I make private tours in Porto!

private tours portoPlease check my tours’ page or send an email to sara@portoalities.com.

I’ve already written about the best family activities in Porto, the 9 most romantic things to do in the city and about what do on a party weekend.

But it was missing an overall list of the best monuments to visit in the city.

I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

Before reading this article: have you already decided where to stay? If not, read my article about the Best neighborhoods to stay in Porto! There I give you plenty of recommendations of great hotels and apartments in Porto.

Discover the best things to do in Porto on this list of the top monuments in the city. It includes all my tips and tricks to avoid the excruciating queues to these amazing places – enjoy it! 🙂

If you want to read my other suggestions about fun things to do in Porto just check out my guest post at Miss Tourist, the amazing travel blog by Yulia Safutdinova!

These are the best things to do in Porto:

Visit Torre dos Clérigos

Torre dos Clérigos, the beautiful 76m tower of Porto was, for many years, the “best seller” of the things to do in Porto, due to its unusual shape.

But I reckon that visiting the Torre dos Clérigos is a test to your patience! You need to wait in line to buy the ticket (around 15min), then you have the queue to the tower itself (around the same waiting time). When you’re finally inside, the queue moves slowly because there are people going up and down on the same narrow stairs.

You shouldn’t demotivate though – when you reach the top and see the superb 360º view of Porto, you’ll feel it was totally worth the waiting!

You should also take the opportunity to visit the Clºerigos church (it is free of charge) and watch a live concert of pipe organ at noon.

clerigos tower portoview clerigos tower porto

How to avoid the queue to Torre dos Clérigos:

Unfortunately there is no way to avoid the queue 🙁 You can buy the online ticket, but it will not save you no time as you still need to go to the queue and show the online ticket at the ticket office (I know, it doesn’t make much sense…).

Nonetheless, if you buy Porto Card you’ll get a 50% discount on the price of the ticket! The Porto Card gives you access to discounts on price tickets to most monuments in Porto.

You can buy a Porto Card for 1, 2, 3 or 4 days:

– with transport (bus + subway). It’s a good deal if you’re planning to use public transports a lot. You can buy it here.
– without transport – it’s much cheaper and ideal for those of you who don’t mind walking. You can buy it here.

Do the 6 bridges cruise

One of the best things to do in Porto is to take the 6 bridges cruise, a leisurely 1h boat ride in Douro river.

It allows you not only to see Ribeira, the Unesco’s protected neighborhood, but also to check the magnificent bridges of Porto.

How to avoid the queue to the 6 bridges cruise in Porto:

It is easy – just get the online ticket to the 6 bridges cruise.

You can also buy the combined ticket to the Hop On Hop off bus tour + 6 bridges cruise + Port wine cellar. If you make the math it’s actually a really good deal, as if you bought the tickets for the three activities separately you’d spend around 42€.

You can also buy the combo ticket to the city train tour, river cruise and wine cellar visit which is quite similar. It is a great combo if you want to get the most of a single day and it’s very cheap – only 22€.

Go for a walk at the Serralves’ contemporary art museum

Serralves’ contemporary art museum is by far my favourite monument in this list of things to do in Porto.

Besides its stunning museum, designed by the famous architect Siza Vieira, it has a wonderful park with giant trees from all around the world. It was designed in such a way that there are different trees blossoming all throughout the year.

Therefore, I suggest you to pay a visit to Serralves’ contemporary museum and then go wonder in its park.

contemporary art museum serralves porto

© Jornal Público

How to avoid the queue to Serralves’ contemporary museum:

1 – You can but the online ticket to Serralves for 10€, which gives you access to the museum and to the park. It’s convenient – you don’t need to print the voucher, just show it on your mobile.

However, when you arrive in Serralves you need to go to the ticket office and exchange your mobile ticket to a paper one. It is a bit of a ridiculous process but at least you don’t need to wait in line – you can head straight to the staff at the ticket office and tell them that you have an online ticket. All in all and to be honest I am not sure it is worth to do it.

2 – If you buy the Porto Card with transportation you’ll get a discount of 20%. This doesn’t avoid the queue but it saves you money.

3 – If you’re a patient person, you can visit Serralves for free on the first Sunday morning of each month. Keep in mind that the museum will be packed so I advise you to go at the opening hour (10am).

Fado is not traditional from Porto, but from Lisbon and Coimbra.

