Is Porto Worth Visiting? 17 Reasons Why the Answer is Yes

If you are planning a trip to Portugal anytime soon, then you may have wondered: “Is Porto worth visiting?”.

As someone who’s been to this beautiful city, I’m here not only to answer your burning question but also to tell you all the reasons why you should pay a visit to the second-largest city in Portugal.

Is Porto worth visiting? (Quick answer)

The historic city of Porto is not only an affordable destination, but it has a nice, warm climate throughout the year and can be conveniently covered in just a few days. Whether you prefer exploring it on foot and admiring its incredible azulejo tiles or you’re looking for some gastronomic adventures, there is something for everyone to do in this city.

So read on for all the reasons why I think Porto Portugal is an amazing place to visit!

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17 Reasons why you should visit Porto

01. It’s a great early spring destination

Portugal is generally known to have a milder climate than many other European countries. This makes it an ideal destination for those seeking warmer weather in early spring.

Specifically, the city of Porto experiences an average temperature of around 17 degrees Celsius (62 F) during March. This temperature is perfect for exploring its charming streets and other outdoor activities.

As a matter of fact, I visited Porto in March myself and can confirm that it is an excellent location to avoid the chilly weather that’s still lingering in other parts of Europe.

02. Beautiful azulejos

Portugal is famous for its azulejo tilework, but contrary to popular belief, you won’t find many places where you can admire it in Lisbon.

Instead, you should go to Porto. The city has some of the best examples of decorative azulejo tiles in the whole country. Here are some great places where you can marvel at their intricate details:

  • Se do Porto (Porto Cathedral)
  • Sao Bento Train Station: yes, train stations can be pretty
  • Igreja do Carmo
  • Capela das Almas (Chapel of Souls)
  • Igreja de Santo Ildefonso
  • A Perola do Bolhao: somewhat a hidden gem, this small grocery store has a beautiful tile-decorated facade
  • Steak n Shake restaurant: on the side wall of Steak n Shake restaurant you’ll find a very colorful and modern tilework
  • Igreja dos Congregados

Not only are these sights beautiful to see, but they are also some of the best photo spots in Porto.

Why Porto is worth visiting: Azulejo tiles Porto
Capela das Almas (Chapel of Souls) – Facade detail

03. Impressive Luis I bridge

Porto lies along the Douro River, so naturally, it has quite a few bridges. But the most impressive and popular of them all is Ponte Luis I.

The bridge is a double-deck metal arch that connects the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. At the time of its construction, it had the longest span in the world (of its type).

The bridge was designed by Theophile Seyrig, a disciple of Gustave Eiffel, who along with his mentor previously worked on the Maria Pia Bridge railway bridge, which is also located in Porto. This is probably why both bridges might remind you of a particular world-famous tower.

While you can walk on both the lower and upper decks of the bridge, I recommend the latter simply for the views of both the Douro River and the city.

04. Wine

The city of Porto is famous for its port wine (also known as vinho do Porto).

But interestingly enough, this sweet red wine doesn’t actually come from Porto, yet it’s produced in the Upper Douro Valley, about 100 km (approx. 62 miles) away. Though, during your visit to Porto, you’ll find plenty of places where you can taste it.

For wine lovers, I would also recommend going to Vila Nova de Gaia (Gaia) and embarking on a cellar-guided tour or even staying at one of the wine hotels across Portugal.

05. It’s a great choice for city breaks

The best sights in Porto are located in the historic center, so it’s really easy to cover all of them in just 2 or 3 days. In fact, 3 days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Porto, in my opinion.

For this reason, the northern Portuguese city is a great choice for a city break or as part of a longer itinerary.

Lello bookstore in Porto - ceiling
Lello bookstore’s stained-glass skylight

06. Lello bookstore

Porto is very proud to have one of the world’s most beautiful bookshops. It’s called Livraria Lello and it’s so popular that it’s actually very rare not to see an extremely long line of people waiting outside it.

Truth be told, part of its fame is due to a rumor that said the incredible bookstore inspired J.K. Rowling to create parts of Hogwarts. However, the author denied ever entering Lello during the time she lived and taught English in Porto.

But even though Livraria Lello wasn’t a source of inspiration for the beloved magic school from the Harry Potter books, it still remains an undeniable fact that it’s absolutely stunning.

07. Affordable prices

Portugal is one of the most affordable countries in Europe. If you check the cost of living in Porto on numbeo.com you’ll see that you can have 3 meals a day with drinks and just pay around 45 euros a day.

Add an accommodation cost of 42 euros per person for a basic, yet comfortable and clean double room with a private bathroom in the historic center of Porto (during the high season!) and your total cost per day is around 87 euros. That’s quite low for Western Europe!

08. Gardens of the Crystal Palace

The Gardens of the Crystal Palace is a beautiful park near the Douro River consisting of several thematic gardens. The park got its name after the palace that once stood in the place of the current domed pavilion.

Some of the highlights of the gardens are the amazing river vistas, the peacocks roaming free around the park, and the big “Porto” sign near the pavilion – what can I say? I’m a city sign lover :).

Things to do in Porto Portugal: Visit Gardens of the Crystal Palace, Porto
Gardens of the Crystal Palace

09. An inspiration for Harry Potter?

We already established that Livraria Lello didn’t inspire any part of Hogwarts, since the author of the books denied she ever visited it. But how about the Gardens of the Crystal Palace?!

