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TOP 10 best attractions to visit in Porto

Updated: Mar 25

Porto is a city that deserves to be visited for at least 4 full days. But if you are staying in the wonderful city Invicta for a weekend or a couple of days, here is a top 10 attraction not to be missed!



1 - Santa Clara Church




A true baroque gem almost hidden and never mentioned by mass tourism, From religious house to Porto's cultural heritage, the Santa Clara church is not only a reference of the Portuguese Baroque, but also one of the greatest examples of national gold carving art.

The construction of the Church and Convent of the Franciscans dates back to the first half of the 15th century, in 1416. Inside we find one of the best examples of the gilded art of the Johannine Baroque, considered one of the most successful works of the art of the carvers of the school of Porto. Built next to the Fernandine Walls, which offer fantastic views of the Douro River, access to the church is through a Baroque door dating back to 1697, redesigned in the 17th century, with Renaissance elements and Corinthian capitals.


Location: Largo Primeiro de Dezembro, 400-404 Porto Santa Clara Church is a 10-minute walk from São Bento train and metro station and 2 minutes from Porto Cathedral.


Price: individual ticket for 4€, group ticket for 3€, free for children under 10 years old. Timetable: from 9am to 1pm and from 2pm to 6pm


2 - Porto Cathedral






Built in the highest part of the city, the Porto Sé Cathedral is the most important religious building in Porto. It is located in the Batalha neighborhood , next to the walls that protected the city in the past. The exterior of the building has a fortress-like appearance with crenellations.


Cloister of the Cathedral

The construction of the cathedral began in the 12th century and, throughout history, it has undergone many reconstructions, which is why it has different styles. Most of the cathedral is Baroque, although the structure of the facade and the body of the church are Romanesque, and the cloister and chapel of São João Evangelista are Gothic in style.

Inside, the large columns increase the feeling of narrowness and height of the central nave. It has a very sober decoration and the walls are empty, except for the main altar and some baroque chapels.

The cloister

Access to the cathedral cloister is from inside, through a door located on the right side. This cloister dates back to the 14th century and is decorated with tiles that reflect religious scenes. From the Cloister you can also enter the Casa do Cabido, where the “cathedral treasure” is on display , a collection of religious jewelry objects.

The cathedral and its cloister are two of the essential visits in Porto and the cathedral was deservedly declared a National Monument. And on the last floor there's the chance to climb on of the towers. It's worth climbing all the steps to get the well-deserved reward of one stunning view of Porto, Douro river and Vila Nova de Gaia.

In the center of the Cathedral square you can see a column that was used to hang criminals. From this point you will have a privileged view of the city, the Douro River and the cellars on the other side of the river.

Location

Terreiro da Sé, Porto 4050-573.

Time

From April to October: from 09:00 to 18:30.From November to March: from 9:00 to 17:30.On Christmas and Easter days it will remain closed.

Price

Cathedral: Free entry.Cloister and House of the Cabido:€3.Children up to 10 years old: Free entry



3 - Clérigos Church and Tower




The Clérigos Church was built between 1735 and 1748 in the Baroque style. It is crowned by the Clérigos Tower, which is one of the city's most emblematic monuments.

Clérigos Church and Tower

This monumental complex from the 18th century was built by the Clérigos Pobres brotherhood in the old center of the city of Porto, in the place known as the “Hill of the Hanged” , as it is the place where those executed were buried.

The Tower

The Clérigos Tower was designed by the Italian architect Niccolò' Nasoni famous in Portugal with the name of Nicolau Nasoni, who took 20 years to finish it. It's 76 meters high and has more than 200 steps give access to a privileged panoramic view of Porto.

On the way up to the tower, you will find 49 bells that form a large concert carillon that will probably give you a good scare if it rings as you pass by. Once you're at the top, all the effort will have been worth it, because you'll be able to enjoy a magnificent view of the city of Porto and take good photos .

The Church and the Clérigos Tower are some of the most important visits in Porto . It's worth climbing all the steps to get the well-deserved reward of one of the best views of the city. 

Location: Rua de São Filipe de Nery, 4050.

Time: Every day, from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Price: Church: Free entry. Tower and Museum of the Brotherhood of Clérigos: €8. Free for children under 10 years old





4 - Porto Wine Cellars




Just in front of the city of Porto, in the Vila Nova de Gaia riverside, are most of the cellars where, for hundreds of years, the most famous fortified wine in the world has been aged: Port wine.

Porto wine production

The fundamental difference between Port wine and other wines is the brandy they include to stop fermentation. Thus, the drink preserves the original sweetness of the grapes while maintaining a high level of alcohol.

The idea of ​​putting brandy in wine arose in the 17th century, when English traders were interested in buying Portuguese wines, but these wines could not withstand the long journeys on the boats that transported them. Then they had the idea of ​​starting to strengthen them with brandy so they wouldn't spoil.


Visiting the cellars

In Vila Nova da Gaia, you can visit several Port wine cellars. In each of them, a guide will accompany you throughout the winery's facilities, explaining where the grapes are harvested and the process of making their wines.

At the end of the visit, in each cellar they will offer you two or three glasses of wine according to the wine tasting chosen by you. *Important tip for the italian turists*: Not all the wine cellars include tours in italian language, so we will name here the ones that include also the italian guided tour and that are also the best recomendations for everyone: Burmester (click on the name to check the website with tasting prices and address)




5 - Ribeira




The Ribeira neighborhood is one of the most important places when it comes to getting to know the historic center of Porto. As its name suggests, it is the area located on the riverbank.

Riverside

Its colorful and decorated facades attract the attention of all visitors, both those that face the Douro and are reflected in it (best seen from Vila Nova de Gaia , on the opposite bank) and those that are part of the labyrinth of streets that form the neighborhood of Ribeira.

