Porto is a busy industrial and commercial center. The city itself isn't very populous (about 240,000 inhabitants), but the Porto metropolitan area (Greater Porto) has some 1,500,000 inhabitants in a 50 km radius, with cities like Gaia, Matosinhos, Maia, Gondomar, and Espinho.
The city was built along the hills overlooking the Douro river estuary, and its historical center was awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1996. It has been continuously inhabited since at least the 4th Century, when the Romans referred to it as Portus Calle.
Porto has a semi-Mediterranean climate, although it's strongly affected by the Atlantic ocean, which makes it cooler than other cities with this climate. Temperatures can rise as high as 40°C in August during occasional heat waves. Winters are mild and humid, with occasional cold nights when temperatures can drop below 0°C.
Porto has always been a mercantile city. This is evident in the style of the buildings lining the Avenida dos Aliados, the core of the downtown area. The center of town, unlike other major Portuguese cities, which tend towards the baroque, is granite and monumental.
Residents of Porto are nicknamed the Tripeiros, or tripe eaters. This is based on the legend of the city's inhabitants going without meat in order to provision the fleet (which left from Porto) that left to conquer Ceuta in North Africa in 1415. As the story goes, they had to subsist on tripe soup, which is a specialty of the city.
Citizens of Porto, while definitely Portuguese, hold themselves apart culturally from the rest of the country, as is expressed in the often heard phrase "o Porto é uma nação" (Porto is a nation). Outsiders often consider Porto to be more crass and mercantile than the rest of the country, and the inhabitants to be somewhat lacking in social graces. This is likely because the city has historically been dominated by Portuguese bourgeoisie and English trading factions rather than the nobility. The Portuenses, to use the correct term for the inhabitants, of course disagree, regarding themselves with some justification as being the economic heart of the nation. As the saying goes, "Porto works, Braga Prays, Coimbra studies, and Lisbon gets the money."
The city is officially styled "a muito nobre, sempre leal e invicta cidade do Porto" (the very noble, always faithful, and invincible city of Porto). This is usually shortened to "a Cidade Invicta" (the invincible city) a title won because of Porto's unparalleled resistance against Napoleonic troops during the Peninsular war.
The city is quite varied architecturally, with medieval as well as modern living side by side. Porto's geography is hard on the feet, but pleasant to the eye. The city is extremely hilly, with many buildings built into a cliff face that overlooks the river. Stairs cut into the stone run up and down the cliff face and offer a laborious but rewarding walking tour. Across the river from Porto proper, in the suburb of Gaia, are located the warehouses of notable Porto wine companies, such as Cálem, Ferreira, Fonseca, Sandeman, Kopke and others.
While the local attitude is friendly, to outsiders it is worth noting that locals can respond literally to questions, which may seem slightly off-putting to the uninitiated. An example of this would be to ask in a bar if they have a menu (for food) and to receive a straight 'no' as a response. It's after further questions that one can find out that the establishment doesn't sell food. Such a response is not considered rude, it is merely direct and literal.
If you speak in Spanish to a local, you will be largely understood and as a rule they will freely converse with you, but from time to time, more so with the older generation, you may be politely reminded that you are in Portugal and the native language is Portuguese.
Sá Carneiro Airport (IATA: OPO), Pedras Rubras, Maia +351 229 432 400. Also known as Aeroporto do Porto or Aeroporto de Pedras Rubras this is the third busiest airport in the country and is about 15 km from the city centre.
Ryanair offer cheap flights from several cities like London Stansted, Liverpool, Dublin, Dusseldorf-Weeze, Eindhoven, Brussels-Charleroi, Frankfurt-Hahn, Maastricht, Paris-Beauvais, Milan-Bergamo, Marseille, Bologna, Pisa, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Marrakesh and Valencia. easyJet also flies to Geneva, Lyon, Basel, Milan and London-Gatwick. TAP flies from most European airports but tends to be more expensive.
The Metro line connects the Airport to the city centre, offering a fast and peaceful ride into the heart of the city, for €1.85 (Z4 ticket) + €0.60 for the rechargeable card. You can buy 24 hours pass for Metro and buses for €6.40 (Z4 - includes the airport). Note that Metro vending machines don't accept foreign debit or credit cards. The metro runs from around 06:00-01:00 daily and run roughly every 20-30 min.
STCP buses 601, 602 and 604 (see STCP airport buses) also connect the airport with the city center. They operate between around 05:30 and 00:30 and run roughly every 25min. STCP also operates a night bus line 3M (Av. Aliados - Airport) every 60min between 01:00 and 05:00. Resende bus 120 and Maia Transportes bus 10 connect the airport with Matosinhos and Maia municipalities respectively.
Alternatively, you may fly to Lisbon Portela Airport (IATA: LIS) and get to Porto by train from the Oriente station there, which is connected to the airport by metro and bus. The trains take between 2.5 and 3 hours to get from Lisbon to Porto and are very frequent (once or twice per hour).