People are saying that some areas of the beautiful park were a source of inspiration for the Forbidden Forest. I don’t know if the rumors hold any truth, but I certainly felt a lot of Harry Potter vibes when I visited it.

Also, the uniform of Porto University students (capa e batina) is said to be an influence for the books, and to be fair it does look a lot like the robes of the Hogwarts students.

During my time in the city, I saw some of the students having a celebration in the historic center and I have to admit: I was almost expecting them to pull out their wands.

Lastly, there’s the beautiful Majestic Cafe, located on Rua Santa Catarina, where J. K. Rowling actually mentioned that she sometimes worked on the novels. So why don’t you visit it, order a cup of coffee and imagine how bits of Harry’s magical world came to life there?

10. Great day trips

Porto is a great location to use as a base for exploring the surrounding areas and taking day trips. Here are some of the most popular options:

  • The picturesque Douro Valle region is famous for its vineyards and beautiful landscapes.
  • Braga: This city is known for its stunning architecture which includes the famous Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary.
  • Aveiro: Often referred to as the “Venice of Portugal,” this charming city is known for its canals, Nouveau architecture, and colorful Moliceiros boats.

You can plan the day trips yourself, or you can go with a tour for the convenience of not having to worry about transportation. Here are some good ones to choose from:

11. Delicious food

Portugal is known for having great food, so why don’t you take advantage of your trip to Porto to sample some of its best dishes?

My first recommendation is a dessert: Pastel de Nata (custard tart). This small pastry is filled with a really sweet egg custard and served with a dust of powdered sugar and a bit of cinnamon.

They’re so popular that you’ll literally find them everywhere. My favorite place to get them though was Manteigaria. They have shops in both Porto and Lisbon.

Another dish that it’s popular all across the country is Polvo a Lagareiro, and it consists of grilled octopus, which is first boiled until tender, served with slow-baked potatoes.

Arroz de pato is a traditional dish that can literally be translated as “duck rice”. The dish is often accompanied by seasoned vegetables and/or greens. It is then garnished with chourico, the Portuguese version of the Spanish chorizo sausage.

Is Porto worth visiting? - Colorful tiled houses in Ribeira, Porto
Colorful houses in Ribeira

12. Ribeira district

Ribeira is not only one of the most popular and old districts of Porto, but it’s also a vibrant, picturesque, and authentic part of the city. Located on the Douro riverbank, you can find here everything from trendy shops to authentic restaurants.

TIP: You can get a great view of the iconic colorful tiled houses in Ribeira if you cross the Luis I bridge to Gaia.

13. Clerigos Church and Tower

Clerigos is a beautiful Baroque church located in the historic center of Porto. Unlike other religious buildings in the city, Clerigos’ facade has no ceramic tiles, rather the church stands out due to its 75-meter tall bell tower from where you can admire the entire panorama of Porto.

You will need a ticket to climb atop the tower, but you can see the interior of the church for free.

14. Beaches

While Porto is mostly known for its historic center, wine, and amazing tile work, it also has its fair share of beaches both within the city limits as well as nearby. So if you are visiting during summer, you can always take a break from exploring and simply relax at the beach for a day.

Here are some nice beaches in and around Porto: Helmsman’s Beach (Blue Flag and Golden Beach status), Praia de Miramar (just 10 km south of Porto), Praia de Fuzelhas (Blue Flag), Praia da Granja (Blue Flag).

15. Palácio da Bolsa

If you’re looking to be truly swept off your feet by architectural grandeur, Palácio da Bolsa is one of the best places to visit while in Porto.

Nestled in the heart of the city’s historic district, this 19th-century neoclassical marvel stands as a testament to Porto’s rich mercantile history.

Once the bustling hub of commerce, today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site that draws visitors from all corners of the globe.

14. Sao Joao

Sao Joao festival happens every year, on the night of 23 June, which is Saint John’s Eve. Even though the festival is not that known outside of Portugal, it is one of the most lively street celebrations.

The most peculiar tradition happening during Sao Joao is people hitting each other either with soft plastic hammers. Festivities which include street concerts, fireworks, and jumping over bonfires usually last until the next day.

17. Lots of photo opportunities

If you’re someone who’s on the lookout for the perfect shot every time you travel, then Porto won’t disappoint.

The city is a photographer’s dream, offering a blend of natural beauty and architectural wonders. Imagine capturing the sun setting over the Douro River, with the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge in the foreground.

Or how about the panoramic views from the Clérigos Tower, where the cityscape unfolds before your eyes?

And let’s not forget the charming Ribeira District, with its colorful houses and bustling life – every corner here is a photo opportunity waiting to be seized.

FAQs

Is Porto in Spain or Portugal?

Porto, also known as Oporto, is located in Portugal.

Is Porto Portugal cheap?

Porto is a budget-friendly destination, with an estimated daily travel cost of less than 100 euros (this includes food, drinks, and accommodation). So yes, I personally consider it a cheap city to visit.

How far is Porto from Lisbon?

Porto is 314 km (195.11 miles) away from Lisbon. This translates into a 3-hour drive or an equally long journey by fast train.

What is Porto known for?

Porto is mainly known for its beautiful azulejo tiles, the impressive Luis I Bridge over the Douro River and its famous Port wine.

Wrap up

If you’re still on the fence about whether you should visit Porto or not, I’ve hopefully given you enough reasons to consider it.

From its stunning architecture and history to its delicious food and wine, there is something for everyone in this charming city located in Northern Portugal. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Porto right now!


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