The best places to see in Porto, city of contrasts

If you want to know what to see in Porto, here is the best summary of what you can visit in the city. Porto is the second largest city in Portugal, after Lisbon, and is one of the most visited by Spaniards thanks to its proximity and its beauty.

Porto is a city of contrasts where we find elegant squares and luxurious palaces interspersed with small alleys with an air of decadence and nostalgia. That is possibly the biggest attraction of Porto.

Since it is so close to Spain, be sure to visit Porto. If you want itinerary ideas, read the following articles:

The best thing to see in Porto. The essentials

1. Liberty Square and Aliados Avenue

What to see in PortoThe most central square in Porto is Plaza de la Libertad. And one of the main streets to see in Porto.

It is a square that connects the oldest part of the city with the most modern and from where the main street of Porto, Avenida dos Aliados, starts.

It has important modernist buildings from the beginning of the 20th century, and at the north end of which is the Town Hall building. Just behind is the Church of the Holy Trinity.

2. San Bento Station

Porto - San Bento Station - InteriorIf you arrive by train in Porto, it will be the first thing you see in the city, but if not, you must go to the São Bento Station, located very close to Avenida da Libertad.

It is a train station built at the beginning of the 20th century in which we can not only admire its spectacular façade but, above all, its entrance hall, where the history of Portugal is reviewed through its tiles.

We recommend you go at sunset and see the reflection of the sun on its 20,000 tiles.

3. Rua Santa Caterina

Porto - Rua Santa CaterinaRua Santa Caterina is one of the main streets to visit in Porto and it is there that we find several points of interest that you should not miss.

Rua Santa Caterina, the most commercial street in the city where we can also find one of the most beautiful churches that we can visit, the Capela das Almas, full of tiles and really beautiful.

There is also the famous Café Majestic. It is the cafe with the most history in the city, with a modernist style and that deserves a good visit.

4. Bolhao Market

Very close to Rua Santa Caterina is another of the emblematic places to see in Porto, such as the Bolhao Market, a symbol of the splendor that the city once had and that despite its decadent appearance today is a place that worth a visit.

In the Bolhao Market we can find different stalls of all kinds, highlighting the cod stalls, the country’s typical fish. We can also find flowers and even souvenirs.

Don’t be fooled by its decadent appearance and visit it.

5. Clerigos Tower

What to visit in Porto - porto-clerigos-towerThe Church and the Clerigos Tower is one of the symbols of Porto and one of the essential places you must visit in Porto.

The Clérigos Church, at the foot of the tower, is very pretty, but what really enchants its visitors are the views from the top of the Clérigos Tower.

For this reason, we recommend that you go up to the tower, do not be scared by the number of steps, and enjoy the best views you can have in Porto.

6. Lello and Irmao Bookstore

Porto - Lello and Irmao BookstoreVery close to the Clérigos Tower we have another of the main points of interest to see in Porto. In this case it is a bookstore. But, what does the Lello and Irmao Bookstore have to appear in tourist guides?

Well basically the beauty of its interior with a wooden staircase that will surprise you. But above all for having been the place that inspired JK Rowling for some of his Harry Potter books. They say that he spent afternoons there writing at the time he lived in Porto.

They charge €5 to enter but if you buy a book they discount it.

7. Stock Exchange Palace

Porto - Stock Exchange PalaceThe Stock Exchange Palace is one of the most beautiful buildings in Porto, located in the lower part of the city, very close to the Douro River. The Porto Stock Exchange Palace was built on the ruins of a convent and was inaugurated at the end of the 19th century.

The interior of this neoclassical building can be visited and we can highlight the Patio de las Naciones, with its glass roof that will leave you speechless.

But its main point of interest is the Arab Room, located on the top floor after climbing some beautiful stairs.

8. Church of Saint Francis

Tram line 1, Infante station.Located next to the Stock Exchange Palace, we have one of the most beautiful churches to see in Porto, the Church of San Francisco, although its ornate interior may overwhelm you with its ostentatiousness.

And it is that its interior is covered with 300kg of gold dust. It is so ostentatious that there was even a time when it had to be closed so as not to offend anyone at a time when poverty was rampant in Porto. Still, it’s worth a visit.

From the stairs that lead to the church you have great views of the Duero River.

9. Ribeira neighborhood

Porto - Ribeira SquareThe most authentic neighborhood with the most history in Porto is the Ribeira neighborhood, an old fishermen’s neighborhood that you must visit if you are on a trip to Porto.

Its narrow streets full of restaurants where you can enjoy the best of Porto’s gastronomy are a true jewel of the city and strolling through them is one of the best things to do in Porto.

From the banks of the Douro River you have the best views of the Don Luis I Bridge, which you must cross to have the most famous views of the Ribeira neighborhood and the rest of Porto.

10. Dom Luis I Bridge

Porto-ribeira neighborhoodThe Dom Luis I Bridge is one of the bridges that cross the Douro River in Porto but it is undoubtedly the most famous of all and the one that appears on all the postcards.

It is an iron bridge, with two levels that connects the city with Vilanova de Gaia. You can walk across either of the two levels. In fact, we recommend crossing in one direction on one level and returning on the other. Cars circulate on the lower one and the Metro on the upper one.

It was built by a disciple of Eiffel, although the famous architect also designed a bridge in Porto, the Maria Pía Bridge, the first railway arch bridge in the city.

11. Porto Se Cathedral

Porto-CathedralThe Cathedral of the Se is built in the highest part of the city and is visible from the other bank of the Duero River. It is located in the Batalha neighborhood, very close to the square of the same name, another of the most interesting places to visit in Porto.

It dates from the 12th century and its interior is quite sober, as is its façade, highlighting above all the Cloister, from the 14th century and one of the jewels of the Cathedral.

Also of note is the Chapel of San Juan Evangelista, in the Gothic style.

12. Vilanova de Gaia

port-vila-nova-de-gaia-wineryThe opposite bank to the Ribeira neighborhood does not belong to the city of Porto, but to Vilanova de Gaia. And why do we talk about this town in this list? Well, for being the cradle of one of the most famous wines in the world, Port wine.

In Vilanova de Gaia we find the most important wineries in Porto, which can also be visited and where they will tell you the history of wine and its production process.

And it is also the best place to have great views of the Ribeira neighborhood. Also don’t miss the cable car that goes from the top of the Dom Luis I Bridge to the riverbank. A great activity to do in Porto.

13. Foz do Douro

Following the course of the Douro River from the center of the city and admiring the bridges that cross it, we reach its mouth in the Foz do Douro neighborhood, one of the most exclusive and considered the maritime zone of Porto.

It is an area with a great nightlife and where the city’s beaches are also located. And it is without a doubt the best place to admire a sunset watching the sun set in front of the Atlantic Ocean. You can also admire the Fort of San Juan Bautista

Foz do Douro is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Porto.

14. Crystal Palace Gardens

The most important park to visit in Porto is the Crystal Palace Gardens, located in the highest part of the city and that we consider essential in a visit to Porto.

And it is that in addition to the architecture of the Crystal Palace that is inside, from these gardens we must highlight the beautiful views of the Duero River. For that alone you have to visit these gardens.

Porto is a city of viewpoints. You will discover viewpoints in almost any corner. And in these gardens they are spectacular.

You can find more information on the official Porto tourism page.

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