However, one of the best things to do in Porto is to watch a Fado show, because even if it is not “local” it is certainly very Portuguese!

casa guitarra cheap fado show porto

How to save money on a Fado show in Porto:

Usually the Fado shows run during dinner, and I’ve already written about the best Fado houses in Porto. As it usually includes dinner it ends up being an expensive activity (about 30/40€ per person).

However, if you are only interested in listening to Fado, I recommend that you to buy the online ticket for the Fado show at Casa da Guitarra, which is very economical – only 14€/person.

Another great option is to buy a combo ticket for a Fado show at a Port wine cellar. It allows you not only to visit one of the best Port wine cellars in Porto but also to enjoy the wine tasting while listening to fado. How does that sound?! 🙂

This is a good deal because a visit and wine tasting at a Port wine cellar costs around 15€/18€, and if you go to a traditional Fado show (in a restaurant) you will never pay less than 30€. Therefore, by getting combo ticket you are saving a lot of money since it only costs 21€.

portoalities best private tours porto
It might sound strange that I am recommending my own private tours as one of the best things to do in Porto. But I wouldn’t be making them if I didn’t believe them to be very good, and you can read the reviews on our TripAdvisor  and see the wonderful things that people are writing about us.

Our tours are always private, which means that we will tailor make an itinerary that matches your travel expectations and your rhythm. We can include whatever monuments and activities that you like.

If you are interested, check our tour page or simply send an email to sara@portoalities.com with your preferred date for the tour, and a bit of information about your group. We will take it from there!

Get amazed at the Lello bookstore

I have already told you the story behind the stunning Lello bookshop, where people believe that J. K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book. Nonetheless, visiting this neo – gothic bookshop is definitely one of the top things to do in Porto.

However, let me tell you that the queue to Lello bookstore is excruciating and highly unpredictable. But, of course, I am here to help you figure a way in…
lello bookstore porto

How to avoid the queue to Lello bookshop:

  • You can also buy the online ticket to Lello bookstore. It costs 5,5€. When you buy it there is a field to include your VAT Number. Just introduce this number: 999999990 (this is legit information, I called Lello bookstore to know how to go around this VAT issue). No prints needed, just show it on your smartphone. However, many times the Lello’s bookstore website is not working (I am not sure why).
  • You can also buy the skip the line ticket to Lello bookstore. You get it at Armazém do Castelo (the same place where you buy the normal ticket) for 7,50€. This ticket allows you to skip the queue to enter the bookstore but it does not allow you to skip the queue to buy the ticket itself, obviously. The only people who can skip both queues are tour guides so you might consider joining one of our private tours.

Visit St Francis church

Besides the Clérigos church, St Francis church is one of my favourite churches in Porto. This gothic building – one of the very few of this kind – is marvellously decorated with Portuguese baroque golden leaf, as you can see on the picture below.st francis church porto golden leaf

How to avoid the queues to St Francis church in Porto:

Actually, there is no need to avoid any queue since I have never seen one there 😛

However, if you have the Porto Card with transportation you have a 25% discount on the ticket.

I recommend to book a guided visit on the inside because it is a game changer to visit this particular church with someone who actually knows what they are talking about. You simply have to make a reservation by sending an email to museu@ordemsaofrancisco.pt, as they do not have specific hours for the tours.

Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa)

Palácio da Bolsa aka the famous Stock Exchange Palace with the stunning Arab room. It was built on the ruins of the former convent of St Francis after the Civil war at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

This is an all time favourite of tourists and one of the best things to do in Porto if you are found of taking pictures that will make your friends turn green with envy.

However, I am not very found of the tours there and they always feel a bit rushed.

stock exchange palace porto

How to avoid the queues to Palácio da Bolsa / Stock Exchange Palace:

The queue to this monument is really, really huge. They let you book the tour online but it’s pretty useless because you can’t pay it, so you need to face the queue nonetheless!

There is no way to escape the queue and the tour takes place in the language of the first person who books the tour (either in PT/EN/FR/ES). Therefore, if you have a friend in Porto this is the right time to ask him/her a favour 😀 if you’re not that lucky, then go early. Really early!

If you have the Porto Card with transportation you have a 25% discount on the ticket.

Go for wine tasting at one of the best Port wine cellars

You cannot come here and not do one of the best things in Porto, which is to go tasting wine at one of the best Port wine cellars!

I have already written about the best Port wine cellars in Porto so if you are a real Port wine lover read that article to discover what is the most adequate wine experience for you.
port wine cellars

How to avoid the queues to the Port wine cellars:

You can also simply head to Cais de Gaia, where the cellars are located, and try your luck at one of them. But I would recommend you to book your visit in advance because this is one of the most touristy activities in Porto and tours run out fast.

