Looking for the best travel tips for Porto Portugal? Check out this epic Porto travel tips guide with the 12 best things that you need to keep in mind before traveling to Porto.

12 Best Travel Tips for Porto Portugal In 2024

Last Updated on February 29, 2024 by Soumya

Looking for the best Porto travel tips? You’re at the right place.

In this ultimate guide to visiting Porto, I talk about the best travel tips for Porto, including why Portugal’s second-largest city is so special, what to expect on your trip here, and what not to do in Porto.

Porto, locally known as Oporto, is renowned for its Port wine, stunning azulejo tiles, and decadent francesinha sandwiches. With a storied history and a UNESCO-listed city center, Porto is one of Portugal’s most beautiful places to visit

In this travel blog, we will learn all about little tricks and tips that will make your Porto trip absolutely memorable.

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Top Travel Tips for Porto Portugal

Porto is the Blue City of Portugal

Author gazing at a blue tile wall in Porto
One of the best Porto travel tips – see the azulejos.

Porto, also known as the Blue City of Portugal, gets its nickname from the vibrant blue and white tiles, or azulejos, that adorn many of the city’s buildings. 

Azulejos cover the facades of Porto’s churches, offices, shops, houses, and even train stations. 

These beautiful tiles are not just decorative. They serve as a canvas for Portuguese history and culture.

Churches usually have biblical stories depicted on them. Some of my favorite Porto churches with azulejos are the Chapel of Souls, Carmo Church, and the Porto Cathedral.

The main hall of Sao Bento Train Station has several stunning displays of Portuguese historical events and cultural anecdotes. 

Azulejos play a prominent role in Porto’s visual and cultural landscape, merging art and architecture in the most captivating ways.

The proximity of the Douro River, which runs through the city, to Porto adds a little more blue to the canvas. 

Pro Tip: Wondering where to see the best azulejos in Porto? Check out our guide on the 10 Best Blue Tile Facades in Porto.

Porto is the home of Port Wine

Port Wine Tasting in Porto
Don’t leave Porto without enjoying some Port Wine.
Image courtesy: SvetlanaSF from Getty Images via Canva Pro

Porto is known as the home of Port Wine, a fortified wine that has been produced in the Douro Valley for centuries. 

This sweet, rich wine is stored and aged in the vast cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the river from Porto’s historic Ribeira district. 

In Porto, you have the unique opportunity to tour these cellars, engage in tastings, and learn about the processes that go into creating the various types of Port wine, from Ruby and Tawny to Vintage and Late Bottled Vintage.

Pro Tip: You can also do a day trip to Douro Valley, Portugal’s wine region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hop on a full-day tour from Porto that includes winery tours, Port tastings, and a boat cruise on River Douro.

It is easy to get to Porto

Trains from Porto to Douro Valley
You can easily get to Porto by train, bus, flight, or cruise.

Getting to Porto from Lisbon or from anywhere else in the world is easy and convenient. 

The closest airport to Porto is Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport (OPO), situated approximately 11 miles northwest of the city. 

Francisco Carneiro Airport offers a wide range of international and domestic flights, connecting Porto to major cities across Europe and the world. Once you arrive at the airport, you can take the metro, bus, or taxi to reach the city center in about 20 to 30 minutes. Book a reliable private transfer for a hassle-free experience.

If you’re traveling by train, the Campanha Railway Station is the main train hub in Porto. Porto Campanha connects the city with other major Portuguese cities, such as Lisbon and Faro, and even with other European countries like Spain. The station is well-linked to the city’s metro and bus network

Lately, Porto has become a popular stop for cruise ships, with the Leixoes Port serving as the gateway for maritime visitors. It is located in Matosinhos, just outside Porto, and is one of Portugal’s most important seaports. Many cruise lines include Porto in their itineraries, allowing passengers to disembark and explore the city’s rich culture, architecture, and gastronomy. Simply book a cruise to Porto and get ready to be swept away by this magical city.

The Historic Center of Porto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Twin Churches of Carmo in Porto
Porto’s Historic Center is a beautiful place to be.

The Historic Center of Porto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its fascinating urban landscape that has evolved over a couple of thousand years.

We can see the storied history of Porto while wandering through its narrow lanes where Romanesque, Gothic, Neoclassic, and Manueline buildings rub shoulders with each other. 

Porto has many free attractions

A blue and white tile panel representing Henry the Navigator in Porto
Tile panels at the Sao Bento Railway Station are free to see.

Do you know that you can see a lot of Porto for free?

Yes, Porto is a treasure trove of sights and experiences that don’t cost a dime, making it a perfect destination for budget-conscious travelers. 

One of Porto’s top attractions is its stunning Portuguese blue tiles that adorn many buildings, including churches, train stations, and ordinary houses. 

The best tile facades in Porto that are free to see are on the churches of Carmo and Saint Ildefonso and the Chapel of Souls. Oops, I forgot. The stunning main hall of Sao Bento Train Station, with its multiple azulejo panels, is free, too.

Further, walking through the historic Ribeira district is like strolling through an open-air museum lined with azulejo-covered buildings and impressive baroque monuments. 

To wrap up your day in Porto, be sure to head to the promenade near Dom Luis Bridge, where you can people-watch and enjoy a picturesque sunset.

Porto is the City of Bridges

Dom Luis I Bridge Porto
The iconic Dom Luis I Bridge spans the Douro River in Porto.

Porto is also known as the “City of Bridges” because it is home to 6 bridges.

Six spectacular bridges span the Douro River. These structures are not just functional but also architectural marvels, each telling a story of innovation and design. 

