There are many tops things to do in Porto. It is one of those magical cities that draws all sorts of travellers with its eclectic attractions and relaxed vibe. Make sure you search out the blue tiles of the city; watch the sunset over the Luis I Bridge with a drink and dinner from the food trucks pumping music or lose yourself in the small streets and bars with some port and a fado performance. Porto’s popularity is on the rise, so add the port capital of Portugal to your list.
Igreja do Carmo Azulejos - The Carmo Church
The Igreja do Carmo is an 18th-century Baroque church in central Porto. The front of it is dramatic and stately, but it’s the wall on the right side of it that draws the travellers and photographers. It is covered in the lovely Azulejos (blue tiles) that Portugal is famous for. Pair these intricate blue tiles with carved window frames and a pretty side door and you’ve got the perfect backdrop.
Igreja de Santo Ildefonso - Azulejos Church
This gorgeous church is an easy walk from the main station in Porto, and it has one of the more stunning facades with azulejos (blue tiles). It was built in 1739, but the tiles were only added in 1932 (great idea). It’s got weird opening times, so if you want more than just photos of the outside it looks like it’s best to turn up after 9 am, but before 3 pm. It’s one of the more underrated tiled buildings, and when I went there was nobody around. Perfect for photo opportunities.
Luis I Bridge
The Luis I Bridge is the place to be in Porto. You can watch the sunset over the roofs of Porto from many different vantages while enjoying a great atmosphere. There’s even a park with food trucks and music to entertain the masses. I highly recommend the experience, it’s fun and reminds me of the relaxed party vibes of the bunkers in Barcelona, but be prepared for sharing it with lots of other people.
Livraria Lello - The Harry Potter Book Shop
Livraria Lello was opened in 1881 in Porto and is now rated as one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world. It has inspired JK Rowling and Karen Marie Moning with their books and inspired many more people to go there in search of the perfect Instagram photo. My advice is to do this place right. I am a book enthusiast and a bookshop is my church. I found this place beautiful, but very frustrating, as people weren’t there to quietly browse for stories, they were there for a photo on the staircase. Go when it opens to avoid as many people as possible. We saw people lining up an hour before it opened and from 10 am to 12 pm the line stretched down the block (avoid this time at all costs). What I wouldn’t give to time travel back to before this place was an Instagram paradise.
Some positives are that it sells some super cool Harry Potter books and it has a selection of books in multiple languages. To enter you first have to buy a ticket from their ticket office, you then join the second line to enter the actual book shop. I joked with my husband that the tax on what the bookshop earns is funding the renovations all over Porto.
Porto São Bento Train Station
I think all train stations should be this beautiful. Sâo Bento is a work of art with biblical scenes depicted in beautiful blue tiles on the entry walls. It’s strange to go there to marvel at the architecture while still being surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a normal commute. Bonus is it’s very close to the Luis Bridge and Azule Church. Right outside the doors is another tiled building of Porto. I think it’s a bank, and it’s easy to check out on your way to the station.
Torre dos Clerigos - Porto Tower
The tower of Porto is an iconic feature of any photo of the city. You can orientate yourself by using it as you can see it from all over. Apparently there’s a spiral staircase and great views from the top, but I was happy to view it from the bottom. A great place for a drink and views of the tower is Base Porto. It’s an open-air bar in Park Quisque. The best part about the park is that it’s actually built on top of a small shopping arcade. Super central, but leafy and green. It’s opposite Lavraria Lello so you can go here to de stress after that experience.
Do a Port Tasting
If you go to Porto you have to try port. This is the home of port, and one of the reasons why Australia’s port is now called fortified wine (they have trade marked the name like Champagne). If you have time many of the wineries (porteries?), have ware houses on the banks of the river just down from the Luis Bridge. They do great lunches and amazing wine tastings. However if you run out of time like we did then you may want to go to a bar that will let you taste multiple options. A great place that we found through research is Portologia. It’s super central on Rue de Sâo Joâo and do serval different port or wine flights to choose from. The staff know their port and you can also add food tasting platters.