Porto, Portugal

Listen to our Porto podcast and follow in the footsteps of Andrew and Emily from Along Dusty Roads with our guide to Porto in Portugal... 

Image via Along Dusty Roads

Where is Porto?

Porto is Portugal's second city. Located along the Douro Valley in northern Portugal, the city is famous for its port wine, beautiful bridges, azulejo tiles and magnificent street art.

What to see in Porto?

Graham's Port Wine Cellar: When in Porto...enjoy a port cocktail overlooking the Douro River. W & J Graham’s 1890 Lodge is set right in the heart of port wine land, aka the Vila Nova de Gaia neighbourhood.  With views across the Douro River, this is the perfect spot to educate yourself on all things sweet, tawny and vintage.


Guided tours including tastings cost around €12 and should be booked online in advance via the Graham's Port website. 


Azulejo Tiles/ Ingreja do Carmo & Ingreja dos Carmelitas: The blue and white tiles of this church offer one of the most beautiful examples of azulejo tiles in the city.  Completed in 1912 by Silvestre Silvestri, the building's exterior depicts the founding of the Carmelite order, celebrating Nossa Senhora (Our Lady).


Vila Nova de Gaia: When it comes to picturesque places for an evening stroll in Porto, look no further than the waterfront of Vila Nova de Gaia. Along the way you'll pass Dom Luís I Bridge and the pretty neighbourhood of Ribeira with its jumble of brightly-painted houses.


Take a River Cruise: For unrivalled views of both sides of the city (and its glorious bridges), take a cruise down the Douro River. River cruises can be arranged locally or booked online through a selection of tour companies.

Try the custard tarts

Image via Facebook, Manteigaria

It's said that some of Porto's best pastéis de nata (custard tarts) are served at Confitería del Bolhão café.  The Confeitaria do Bolhão first opened its doors to the public in 1896 and was a popular breakfast stop for Porto’s well-heeled folk who would swing by for a pastry before they made their way to the traditional market across the street. 

The café's eye-candy extends further than just cakes and pastries - the ornate floor to ceiling mirrors lend an air of decadence to your coffee and cake experience making this more than just one for the 'gram.


P.S. If, like Andrew and Emily, you fancy doing a little custard tart crawl around the city, you'd be wise to check out the selection at Manteigaria.  Pastéis de nata is literally all they sell.

Catch some rays (and culture) in Matosinhos

Image via iStock: Sarah Vessely - Photografik

Contrary to popular belief, it is in fact possible to enjoy a beach break while in Porto. For waves and sunny rays take a short (25 - 30 min) bus or metro trip to the coastal city of Matosinhos.The port and fishing town is famous for its seafood restaurants and beautiful sandy beach. This beach (Praia de Matosinhos) is the largest sandy beach close to Porto and is a summertime favourite with residents of Porto.  


While you're there, don't miss a trip to Casa da Arquitectura. The centre for architecture celebrates the best of Portuguese design. Maps are available for visitors which provide self-guided walks of the city's best architectural sights.


Casa da Arquitectura, Avenida Menéres, nº 456, 4450 – 189 Matosinhos


Livraria Lello: Visit the city's most magical bookstore

Image via Facebook: Livraria Lello

Livraria Lello, the weirdly wonderful bookshop that is said to have inspired Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was established in 1906 by brothers José and António Lello.  


Welcoming around 4,000 - 5,000 visitors each day, the bookshop is not only regarded as one of the most popular attractions in Porto, but also one of the most charming.


And what about those 'magical' literary connections? Well, the story goes that J.K. Rowling dreamt up Harry Potter while living and working in Porto and was a regular visitor to Livraria Lello.

The bookshop's gothic architectural features and whimsical crimson staircase indeed wouldn't look out of place in Harry's wizarding world. Drop by and decide for yourself.  Entry is €5.00, which will be discounted from any book purchased. For a special souvenir, ask to have your book stamped with the official Livraria Lello stamp.


Livraria Lello, Rua das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161, Porto

Where to Stay in Porto

Holiday Inn Porto Gaia

Holiday Inn Porto Gaia is the ideal base for those looking for a comfortable, great value stay in the city that's within easy reach of all the main sights and attractions in Porto. Search Ryanair Rooms for the best rates and availability.



*With thanks to the Porto & Northern Portugal Tourism Board (#visitportoandnorth) who sponsored the trip itinerary. 



Flights to Porto