The city is served by two major train stations, the São Bento (Saint Benedict) station which is right in the city center, and the Campanhã station which is about 3km west of the city. The long-distance Alfa Pendular and Intercidade trains arrive at Campanhã and take the following amounts of time to cover the distance, respectively:
- Coimbra to Porto - 59 minutes (AP) to 69 minutes (IC)
- Lisbon to Porto - 2h 46 min (AP) to 3h 09 min (IC)
- Faro to Porto - about 5h 45 minutes (selected AP services only)
If you have a train ticket to or from Campanhã you can travel to or from São Bento on urban trains with that ticket at no extra cost. Trains between Campanhã and São Bento take about 5min.
From Lisbon, you can board the train at Santa Apolónia, Entrecampos or Oriente in the north of the city. Travelling to Porto from Oriente shaves 9 minutes from the travelling time.
Domestic trains are very frequent and usually on time. Trains from and to Madrid and Paris are regular, other non-domestic destinations vary according to demand and time of year.
Be careful on the train from Madrid. On at least one route, the computer systems will say you need to change trains at Guillarei in northern Spain. However, Guillarei has stopped trains through Portugal since 2004. Instead, you will need to transfer to a station named Tui which is a few miles from Guillarei. The computer system hasn't been updated even though this change occurred in 2004 for some reason. You can go into Guillarei but you will need to take a taxi (cost €5) to Tui to connect.
The city is served by five major highways: A1, which connects Porto to Lisbon, A29 which connects Porto to Aveiro, A3 connects Porto to Braga, A28 connects Porto to Viana do Castelo and the northern Portuguese border, and A4, which goes eastwards from the city towards Vila Real. The IC29 connects Porto to the neighboring city of Gondomar. The city is also served by 2 ring highways, the A41 (still incomplete) which is the outer ring, and VCI/IC23 or A20 which connects all the main places inside the city. The A20/VCI, A28, A29 and A41 are all free highways at the moment, but there are plans to install tolls in the latter three, sometime in the future. Generally speaking, the traffic is usually chaotic and very intense, especially during rush hours.
There are many companies providing direct bus trips from major European countries and also for most of the northern cities of the country. Try Rodonorte for timetables. Visit also Porto Bus Service, Renex, Rede Expresso,...
An international bus operated by the Spanish company ALSA leaves Madrid at 23:00 and arrives in Porto Casa Da Musica at 06:00. It costs around €50 from Madrid and also stops at (among others) Avila and Salamanca. The round trip leaves Porto at 20:30.
There is a cargo and recreational harbor called Leixões in the neighboring city of Matosinhos. Modest-sized cruise ships can dock just outside a drawbridge to the inner harbor. Beneath the south approach to the bridge is a station for the light rail system (see "By Metro" below) that goes to Oporto.
There is also a very small recreational harbor in the river Douro. As far as a major method of getting to the city, however, sea transport is not really feasible. However, you can use tour boats based along the river (especially in Oporto) to go up the Douro River, one of the most scenic short trips you'll ever make.
Porto, like most Portuguese cities, is a nightmare to drive in. Roads vary in conditions - from fully paved to cobbled lanes that can make even the most shortest of distance seem like a go-kart rally. With that said, keep in mind that the touristic part of the city (the Ribeira and Baixa) are a never ending maze of narrow streets, short tempered drivers and snakelike alleys. Better to walk (despite the fact that it's very hilly). Also, drivers seem to have forgotten how to drive (apart from pushing the pedals) - therefore, they make their own rules of the road (however, this generally does not apply to young drivers). Be prepared to lose your patience several times whilst driving.
Porto Metro is an incredibly advanced, state of the art light rail / subway system. Developed in 2001 (for the Porto2001 - European Capital of Culture), the metro is still under construction. It has several lines, that run across the center of Porto, and down to some suburban areas. It is quick, and probably the most efficient way to get around Porto. Some major areas of the city, however, are not that well served by the metro, although new lines are planned and should start being built soon.
Tickets must be purchased beforehand. They can be bought at the machines in the station (note: if there are no tickets in the machine that day, take the metro to the next station and buy it there!). The ticket is stored on a card called Andante, and you can purchase as many rides (or travels) as you want. Andante is Porto's main ticket system and it is based on somewhat unusual zone system . The city centre is zone C1 and the airport is N10. To travel between places you need to know how many zones you need to cross. Within the same zone or up to another zone you buy Z2 ticket. Z3 for three zones and so on. The Andante card itself costs €0.60 and can be re-used/re-charged, so do not throw it away. You can also buy daily passes or Andante Tour tickets for 1 or 3 days, which may be more convenient.
