The rainy season is inconvenient for many travelers, but in Porto, it could turn into a magical experience.
Not to mention, the city has a great metro system that will shelter you in its tunnels until you get to your desired destination.
So if you already decided where to stay in Porto, come along and I’ll show you what to do on a rainy day in Porto!
There are also fun activities to do indoors when you want a break from the rainfall. But first, let’s talk about the rain season in Porto.
Rainy days in Porto: An overview
The rainy months in Porto (see graph) are stronger in the winter, but they’re also unpredictable. Even if you think you have booked your ticket according to your “weather plans”, it’s always good to prepare for a rainy day in Porto, as I have pointed out in the article about the best time to visit the city.
So here is our advice on what to bring and what to avoid when it’s raining in Porto.
What to bring when it’s raining in Porto
I advise you to bring:
- A pair of good rain boots. Seriously, I hike for a hobby and it makes a HUGE difference to have proper boots. The end of the world might be happening but if your feet are dry, all good.
- A raincoat, to fight both the rain and the wind (another thing I learnt from experience!)
- A sturdy umbrella – DON’T get a bad umbrella because it won’t last 5 minutes on a rainy day in Porto!
Shop for good quality umbrellas at Casa Lima (Rua de Santa Catarina, 231) or at Decathlon (Rua de Fernandes Tomás, 508), where you can also find affordable rain boots.
Don’t purchase umbrellas from the variety stores (we call them Chinese stores) unless you’re desperate, because they will easily break.
What to AVOID on a rainy day in Porto
Other than the standard things to be mindful of, some activities must be avoided on a rainy day in Porto, such as:
- Climbing the Clérigos tower – for real, if it is rainy it will feel very cold and windy at the top.
- Going near the Felgueiras lighthouse, in Foz neighborhood. The waves are gigantic and you can easily get carried away and drown. There were so many idiots going near the lighthouse to photograph it on a rainy day that the police decided to close the access to it. True story.
- Get the 6 Bridges cruise. I mean technically you can do it, because it is not dangerous and the boats have a covered area, but it is not very comfortable nor pretty.
Now that you’ve learned about the rain season in Porto, I want to help you take advantage of every day you spend in this magnificent city, so I hope you enjoy my suggestions 🙂
These are the top things to do on a rainy day in Porto:
Do a wine tour at a Port wine lodge
Honestly, is there anything better than booze to fight the cold blues? 😀 It is cold outside, it is raining cats and dogs and you’re sitting in a beautiful room, calmly sipping a glass of Port wine.
In all serious mode now: in my opinion, visiting one of the best Port wine lodges is truly one of the best things to do on a rainy day in Porto. Port wine is one of the most unique wines you will find in Portugal, and at the lodges you will understand how it is produced, as well as its history.
Then, you will have a proper wine tasting, while you wait for the rain to pass.
There are many Port wine lodges, but I particularly recommend these ones:
- Graham’s lodge has THE BEST wine tour, hands down. It is well structured and the guides are very well informed. At the end, you will enjoy a Port wine tasting at a beautiful room overlooking Luiz I bridge.
- Calém’s lodge is the most fun for families, as they have an interactive museum with experiences for the entire family. I don’t particularly like the main tasting room though; I think the one where the Fado show takes place is much cosier and intimate. Therefore, in this particular lodge, I would recommend to book a wine tour & tasting with a Fado show included.
- If you are looking for a small, Portuguese producer, then Poças is the right Port wine lodge for you 🙂
Visit the Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa)
In the past I didn’t like to go to Palácio da Bolsa because I thought it was too touristy, but the truth is that it is impossible to resist the charm of this building. From the impressive hall to the monumental staircase, the famous Arab Hall and the other noble rooms, all the features of the Palácio da Bolsa are unforgettable and well worth a visit. It is also one of the best places in Porto to take good photos for Instagram, regardless of the weather outside.
