Top 10 Things to Do in Porto

Porto, Portugal from the Yeatman Hotel

Located in the north of the country, Porto is one of Portugal’s most famous cities. Best known for its Port wine houses, beautiful river, and historic architecture, the city offers an abundance of things for visitors to see and do. To help you make the most of your trip, here is my list of the top 10 things to do in Porto:

Go Port Tasting
Port wine tasting in Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto’s neighbor across the Douro River, is a must on any visit to the city. There are a lot of places to choose from, including many household names. Taylor’s, Graham’s, and others are all great places to go for a cellar tour and tasting. Port tasting is great way to learn about how the wine is made, and a good way to discover an important part of the local culture and economy (not to mention have an excuse for a drink!).

Visit the World’s Prettiest Bookstore
One of the oldest bookstores in Portugal, Livraria Lello (Rua das Carmelitas, 144) is also the prettiest. Ranked the third best bookstore in the world by Lonely Planet, it is worth a visit on any trip to Porto. What makes Livraria Lello so special is its dramatic Gothic Revival facade and stunning wooden interior, complete with a curving double staircase that ascends to a platform suspended in mid-air. Rumor has it that J.K. Rowling, who lived in Porto for many years, used Livraria Lello as inspiration for her Harry Potter novels.

Take a Trip to the Douro Valley
Porto’s Douro River runs inland into the famous Douro Valley, where the grapes for Portugal’s Port wine are grown. You can drive or take a train from Porto to the Douro Valley to explore the vineyards and wineries. Many of the wineries in the valley have tasting rooms and restaurants, and a lot of them offer tours where visitors can learn about Port wine production. If you want to extend your trip, there are great hotels in the Douro Valley, some of which have excellent spas and restaurants.

Take a River Cruise
Many companies offer boat trips to the Douro Valley, and they are a great way to see the vineyards ascend up the steep hills from the river. River cruises from Porto make great day trips, and are easy to book from the stands along the river in the city center.

Visit the City’s Famous Churches
Porto has no shortage of churches, many of which date back to Portugal’s golden age of exploration. As such, some have spectacular interiors filled with gold from floor to ceiling. This is particularly true of the Igreja de Sao Francisco, which has a stunning Rococo interior with golden cherubs as far as the eye can see. Also worth a visit are the Capela das Almas and Igreja de Santo Ildfonso, both of which are covered in iconic blue tiles, called azulejos, that can be seen throughout the city.

Go to the Market
For foodie travelers, no trip to Porto would be complete without a trip to the Mercado do Bolhao, the city’s historic market. Don’t expect any frills here, but do expect to find some great produce and local foods. If you’re still hungry after your visit, the nearby Confeitaria do Bolhao has great pastries.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Porto has no shortage of good dining options. Start out your evening in the city with drinks on the terrace at the Yeatman Hotel in Vila Nova de Gaia. The terrace overlooks the city, and the hotel’s decanter shaped swimming pool makes a stunning foreground for the panoramic view. Elsewhere, make sure to have lunch at Barao de Fladgate at Taylor’s Port Lodge. The restaurant, which is near the Yeatman, also has great views over the city.

Visit the Casa da Musica
If you love music or architecture (or ideally both!), architect Rem Koolhaas’ trapezoidal Casa da Musica concert hall in the west of Porto is a must. You can see a performance of one of the three resident orchestras there, or just take a tour. All the while you can marvel at the building’s maze of halls and lack of right angles.

Get Lost
One of the best things about exploring Porto is getting lost in the little streets near the river. Narrow and mysterious, many of them house historic buildings and great cafes, shops, and restaurants. The area is too small to get completely lost in, so it’s a good way to explore the city before finding yourself at a riverside bar on the banks of the Douro River.

Ride the Funicular
Re-opened in 2004 after being closed for many years, the Funicular dos Guindais takes passengers from the riverside at Ribeira to the top of the hill at Batalha. It is a great way to avoid the steep climb from the river up to the city center, and offers great views of the Eiffel-inspired bridge and Vila Nova de Gaia as it climbs up the 61-meter (200-foot) ascent.

Buses from Lagos to Seville

Statue in Seville

Buses from Lagos to Seville are a great way to get from Portugal’s Algarve to Spain’s Andalusia region while you are visiting Europe. In fact, due to the lack of train services between the two cities, buses are the only public transport option.

The company that operates coach services on this route is called Eva. Their buses depart from Lagos Rossio de Sao Joao in Portugal and arrive at Seville Plaza de Armas coach station in southern Spain.

Eva buses from Lagos to Seville leave every day at 6:30 and 13:45 from the beginning of September until the beginning of July. From the beginning of July until the beginning of September, buses leave daily at 6:15, 7:30, 12:30, and 14:45. There are no services on December 25th and January 1st.

The stated travel time on this route ranges from 4 hours and 15 minutes to 5 hours and 30 minutes, depending on which service you choose. That said, if you have an onward connection to make when you arrive in Spain, be sure to leave yourself extra time in case of delays. Additionally, keep in mind that Portugal is one hour behind Spain.

Tickets for buses from Lagos to Seville cost 21.00 euros one-way and 35.70 euros round trip for adults. Reduced fares are available for children and senior citizens. These tickets cost 17.85 euros one-way. Bus tickets can be purchased online in advance or in Lagos before you leave.

Trains from Regua to Pocinho

Douro Valley train
Train in the Douro Valley

Trains from Regua to Pocinho are a great way to travel when you are visiting Portugal’s Douro Valley.

Running along the banks of the stunning Douro River, the route offers great views of the vineyards and the landscapes in the region. Make sure to have your camera ready!

Trains between the cities are Interregional trains (demarcated at IR on timetables). They are generally fast and reliable, but make sure to build some time into your schedule to account for minor delays.

There are five daily trains from Regua to Pocinho on weekdays, weekends, and public holidays. Departure times vary slightly on weekends and public holidays, but the first train always departs at 9:13 in the morning and the last train at 19:07 in the evening.

The travel time on this route is between 1 hour and 22 minutes and 1 hour and 23 minutes, depending on which train you take. As mentioned previously, minor delays can occur, so make sure to leave yourself at least 1 hour and 40 minutes to complete the journey.

Tickets for trains from Regua to Pocinho cost 6.60 euros for singles, making the train a relatively cheap way to travel in the Douro Valley. You can purchase tickets at the station before you depart.