There is also the option to buy a Porto Card for 24, 48, or 72 consecutive hours which, besides of providing unlimited access to public transportation, includes free access to several museums and further discounts.
If you plan on staying for more than three weeks, it is recommended you get the Andante Gold, Andante's monthly subscription. The card costs €6, and will allow unlimited travel with your chosen zones. The Andante Gold, like the Andante Blue can be used in all metro lines, the funicular and all buses . When you are buying the Andante Gold, you must have a picture of yourself (your passport photo will do. They can amplify the image from the passport to the card in seconds).
An important note: Your Andante must be validated before you enter the metro, bus or funicular. There are no barriers to stop you at the metro, but the Metro police enter the cars and check your Andante to make sure you have validated it, and are travelling within your zones.
STCP is the best way to move around if you don't want to waste money on taxis. It's the public bus operator in the region, and the only one operating inside city borders. Suburbs are served either by STCP or private companies. STCP buses are the largest eco-friendly fleet in Europe, modern, comfortable, and lines cover the entire city, as well as major suburbs. Buses colors are white and blue. Line numbers are a 3-digit code. First digit is assigned according to the destination zone (2-west porto, 3-north porto, 4-east porto, 5-matosinhos, 6-maia, 7-valongo, 8-gondomar, 9-vila nova de gaia). For example, line nr. 906 has its destination in vila nova de gaia (9). You can use two kind of tickets: Andante (see "Metro" above) or STCP own tickets. Andante tickets are recommended: you can also use them on metro and suburban trains, plus they're easier to buy and recharge on any metro station or newspaper seller with "payshop" symbol. Andante blue card costs €0.50 and can be charged with how many journeys you like. Every bus stop has at least a timetable and lines served. There's also a code so you can get a (paid) SMS showing minutes left to next arrivals updated in real time. The busiest ones have electronic displays with timetables and city maps. Every bus inside has a display showing the name of next stop, so it's easy to keep track of them.
Route 500 is probably the most scenic STCP route as it runs along the river and the ocean front. STCP also possesses a fleet of old trams three of which are still in operation, mainly for tourist purposes. Route 1 runs along the river from Ribeira to Foz, route 18 runs from the river towards the city centre and route 22 goes around the city centre.
A fast way of getting around the city, although traffic congestion near the city center might be a problem. However, be expected to pay a high price for these services, especially compared to the other public transportation such as bus and subway.
There are ferry boats that connect Porto to the neighboring city of Vila Nova de Gaia, although you can easily walk or travel by car, metro or bus to the other side. Also there are numerous tourist boats which travel up the Douro river, where you can get fantastic views of the green landscape the region has to offer.
Not exactly a public transportation, but its a wonderful way to see the city from above. Near the Douro there is a heliport with a helicopter available for people to use to get to know the city as a whole. Travelling accompanied will make the flight cheaper.
By Funicular dos Guindais
This is a cable railway system. Use this if you don't wish to walk up the steep streets of Porto. This system connects the Ribeira to the Batalha square, in the city centre, it also has a panoramic view of the River Duoro. A single trip cost €2.50. However, if your Andante card (see "Metro" above) has been recently validated (in less than one hour), then you can ride it for free.
By Ascensor da Ribeira
This panoramic elevator runs from the Largo da Lada, and is visible behind the buildings of the Ribeira, close to the Ponte D. Luís.
Porto is a mysterious city that reveals its charm to the visitor through time. Take your time, wander through the mazes and alleys of the city. Take in the old, bohemian spirit of the city. Hike through the Ribeira and Foz do Douro regions (the latter, at sunset). Porto may not be in every tourist's Iberian Peninsula itinerary, but it's well worth a visit if you want to see a city that has changed economically, but that has kept its old traditions, something that is being forgotten in Europe today.
If you want to visit several museums, consider the Porto Card which provides free access to several museums and further discounts, optionally also free public transport access.
- Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace), Rua Ferreira Borges, 4050-253. It also contains the most impressive Arab room in the country. There is also a Port wine tasting room. It was built in the 19th century on the grounds of the destroyed old cloisters of the adjacent São Francisco church. €7.50 adults, €4 concessions.
- Sé do Porto (Porto Cathedral), Terreiro da Sé, 4050-573. This Romanesque cathedral was originally completed in the 13th century. Later on Baroque alterations were made in the 17th and 18th century. The cathedral is located on top of a hill from where you also have great views over the city and the river. Free. Adjacent monastery €4.
- Port Wine Institute, Rua Ferreira Borges 27, 4050-253, ☎ +351 22 2071669. Mon-Fri 11:00-19:00, Sat-Sun closed. A small exhibition about Port wine and it's certification process. Samples of a small variety of Port wines can be bought. Guided tastings and tours to the laboratories can be arranged. Free.
- City Hall, Avenida dos Aliados.