The good news is that there ways to save money when going to a Port wine cellar.

An amazing option is this ticket of a city train tour, river cruise and wine cellar visit. It is a great combo if you want to get the most of a single day and it’s very cheap – only 22€. I recommend to buy the combo ticket because if you buy the tickets to these activities separately you will be paying double that price (over 40€).

If water is not really your thing, you can get a similar experience by getting a ticket to the magic train tour and Port Wine tasting.

Another great deal is to get a combo ticket for the Hop On Hop Off Bus, river cruise and Port wine cellar for 25,20€. This is very cheap because the river cruise costs 15€, a visit to a Port wine cellar around 15/18€ and the Hop on Hop off Bus around 18€ / day. Save yourself some bucks by buying this online ticket.

Casa da Música 

People tend to neglect Casa da Música because it is not in the city centre, even though it is one of the few examples of contemporary architecture in Porto. It was designed by Rem Koolhaas and it is well worth the visit.

The guided tours are simply phenomenal and they go into detail to explain you the acoustics of the building. But you can also simply enjoy the building by attending a concert as it is one of the best things to do in Porto.

casa musica music venue porto facade

© Wojtek Gurak

Have a coffee at Café Majestic

Café Majestic is by far the most famous cafe in Porto. It is a magnificent example of post WWI period in Europe and having a coffee there is one of the best things to do in Porto.

However, it is always – ALWAYS – packed with tourists and it is very noisy.

famous cafe majestic porto decor

How to avoid the queues to the Café Majestic:

I am afraid it is not possible to avoid this queue! There is always a line of people to enter the Cafe Majestic, even on rainy days.

However, I have a secret to share with you: just head to Café Guarany, which belongs to the same owners, and have coffee there. This café dates from the 30s and has an exquisite decoration without having the absurd prices of Café Majestic and its disturbing amount of people.

Cathedral of Porto

The cathedral of Porto marks the foundation of the city nearly a thousand years ago and for that reason alone I consider visiting it one of the best things to do in Porto. This building is located at the top of the hill and from there you have a pretty view (albeit not the best one) towards the city.

It is worth visiting the cathedral of Porto due to its gothic cloister and the baroque altarpiece. And since you there, take the time to visit the Episcopal Palace (where the bishop of Porto lives) as it is a great example of the opulent lives that the higher members of the Catholic church still enjoy these days.

cathedral porto tourist downtown

How to avoid the queues to the cathedral of Porto:

Unfortunately there is no way to avoid this particular queue.

However, you can save money if you buy the Porto Card with transportation as you’ll get a discount of 35% on the tickets to both the cathedral of Porto and the Episcopal Palace.

Especially for families with kids: World of Discoveries

I already told you about the World of Discoveries, an interactive museum dedicated to the Portuguese Discoveries, on my guide of fun activities in Porto for families with kids.

This museum is one of the few in Porto dedicated to kids, hence the long queues (and we all know how frustrating it can be when our little ones start to get bored…).

If you’re enjoying this article, don’t forget to pin it for later:

How to save money on the World of Discoveries:

These are the current prices for the World of Discoveries:

Prices of the World of Discoveries:
Adults: 14€
Children [4-8]: 8€
Adult >65: 11€

You have two options to save money:

  • If you buy Porto Card, buy the Porto Card with transportation you’ll get a discount of 35%. This means that you will pay 9,10€ / adult and 5,20€ / kid.
  • You can buy the online ticket, so that the price of the ticket is 11,90€ / adult and 8€ / kid.Unfortunately it has a sneaky “cost of operation” of almost 1€.

Capela das Almas (Chapel of the Souls)

This chapel is an extraordinary example of blue tiles azulejos in Porto.  It sits next to Bolhão subway station which was designed by the famous Porto architect Souto de Moura, so you take the time to admire two of the best things to do in Porto.

The interior of the chapel is not nearly as pretty as its exterior unfortunately. You can check it out but please be respective of the people that are praying there and this chapel is very cherished by our population.

chapel souls porto

If you don’t want to bother at all with tickets… then book a private tour with me! 🙂

private tours porto
There are many advantages of taking a private tour in Porto with me. One of them is that it’ll be tailor made to your expectations and pace, and that I’ll be the one taking care of tickets to all monuments.

If you’re interested, just send an email to sara@portoalities.com. See you in Porto! 😉