There are so many fantastic things to do in Porto for both the adventurous spirit or the relaxed vacationer.
First things first: You might already be familiar with Porto’s Duoro River waterfront from photos or general research. And it is absolutely a must-see, given that its home to tons of restaurants, shops and attractions. One could easily spend a few days enjoying the waterfront and the gorgeous views.
In short, the waterfront is the #1 thing to do in Porto!
This list is for folks who have more time or want to see more of Porto than the iconic waterfront stretch. We spent a week exploring and narrowed down the list to these 5 wonderful things you must see and do when visiting Porto. We hope you enjoy 🙂
5 Incredibly Fun Things To Do In Porto
1Rent Bikes & Explore the Boardwalk (5+ euros plus deposit)
There is soooo much to see right in the middle of Porto, and it can easily be done on foot. But with biking, you just get to see sooo much more of a place with your limited time.
Plus it can get HOT in Porto. It was high 70s in late April and we would’ve fried walking. Bike rental was our saving grace.
Lucky for us, our AirBnb in Porto was just around the corner from one of the coolest bike rental shops ever. We thought it might be fun to rent for a couple hours and ride up and down the Duoro River waterfront.
Little did we know we’d end up on a biking adventure that was 100x better than we planned for.
The bike shop we rented from is called Vieguini, and the guys at the bike shop were super helpful and knowledgeable. Not only did they fit us with the perfect bikes and locks, they sat us down to talk about all the incredible biking routes that Porto has to offer.
We had no idea that just a short bike ride West, where the Duoro River meets the Atlantic Ocean, there’s a gorgeous boardwalk that stretches for miles up the coastline.
Some of the best restaurants can be found along this long stretch, as well as plenty of scenic viewpoints, outdoor bars and shops.
Our bike map given to us by Vieguini had the route all drawn out for us, so we felt confident in knowing the landmarks. We got to see so much more of Porto that we would’ve never been able to on foot. And there were tons of spots along the way to lock up and explore.
Our route included riding back to town through a couple gigantic parks that made us feel like we were right back in Amsterdam.
If you have the time and ability to dedicate at least 2-3 hours or more for bike riding, I absolutely recommend renting bikes and going with Vieguini. Their shop is right along the bike route in the heart of Porto, and they are top rated on all the sites like Trip Advisor.
PS: they also rent scooters if you don’t like pedaling… 🙂
2Visit the Livraria Lello (5 euros)
A visit to this historic bookstore is one of the most memorable things to do in Porto.
Harry Potter fanatics already are aware of this place, hence the line that forms outside nearly every single day. For those who don’t know, it is speculated that J.K. Rowling pulled some major inspiration from Livraria Lello, located in downtown Porto, when she lived here. Once you see the bookstore’s spectacular stairway, you’ll make the connection.
This bookstore is incredibly special in and of itself, however. Historically, this library was one of the few outlets dedicated to exclusive collections and first editions upon inception in the late 1880s. After a relocation, the current Livraria Lello opened in 1906 and still stands to this day as a staple for Portuguese historical and cultural collections, and other great books from around the world. The magnificent architecture and stained glass is also a gorgeous sight to see.
After being named one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world, paired with the Harry Potter significance, the bookstore sees thousands of visitors each week. However, sales don’t always reflect the foot traffic since many only come to snap a photo and leave. In order to make up for the low sales, there is a small admission fee of 5 euros which is credited back to you with the purchase of a book.
Not gonna lie, it gets packed in here. We do wish the store would better manage the flow of visitors, as the bookstore is narrow and it gets crowded quickly. The slowest times are first thing in the morning right when they open.
We recommend getting your tickets in advance so you can get right in line upon arrival, before the shop opens, so you can get in at its least crowded point and actually enjoy the specially curated shelves, the dedicated Harry Potter room, antique artifacts and so much more.
3Visit a Port Wine Cellar and Learn About the Duoro Region (varies)
Visiting a port wine cellar is one of the coolest things to do in Porto because of the history lesson you receive about the region.
Just opposite of the Porto waterfront, across the narrow Duoro River, is the village of Vila Nova de Gaia. It’s super easy to get to; simply walk, bike, or drive across the gorgeous Dom Luis I bridge and you’re there.
The Vila Nova de Gaia waterfront is much like Porto’s, with tons of restaurants and outdoor vendors. But what you’ll also find is a dozen or more port wine cellars that you can stop into for a drink, for dinner, or take it up a notch with a special tour and tasting.
Many locals we talked to said that any cellar you choose is going to be a great experience. We chose Cálem Cellars and had an incredible time taking a tour of their cellars, learning about the history and cultivation of Port wine, how it transformed Porto and where their production stands today.
We also got 2 port wine tastings and enjoyed a live performance of traditional Portuguese Fado music. HIGHLY recommend.
Traveler Tip: Nova de Gaia, just like Porto, is on a hill – so some of the cellars are a suuuper steep walk to get to. (*ahem* Taylor Cellars). The cellars right along the waterfront, like Cálem, might be better if mobility is a concern. There are also guided boat tours for those wanting a more leisurely experience.
4Pack a Picnic and Watch the Sunset at Jardim do Morro (free)
Also on the other side of the bridge, just up and to the left is Jardim do Morro. It’s an open lawn space and lookout point that offers the most amazing sunset views in Porto.
It’s a steep walk up to the top after you cross the bridge to Nova de Gaia, but there are alternative routes to get there, including public transit or by taking the Gaia Cable Car from the promenade (center of Nova de Gaia boardwalk) to the top of the hill. My video does not do this view justice, and honestly nor would some high-end drone footage. You just have to experience this for yourself.
We say plan ahead and enjoy a picnic up at the top for a really special evening. There’s no shortage of amazing wines and Port in Porto, so grab a bottle, some snacks, pack a towel or blanket and just give this view its due diligence. Savor this moment <3 And clean up after yourself, please!
Be sure to check the current time of sunset online so you get there plenty early for the spectacular show.
5Explore Rua das Flores (free)
Rua das Flores is one of those cool things to do in Porto that many miss, since so many attractions are right on the waterfront. It’s a narrow, pedestrian-only street that runs through town and is filled with tons of adorable shops, restaurants and local vendors.
One of my favorite parts of our visit to Porto was walking down this tiny street. The historic buildings, the smells of fresh-baked pastries, the sounds of local musicians playing, and flowers on nearly every balcony – Rue das Flores truly encompasses the artistic vibrancy of Portugal.
From local artist paintings and drawings to Port wine shops, locally made crafts and more, it’s definitely the place to go for a keepsake or special gift for someone else. The street really lights up at night, too, with string lights and a lively bar scene.
When we went a couple of the buildings were under construction, but since many of these buildings have been standing since the 1500s we understood that renovation is likely to happen once in a while! Don’t miss a leisurely stroll down Rua das Flores 🙂