The Absolute Best Things to Do in Porto
Shop, eat and explore the city with our guide to the best things to do in Porto.
Porto is a city of wonders. Every narrow street corner you turn around reveals another gorgeously coloured house, another breathtaking view and another local food speciality that you simply have to try. The city combines ancient and contemporary worldwide influences with an ease that will inspire you, from its gardens and museums to the river views. Here are Plum Guide's top picks of things to do in Porto.
Travel the Douro River
In Porto, the river is the heart of the city. So much of life thrives and buzzes on the edges of the Douro, so taking a trip on the water is truly the best way to absorb the energy, and it’s one of the top things to do in Porto.
There are plenty of sightseeing tours to choose from, but we’d recommend one on a traditional Portugese rabello boat. The route down the river follows that taken by wine merchants transporting port wine to the city to sell. You’ll also pass under the Dom Luis bridge designed by Gustav Eiffel and get to admire the beautiful houses that look out onto the water. Afterwards, we recommend trying some of that port for yourself – it’s very important to thoroughly sample it to get a sense of the city, you tell yourself as you pour your third glass of the stuff.
If you love the river so much that you’d like a view of it from your accommodation, this waterfront property is the one for you. With a private pool and stunning views across the city, it’s perfect for discerning customers such as yourself.
Eat Pastel de Nata
No matter what kind of diet you follow at home (intermittent fasting, no carb, keto... the list goes on. That’s just what middle age spread does to you, sadly), throw off your restrictive food shackles when you arrive in Porto, because Pastel de Nata are worth any number of gained holiday pounds. You could honestly fill a whole three days in Porto with port and Pastel de Nata and leave knowing you've experienced the best of the city.
These small pastries are comprised of crisp and flaky puff pastry filled with the creamiest, sweetest custard you’ve ever tasted. Hints of vanilla, spices and lemon complete each divine mouthful. In Portugal it’s accepted - nay, encouraged - to eat these for breakfast, so tuck in. You can pick up Pastel de Nata on every street corner, but our pick of the best in Porto are those from Confeitaria do Bolhão, a 120-year-old bakery with eye catching interiors. Pop there in the morning, pick up a boxful of the still-warm tarts and then head back to your sun trap private garden in this adorable pad and eat tarts by the fistful under the clear blue sky. Life doesn’t get much better than that.
Shop in the Mercado Do Bolhão
This marketplace is one of the most famous in Portugal, so it should definitely be on your list of things to do in Porto. You enter through the original 19th century wrought iron stone gates and encounter row upon row of market stalls, selling every Portuguese foodstuff under the sun and many hailing from other places in the world, too. Smoked meats and fresh fish and seafood, fruits and vegetables, crusty bread and flaky pastries, cheeses, sweets and much more, you’ll not only find you dinner here but also plenty of gifts to take home that will suit even the fussiest relative you have to buy a Christmas present for.
The atmosphere is made merry by the buskers here who play traditional Portugese music, and the whole marketplace smells delicious thanks to the street food stalls cooking their wares. The market recently underwent some modernisation, so it’s shiny, clean and ready to welcome you.
Climb the Clérigos Tower
One of the city’s most famous monuments, you can’t visit without adding a climb up this tower on your list of things to do in Porto.
This tower was opened in 1763 by architect Nicolau Nasoni. Built on an uneven street, seeing this masterpiece really does make you wonder if we just don’t quite build things in quite an impressive manner any more. You’ll have to climb 225 steps to get to the top of the 75 metre high tower, but the view from the top will make you forget your aching leg muscles (and anyway, we all know that you need the exercise).
For a house that has almost as impressive a view as the Clérigos Tower, head to this picture-perfect apartment. The view from these windows could adorn postcards, it’s so pretty. You can sit in the wicker chair by the window with your morning coffee and watch Porto go about its business.