Top Six Recommendations
Visiting Porto, Portugal? Here’s our top 6 MUST-NOT-MISS recommendations for your trip! The second largest city in Portugal and one of the most affordable places to visit in Western Europe, Porto is a dream destination! Also known as the capital of the north, Porto is home to 2.4 million people. It has long been a hot destination for wine lovers, as it is the best place to start your trip to the nearby Douro Valley, where you can explore and tour the region’s famous Port wine vineyards. But this city by the sea has more to offer than vinho. Porto is an attractive European mini-metropolis on Portugal’s northwestern coast where visitors can get their fill of culture, museums, fine wines, historic buildings, gorgeous beaches, and old-European charm. It is located right along the Douro River and is characterized by hilly cobblestone streets, centuries-old churches, and beautiful azulejo tiles. The charms of Porto are plentiful and this city’s laid-back vibe gives travelers to Europe a much-needed respite from the faster-paced, museum packed cities nearby. No matter what you choose to see and do in this captivating city, you’ll leave with an appreciation of Porto’s diverse offerings, some great photos and ideally, a bottle or two of its best wine.
>> Best Activity <<
1. Port Wine Houses
Port wine tasting in Porto is an absolute must-do and an extremely rewarding experience. In Portugal, Port wine is more than an sweet drink, it’s actually a huge part of Portuguese culture and history, and absolutely fascinating to learn about. While tastings are available all around the city, it is best to taste Port wine at one of the original Port wine houses of Vila Nova de Gaia. These famous Port houses, including Calem, Graham’s, Pocas, Cockburn’s & more, are the original warehouses that store the fortified Port wine, after being harvested from the Douro Valley vineyards. We recommend setting up a tour & tasting in advance of your trip. During the tour you will learn about the fascinating and complex production and blending of Port wines, you will see the huge wooden vats and extremely old oak barrels holding decades-old wine, and you will taste a variety of Port wines (with the optional food pairings, which we highly recommend).
>> Best Restaurant <<
2. Casa De Cha Da Boa Nova
In our opinion, this two Michelin star restaurant is the best spot in all of Portugal. Between the food, the wine, the service, and the views, it is an unforgettable experience from beginning to end. Enjoy a truly marvelous culinary experience in this restaurant, occupying a property declared a National Monument and located on the rocks above the beach right by the water’s edge. It is the perfect setting for locally inspired cuisine that is only available through a tasting menu that features either 6, 12 or 21 dishes. Being foodies, we recommend the 21 courses. Book reservations as far in advance as possible. Trust us, this is one restaurant you do NOT want to miss! Be sure to check out our full review of this restaurant, linked here, to learn even more.
>> Best Club <<
3. Hot Five Jazz Club
Located in the historic center, this well-known musical night spot, provides an exceptional evening of live jazz and blues music from Wednesdays to Sundays. It opened back in 2006, and has since been considered the oldest, most charismatic & authentic live music club in town! There is a varied menu of appetizers and drinks, a cozy setting, and an inspiring environment.
>> Best Day Trip <<
4. A tour of the Douro Valley
Porto has long been a hot destination for wine lovers, as it is located about one hour away from the Douro Valley. Dating all the way back to 1756, the Douro Valley is one of the world’s best known and oldest wine regions! Port, a sweet dessert wine, hails from this region, and the mountainous Douro Valley is filled with dozens of exceptional vineyards. We highly recommend booking a full day wine tour to get the ultimate Douro Valley experience (and to avoid driving). Tours run around 100 EUR per person, generally last around 8.5 hours, and include visits to two or more vineyards, a boat cruise along the river, lunch, music, and an incredible time. We went on this AirBNB tour, with Manuel & his family, and cannot stop raving about it!
>> Best Local Food <<
5. The Francesinha
A messier and tastier version of a Croque Monsieur, the Francesinha was created in Porto and continues to be one of the most loved sandwiches in the city. It consists of bread, layered with pork, ham and steak, then topped with melted cheese, tomato, beer gravy, and an optional egg.
Overall, Porto is a great city for food lovers, emphasizing fish, meat, olive oil, bread, tomato, herbs, and spices. The food in Portugal is made with simple ingredients that are impeccably prepared, with Cod, grilled sardines, sea bass, and shellfish as some of the most common staples. Other popular dishes include cozido à portuguesa (boiled stew), peixinhos da horta (breaded and fried vegetables), cured ham, prego (beef sandwich), and bifana (pork sandwich). We put together a list of our favorite Porto restaurant on our full Porto travel guide, linked here!
>> Best Cafe <<
6. Padaria Ribeiro
This centrally located bakery, café, and breakfast spot is bursting with mouthwatering, local Portuguese treats! From the most traditional bread to the sweetest desserts, Padaria Ribeiro offers a wide range of items with the stamp of 100 year old, high quality history. Our must-not-miss items include the ham & cheese sandwich, the empanadas, and the classic pastel de nata.
As the second largest city in Portugal, this charming and laid-back city is the perfect place to take a break from the fast-paced, museum-packed cities nearby. Whether you are relaxing on the beach, strolling through the lively Ribeira district, sipping on Port wines in the Douro Valley, or exploring the numerous monuments, you are bound to have an incredible time. We hope you have enjoyed our post and can’t wait to hear about your Portugal adventures! Be sure to check out of full Porto Travel Guide for even more recommendations!