From the iconic Dom Luis I Bridge, designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel, to the Maria Pia Bridge, designed by Gustave Eiffel himself, Porto’s bridges are a thing of beauty and the city’s icons.

Pro Tip: Taking a 6-Bridges cruise on the Douro River is a great way to see and learn more about Porto’s bridges.

Porto is hilly

Streets of Porto - a helpful Porto travel tip - carry a good pair of walking shoes
The hilly streets of Porto. Be sure to carry a good pair of walking shoes.

Like Lisbon, Porto is hilly. You’ll need to walk and climb a lot to explore the historic center and Ribeira District. 

Don’t be scared of the climbs, though. You don’t have to be super fit to explore Porto. Plus, you can always use the trams and buses if you get tired.

One of the best travel tips for Porto that I can offer is to pack a good pair of walking shoes and a water bottle for your Porto trip. 

Porto has stunning views

View from the Clerigos Tower in Porto
Stunning views from Clerigos Tower. Best Porto travel tip – do not miss the views in Porto.

Lisbon is famous for its miradouros. What no one knows is that Porto has got its own share of stunning vistas. 

One of the most famous viewpoints is from the Serra do Pilar monastery, providing an unparalleled vista over the Douro River, the Dom Luis I Bridge, and the historic core of Porto. 

The Clerigos Tower in the historic center offers another breathtaking perspective of the city. As you climb the 240 steps to the top, you’re rewarded with panoramic views that stretch over the terracotta rooftops, winding streets, and beyond to the Douro River. 

If you want a different perspective, hop on the Porto Cable Car. Starting from the riverbank near the Dom Luis I Bridge and gliding up to the heights of the Gaia district, the cable car offers a unique vantage point over the river, the port wine cellars, and the vibrant Ribeira District below. 

You don’t have to visit Livraria Lello

Crowds at Livraria Lello Bookstore in Porto
Crowds at Livraria Lello Bookstore. You can opt out of this Porto bucket list item.

Livraria Lello is often touted as a must-visit Porto attraction for its beautiful architecture (neo-Gothic facade, red spiral staircase, and magnificent stained glass) and connection to J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series. 

However, it is also one of the most crowded places in Porto. Honestly, the beauty of the place gets lost in the crowds of people who visit it every day! 

If you’re willing to brave the crowds and jostle for space, feel free to queue up in front of Livraria Lello. 

If you do not want to do that, sign up for a Harry Potter-inspired tour instead. On this tour, you’ll visit other Porto locations believed to have inspired J.K. Rowling, and Livraria Lello is just one stop. 

Porto Card is not that helpful

Scenes in Porto
One of the most important Porto travel tips is that the Porto Card may not be helpful for everyone.

If you had asked me three years ago, after my first trip to Porto, I would have highly recommended that you go ahead and buy the Porto Card. But not so anymore!

Most attractions that Porto Card covers (you can have a look at this on their official website here) are not bucket list items. They are usually offbeat places.

So, the Porto Card is more helpful if you’re planning a more offbeat Porto itinerary instead of a regular, touristy one. 

That said, Porto Card covers both attractions and transport within the city. So, if you plan to travel a lot by public transport, a Porto Card might still be useful.

Or buy an Andante Card, which covers only transport and no attractions.

The food in Porto is too good

Pastel de Nata at Manteigeria in Porto
Delicious Pastel de Nata at the Manteigaria store in Porto.

Porto has a happening food scene. From hearty sandwiches to delectable seafood dishes and decadent pastries, Porto has a lot to offer every foodie.

The Porto Francesinha is a sandwich unlike any other, layered with various types of meat, covered in melted cheese, and submerged in a rich, savory tomato sauce. 

Enjoy some of the freshest seafood in Porto, from sardines to bacalhau (salt cod), prepared in unique ways. 

The city is also famous for its delectable sweets such as the aletria, almond tarts, and of course the popular Pastel de Nata.

Pro Tip: Experience delicious Porto food and wine on this walking tour with a local.

A day trip to Porto from Lisbon is not really worth it!

Boat tour and view of Porto Ribeira
The city of Porto is full of beautiful sights. One of the best travel tips for Porto is to spend ample time in the city.

Planning to visit Porto on a day trip from Lisbon? I recommend it only if you’re really short on time.

You can see little in Porto on a day trip from Lisbon. Traveling to and fro takes up all the time. To see the best Porto highlights, you need to start really early in the morning and finish pretty late in the day. 

Short on time? Go ahead and book a day trip to Porto from Lisbon.

Have time on your hands? Plan to spend at least three days in Porto. 

📖 Related Read: Read my popular 3 days in Porto itinerary to see if you want to spend three epic days in Porto.

Experience more of Porto and Nearby

Read our posts on
Best Things to Do in Porto | Grab this list of the best things to do in Porto, including the best places to see Portuguese blue tiles in Porto.
Perfect Porto Itineraries | From spending one busy day in Porto to enjoying a Porto trip of 3 days, our itineraries are definitely going to wow you.
Visiting Douro Valley | Plan the perfect Douro Valley day trip from Porto by train.
Porto Day Trips
| Spend some more time in Northern Portugal with these epic Porto day trips.

Loved these Porto Travel Tips? Pin it for later!

Looking for the best travel tips for Porto Portugal? Check out this epic Porto travel tips guide with the 12 best things that you need to keep in mind before traveling to Porto.

Soumya is an acclaimed travel writer who has traveled to 30+ countries and lived in 8 while pursuing her passion for history and culture. Her writings have been published in BBC Travel, Architectural Digest, National Herald, and many more. She loves exploring world heritage sites and has a deep affinity for everything ancient, especially the lost civilizations of Mesoamerica!

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