Porto Ribeira

Planning a short trip to Porto – Must do’s

Portugal’s northern city is often a second choice after Lisbon. Let me offer some ideas that may persuade you to choose to visit Porto/the North of Portugal on your next visit!


One of the most emblematic representations of Porto are the beautiful azulejo tiles you’ll see all over the city, on all kinds of different buildings. This type of tile is very common in parts of the Iberian Peninsula – something that came from the Islamic expansion. The word azulejo comes from the Arabic word al zellige which means “the polished stone”.

You will see these azulejo tiles on all kinds of buildings, but some are more interesting than others! A few good examples of these tiles in Porto are:

This blog post goes more in depth and gives some really good background as to where to buy azulejo tiles as well!


When in Portugal, it’s more than acceptable to overindulge. Plus, there’s something so comforting about eating a freshly baked Pastel de Nata with an espresso… Bonus points if you do this while sitting looking out at the Dom Luis I Bridge (head to the River!).

A few good spots for good pastries:

  • Confeiteria do Bolhao | A traditional spot that has been around since the late 1800s. Put your phone away, and just listen to the clatter of plates and chatter of gossip. Located on Rua Formosa 339.
  • Manteigaria | Meaning butter shop, this bright and modern pastel da nata factory and cafe is a popular new place for those seeking out some sweet treats. Located on Rue de Alexandre Braga 24 (just a short walk from Confeiteria do Bolhao).
  • Vegana | I haven’t personally visited this place but have heard that they are the best place for vegans or lactose-intolerant people looking to get a nata fix – if you visit let me know your thoughts! Located on Rua Formosa 34.


I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been obsessed with finding spots with good views, especially if from a high vantage point. Porto has a number of good viewing spots! A few favourites of mine:

  • Torre dos Clerigos | Climb up the 290 steps of this tower (there is a small fee of 6 euros which also allows you to visit the Church) for amazing 360 views of Porto and enjoy spotting all the different attractions.
  • Dom Luis I Bridge | Walk across this bridge – particularly pretty at sunset/twilight hours
  • Jardim Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace Gardens) | Not only do you get to walk around this gorgeous garden for free, you get amazing views of the river and of a couple of Porto’s 6 bridges.
  • WOW (World of Wine – just the name sounds appealing!) | This place includes various restaurants/bars with a fantastic view, well worth visiting to enjoy some wine.
View from Jardim do Palacio de Cristal


A local dish you have to try. Don’t expect fine dining, this is very much one to indulge in and one you may appreciate if hungover.


The Livraria Lello used to be relatively unknown apart from those from Portugal and real bibliophiles perhaps, but when it started being touted as one of the top 10 prettiest bookshops in the world, and a bookshop that is rumoured to have inspired J. K. Rowling‘s idea for the moving staircase in Hogwarts (check the link for better pictures than my 2011 camera could ever compete with), the queues quickly lined up. So much so that the bookshop had to introduce a small fee for people visiting so they could maintain the famous bookcase in the middle of the shop. But don’t worry, the fee will be reimbursed should you buy any book or knick knack. (the books are mostly all in Portuguese the last time I visited at least).

Even paying a fee, you will not get a picture with the staircase on your own, so don’t visit with hopes of that. 


The Ribeira is the area by the river and where most people enjoy a leisurely walk and/or a drink by the river. 

Enjoy the quintessential Porto views: The best views will be after you cross the bridge and look back at the buildings piled up like Lego blocks and laundry hanging from the windows. 

Note: I remember some years ago even finding a quaint little ice cream shop that had a port wine sorbet on offer – definitely try it if you find it! Or just enjoy any old ice cream with the view. 


Sometimes I forget to tell people this, because Porto is filled with so much culture and interesting spots to visit. However, if you happen to visit on a warm and sunny day, a walk by the promenade is lovely – the picture below was taken around 9pm but the sunsets earlier in the day are often fantastic! Expect lovely, soft sand, but don’t expect warm water! This blog post I found goes into more details on a few beaches you might come across.

VISIT THE DOURO VALLEY (and stay there if you can)

This is my number one tip. I visited Porto many times, as I grew up an hour away, but hadn’t visited the Douro Valley until I was in my early twenties and then I became obsessed. It is unlike other regions in Portugal, and it’s well worth making the detour for. 

The Douro Valley is actually where all Port Wine is made, not in Porto! It was also the first region to be denominated a specific region, not Champagne in France as many believe. 

Even if you’re not a big fan of Port or even Wine, a visit to the Douro Valley is still worth it for the spectacular views. The rolling hills are covered in a specific style of plantation, which you don’t see very often. 

Views from the Quinta de Marrocos
Adorable train stations like this – the trains trip along the coast is well worth it for uninterrupted views like this one

DOURO VALLEY – Specifics

Douro Royal Valley Hotel & Spa

Read my blog post on the Douro Valley – you can easily spend a full week just there, so I want to do it justice and give it the detail it deserves. However, if you’re only staying in Porto for a short trip then make sure to leave a full day for this. You’ll find many tours on offer on TripAdvisor and just from googling “Douro Valley day trip”. Make sure to choose a tour which includes a couple of different wineries and also a boat tour down the river.

1 thought on “Planning a short trip to Porto – Must do’s”

  1. Get ready to start planning your 3 day walking tour of rome! Before leaving check out my Rome travel tips and must-eat items on Roman menus.

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