- Igreja de São Francisco (Church of Saint Francis) (adjacent to Palácio da Bolsa). A Gothic church with later alterations of the interior decorations in Baroque style.
- Mercado do Bolhão, Rua Formosa. Sun closed. A traditional market of fruits, vegetables, fish and meat.
- Livraria Lello, Rua das Carmelitas (Near Praça dos Leões and the Universidade do Porto). It's an old bookshop with an amazing interior and spiral staircase, where you can also have a coffee or glass of port. Voted as one of the most beautiful bookshops in Europe. To get in you have to buy a €3 voucher at the kiosk opposite the entrance, which can be used towards book purchases.
- Torre dos Clérigos (Clerics' Tower), Rua São Filipe Nery, 4050-546, ☎ +351 22 2001729. Panoramic views from this baroque tower. 240 steps to the top. It is best to get there early since there is not a lot of space on the viewing platform. You might even have to wait for some time before you are allowed to climb up the stairs. €3 (includes entry to a small exhibition at the lower levels of the tower).
- National Museum Soares dos Reis, Palácio dos Carrancas, Rua D. Manuel II, 4050-342. Museum displaying Portuguese art. Founded in 1833.
- Centro Português de Fotografia (Portuguese Photography Museum), Edifício da Ex-Cadeia e Tribunal da Relação do Porto, Largo Amor de Perdição, 4050-008. Housed in a beautiful building in the centre of the city. Free.
- South city center
- Ribeira (Riverfront). The part of the city near the river, which is also a good place to start visiting the World Heritage area; to the other side of the river you will see the Ribeira de Gaia, a similar area from the city of Vila Nova de Gaia (the two are only separated by the river) and where you could find the Port Wine Cellars.
- Museum of Sacred Art and Archaeology of The Higher Seminary of Oporto, Largo Dr. Pedro Vitorino 2, 4050-468 (Located in the Church of St. Lawrence (known as the Cricket Church (Igreja Grilo) after the nickname of the religious order that took ownership in 1780). Beginning at the riverfront, head north on R de Mercadores and look for the Igreja Grilo signs directing you into the delightfully narrow streets that lead to the church. Best approached on foot.), ☎ +351 223-395-020.
- The 6 bridges connecting Porto to Gaia over the Douro river, many of them providing an excellent view to the river.
West of city center
- Museu do Vinho do Porto (Port Wine Museum), Rua de Monchique 45-52, 4050-394.
- Pavilhão Rosa Mota. A multi purpose pavilion with nice gardens to rest, also known as "Palácio de Cristal".
- Museu Romântico (nearby the Pavilhão Rosa Mota). A house where the king of Italy stayed while on exile.
- North-west of city center
- Casa da Música (House of Music), Avenida da Boavista 604-610, 4149-071 (Take the metro lines A, B, C, E or F and get off at "Casa da Música"), ☎ Box office: +351 220 120 220. , tour enquiries: +351 220 120 210Designed by Rem Koolhaas and OMA. Guided tour available in English at 11:00, 16:00 and 17:00 for €6/person (free for children under 12) which take about 1 hour.
- Fundação de Serralves (Modern Art Museum), Rua D. João de Castro 210, 4150-417 (Take bus 201 (from 06:00-21:00) Sá da Bandeira -> Viso, bus 203 (from 06:00-21:00) Marquês -> Castelo do Queijo, bus 502 (from 06:00-01:00) Bolhão -> Matosinhos Mercado, or bus 504 (from 06:00-00:45) Boavista -> Norteshopping). A contemporary museum designed by the famous architect Álvaro Siza, with a huge garden/park and an Art Deco Villa. When visiting this foundation you can visit the exhibitions, relax at the park, have lunch at the restaurant, bar or tea house and explore the shops or the library. There is also a farm at the southern end of the park. €8.50 museum and park, €4 park only. 50% discount for 65+ and Porto card holders. Free on Sundays 10:00-13:00 for students and under 18.
Foz do Douro
This is the area around the ocean front just north of the mouth of the Douro River. You can rent a bike and cycle along the riverfront and then the beach to that area.
- Take a cruise upriver (here is one operator)- the cost is about €10 and takes about 50 minutes, or you may also choose a day-long cruise for a higher price. Go at least as far as Pinhão - the landscape is absolutely stunning. If you choose to do this in the summer, don't forget your factor 50 sun screen! Look for cruises picking up on the Vila Nova de Gaia side (the same as where the port caves are located), as some of them may offer discounts for cave tours or port purchases.
- Take a port wine tour and visit the various wine caves! This is a must as Porto is the port wine capital. The cellars are in Vila Nova de Gaia, a 5 minute walk from Ribeira across the Douro river, and there are extremely convenient bus pick-ups from easily accessible areas to take you up the winding hills to the cellars. Tours vary in price but generally cost €3-6 and include a tasting. Most all have English speaking tours along with Spanish, Portuguese, and French. There are also quite a number of cellars offering free tastings. See the drink section of the main Portugal page for more information about Port wine in general.