Perfect at night

If you are looking for a beautiful place to have dinner and stroll at night, the Ribeira neighborhood is the right place. You will find dozens of restaurants with terraces, where you can enjoy typical Portuguese dishes while enjoying the view of the Ponte de Luís I and Vila Nova de Gaia with its illuminated cellars. 

Location: Ribeira Pier

Transport: Bus : lines 1, 57, 91, 23 and 49.




6 - Bolhão Market





Near Avenida dos Aliados is one of the most lively and popular areas of the city of Porto: Mercado do Bolhão, where, since 1914, meat, fish, fruit, flowers and many other products have been sold.

The market has several floors, in which businesses are distributed around a large central courtyard. Inside this immense building the essence of the city of Porto is preserved.

In the market area you can see many  stores , mainly cod stores, that have not been modernized and retain their old appearance. Porto's central market is one of the most emblematic buildings in the city and with its recent restoration it no longer has the abandoned appearance that characterized it in recent years.

You probably won't buy anything, but it's worth visiting Mercado do Bolhão and immerse yourself in its nostalgic atmosphere , as it's a reference point to breathe in the real life of the city.

Location: Fernandes Tomas Street (Mercado Bolhão Building).

Time: Monday to Friday, from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.Saturdays, from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Sundays, closed.




7 -  São Bento Train Station





The São Bento train station (Estação Ferroviária de Porto-São Bento) is  one of the most attractive stations in Portugal and one of the main places of interest in Porto.

Mosaic at São Bento Station

The São Bento Train Station was built at the beginning of the 9th century on the remains of the old convent of São Bento de Ave Maria and still retains that melancholic and ancient air that characterizes the city of Porto.

Although its façade is noble and eye-catching, the real jewel is inside: a hall decorated with more than 20,000 tiles depicting the history of Portugal .

São Bento Station is located in the city center, so you will certainly pass by there several times. Don't be content with just seeing the facade.

From São Bento you can take one of the trains heading to the vineyard area or to one of the small villages in the region, including Guimarães, Braga and Viana do Castelo. 

Location: Almeida Garret Square.

Transport: Metro : São Bento (Line D).



8 - The Palácio da Bolsa




The Palácio da Bolsa de Porto building, headquarters of the Porto Commercial Association , is located in the historic center of the city.


The Palácio da Bolsa was built on the ruins of the Franciscan convent that was destroyed in a fire. Its construction began in 1842 and it took almost half a century until its inauguration in 1891.

Inside this Neoclassical building, classified as a National Monument , you will first find the large central courtyard, the Pátio das Nações, covered by a glass structure that lets a large amount of light into the palace.

Climbing up a beautiful granite and marble staircase , on the second floor you will go through spaces such as the Golden Room, covered with golden bread, the General Assembly Room, which appears to be covered with wood, and some other rooms until you reach the most important: the Arab Room . In more than 300 square meters of this Moorish-style room, inspired by the Alhambra, official receptions take place.

Our opinion

The Palácio da Bolsa de Porto is one of the best places to visit in Porto . The visits are guided and show very interesting aspects of the place and its history.

Guided tours can be done in four languages, and the first person who buys tickets for that time chooses the language , so it's a good idea to arrive early.

Location: Rua do Infante Dom Henrique, 4050.

Time: From April to October, from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm.From November to March, from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm and from 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm.

Price: Adults: €12. Student and senior citizen card: €6.50. Children under 12: free entry.


9 - Lello e Irmão Bookstore




Located in the center of Porto, close to the Clérigos Tower , is what is considered the most beautiful bookstore in Europe. A neo-Gothic style building built in 1906 houses Livraria Lello e Irmão. 

Inside , several antique details create an environment capable of taking us back a century.

Its huge wooden shelves full of books reach the ceiling and a beautiful carved wooden staircase reigns in the center of the store , while the stained glass ceiling projects natural light, bringing this unparalleled setting to life.

Don't miss a visit to this bookstore which, much more than a place to buy books, is a place to get lost.

Until a few years ago, there was an urban legend that JK Rowling was inspired by Livraria Lello e Irmão to write the famous  Harry Potter saga. But will this legend be true? In our Porto tour we tell the true version of this story that most tour companies and guides ignore

Location: Rua das Carmelitas, 144.

Time: Every day, from 10:00 am to 7:30 pm.

Price: 8€ which is deducted if you purchasea a book. 15,90€ online ticket with one book for free.




10- Casa da Musica




Designed by architect Rem Koolhaas, Casa da Música is one of Porto's most emblematic buildings and was built as part of the Porto 2001: European Capital of Culture project.

Casa da Música is a concert hall that began to be built in 1999 as part of the “Porto 2001 – European Capital of Culture” project. Its construction was delayed and was only completed in 2005.

Alburquerque Square

Casa da Música is located in the center of the Boavista neighborhood, next to Praça de Albuquerque. This is a large square full of gardens that are a great place to relax.

In the center of the square there is a 45 meter sculpture that attracts all eyes. It is the monument to the Peninsular War , which represents a lion on an eagle surrounded by soldiers with horses. This monument commemorates the victory of the British-Portuguese alliance over Napoleonic troops.


Location: Avenida da Boavista, 604-610.

Time: From Monday to Saturday, from 9:30 am to 7:00 pm. Sundays and holidays, from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. There are guided tours in Portuguese daily at 11:00, 14:30 and 16:00.

Price: Guided tour: €12. Children under 12: free entry.

And now that you have read our suggestions, do you want to delve deeper into the history of Porto? Book a tour or experience with an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide!




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