Porto is Portugal’s second largest city, and the Ribeira district is a world heritage zone of winding streets and churches that maintain the old-world feeling you expect from such a historic city. While Porto lacks the same “wow!” factor of Lisbon, I think it’s a beautiful riverside city filled with lots of good food, wine, riverfront cafes, and bed and breakfasts. Moreover, this is the best place to start your trips to the nearby Douro Valley where you can see the regions famous port vineyards!
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Porto
1. Wander the Jardim do Palácio de Cristal
2. Take a boat trip on the Douro River
3. Drink port at Vila Nova de Gaia
4.Visit the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis
5. Buy a book
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Visit the Stock Exchange Palace
Construction began in 1842 and took three decades to complete. The palace and its cathedral showcase the Neoclassical architectural style. You will find lots of commemorations of Prince Henry the Navigator in Portugal and this site is no exception. You can see a statue of the prince of Portugal during 1300s and 1400s. Admission is 8 EUR and it’s open 9am-6:30pm with abbreviated hours in the winter.
2. Make a trip to Povoa de Varzim
The village of Povoa de Varzim is a small fishing town situated 30-km north of Porto. There is a newly-renovated casino in the northern end of the village, along with water slides, nightclubs, and beachside cafes. A direct bus ride there costs 2-4 EUR.
3. Listen to live music at Casa da Música
This state of the art concert hall offers a number of performances which include local music and theater. A complete range of classical and jazz events takes place here. Most tickets cost under 25 EUR and some performances are free.
4. See the exhibitions at Fundação Serralves
This is a contemporary art museum and park. The museum does not have any permanent collections, but rather several exhibitions that change throughout the year. The rest of the exhibitions can be found in the pink Art Deco “Casa de Serralves” on the grounds. The museum is open daily except Mondays from 10am-6pm except on the weekends when it closes at 7pm. Admission is 10 EUR.
5. Shop at Mercado do Bolhão
This quirky market is full to bursting with fresh food, including meat, fish, fruit and vegetables and bread. You can also buy flowers and crafts. Its variety makes for a fun morning, even for children.
6. Watch a football match
Pay a visit to Dragão Stadium to take in a football match. FC Porto’s fans are some of the most passionate in Europe, and they have huge rivalries with other Portuguese teams. FC Porto has won the World Club Championship and Champions League twice and has also won the UEFA Cup.
7. Get lost in Ribeira
Porto’s old town is full of medieval streets, characteristic boats, charming cafés, and neat architecture. Have some lunch, try to get purposefully lost, grab a glass of port, and stay awhile. It’s my favorite part of the city!
8. Step inside São Francisco Church
From the outside, it looks like your run of the mill European church. Once inside, however, this Baroque and Gothic-style church will astonish you with its incredibly lavish decoration. Almost every inch of the place is covered in gold. Don’t miss it!