- Cálem, Avenida Diogo Leite 344, 4400-111 Vila Nova de Gaia. Their tour lasts around 20min and is quite informative for beginners. It is followed by a tasting of two Port wines. They sell their old empty oak casks to Glenfiddich. Calem is owned by Sogevinus, which also owns other well known brands such as Kopke, Burmester, and Barros. Tour and tasting €6.
- Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman, Rua do Choupelo 250, 4400-088 Vila Nova de Gaia, ☎ +351 223 772 956, +351 223 742 800. They are further uphill and have a terrace with great views over Porto. You can also enjoy their Port wine in the adjacent garden. You can buy samples by the glass which are cheap (starting at €1) and you get generous portions. Tours are also available and start every 30-40min. The tour price of €5 includes tastings of three Port wines. Founded in and family owned since 1692.
- Cockburn's, Rua Serpa Pinto 346, 4400-307 Vila Nova de Gaia (Further uphill), ☎ +351 913 007 950. The basic tasting consists of two Port wines. Other types of tastings are available including rarer and more fancy Port wines. Tour and basic tasting €4.
- Teatro Nacional São João (TNSJ), Praça da Batalha, 4000-102, ☎ For tour enquiries and reservations: +351 22 340 19 56, toll-free: 800 108 675. Porto's main theatre and opera production company and venue. There are also guided tours (€5/person) for access to the stage, rehearsal room, dressing rooms and the technical area (if they are not used during the time of the tour).
- Dragão Stadium (Estádio do Dragão). Visit the Dragão Stadium, home of FC Porto. The team has a rich history, having won the World Club Championship or Intercontinental Cup twice, Champions League twice, UEFA Cup once and UEFA Supercup once - and the stadium is worth a visit on the architecture alone. If you are lucky you might get to see a game of the Champions League. Just across from the stadium you have a large shopping center, according to a joke built to block the wind from affecting the stadium.
- If you feel creative and up to an artistic challenge, take this opportunity to participate in a workshop offered by local artists and craftspeople. Be sure to take home, not only the memory of the moment, but also the sense of accomplishment through the work produced.
- Go out at night to the downtown. Three major hubs of bars are Piolho, Galerias Paris and Praça de Ceuta. Just follow the crowds and have a good time. :)
- Taste Porto Food Tours. Explore the local cuisine with a food tour. Join the 3.5hrs tour showcasing some of the best treats of the region, beyond the obvious Port Wine and Francesinha. Learn about local delicacies, visit a market, try savoury & sweet treats and learn a lot about Porto's people and lifestyle with a local guide.
- Porto Exit Games (West Baixa; City centre), ☎ +351 914 884 883, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Play an escape game in Porto Exit Games. If you love a good challenge you must go there. For 60 min you and your friends will be trapped in a room. Your goal is to get out in time!
Basic Portuguese language is very much appreciated. English, French, Galician, Catalan, Italian or Spanish may be spoken or understood at major hotels/resorts. For major tourist attractions such as river boat rides or Port Cellar tours, generally the chosen language for a given tour slot is granted on a first-come-first-served basis, if you want a tour to be guaranteed to be in your language, turn up early and request it.
- Fast Forward Language Institute (In the centre of town). Offers a variety of courses in Portuguese language and culture including 3 hour "Portuguese for survival", aimed at foreign visitors to the city.
Porto is a business/financial centre. Some hotels have conference rooms, some with internet.
For shopping, take a stroll around the Mercado do Bolhão which has a food market and handicrafts stores, and Santa Catarina street (highly recommended, even if only to stroll), which is near Bolhão. Cedofeita street is also a busy shopping street, as well as Boavista. Porto and the suburbs have plenty of shopping centers, including Norte Shopping, Arrábida Shopping, Parque Nascente, Gaia Shopping and Mar Shopping (the biggest IKEA group shopping in Europe). Apart from these you also have less populated shops that are smaller but still great ( Shopping Cidade do Porto, Via Catarina, etc.). Almost all the shops are open every day, but are usually overcrowded during the weekends and rainy days.
Port wine, of course. This is the right place for it, in the city of Gaia, just south of the Douro river.
You can also find great deals on clothes and shoes, especially during discount seasons.
- MUUDA, Rua do Rosário 294, 4050-522, e-mail: Info@muuda.com. "Art, food and design". This concept store offers a great variety of products signed by Portuguese designers. Fashion, objects, books, jewellery, shoes, gourmet and arts. You can have lunch at MUUDA, experience a wine or sushi workshop, learn how to make tricot, the newest painting techniques, photography... and much more.
