As we enter the new year, it's time to start planning the holidays. If your plans include the city of Porto, then this guide is for you! We will explore the city throughout this article and give you tips on what to do and see, where to eat and everything you need to know for an unforgettable trip. Shall we set off?
Where to stay in Porto
On a city break, the location of the accommodation is crucial, and staying in the centre should be a priority. Choosing a central and well-located hotel, close to points of interest and importance including transport and services, is the ideal move.
In Rua das Flores, one of the main streets in Porto, you will find the 5-star hotel, the PortoBay Flores. It is very close to the Avenida dos Aliados, São Bento station, the cathedral and of course the riverfront. This is truly a haven in the city centre.
It’s only 500 yards from the PortoBay Teatro, our 4-star hotel next to the Teatro Sá da Bandeira, one of the city’s landmarks. In the vicinity of the hotel, you can find the Avenida dos Aliados, the main shopping street Rua de Santa Catarina, Bolhão Market, Batalha Square, São Bento station. .. and much more that you are sure to discover!
What you need to know before visiting Porto
Porto is a truly magical city where there is always something to discover and delights to explore at any time of the year. To make your trip go smoothly pay attention to the weather. Porto is a city with different seasons, so make sure you take appropriate clothing for the climate.
When packing your suitcase it is also essential to take comfortable walking shoes, as Porto is known for its steep climbs and descents.
Porto is well known for its cuisine and art of hospitality, so you will be able to taste some delicious food. But keep an eye on the time; most restaurants close between 3pm and 6pm.
What to do in Porto
Lose yourself in the city! Porto is a playground for adults; there is much to do and see and there are wonderful discoveries around every corner. Immerse yourself in the mystique of the city, and wander through the maze of narrow streets and alleys that will lead you to beautiful places you wouldn't otherwise find. Take an aimless stroll and you will be amazed by unexpected viewpoints and breathtaking views.
Watch a football match, even if you are not a fan of the sport. Football is a huge part of the country's culture and the Portuguese are extremely passionate about this sport; it is almost a religion. This is the only way to truly feel and experience Porto culture.
Long live St John of Porto! The 23rd of June is an intense experience in Porto. On the eve of São João, the city takes to the streets to celebrate, with a party that brings together kids and grown-ups, plastic hammers, leeks, sardines and lots of fun. Oh and Fireworks and music too, of course!
There are some things you really must try and drinking/tasting Port wine is one of them! Whether it’s in a bar or at a tasting in a Porto wine cellar, don't miss out.
Take a boat trip under Porto's bridges or up the Douro. You can rent a private boat or join a daily excursion. If you prefer, you can also visit the Douro by train. Go to São Bento station and set off on an unforgettable journey.
Stroll through the Jardim da Cordoaria and take in the beautiful surroundings. Directly opposite you will find Base Porto, a bar with a fantastic, relaxed atmosphere, where you can sit in the garden, have a drink and enjoy the city.
Visit the São Francisco Church and see this Gothic-style architectural wonder, whose interior is covered in Baroque gilded wood carvings.
Before nightfall, head to the Jardim do Morro and enjoy a magnificent sunset over the King Luis I Bridge and the Ribeira riverfront.
Porto cuisine is genuinely unmissable. You will find many restaurants offering Porto delicacies, like the famous Francesinha sandwich, and others with typical Portuguese food. You're guaranteed to find delicious restaurants whether it's local or international cuisine! Learn more about Portuguese food and meet new people in the process at a cooking class!
Enjoy Porto's nightlife! The Galerias de Paris and Rua Cândido dos Reis fill with life and bars, fun and good times are guaranteed.
What to visit in Porto
Rua das Flores, where you will find the PortoBay Flores, is one of the most characteristic streets of downtown Porto. Full of life and activity, with musicians and street artists, cafés, restaurants and esplanades, and also some small souvenir shops. Going down the street you will eventually reach the riverfront area of the Ribeira do Porto.
Porto Cathedral is one of the city’s landmarks and an obligatory stop, not only for the historical character of the building but also for the fabulous views it offers over the city.
The D. Luís I Bridge has a unique beauty and links the city of Porto on the north bank to Vila Nova de Gaia on the south bank, across the River Douro. This bridge has a lower deck, next to the Ribeira and an upper deck across which the metro passes and from where you can get a stunning view. By crossing the upper deck you reach the Jardim do Morro, in Vila Nova de Gaia from where you can climb up to the Serra do Pilar Monastery.
The Parque das Virtudes is a garden in the historical centre of the city where you can relax, enjoy the view over the Alfândega, the River Douro and Vila Nova de Gaia and watch a beautiful sunset. This area is great for relaxing.
If you appreciate architecture and music, the Casa da Música is the perfect venue to combine the two. Admire the architectural beauty of the building and enjoy something from the concert programme.
Next to the PortoBay Teatro hotel is the Teatro Sá da Bandeira, a much-storied venue full of history. You can just visit the theatre or enjoy one of the plays being performed.
Further along the street, you will reach Rua de Santa Catarina. This street is full of life, movement, people and commerce. Whether in the large stores in the shopping centre or in the smaller artisan and traditional Portuguese shops, you will find everything you need. Go to the smaller Portuguese shops to buy typical delicacies such as sausages and cheeses, etc. You can also go to the refurbished Bolhão Market to buy fruit, vegetables and local produce.
If you leave the old town and walk out of the centre, you can visit the Serralves Foundation. There is no shortage of things to see and do: take a stroll around the gardens, explore the foundation, the museum and its various exhibitions.
Take the opportunity to walk around and get to know Foz do Douro. Walk along the promenade and enjoy the view of the ocean at one of the bars and esplanades along the seafront. Also by the sea, but on the other side in Vila Nova de Gaia, you will find Praia de Salgueiros, a pleasant area with terrace cafés and restaurants that are very appealing after a walk on the beach.
The Bistrô Flores is one restaurant not to be missed! Located at the PortoBay Flores, on Rua das Flores, it offers a bistronomy concept; Portuguese food with a creative and distinctive touch, but where it's also possible to savour influences from other cuisines.
If you're looking for Portuguese food, you can also stop off at Paparico, which specialises in typical Portuguese cuisine served in an artistic way, or at Porta4. For a nice francesinha, choose Brasão.
For Italian food, Il Basilico Porto, at the PortoBay Teatro hotel, is the ideal place. A colourful pizza, lasagne, risotto or any of the other delicious Italian options are available! Enjoy the cosy and relaxed atmosphere.
And because holidays are for unwinding. ..
Don’t forget to relax. .. Pamper yourself and take the day off!
Wake up late, ask for Room Service and enjoy a delicious breakfast in the comfort of your hotel bed, or on your balcony.
Relax and enjoy a spa day! The PortoBay Flores spa has an extensive menu of treatments and massages, a small indoor pool with natural light, views of the hotel garden and a steam bath.
All these tips can be found in the PortoBay Travel Guides, compiled in partnership with Stay Classy, a Danish vlogger couple who over the coming months will explore PortoBay destinations and hotels and share their experiences.