Porto is a coastal city in Portugal, most famous for its Port wine production and unique city centre. The city was built on the hillside overlooking the mouth of the Douro River which offers a perfect background for beautiful sunsets. Porto Holidays can be the best romantic getaway for couples. Car hire at Porto Aiport allows you to discover the best places in Porto and surrounding Douro Valley.
The second-largest city in Portugal has a 2,000-year history. The Monastery of Serra do Pilar, the Luis I bridge (Ponte de D. Luis), and the historic city centre were included by UNESCO in its World Heritage list in 1996. We recommend you start your visit on the north bank of the River Douro, first climbing up to the Monastery of Serra do Pilar where you can enjoy the best view on the picturesque centre on the other side, then enjoy a wine tour and a glass of Porto wine. Only then cross the Luis I bridge to get lost in the historic city centre. With charming medieval streets and the oldest building in the city, Porto Cathedral, this city is the perfect destinations for a Porto city break vacation.
Enjoy walks through the old UNESCO centre
Ribeira is one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Porto and the most visited on since it this the part of the historic city centre that is protected by UNESCO. The houses of different colours are rising to the sky with their little iron balconies, so don’t forget to look up when wandering along the streets. Ribeira is full of nice restaurants, bars, and craft shops, so your Porto holiday is the opportunity to taste Portuguese wines or some delicious Francesinhas, a sandwich made with bread, ham, sausage, steak or roast meat and covered with melted cheese, tomato, and beer sauce.
Have a galão and watch the city awake
One of the things Portuguese people do in the morning is, they stop for a coffee and something sweet in their favourite place before going to work. Since you are on our Porto city break vacation, you are not in a hurry, so take your spot in one of the cafes on the riverbank, have a galão (espresso with lots of foamed milk) with Pão de Milho (typical Portuguese cornbread) or some other great Portuguese sweets and watch the city and the river awake. Be prepared to pay more for this breakfast with a view.
Douro Valley cruise
The best way to explore the Douro Valley is to take a cruise down the river, starting in Porto and ending in the magical heart of the Valley covered with vineyards. You can take 1 or more-day cruise where you can relax, feel the breeze, and enjoy the view on Quintas, the Douro Valley Wineries. The Valley is accessible also by car hire from Porto and offers a wide range of experiences for every taste. The roads are very narrow and curvy, but the views are simply magnificent, and your rental car gives you the possibility and flexibility to visit the less touristy vineyards and the viewpoints over the Douro River. If you plan your Porto city break in autumn, you can enjoy the harvest season and participate in the harvest.
Wine tasting on the Ribeira
If your Porto city break is short and your time does not allow you to explore the Douro Valley, be sure not to miss the Wine tasting possibilities in Porto. Best wine cellars in Porto are placed on the north bank of the river and they all provide guided tours and tastings. You can pamper your taste buds with different Port wine varieties, and you will learn more about the history of the cellar. Be sure to pack you Port wine in your checked baggage for your flight, so you can enjoy it at home when you return from your Porto holidays.
Perfect Evening in Casa de Música
A modern building which stands out from the old buildings of Porto. It was conceived to mark 2001 when Porto was the Cultural Capital of Europe. With its unique structure designed by Dutchman Rem Koolhaas, Casa de Música offers a wide range of cultural events and guided tours around the building’s different spaces and explaining how the architecture, its functionalities and the artistic programming all relate to each other. It is the first building entirely dedicated to music, but also focused on the research of Portuguese music and plays a very important role in music education. Liven up your Porto holidays with a great concert.
Shopping for 2
The largely pedestrian Rua Santa Catarina features shopping venues from all major brands. You can spend a day of your Porto holidays trying out new things and have a ball with shopping for 2. Visit the mall at the central part of the street to have lunch in one of the restaurants built in the style of typically Portuguese houses. Mingle with the locals and enjoy the coffee drinking, street performance and lively city atmosphere.
A walk by the Atlantic Ocean
Take the time to have a walk along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Grab your rental car and drive less than 30 minutes to Matosinhos, the sandy beach nearest to Porto. It has a wide promenade ideal for a nice romantic sunset walk. If you want to avoid crowds on your Porto city break, drive to Aguda, 17km south from the Porto city centre. Aguda is a little fisherman’s village where you can take a walk on the beach until Miramar/Capela do Senhor da Pedra. The chapel of Senhor the Pedra is almost surrounded by the sea, but nearby there are places where you can have a snack or just relax.
Visit the top 8 best Instagram spots in Porto
We know that your Porto holidays are not the same without the best pictures. We have prepared a list of top photo spots for you and your loved one.
- Ponte Dom Luís: The city's emblematic iron bridge, built by a disciple of the famous Eiffel.
- The shore of Ribeira with the Douro River: Ribeira is the charming part of the city which offers the best sunset backgrounds.
- Capela das Almas: The Chapel on Rua de Santa Catarina stands out with its wonderful facade with blue and white azulejos (typical Portuguese tiles) with the scenes from the lives of various saints.
- Sao Bento Railway Station: The interior of the main Railways Station in Porto is mesmerizing with its beautiful azulejos. If you want a picture without the crowds, visit it very early in the morning.
- Livraria Lello: Incredible bookstore with an amazing interior which was supposed to be the inspiration for Harry Potter books.
- Kitties Rock – THE sunset spot: From the rock, you have a breath-taking view of the Ponte Dom Luís. Take care to have good shoes for the short climb.
- Serralves Foundations (Museum & Garden): On of the green hidden gems of the city, a place to relax your eyes and soul.
- Capela do Senhor da Pedra: Surrounded by the sea this Chapel was built on top of the rocks in Miramar Beach in Gaia.
Useful tips to make your Porto holidays one of the best to remember
- Don’t fulfil all your day with itinerary in advance. Be spontaneous and decide what you feel to do on the spot.
- Is possible to have a selfie stick or some sort of camera allowing you to do romantic couple selfies. Your living room frames need new photos!
- Porto is more relaxed than Lisbon, maybe because of the Douro river taking its path through the city slowly. Go with the flow and enjoy!