- Centro Comercial Bombarda (CCB), Rua de Miguel Bombarda 285. This is not the regular shopping mall. It's much smaller and with speciality stores related to art and fashion. Look for Portuguese design, organic cosmetics, or contemporary jewellery, and then head to the galleries down the street.
- Aguas Furtadas, Rua Miguel Bombarda, 285 (CCB, Loja 4), ☎ Tel. +351 968 237 139. Looking for unique objects or original Portuguese design? This is the place for it. From a minimalist Barcelos cockerel to colorful ceramics, you won't find many of these pieces anywhere else.
- Sogevinus Wine Shop, Avenida Ramos Pinto 280, Vila Nova de Gaia (Right across the street from the lower cable car stop). At this shop you can buy all the Sogevinus Port wine brands such as Kopke, Burmester, Cálem, Barros and Gilberts. You get free samples of their Port wines.
Porto has some of the finest restaurants in Portugal.
It is said that if you like to eat, you should go to Porto because it is a place where you eat well in terms of quality and amount (even Lisbon citizens say that in Porto is where they eat the best food). The best restaurants of the city are mainly located in Matosinhos near the beach and the seaport called "Porto de Leixões". You can take the blue metro line A to get there which takes about 30min.
Expect hearty meals, and if you can, try "Tripas à moda do Porto". Be aware, however, that this is a tripe dish. Citizens of Porto are called tripeiros (tripe-eaters) on account of this dish. Also try the salted codfish "Bacalhau" - in any way it is cooked - there are hundreds of different dishes with salted codfish!
Don't forget the traditional dish called "Francesinha", which literally translated means little French lady. This city is just about the only place in the world where you can find it. However, in many other northern Portuguese cities you can find a low quality version of it. Essentially it is a toast with layers of meat inside (beef, pork meat, ham...). It is covered with cheese and a spicy sauce, with the option of including french fries on top. Most importantly, this dish must be accompanied by beer and not wine. The "Francesinha" has been considered one of the 10 best sandwiches in the World.
A good tip is taking the bus or subway to Matosinhos in July, there will be the fish festival. Freshly caught fish is being served the same day at barbecues lined up in the streets just a few blocks from the main beach. You choose a fish (only whole fish) and they prepare it on the streets for you - not a fancy restaurant, but together with the local people you are eating the best tasting fish you ever had! Try a dourada, it is delicious.
Porto is dotted with thousands of different bakeries (Pão Quente) and pastry shoppes (Pastelarias). Apart from serving delicious (and quite inexpensive) goods, they are also equipped with a side-cafe that serves all sorts of coffees (Pingo, Meia de Leite, etc.) and sandwiches (Tosta Mista-ham and cheese toastie). Note that, unlike the other river side cafes in the city, these establishments do not have picturesque views of Porto (that's expensive, and in the end, you'd be the one paying for that bill). Instead, they attract tourists by offering good food at very cheap prices.
Most locals drink black coffee (espresso).
There is at least one fully vegetarian restaurant in Porto, Paladar da Alma (Rua de Santo Ildefonso 293/5), and some other restaurants which offer vegetarian dishes alongside non-vegetarian options, such as Capa Verde (Rua da Nossa Senhora de Fátima). Vegans may have to ask for dishes to be specially prepared for them, even in vegetarian restaurants.
- O Terraço Vegan Spot, on Rua Nova da Alfândega (go up on Escadas do Caminho Novo just before Rua da Armenia). Open Thur-Sat 3:30PM-12AM, Sun 3:30-7:30PM, closed Mon-Wed. A vegan restaurant with specialties of sandwiches, hummus and other spreads, mini pizzas, tartes, natural juices, smoothies, cakes, in-house-made fried snacks and more. Most ingredients are from local producers. From the terrace direct view of the Douro river.
- Nakite, R. de Breyner 396, Porto. Open Mon-Sat 12.00-15.00, 19.00-23.00. Vegetarian restaurant and health food store. Budget menus available including vegetarian "francesinha", day dishes featuring tofu, seitan and tempeh paired nicely with goat cheese, shiitake mushrooms and other fresh ingredients. Cozy atmosphere both inside as in the back garden. Try also the special beers they might have available.
- Maus Habitos, Rua Passos Manuel 178 (at the 4th floor of an old parking garage opposite Oporto Coliseum). Open Mon-Fri 12.00-15.00. Vegetarian restaurant by day, youth culture clubhouse at night. Menu changes weekly and costs 9 euros (7.50 excl. dessert).
- Paladar da Alma, Rua de St Ildefonso 293/295. Open Mon - Wed: 12:00 - 15:00, Thu - Sat: 12:00 - 15:00, 20:00 - 23:00. The vegetarian food is based on Portuguese and Mediterranean cuisines with influences from other parts of the world. The owner is also the cook.
