beautiful, interesting and worth visiting. In 1910 it was officially recognized as a national treasure of Portugal.
Climbing the bell tower up the narrow stairs is no easy task. The observation deck is also quite cramped, but it offers a stunning view of the city. So it is definitely worth the climb.
- Address: Rua Sao Filipe Neri, Porto 4050-546.
- Cost to visit: 6€ during the day (until 7pm) and 5€ in the evening (from 7 to 9pm). Children under 10 years old are free, students 50% off. The day ticket includes a visit to the museum.
- Opening hours: 9:00-19:00 (tower + museum). The tower is open until 23:00.
- Website: www.torredosclerigos.pt.
Note! The city of Sintra with many unique castles of Portugal is described in this article.
6. Conquer the Arrábida Bridge on the Porto Bridge Climb tour
If you have 3 days to see the sights of Porto and you like extreme entertainment, be sure to become a “climber” on the bridge of Arrábida. The organizers of the project Porto Bridge Climb offer everyone from 12 years old to climb the 262 steps of the arch on the structure of the bridge, rising to a height of 65 meters. Prepare for the fact that the ascent will be exciting, but completely safe and not extreme.
All groups (one person and up) are accompanied by an experienced guide. You can book a ticket for the climb in advance, but it’s better to come straight to the place: there is a schedule of climbs. Allocate about an hour for the ascent and descent and wear comfortable sports shoes.
From the top of the structure you can see the ocean and the city from an unusual angle. Also, a pleasant surprise awaits everyone who climbs to the top. If you want the most incredible experience, climb the bridge during sunset.
- Location: Ponte da Arrábida, Porto.
- Prices: climbing in a group of 1 to 4 people for 17,5€ each, in a group of 5 people for 16€.
- Official website: www.portobridgeclimb.com.
7. See the Carmo and Carmelite churches, separated by the narrowest building in the world
One of Portugal’s most beautiful churches, the sumptuous Rococo Carmo Church, is located on the Teixeira Square, in the historic center of Porto. Right next to it rises the Carmelite temple. The churches are built so close that it seems as if they are one big temple. But in fact, they are separated by a house only 1 meter wide, which is considered the narrowest building in the world.
Most of all, the Church of Carmo, built in the 18th century, fascinates tourists with traditional tiles of Portugal – tiles “azulejo”, in appearance reminiscent of Gzhel. The walls of the church are decorated with the largest mosaic paintings with images of Carmelites, which is impossible not to admire. Moreover, the temple is decorated with statues of evangelists and sculptures of prophets. Its interior decoration is no less rich. That is why the church is considered one of the most significant sights of Porto and its surroundings.
It is worth noting that the splendid beauty of the Carmo Church is underlined by a splendid fountain with sculptures of lions, which is located on the square in front of the temples.
Address: Rua Carmo, Porto, Portugal.
8. Visit the “Harry Potter library” Livraria Lello
The Livraria Lello is actually a beautiful historic bookstore from the 1890s that features a unique wooden staircase – almost the same as the one in Hogwarts in Harry Potter. According to some versions, this is the staircase that J.K. Rowling was inspired by when she described the Hogwarts library.
The Livraria Lello in Porto is considered the third most beautiful bookstore in the world, so many travelers and Harry Potter fans want to see it. This is why there are often queues at the entrance and it gets crowded inside because of the large number of visitors.
- The entrance costs 5€: you can spend the money to buy a book but most of the books are in Portuguese, although you can find some in English too.
- Address: Rua Carmelitas 144 | Vitória, Porto 4050-161.
- Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10:00-19:40, Sat-Fri 10:00-19:00.
- Web site: www.livrarialello.pt.
9. Take a picture of the Porto Town Hall
The famous Porto Town Hall started to be built on the town square in 1920, although it looks much older. The building has six floors, not counting the basement. The main decoration of the city hall is its 70-meter tower with chimes, which can be reached by climbing 180 steps.
The town hall is considered one of the most photogenic buildings in Porto. It blends in harmoniously with the square’s overall appearance and enhances its somewhat pompous beauty. Take a closer look at this monumental building and you can see the myriad of decorations: sculptures, columns, and arches. Note that the windows of the Town Hall are made in many different forms: rectangular, round, oval.
To take the best photos, come to the town hall in the early morning, when the area is not yet crowded with tourists.
Location: Praça General Humberto Delgado, Porto 4000-172.
10. Tasting port at Vinicola Ramos Pinto
While in Porto, it is worth tasting the famous local port. Be prepared to be pleasantly surprised by its taste and take a bottle or two home with you.
The best place to try it is at a historic winery such as Casa Ramos Pinto which was founded in 1880 by the Ramos brothers. Here you can visit the winemaking museum and see how port is made and stored. A tasting of two budget port wines is included in the tour price. For a fee you can taste young wines, vintage and elite port wines.
You can get to the winery from the Don Luis Bridge by taking the cable car or the stairs. Combine a visit with a walk through the Ribeira district.
- Address: Avenida Ramos Pinto 400, Porto 4400-266.
- Price: from 7€ depending on drink selection.
- Opening hours: 10:00-18:00.
- Web site: www.ramospinto.pt.
Read what else to try in Portugal besides wine in this article.
11. enjoy the peace and vastness of Porto’s city park
If you’ve had your fill of architectural sights and are looking for something to see in Porto amidst the natural beauty, visit the Parque da Cidade do Porto. A stroll through this spacious park can be combined with a beach vacation on the Atlantic Ocean coast, as one side of the park overlooks the waterfront.
It’s a place to take a quiet break from the bustling city and enjoy the picturesque paths and lawns while breathing in the fresh breeze. In the ponds of the park swim different birds (ducks, geese, etc.), which are not afraid of people. It is not for nothing that visitors have nicknamed this park the green oasis of Porto.
The park is quite far from the center, so it is better to get there by metro or bus number 500. Allow about half a day for a visit.
Where you can find it: Avenida da Boavista, Porto 4100-121.
12. Understand the city subway system
If you want to change your idea of the subway, go down to the Porto subway. However, the word subway doesn’t quite fit here, because the metro trains in Porto run mostly on the surface. This is a great way to get to the airport, train station, beach and many sights.
But note right away that paying for tickets in Porto is quite complicated. First you need to buy a card for 60 cents and add a few trips to it. The cost per trip will be from 1.2€ within one zone to 5.5€ within all transport zones, a day pass is 7€. The whole metro system is divided into zones: as soon as you change to another branch, you need to reapply your pass.
A peculiarity of the metro in Porto is that trains of different lines can run on the same tracks. Therefore, check the direction indicated on the train itself, so you do not have to go all over the city in search of your station.
This is the program we offer to those who want to see the sights of Porto in 3 days. But of course you can make a completely different itinerary, focusing on your interests, the northern capital of Portugal has interesting places for all tastes.
All prices and schedules on this page are for January 2021.
All attractions in Porto, described in the article, are marked on the map in Russian.
Walking around Porto with a local guide and taking pictures from the air – in this video.
Author: Vlada Marsheva
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The sights of Porto: The most interesting places of the northern capital of Portugal
The city of Porto, Portugal, is located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The second largest city in the country is unique: due to its rich history and active development, Porto, whose sights can surprise the most experienced traveler, is always popular with tourists. Ancient temples, cozy parks, modern constructions, wineries – you can find absolutely everything in the city of Porto.
We offer you a mini guide with descriptions of the most interesting sights of Porto (Portugal), which will help to plan a fascinating trip.
Where is Porto?
The northern capital of Portugal, Porto is situated 300 kilometers from Lisbon in the hills of the picturesque valley of the Douro River estuary in the north-west of the country. For the best way to get to Porto from Lisbon, read this article.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Porto is visited by thousands of tourists every year and is the equal of Portugal’s capital in terms of its historical monuments, old buildings, museums, beautiful parks and shopping centers.
There are so many places of interest in Porto that when planning your travel itinerary it is better to find them on a city map, see photos and decide which of them are worth visiting first. Below we tell you about the most interesting places in Porto to help you plan your trip if you are traveling on your own.
The architectural richness of Porto is hard to overestimate, and it is no coincidence that the buildings of the historic center are protected by UNESCO. At first glance, many of the buildings seem unsightly, but very soon all their charm is revealed.
Luís I Bridge
Luís Bridge, offering the most spectacular views of Porto
The banks of the Douro River are connected by the two-level Luís I Bridge. Designed by Eiffel’s student Theophile Seyrig, it symbolizes the industrial development of Porto. The upper level is intended for the subway, while the lower level carries the freeway. Both levels are equipped with pedestrian sidewalks, while the upper level is connected to the waterfront by a funicular.
The former Stock Exchange building is adjacent to the Church of St. Francis. The Neoclassical style of the exterior is laconic, but the interior is in the opulent Neo-Moorish style: sculptures, moldings, carvings, mosaics, and frescoes adorn the palace’s interiors. The Patio des Nations, a patio with a glass dome, was recently completely renovated.
Photo By Matt Kieffer from London, United Kingdom – Palácio da Bolsa, Porto, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76855481
Photo By Ruialbuquerque – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16562299
Built in the 14th century, the fortress of Fernandina was an impressive structure with a defensive function, but it was later destroyed. The wall with its loopholes is the only one that survives to this day. It stretches along the funicular from the Luis I Bridge. The view of the Douro River is magnificent.