As it is a very popular monument, I recommend you to book your online ticket to Palácio da Bolsa (at no additional cost).
How to get there: the subway station São Bento is 7 minutes walking distance.
Visit Serralves Foundation
I think I have written this at least a dozen times on this blog, but here it goes again: Serralves Foundation is my FAVOURITE place in Porto, for real. It is such an incredible and diverse foundation, because in the same space you have:
- one of the best contemporary art museums in Portugal,
- an 18 hectares garden that has trees blossoming throughout the year,
- an Art Deco building designed by José Marques de Oliveira, one of the best Portuguese architects of all times,
- a fantastic library, where I used to study for my college exams,
- a great restaurant with a view towards the park.
Most recently, Serralves Foundation also opened a fantastic Treetop Walk which, as the name suggests, is a high walkway that allows you to walk through the treetops. It is an incredible experience, specially during Autumn (and yes, even when it is raining in Porto!).
Some people complain that the ticket to Serralves is expensive (20€), but honestly I really think you get the value for the money, given all the spaces that I have just described 🙂
How to get there: the buses 203 and 207 stop right in front of Serralves.
Explore the temporary Mercado do Bolhão
Many of you know that the historic market, Mercado do Bolhão is closed for rehabilitation work and won’t open until 2022. However, the same vendors are temporarily relocated to a new space provided by the City Hall called La Vie. It is basically a mall, with plenty of space and light. It may not have the charm and history of the old market, but it is a cool place nonetheless and it is where I do some of my grocery shopping.
There, you can buy fruits and vegetables, check the fresh fish, order a fresh juice and enjoy some tapas.
You can also have lunch at the temporary market of Bolhão as it has some restaurants where you can have traditional Portuguese food for a low price.
How to get there: the subway station Bolhão is literally across the street!
Visit FC Porto’s Stadium and Museum
If you are a football fan, if you are traveling with kids or a combination of both, then you definitely need to check the FC Porto stadium and museum on a rainy day in Porto!
The museum itself is great, because it explains the history of FC Porto (our football club) in a very interactive way, with multimedia panels, games, etc. You also get to check ALL the trophies won by the club, which is a must for football lovers! And yes, you get to check the stadium itself, with a lovely guide 🙂
This is a very popular activity, so I recommend you to secure your online ticket to FC Porto stadium and museum.
How to get there: the subway station Estádio do Dragão is 3 minutes walking distance.
Especially for families with kids: go on an adventure at the World of Discoveries!
There are not many museums for families in Porto, but the ones that exist are pretty cool. Take the World of Discoveries, for instance: located at the heart of Ribeira neighborhood, this famous museum explains, in an interactive and fun way, the history of Portuguese discoveries, during the medieval ages.
My favourite part (and your kids’, too) is the boat ride through a canal, where they have actual sized recreations of exotic animals and of our former colonies in Africa and Brazil. It’s dope!
I recommend you to book the online ticket for the World of Discoveries because, for some reason, it is more expensive to buy the tickets at the counter (true story).
How to get there: the subway station São Bento is 15 minutes walking distance.
Visit the House of Architecture
Avenida Menéres, 456 | Matosinhos
Matosinhos, the home of Álvaro Siza Vieira (one of the greatest architects of our lifetime), has an institution dedicated entirely to architecture.
In this building, known as the first industrial building in Matosinhos, you will not only be inspired by the works of famous Portuguese architects like Fernando Távora, Eduardo Souto Moura and Paulo Mendes Rocha, but also you will be amazed by the rehabilitation done on the building itself.
Inside, you will find exhibitions, archives, files, sketches and projects of the most prominent architects in Porto. There is also a shop and a bookstore.
However, visits on Sundays from 10h – 13h are free! Also, kids under 12 years old can enter free of charge.
Right in front of the building is a specialty coffee shop called Booinga that I highly recommend.
How to get there: the subway station Matosinhos Sul is 5 minutes walking distance.