- Âncora d'Ouro (The Golden Anchor), Praça de Parada Leitão 45 (between the Cordoaria park and the Praça dos Leões). The third oldest cafe in Porto, it is commonly known as "O Piolho" (the Louse). The cafe looks out on the street facing a faculty of the Universidade do Porto, and had been a meeting place for students since the 19th century. Plaques donated by graduating medical classes from the early 20th century onward decorate the walls. During the fascist period (1926-1974) it was a regular meeting place of "undesirables" (according to the regimes point of view), and was accordingly under regular surveillance by the secret police. On one occasion it was raided by the GNR (Guarda Nacional Republicana) who have a post nearby, and they charged their horses into the cafe itself. It is uncertain if the place's current disorder results from this or more recent activities. Service is surly, the place isn't at all fancy, but it is usually stuffed to the gills with students. Its also quite cheap.
- Casa Adão, Avenida Ramos Pinto, 252, Vila Nova de Gaia. Located on the other side of the Douro river, is a restaurant that serves generous plates serving one hungry person or two who eat normal.
- Tà-se Bem, Largo Sampaio Bruno 25, Vila Nova de Gaia. As one of the last restaurants along the river in the Gaia area,it was a great place to stop and have a lengthy lunch before heading out to do some port tasting. With delicious and hearty selections for a good price, it is also very popular with the local crowd—during lunch it was completely full of people who work in the area. Skip the touristy cafes and head here for an authentic experience.
- Mauritânia Grill, Avenida Combatantes Grande Guerra 50, Leça da Palmeira. Nice restaurant with excellent views over the Leça Beach. The space is very light with many windows and it has is own parking lot. The decoration varies along the year (one of the few restaurants that does that) for e.g. Summer, Christmas, Halloween, Easter etc. The employees are usually kind and funny. They care about the client. Sometimes they prank you, so don't be surprised if they simulate that are spilling coffee on you.
- Casa Da Foz, Rua Padre Luís Cabral, 4150-461 Porto. Excellent Italian restaurant. Wide variety of dishes. Extremely small, so it's best to call ahead and reserve a table.
- Varanda Da Barra, Rua Paulo Gama 470, 4150-589 Porto. Great restaurant that serves traditional Portuguese, Italian and "International" food. Nice riverside view.
- Galeria de Paris Restaurante Bar, 56 Rua Galeria de Paris.
- O Filipe, Avenida Engenheiro Duarte Pacheco 36-r/c, 4450-110 Matosinhos. One of the best restaurants to eat fresh fish. Small but cozy, it can be expensive but depends on what you order. Parking is difficult to find in this area but you may park in front of the restaurant and they will take care of the car when needed (e.g. Parking Available, obstructing the road, etc.).
- Marisqueira de Matosinhos, Rua Roberto Ivens 717, 4450-255 Matosinhos. Another great restaurant; if you like shellfish this is one of the best places in Porto.
Porto is home to port wine of course, and there are many wineries around the city where port wine is brewed. Strictly speaking, port wine can only be called port wine if the grapes are grown in the Douro valley, and the wine is produced and bottled in Porto. Port wines come in many styles, with vintage port being the most expensive.
If you'd like to try some of the bars of Oporto, there is a quite interesting route you can take from Ancora de Ouro, passing by Gestos (this bar has been closed). Then you can go to Pinguim, a bit down the street, and finish off with the huge variety of pubs and bars in the Ribeira.
- Solar Vinho do Porto, ☎ +351 226094749, e-mail: email@example.com. Rua de Entre-Quintas 220. A villa with port samples and a great view of the Douro. Open M-Sa 2PM to midnight. This is the perfect place to sit in soft chairs or outside in the garden and enjoy a few glasses of the finest ports. You can also have cheese with your port.
Beware however of the area, as it tends to be a haven for car break-ins.
Dance clubs here always start very (very) late, around 1AM-2AM, and end up from 6AM-7:30AM. You have a nice choice to pick from. Most clubs are located in the Industrial region and in the upmarket Foz area.
- POP, Rua Padre Luis Cabral, 1090. One the best discos in the city. Consumption around €15. Open at Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays.
- Twins. Rua do Passeio Alegre 1000. One the best discos in the city. Consumption around 15€. Open at Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays.
- Creme - Edifício Transparente, (between Castelo do Queijo and Matosinhos) Foz.
- Pitch R. de Passos Manuel 34
- Industria. Avenida do Brasil nº 843, Foz. "local heroes and international superstars" - going since 1987. It's open until around 6AM.
- Bla-Bla A quite popular chill-out disco in the Industrial Area of Matosinhos. A more pleasing club for fans of rock and alternative pop.
- Via Rápida A popular disco in the Industrial Area. The nightclub opens Fridays and Saturdays and it's always crowded. The music heard are the latest dance hits and the crowd is 20ish.
- Vogue A trendy night club, with a young crowd. Usually plays commercial dance hits and hip hop /R&B. Located in the industrial area of the city. Overpriced drinks.