São Bento Station
Inside the station, photo By Ray in Manila – Sao Bento Railway Station, Oporto, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87602363
São Bento railway station is a major transport interchange in Portugal and a true work of art. The station was completed in 1903. Later, in 1930, the structure became an architectural landmark when, according to sketches by the artist Georges Colossus, its walls were transformed into a mosaic of azulejo tiles. The composition illustrates significant events in Portugal, everyday life, episodes from the history of the country’s transport development.
The Serralves Estate and Museum of Modern Art
On top of a hill in the west of Porto is the creation of Sarles Siklis and René Lalique, the Casa de Serralves, an Art Deco building from the first half of the 20th century. The estate is surrounded by the creation of the talented architect Gruber, a magnificent park with flowerbeds, beautifully trimmed lawns and alleys. On its grounds is the Museum of Modern Art, which presents permanent and seasonal exhibitions of prominent contemporary artists such as Miró, Gillick, and other creators of our time.
Temples and Cathedrals
The architectural grandeur of the city is embodied in numerous religious monuments that delight in exquisite opulent interiors.
Church of St. Francis
Interior of the church, photo By GualdimG – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87500261
Portuguese Gothic architecture in Porto today survives only in the Church of St. Francis, built in 1425. Subsequently, the building has been repeatedly renovated, and today the cathedral is characterized by the traditional Baroque exterior and interior splendor: Gothic vaults with gilded carvings, images of birds, angels, plants, panoramic windows, richly decorated entrance of the main facade.
Clerigos, with its 76-meter tower, is visible from everywhere. It was the tallest building in Portugal when it was built in 1763, and you have to go further away to see the time on the clock tower, which is so high up. A spiral staircase leads to the top of the church with 240 steps and when you climb it you reach an observation deck with a panoramic view of Porto.
The old city’s cathedral has a strict architectural style derived from the fortress from which it was rebuilt. The building’s military past is reflected in the loopholes and battlements that still stand. At the top there is an observation deck from which the monuments of the city can be seen. The interior of the cathedral was transformed in the 17th century with Baroque elements: chapel, Romanesque nave, luxurious apse.
Church of St. Clara
Photo By yuka HAYASHI from Osaka, JAPAN – Igreja de Santa Clara, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33362953
The Church of Saint Clara appeared in 1457 on the site of a medieval monastery. It is built in the Barroco Joanino style, traditional for that era, which emerged during the heyday of Portugal under King João V. The walls and vaults of red marble are decorated with gilded elements: stucco and wooden carvings.
Carmo Catholic Church
The church, built in the 1750s, differs from most traditional churches in Porto. The side wall on the side of the square is an illustration of the history of the Carmelite Order and the Israeli Mount Carmel.
The interior decoration looks sumptuous with frescoes, fine gilded carvings, and numerous paintings.
Modern art, soccer, technology, history, art galleries of great artists – the variety of museums in Porto is endless.
Perhaps the most popular of all museums. It is actually a bookshop, one of the oldest in Portugal. It is famous for being the place where Joan Rowling invented the Harry Potter saga. Inspired by the store’s interior and winding staircases, as well as the uniforms of Portuguese students.
Museum World of Discovery
The museum and theme park tells the story of the age of great discoveries using modern technology. Multimedia screens show the famous voyages of the 15th-century Portuguese explorers Vasco da Gama and Pedro Álvarez Cabral.
Using an audio headset, visitors to the exhibition can plan their own itinerary, experience the role of the discoverers, and learn the history of Portugal’s colonial past.
National Museum of Soares dos Reis
Photo by Por Alegna13 – Obra do próprio, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16427395
The museum is named after the 19th century Portuguese sculptor Sures dos Reis. There are many works by him, and works by other famous Portuguese: Miguel Angelo Lupi, Portoense Vieira, Domingos Sequeira. The museum exposition keeps most of the religious artifacts of the original exposition presented in 1833.
Porto Football Club Museum
The Portuguese love soccer, and FC Porto, which has won many national and international championships, is revered by the entire country. The museum occupies a part of the Dragao stadium where the team trains. The history of the club and the lives of its greatest players is illustrated by an exhibition of sports awards and videos on interactive monitors.
House Museum of Guerra Junqueiro
Photo By Paula Cardona – Paula Cardona, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59892468
Guerra Junqueiro was a Portuguese literary figure remembered for his democratic views. During his lifetime, he amassed a collection of rare tableware, exquisite furnishings, and religious artifacts. When he died, the writer’s daughter donated her father’s house to the city, along with his possessions, and a museum named after him was subsequently opened there. The Baroque building is surrounded by a beautiful garden and is a landmark in itself.