Eat the best bifanas in Porto
There is nothing like a warm quick bite on a rainy day in Porto. So instead of sitting in your hotel, how about you try one of the most famous sandwiches in Portugal?
We’re talking about bifana, a pork sandwich served with spicy gravy and caramelized onion (optional). They are known to be cheap and they are usually served with a glass of beer.
O Astro, close to Campanhã train station (Rua da Estação, 16) is famous for having the best Porto-style bifanas in town.
If it’s too far of a destination, try Conga (Rua do Bonjardim, 314) located near the famous avenue, Avenida dos Aliados.
Another option to eat bifanas with some yummy local cheese while drinking rosé or beer is Taxca (Rua da Picaria, 26), one of the best places to eat traditional food in Porto.
Enjoy a live Fado show
There are great venues in Porto for music enthusiasts. These places are excellent for those who like to stay indoors when it’s raining outside.
Another way to enjoy music on a rainy day in Porto would be to visit one of the many bars/restaurants in Porto with live performances. Take for example Rua, where you can enjoy music from different genres while having dinner.
For jazz lovers check some of the best jazz clubs in Porto such as Hotfive Blues & Jazz Blues Club, is a great place to hang out, but be aware, it can get crowded in there.
There are also several places to listen to live Fado for those who are curious about this unique Portuguese genre.
If you are interested in listening to Fado, I recommend you to buy the online ticket for the Fado show at Casa da Guitarra, which is very cheap – only 14€ / person. Casa da Guitarra is a proper Fado house, where the experience is at its absolute purest.
Another nice way to do it is to get an online ticket for a Fado show taking place at a Port wine cellar, which is a very interesting way to do it and you get to visit the cellar as well and a complimentary glass of Port wine. 😉
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Play board games
Rua de Santa Catarina, 801 | Porto
Board games give us an opportunity to escape a rainy day in Porto while we get to have fun, relax and order some food (Pizza from Luzzo or Francesinha from Santa Francesinha – the options are plenty).
The best places to play board games in Porto is Arena Porto (Rua de Santa Catarina, 801), a shop with many game options where you can even sit down and have a tournament! People from all over the world visit this store, so don’t be shy to ask the staff for help if you need.
How to get there: the subway station Trindade is 5 minutes walking distance.
Stop for a hot drink
There is nothing cozier than stopping for a hot drink on a rainy day in Porto. Thankfully, the city is full of teahouses and coffee shops like Fábrica Coffee Roasters (Rua de José Falcão, 122) which has a stunning interior, serves good coffee and yummy paninis.
Also, rumor has it that Chocolataria das Flores (Rua Flores 121) serves the best hot chocolate in Porto, so what are you waiting for?
Go book shopping
One of the best things you can do on a rainy day in Porto is to get a new book and read it while sitting in a local coffee shop absorbing the culture. So don’t waste a rainy day sitting at your hotel, go book shopping!
There are several bookstores that sell books in English. There are also some second-hand books in Porto for English speakers.
For comic book fans, head to Mundo Fantasma (Shopping Center Brasília, 1st floor – Store 509 / 510) for hundreds of comic books. Another option is to browse books written in English on Bertrand website and reserve them at a location near you.
Don’t forget Porto’s famous book fair is held at the Crystal Palace gardens in September. There, you can get many books for a reasonable price.
Explore downtown Porto
I know, it’s raining, it might not be what you were expecting when you booked your flight to Porto. But rainy days in Porto are quite charming.
So take your umbrella, your rain boots and explore the streets of Porto. Go see the most beautiful buildings, the hidden places and the stunning churches.
One of my favorite places to go to when it’s raining in Porto is the Cedofeita neighborhood, because you have almost everything in one place and at the beginning of Rua de Cedofeita there are no cars allowed so you don’t have to worry about being splashed by incoming traffic.
You can always join us on a private tour and we will take care of you 🙂