- Act if you're in your late teens, this is the place for you. Its in the industrial area of the city, and plays all the latest worldwide hits.
- Bazaar. A design bar, that is also a clothing shop and book shop. It closes around 4AM.
- Estado Novo It provides to its clients a wide range of music, from the 80's hits til today's dance hits. Every Thursday is a special night for ladies, called "wild wild woman". It opens from Thursday to Saturday and minimum consumption is €15.
- Passos Manuel, Rua de Passos Manuel. A dance club/bar frequented by the arty crowd, with a varied but tasteful selection of music and a warm decór.
- Triplex A club that is located close to Boavista. Note that a three-storey house with a garden was transformed into a club.
- HardClub Is going to be open in other place in 2007.
- Maus Hábitos A very alternative bar, right in the center of the city, in front of "Coliseu".
- Chic Trendy dance club in the industrial area of the city, mainly plays house music. Crowd is usually in their 20s.
- Bela Cruz (currently closed) It used to be a caffee. It is at the end of Avenida da Boavista next to "Gonçalves Zarco" roundabout, known as "Castelo do Queijo" roundabout, because of the fortress next to it, by the sea. It now works as a caffe and as a restaurant with live concerts during the weekdays. On weekend nights, it is a restaurant, bar and disco. Minimal consumption is usually €10.
- Plano B. Near Torre dos Clérigos, is a popular art gallery / bar installed on Porto's historic center.
- Mau Mau Located in the Foz region, its a popular nightclub with varying musical styles, from house to pop to R&B.
- River Caffé, near the River Douro. Young crowd, and normally plays the latest dance hits. Lately it has been known for some late night violence, so you'd rather not spend too long there.
- Maré Alta Located on the river front, its a small place that's known for its after hour parties. Usually a young crowd. Music is normally electronic.
There are some glbt clubs/bars in Porto.Late nite scene.
Bars & Pubs
- Ryan's Irish Pub. In the Ribeira, nice cozy atmosphere and friendly bar staff. Always a good place to start
- Trintaeum In the Foz area near the lighthouse, quite small, cool decoration, and cool crowd and not too pricey. Open till very late.
- Triplex On the Avenida Boavista in a big old house. Fantastic garden bar which is great in the summer. There's a restaurant upstairs too.
- Praia do Ourigo Beach bar in Foz. Has to be the bar with the best view in town. Set on stilts over the beach. Has a restaurant too.
- Cais de Gaia This is a bar region in riverfront area in the neighbour city of Vila Nova de Gaia. Its a modern zone for bars and clubs, usually priced a little higher than normal bars. You have a great view of the river and the beautiful city of Porto.
- Ribeira region This area is full of bars and pubs where you can have a pleasant time with an incredible view, before going to the bigger clubs around the city. Most bars are relatively close to each other, and in some there is no entrance fee. Usually most of these bars close from 3AM-4AM, after which the area becomes deserted. Be sure to go either home or to a club after, because when this area becomes deserted you may feel a bit insecure.
- Prioridade Located in the Ribeira region, this bar is one of the cheapest in the area. It's probably the only decent place in the whole of the Ribeira region (and probably, in the city) where you can get a large beer for only a few euros. They also serve spirits and cocktails, at very cheap prices as well. My suggestion, if you are planning a night out, is to get loaded at this bar before clubbing, since the price of drinks in the clubs can be outrageously high and you may find yourself with no taxi fare money to return to your home, hotel, hostel, etc. It's quite tricky to find, since it's tucked away in a rather isolated (but quite nice) place; it's near the D. Luis I bridge. Ask the locals, they'll know where it is
There's residential homes all around the city. There's also a lot of 3-star hotels with very affordable prices. In the entire city there's only one camping site (Prelada), but it's a bit far from the center. There aren't many family houses to rent in Porto, so they'll be difficult to find.
- Alma Porto Hostel, Rua do Bonfim, 305B (By metro exit at Campo 24 de Agosto station to Rua do Bonfim. Go up Rua do Bonfim and find us at 305B. By train exit at Campanhã station, go up Rua Pinto Bessa until the church. Turn left onto Rua do Bonfim and find us at 305B.), ☎ +351 914 049 326, +351 914 306 011, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Small and chilled hostel with smooth colors, lounge areas and relaxed atmosphere in a house built in the XIX century where you can also appreciate the hand made works in the high ceilings, the typical Portuguese tiles, and the beautiful camellias in the garden.
- The White Box House, Rua de Santa Catarina, 575, ☎ +351 911 008 585, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. A typical Oporto house built in the early 20th century, completely renewed in order to combine the comfort of the present with the charm of the past, providing the atmosphere for a perfect stay. More info: www.the-white-box.pt
- Wine Hostel, 52 Campo dos Martires da Patria, ☎ +351 222013167. