Discover the best things to do in Porto on this article. It includes all my tips and tricks to avoid the excruciating queues to these amazing places – I hope you 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 15 minutos), 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 give up 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 Clérigos church (it is free of charge) and watch a live concert of pipe organ at noon.
How to avoid the queue to Torre dos Clérigos
There is no way to avoid the queue 🙁 You can buy the online ticket to the Clérigos tower, but you still need to go to the queue and show it at the ticket office (I know, it doesn’t make much sense…).
Nonetheless, if you buy Porto Card, a card that gives you free access to public transports AND discounts on the tickets to most monuments in Porto, you’ll get a 50% discount on the price of the Clérigos tower.
You can buy a Porto Card for 1, 2, 3 or 4 days:
– with transport (bus + subway + train). 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.
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.
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.
Get amazed at the Lello bookstore
I already told you the story behind the stunning Lello bookshop, where people believe that J. K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book. (Not true, by the way). 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…
How to avoid the queue to Lello bookshop
- To avoid the line to buy the tickets, you can simply buy the online ticket to Lello bookstore. It costs 5,5€. When you buy it there is a field to include your VAT Number, and you should 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 isn’t working.
- To avoid both the line to enter the building, you can 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.
Do the 6 bridges cruise
One of the best things to do in Porto is to take the famous 6 bridges cruise, a leisurely 1h boat ride in Douro river.
It is perfect if you need to relax, if you are traveling with kids or if you have some time to kill in between other activities.
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 combo ticket to the Hop On Hop off bus tour + 6 bridges cruise + Port wine cellar. If you make the math it’s a pretty good deal, because if you buy the tickets for the three activities separately you’ll spend around 42€. Therefore, with this combined ticket you save 20€ / person.
You can also get the combo ticket to the city train tour + 6 bridges cruise + Port wine cellar 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€.
Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa)
Palácio da Bolsa is the famous Stock Exchange Palace with the stunning Arab room. It was built on the ruins of the former convent of St Francis, which was donated to the Commercial association of the city after our 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 Instagram followers turn green with envy.
How to avoid the queues to the Stock Exchange Palace
The queue to this monument is really huge. They let you book the tour online but it’s pretty useless because you can’t pay for it, so you need to face the queue nonetheless to pay your ticket. Therefore, there is no way to avoid the queue.
If you have the Porto Card with transportation you have a 25% discount on the ticket.
Another important information is that 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!
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 wine tasting 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 one for you.
You can definitely show up unannounced at a random Port wine cellar, but there is a risk that a) the lodge is full for that day or b) the tour in the language that you want is not taking place in your available time frame. Therefore, I highly recommend you to read my article, choose a Port wine cellar and book a visit ahead of time.
How to avoid the queues to the Port wine cellars
The best way is definitely to book your visit in advance.
The good news is that there ways to save money when going to a Port wine cellar, not just skipping the lines.
An amazing option is this ticket of a city train tour + 6 bridges cruise + Port wine cellar. It is a great combo if you want to get the most of a single day and it’s very cheap – only 22€.
If water is not really your thing, you can get a similar experience by getting a ticket to the magic train tour + Port wine cellar.
Another great deal is to get a combo ticket for the Hop On Hop Off Bus + 6 bridges cruise + 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.
Fado is the traditional Portuguese music style immortalised by Amália Rodrigues, Mariza and Ana Moura, among others. Unlike what people think, Fado doesn’t only tell stories of pain and saudade, it can also be incredibly fun, cheerful and inspiring.
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!
How to save money on a Fado show in Porto
Usually a Fado shows runs during dinner, and I’ve already written about the best Fado houses in Porto. Therefore, 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 cheap – only 15€ / 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€.
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 above.
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.
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, albeit very expensive.
However, it is always – ALWAYS – packed with tourists and it is very noisy. For these reasons, don’t expect to find Portuguese people on the inside.
How to avoid the queues at 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with your preferred date for the tour, and a bit of information about your group. We will take it from there!
Go for a walk at 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.
You can also have lunch at Serralves’ buffet – style restaurant, it is a really nice restaurant with a view towards the park.
How to avoid the queue to Serralves’ contemporary museum
1 – You can but the online ticket to Serralves for 20€, 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 perfectly 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 (especially with families with young kids), so I advise you to go at the opening hour (10h).
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. Otherwise, you can simply enjoy the building by attending a concert as it is one of the best things to do in Porto.
How to avoid the queues at Casa da Música
There is never a queue for the tours at Casa da Música, don’t worry 🙂
However, if you want to watch a concert there I recommend you to buy the tickets online, as they run out fast.
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…).
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:
Children [4-8]: 9€
Adult >65: 12€
You have two options to save money:
- If you buy the Porto Card with transportation you’ll get a discount of 35%. This means that you will pay 9,75€ / adult and 5,85€ / kid.
- You can buy the online ticket, so that the price of the ticket is 13€ / adult and 7€ / kid.
Visit FC Porto’s Stadium and Museum
I must confess my profound ignorance about the king of sports (I mean European football :P).
But I was pleasantly surprised when I visited FC Porto’s Stadium and Museum – it is a very informative museum, but not pretty, as it displays many interactive panels, holograms and models in full scale … and a trophy room, of course! 🙂
FC Porto’s Stadium and Museum have excellent access – it is a 5 minutes walk from Estádio do Dragão subway station, and there is a shopping mall across the street, where you can enjoy a quick lunch.
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