Porto Romantic Museum
The 18th-century Quinta da Masierinha mansion served as a royal residence for a long time. Charles Albert, who spent the last years of his life in the mansion, was especially revered here. Since 1972, the building has served as a museum representing the history of 19th-century noble life. Its interior was decorated with the help of Carl Albert’s great grandson and is as faithful to the original setting as possible.
House of Music
Photo By I.shevtsov – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=86487260
Porto’s main concert hall, the Music House, graces the cityscape with its unusual design by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. The building differs from the typical architecture of the city by its unusual shape; two of its walls are completely glass and through them you can see the artists performing. The Porto Symphony Orchestra and many famous musicians give stunning concerts here.
Parks and squares
The beauty of nature, the fresh air, the panorama of the city – it’s nice to relax in one of Porto’s parks after a stroll along Porto’s hilly sidewalks.
Crystal Palace Park
View from the garden, Photo By Portuguese_eyes – https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/49723748898/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=88904799
The park, created in the mid-19th century and designed by architect Emile David, has retained its original appearance. The vast area is divided into the Garden of Fragrances, the Garden of Roses, and the Garden of Sensations. The area is full of unique fauna, and peacocks stroll along the paths among exotic rare flowers.
The project of the Crystal Palace was a follower of a similar structure in London. It appeared in the park in 1865, and was later transformed into a hemispherical pavilion for the city’s important events.
The park has a huge area
At 83 hectares, Parque Cidade is Porto’s largest parkland next to the Fort of St. Francis Xaveria on the oceanfront. Walking among beautiful lawns and pine trees, it’s nice to escape the city noise and hot sun. The highlight of the park are the huge cobblestones that look like the ruins of ancient structures.
Jardim do Morro Park
This hilltop park is connected to the upper deck of the Luís I Bridge by a cable car. Shady palm-lined avenues are adorned with shaped stones and the panoramic views of the city take your breath away.
Photo By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20160504
Places to stroll
Labyrinthine ancient streets, modern avenues, and spacious squares are all the multifaceted face of Porto. Each alleyway and building seems to be a landmark.
A bright palette of old buildings in a maze of narrow streets, hundreds of people strolling along the promenade, enjoying the fine cuisine of cozy cafes, the panorama of the river with the Luís I bridge thrown over it – so the Ribeira quarter looks like. In recent years the area has undergone major renovations and there have been a number of stands displaying information about prominent people and organizations that have influenced Porto’s economic development.
The emergence of Liberty Square in the 18th century marked the beginning of the construction of the entire city of Porto. Today it is the central square of the city in the district of Santo Ildefonso, surrounded by avenues, expensive stores, luxury hotels, government offices, and luxurious restaurants. In the center is a monument to King Pedro the Reformer, and next door is the Cardoses Palace.
Foz do Douro District
In the 1930s, thanks to Porto’s mayor’s wife, the city acquired a charming promenade, Pergola da Foz. Today, Foz do Douro is a lush neighborhood with a palm-lined avenue reminiscent of the promenade of Nice. Modern buildings are being built here, and an old lighthouse on the Douro pier, which has served as a landmark for sailors for decades, serves as a historical symbol.
All of Porto’s business is centered around Allied Avenue, which has shopping centers, brand-name boutiques and the city’s best restaurants on both sides. The avenue runs through Liberty Square, the São Bente train station, the town hall, and a little to the right is the Bolyao market, famous for its fresh produce and a diverse selection of household items.
What can you see in a day?
A week is not enough to get to know the city. What can be seen in Porto in 1 day if you stay in the city not long? Here are a few options, look and choose the most interesting:
The hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses will help to see the main sights in the shortest possible time. They can save you a lot of time, and an interesting route is already planned for you. Such bus ticket is valid for a day, it allows not only to travel around the historic center of the main monuments, but also to go out near the main attractions, take a walk, take beautiful pictures, continuing the trip on the next bus.
The bus route can be combined with a cruise on the Douro River. This is a great option for those who want to see the picturesque panorama of Porto on the side of the river and drive past the magnificent bridges spanning the river, connecting Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia. The ticket entitles you to a free visit to the winery with a tasting of specialty drinks and an introduction to the history of winemaking in the region.
Be sure to take a tour of the Port Wine Factory. There are a huge number of cellars on the Vila Nova di Gaia side. We chose Graham’s with a free guided tour in Russian. We paid only for the tasting of the port. Read more about the tour in the video below.
To feel the atmosphere of the city, the best way is to walk. However, you need to have comfortable shoes for a long walk over the hilly terrain. Start in the historic Ribeira district, then if you have time, head to the museums, architecture or parks that you like as described in this guide.
Whichever way you choose to explore Porto, the city will be remembered for its extraordinary architecture, special color, coziness, and hospitality.