A charming city that packs a punch

Positioned at the mouth of the Douro River, whose surrounding landscape is Unesco-listed, not only is Porto the gateway between Europe and the Atlantic, but it is also responsible for giving both Portugal and its world-famous fortified wine their names.

While Porto holidays will no doubt include sampling some of the many varieties of port and other excellent local vintages on offer, you will be delighted by just how much more there is to discover in Portugal’s second city. Centuries-old architecture and rustic wine cellars line the banks of Porto’s Douro River, giving the city an old-world charm, while the influence of the student population and an innovative bar scene lend a contemporary vibe to the city centre.

It’s easy to while away daytimes on holidays to Porto wandering the cobbled streets, stopping from time to time to snack on salt cod appetisers and traditional ‘francesinha’ (meat sandwiches covered in melted cheese and a tomato and beer sauce). In the evenings, make like the locals and potter around boutique shops full of handmade crafts and antiques, before settling in to soak up the night’s music and entertainment on either side of the river. For a change of perspective, seek out great views from the Dom Luís I bridge or Gaia cable car, and drink in the spectacle of Porto in all its beauty.

All resorts in Porto

Three tips for a top trip

Zip around overground

For a relatively small city, Porto boasts extensive public transport links. Use the metro to get around quickly or take the tram for leisurely journeys with a view.

Spend time with a guide

Porto is easily walkable, but the city is sprawling – why not join a free tour (led by students for a tip) upon arrival? This will help you find your bearings.

Enjoy the view

A short hike up to Serra do Pilar Monastery across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia will provide unforgettable sunset views over the Dom Luís I Bridge and the city.

Best attractions to see in Porto

Dom Luís I Bridge

This iron suspension bridge is one of six connecting the two sides of Porto across the Douro River. Walk across the top of it for panoramic views.

São Bento railway station

Frequently voted one of the most beautiful railway stations in the world, São Bento has lofty 20th-century walls featuring more than 20,000 colourful, decorative tiles.

Historic wine cellars

Porto is home to more than 50 wine cellars, many of which offer tours and tastings of the region’s world-famous port, the history of which goes back around 260 years.

Your Porto questions, answered

Porto’s affordability is one of many things that make it such a popular destination. Go where the locals eat and drink and you’ll be amazed by the low prices.
Porto is lovely between May and September, when temperatures are hot but rarely scorching. Winters are mild, but April can be very wet, so plan ahead when packing.
Porto is a fun city to visit at any time of the year, with its unusual mixture of old and new buildings, vast bridges, public gardens and port cellars. If you want to catch the character of the city, you should come in late June for the midsummer festival, the Festa de Sao Joao. This happens on St John’s Eve, June 23rd, and commemorates Porto's patron saint. You do this by hitting other people in the street with plastic mallets that squeak. You'll also be listening to music, dancing till sunrise, drinking, eating grilled sardines and watching firework displays.
Wine and port are the obvious answer, but don’t overlook some of Porto’s other popular creations, including embroidery, cork-tree bags and purses, and handmade soaps.
You'll find 10 or more beaches around Porto, many of them with a Blue Flag. Closest to the city is the Ingleses beach at Foz, where you'll find sand with some rocks, a lighthouse, a promenade and lots of cafes. Also nearby is Molhe beach, again a mix of sand and rocks. You can get to both of these in 10-15 minutes by car or bus. You might also drive 15 minutes to Matosinhos beach, a huge sandy bay close to the city park. You can swim, surf or sunbathe here, and get good sunset views.
You'll need at least two days if you just want to see the city sights. This will give you time to visit the historic Ribeira district, take a river cruise or a cable car ride over the city. You'll also be able to access the beaches and nightlife at Foz, do some shopping and sample the port wine. If you want to take things more leisurely, a week will give you time to tour the vineyards or take a day trip. At Aveiro, an hour by train, you'll see Art Nouveau buildings from a gondola on the canal.
Porto is a great place to take your family, with plenty of open spaces and fun things to do. You'll be close to several beaches and, near the city park, you can visit a 17th-century fort, with cannon facing the sea. You can take a boat trip along the River Douro and see the city's great bridges from below, or see Porto from above in the Gaia cable car. Your kids will also love the city road train, which will take you around all the sights. If you're feeling more energetic, you might try walking across the larger bridges.
Yes, you can do Porto on foot, and most of its attractions are 15 to 20 minutes walking distance apart. You should be prepared for steep streets, though, especially around the historic centre, which might be difficult with small children. From the riverfront at Ribeira to the Clerigos tower, for example, you'll be climbing about 250 feet in 15 minutes or so. However, you will also find several flatter, pedestrianised areas where you can shop or relax in a cafe. Alternatively, you can always do a sightseeing tour of Porto by little train or hop-on/hop-off bus.
You won't need a car in Porto itself as there's a good public transport system that will take you to most places. You can also pick the tourist bus or the mini-train for a city tour, which will provide you with a good overview of the main sights. Parking is not great and some of the streets are extremely hilly, so you'd only need a car if you wanted to travel further afield. You can reach some of the region's great beaches if you drive, and you might also take a day trip to several interesting or historic towns.