Porto, Portugal: 10 Things to See & Do

Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal via The Independent

If you read a previous post of mine you know that I’m going to be going to Portugal. Depending if I decide to post this on a Monday or on my regular Tuesday schedule, I may be traveling to Porto TODAY. (Hello, future me). Portugal is probably one of the top 5 European countries I want to explore and I’ll finally be tapping into it. I’ll be there for just under two weeks and I have a whole list of ideas to do.

Who knows if I’ll make time for everything on my list because I don’t want to be too strict with my itinerary. But nevertheless, I’d like to give a rough outline of what I plan to do during my time in the beautiful Porto. My goal is to enjoy my time in Porto but also take advantage of its prime location to take day trips around the area. So, if you’d like to find out what I’d like to explore, keep reading.

What to do and see in Porto, Portugal?

1. Take a walk across the high level of the Dom Luis bridge.

The upper and lower levels are open for pedestrians to walk across. The upper level however gives you better views. I’ve seen videos of people saying it can be a tad frightening if you’re afraid of heights. But it seems so, so worth it. On the lower level you may see some people jump off of it into the water. I won’t be doing that because I’ll be there in the beginning of April (and because that seems CRAZY). But hey, if you’re into that…

2. Marvel at the azulejos of São Bento train station.

São Bento train station in Porto

A train station isn’t usually a “sight” for people to take time to go and see. I plan on taking day trips while in Porto to see Aveiro and Braga. So I’ll be in São Bento during those days. However even if I wasn’t going to be traveling throughout Portugal, I’d make sure to make time to see this beauty. The blue tiles and artwork (azulejos) are magnificent.

3. Visit the library that inspired J.K. Rowling.

Livraria Lello in Porto
Livraria Lello, or the Lello Bookstore

J.K. Rowling lived in Porto for a bit. Some say this small but mesmerizing bookstore inspired her when writing Harry Potter. Truthfully, I’m not a Harry Potter fan. I haven’t seen any of the movies or read the books. But I still think this would be a great sight to see, plus, I love bookstores. During my first solo trip to Montreal, I spent almost two hours scouring the bookstore. I can’t wait to do the same in Porto!

Note: You have to pay to visit this bookstore since it is a popular tourist attraction. You get your ticket from a small store on the corner of the street. (Not the actual bookstore!) However, if you purchase something you get the price of the ticket subtracted from your purchase!

Source: Samuel and Audrey, travel Youtubers

4. Eat some pasteis de natas.

Pasteis de Nata

I never grew out of my picky eating “phase” as a child. Thus, I’m not a huge foodie and trying local cuisine from my future travels isn’t one of the things that most excite me. But even with my bland taste palette, these sweet treats seem like they’d be delicious. Plus, most places sell them for about a euro! Not too bad for an afternoon snack.

5. Climb the steps of the Clérigos Tower.

This is a great spot to stand and admire the views of the city. You can pay a few euros and climb the 240 steps to reach the top. It seems like a narrow climb, but it can be a great way to burn off all those pasteis de nata’s!

6. People watch around Praça da Ribeira.

Praça da Ribeira, or Ribeira Plaza, is the main square of Porto. It’s near the river, so easy to catch a river cruise or simply admire the water. There’s also many restaurants, bars, shops and houses to admire around this area. I have seen that this area is usually filled with tourists, so if you do choose to eat around here, be prepared to spend more money.

7. Catch the sunrise/sunset at Miradouro da Vitória.

Miradouro da Vitória
Miradouro da Vitória

If you want a nice view of the city but don’t want to pay to visit the Clérigos Tower, the Miradouro viewpoint is an excellent choice. It gives you the stunning views of Porto but for FREE. Just make sure to check it’ll be open for visitors when you want to see it. I’ve also seen it’s up on top of a steep hill, so wear comfy shoes!

8. Check out the iconic Portuguese churches.

Igreja de Santo Ildefonso

Like most European cities, Porto has many beautiful churches to choose from. I tried to narrow it down to only a couple because I don’t want to get “churched out” if that’s a thing. For me, the two that grabbed my attention the most are the church of Santo Ildefonso and the church of Our Lady of Carmo (Igreja do Carmo). Also, there’s Capelas das Almas, a beautiful chapel you can visit.

Santo Ildefonso and Capela das Almas are free to visit. Igreja do Carmo is around 3 euros to visit. Depending on my budget I’d still plan to see it, but perhaps just opt to enjoy it from the outside and take photos of the azulejos covering the exterior!

9. Take day trips to nearby cities.

Train travel is most European countries are so good (and cheap). Portugal is no exception. As of the time I’m writing this post, I haven’t solidified my entire 12 day trip to Porto. So I may end up taking the train and spending a few days in Lisbon. However, there are beautiful cities very close to Porto I’ll be able to visit for the day. Such as: Aveiro (known as the Venice or Portugal), Coimbra, Guimarães and Braga.

10. Stay in hostels.

As I became more & more interested in traveling abroad and doing it in a budget friendly manner, I’ve learned more about hostels. The thought of them sounded gross and dangerous to me at first. But I’ve now realized that many places have amazing hostels. Specifically, Portugal is known for having amazing hostels for cheap prices. I’ve currently booked 5 nights in a beautiful looking hostel called Selina Porto. I plan to book a 2-3 night stay in PILOT Design Hostel & Bar. And if I do decide to go to Lisbon for a few days, I’ll be staying in We Love F. Tourists, which has excellent reviews and starts at around $16 a night.

Stay tuned for my reviews on these hostels as well as my overall first experience!

Have you been to Porto? What am I missing?

I realize there’s no way to explore an entire city in less than two weeks. But I hope I am hitting some of the must-see things while in Porto. Let me know what is on your bucket list for Porto. Thanks for reading!


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