One month of living in Porto (Portugal) is enough to make you nostalgic for life. This city is both bohemian and hard working, imposing, yet extremely friendly. If you are planning a trip to Porto, consider yourself lucky: you are in for a treat. To make things easier, we listed a few things you can do in the city on a budget. Enjoy and feel free to give us your feedback!
#1. Porto Free Walking Tour
A good way to get acquainted with Porto is to join a free walking tour. “Rain or shine”, you will see the guides from Porto walkers entertaining cheerful groups of people through the narrow streets of Porto and in the “miradorous” (belvedere points) overlooking the Duoro river.
We enjoy these type of tours (and look for them in every city we visit) because of their ‘authenticity’; the guides are usually students passionate about their cities and the stories they tell — you will never read them in history books or common city guides. Even though the tours are free, a good tip at the end is always a nice gesture.
#2. Gardens of the Palacio de Cristal
A refreshing place in Porto (especially during the summer), that also offers views of the river. You can easily access it from the center. Open air concerts are also held here, so keep an eye out for interesting events.
#3. Witness live fado
To enjoy the traditional fado music, you will have to walk through the narrow streets in Ribeira, the neighborhood where all the night crawlers are gathering. Usually the fadoists are playing in the so called casas de fado, starting around 10 pm. Some of the best places to listen fado and enjoy the traditional Portuguese cuisine are Restaurante Tipico O Fado (16 Largo de Sao Joao Nov), Rustic Mal Cozinhado (Rua do Outeirinho 13) or Janelas do Fado (Rua Agusto Gomes); the last one is situated far from the center, near the beaches in Matousinhos.
#4. Walk from Matosinhos to Foz de Douro or all the way to Ribeira
Yes, it is possible to walk from the Matosinhos beach (you can go there with a local bus) aaall the way to Ribeira. The entire “day trip” will take you from one city beach to another. You can also go up at one point and make the trip through the gardens at the Palacio de Cristal. (Matosinhos area at sunset is beautiful, consider this too while you are in Porto!)
#5. Sunday Morning Cathedrals and Museums
On everyday Sunday between 10 am and 1 pm, all the museums in Porto have free entrance. This is also a good time to witness the atmosphere in the cathedrals of Porto, as well as their striking architecture.
The Port Wine Museum, Train Museum, Photography Museum or Serralves Museum have their doors open for the culture-seeking traveler.
Port Wine museum is located in a warehouse which dates back to the 18th century and sometimes there are wine tasting events. We highly recommend the Serralves Foundation of Contemporary Art with its 18 acres of beautiful old gardens. It hosts temporary exhibitions, performances, education and public programms, publishing initiatives, and national and international collaborations. During the week, the admission for Serralves Museum and gardens costs 10€ (students have a 50% discount).
#6.Livraria Lello & Irmão
With its neo-Gothic facade and a interior designed by Xavier Esteves rich in bas-reliefs, the small Livraria Lello & Irmao is one of Porto’s most powerful landmarks. Livraria Lello is often associated with JK Rowling, said to have taken inspiration from the city of Porto (and particularly this bookstore) to write Harry Potter.
Entrance was once free of charge, but when we visited Porto at the end of 2015, there was a 3 Euro fee, which you can the use to buy books from the shop.
#7. Cross the Ponte Luis I to the Vila Nova de Gaia district
…and enjoy a Porto wine. Walking along this pedestrian bridge is an experience in itself, as it offers vantage points of the city in every direction. In Vila Nova de Gaia you can try out wine tasting in one (or more) of the many cellars in the area. Porto wine is extremely sweet; but don’t be fooled, it is 19% alcohol… You can also buy a bottle of wine and have a drink near the river shores (in Portugal, drinking beer or wine is allowed in public).
#8. Walk along Rua de Santa Catarina
Almost every time we walked along Rua de Santa Catarina in Porto, it was raining. But surprisingly enough, the street was filled with people with colorful umbrellas making their way through the heavy roasted-chestnut fog. This almost mysterious-like ambiance (and not the many shop entrances) is what made the place special for us.
#9. Visit Torre dos Clérigos
You can climb its 240 steps and see the entire city from the top. There is a small fee for doing this (maximum 3Euros), but the views is worth it.