Guide to Porto, Portugal: Food, Wine & Culture

Advisor - Trina Henry
Curated By

Trina Henry

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  • Portugal

  • Porto

  • Arts & Culture

  • City Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • International Travel

  • Luxury Travel

  • Local Culture

  • Local Food

  • SIghtseeing

buildings next to body of water during daytime
Curator’s statement

Portugal is a land of diverse experiences, from bustling cities to dramatic coastlines and everything in between, there’s a little something for everyone. Let Porto be the introduction to your cultural and gastronomical adventure. Wander its picturesque streets, gaze upon detailed tile work that exemplifies Portuguese design and sail the Douro at sunset. The locals are some of the warmest I’ve encountered in my travels. Let Porto seep into your soul and welcome you.

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Insider knowledge

Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there

Where to stay in Porto, Portugal

The Yeatman

Luxe wine hotel built into the hillside above ​​Vila Nova de Gaia, with 82 rooms and gorgeous Douro River views.

Fora Perks
  • Welcome amenity.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Torel 1884 Suites & Apartments

Luxury boutique hotel with individually designed rooms in Porto.

Fora Perks
  • Welcome treat in room on arrival.

  • Upgrade & guaranteed late check-out.

Advisor - Trina Henry

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Things to do in Porto, Portugal

boats in water during daytime

City Exploration

Staying in the historic center is highly recommended since Porto is a very walkable city. The neighborhoods of Se, Ribeira, Baixa and Cedofeita are an ideal jumping-off point. You can start your day near Câmara Municipal do Porto then wander south along Rua do Almada to admire examples of Porto’s famous architecture and distinctive tile work (azulejos). These painted tiles can be seen throughout the city on homes and public buildings. Take a peek inside the historic São Bento Railway Station to see some more of these (note: this is a key station to grab a train to connect to other parts of the city/region).

Tip: Use Porto as your home base for a day trip to the Douro Valley. There are great local tour companies that can take care of all transportation and visits to Quintas (wine estates). Self-guided tours via car or train are also an option.

Historic Spots and Landmarks

  • Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto) - Located at the center of Porto this is one of the city’s oldest monuments.

  • Clérigos Church (Torre dos Clérigos) - An iconic symbol of Porto. The baroque-style bell tower is one of the tallest vantage points in the city; with a trip up its 240 steps, you will find gorgeous panoramic views.

  • Dom Luís I Bridge - The Dom Luís I Bridge can be traversed from one of two levels. The top level is both walkable and able to be crossed using the city’s tram system. I highly recommend strolling the top level to take in the magnificent views of Porto and Nova do Gaia.

  • Ribeira - Stroll down the lively waterfront Ribeira and explore the many restaurants and shops. Many gather here to enjoy the weather, people watch, listen to live music or even dance under the shade of the Dom Luís I bridge. There’s always something to enjoy.

  • Livraria Lello - For the Harry Potter fans, Livraria Lello is said to be some of the inspiration for Hogwarts. Located in Cedofeita, this is also one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal. Due to its famous connection though this spot tends to be extremely crowded.

Port Tasting

  • On the southern shore of the Douro River, you’ll find the city of Nova de Gaia, the hub of Port lodges, which was historically at the end of the journey for port wine being transported from the Douro valley. Learn about port making and taste your way through the many styles from white to ruby and tawny.

  • I’d recommend dedicating a day to exploring this area. Don’t miss visits to classic tasting rooms like Kopke, Grahm’s, Churchill’s and Burmester. Each tasting room has different tour/tasting styles and may require reservations. Make sure to check out their direct websites!

  • Stop in for lunch at Mercado Beira Rio for more casual fare or if you’re feeling a little more upscale drop into Uva. At either spot, I’d recommend trying the local specialty, Porto Tonico, a refreshing drink featuring white port and tonic.

Activities

  • Day sail on the Douro - There are many options for enjoying an excursion on the water. Take your pick from chartering your own boat, joining a small group on a yacht tour or sailing on a classic Rabelo.

  • Shopping - Explore the shops along the cute streets of Bolhão. Don’t hesitate to stop in at Mercado do Bolhão to explore stalls filled with local vendors and restaurants.

Gardens and Viewpoints

  • Jardins do Palácio de Cristal - Explore these gorgeously landscaped gardens. Throughout the year there are local events and festivals held on its grounds. Make sure to walk your way down to the Torreão do Jardim do Palácio and climb the tower to see another amazing vantage point of the Douro and Porto.

  • Jardim das Oliveiras - Across the street from Torre dos Clérigos is this public green space which is always a font of activity, especially during summer when you can grab a drink and listen to live music at one of the park bars.

  • Miradouro da Vitória - Found at the end of a cobblestone street just minutes from Sao Bento is one of the best views of the Douro and Nova de Gaia.

A note from Trina

Tip: Use Porto as your home base for a day trip to the Douro Valley. There are great local tour companies that can take care of all transportation and visits to Quintas (wine estates). Self-guided tours via car or train are also an option.

Places to eat & drink in Porto, Portugal

table and chairs in a warmly lit room

1. Flow Restaurant and Bar - Have a meal to remember in this renovated neo-Arabic-style restaurant. The interior courtyard is softly lit and the perfect spot to unwind from your day and enjoy a menu savoring flavors of the Mediterranean. Highly recommend their ceviche and sea bass dishes!

2. Bota & Bira - Found this spot on a little side street and it turned out to be one of the best meals I had. While there are also Portuguese tapas this one is definitely for the meat lovers out there. The steak is fantastic!

3. Prova Wine Bar - For the wine lovers, spend a cozy evening at Prova and taste your way through Portugal via its wine. The sommeliers here really know their stuff and welcome you with a completely unpretentious vibe. They made great recommendations that opened my eyes (and palate) to Portuguese varietals that may be less common to newcomers to the region.

4. Curioso Cocktail Room - If you’re looking for a great classic or artisanal cocktail Curioso is for you. With a decidedly modern vibe, you can enjoy a drink on their patio or one of their 3 floors inside. Note: groups can even take advantage of their private room for events.

5. C’alma Specialty Coffee Room - Coffee connoisseurs should stop in at C’alma for their one of their signature coffee flights. I personally tried the brew flight, one coffee - 3 methods, which allows you to explore how the flavor profile of a single coffee can vary in taste depending on how it’s brewed.

6. Yeatman - If you’re looking for a spot with beautiful views then make your way to the Yeatman across the river in Nova de Gaia. Their patio at sunset shouldn’t be missed. Even if you don’t stay here it’s worth the trip to grab a bite to eat or a cocktail!

Advisor - Trina Henry

Travel Advisor

Trina Henry

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Portugal.