Porto is the capital city of the north of Portugal – rich in industrial and cultural history. The city’s neighbour, Vila Nova de Gaia, is the home of Porto wine (otherwise known as Port by us Brits). The wine was invented by Brits, who needed a way to preserve the wine for the long sea voyage to Britain, hence the addition of brandy.
Porto offers a diverse mix of rustic history and modern shopping and eating. You can enjoy sandy Atlantic beaches or riverside beaches as well as the charm you would find in any inland city.
Key travel information
- Best time to go: Between June and September for summer sun.
- How to get there: You can fly direct from Bristol, London Stansted, Gatwick, Exeter, Manchester.
- Time zone: Porto has the same time zone as the UK.
- Taxis: Expect to pay between €5 and €7 for taxis within the city during the day and 20% more at night.
- You can travel around by bus or use the modern tram (Metro) system. You can also travel by Metro from the airport to the city centre.
- Tipping: Read this article about tipping in Portugal.
Porto with children
There’s a lot for children to enjoy in Porto. The Parque de Serralves is family friendly, with nice walks, and it is within walled grounds.
You can also enjoy an old fashioned tram ride along the Foz end of the coast road and up to Ribeira. There’s also a tram museum along that route.
Pay a visit to the beach cafe’s in Matosinhos – such as Lais de Guia, where you can sit on the sun deck looking at the sandy beach while young kids play on the swings and climbing frame.
Eating and drinking in Porto
A visit to Porto will not be complete without a Francesinha. The most popular place to enjoy one is at Cufra on Avenida da Boavista. Although the more modern Cufra on the beach at the bottom of the Avenida is a delight. Enjoy a Francesinha Especial with a Super Bock beer and a live football match on the TV.
Wherever you stay, you will find cafés and bakeries serving coffee and pastries. These are pretty much all the same, and most Portuguese people will pop in for a morning coffee and a “tosta mista” (toasted cheese and ham sandwich) or a “torrada” (big doorstep bread toasted and buttered on both sides). Other popular café snacks are croquetes, rissois and a simple bread roll with cheese.
For your coffee, have a look at the special article, how to order coffee in Portugal.
Some of the most popular restaurants in Porto
- Café Majestic
- Restaurant Medit
- O Comercial
- Bufete Fase
- Grelhador da Boavista
- Confeitaria do Bolhao
Places to go for drinks
Museums in Porto
Being Portugal’s second city and with hundreds of years of heritage, you won’t be surprised to learn that there are plenty of museums and galleries in Porto.
Serralves is an important cultural icon in the city of Porto – being the national home for art in Portugal and, nowadays, so much more.
Casa da Música was included in The Times’ top five buildings of the decade in 2009.
The imposing neoclassical Alfândega, or customs house, sits on the riverbank west of Cais da Ribeira. It was built in 1860 and is now a dynamic cultural center, as well as the Museum of Transport and Communications.
This interactive museum/theme park takes you on the epic journeys of the Portuguese explorers. It recreates life-sized characters and scenes of the different sea routes and lands mapped by the Portuguese, and part of the visit is made on a boat navigating through the continents.
Portugal’s first designated national museum. It was founded in 1833 to showcase works of art from dissolved monasteries and convents.
Out of town, up the river Douro in Régua, this museum is dedicated to the region that produces Porto wine.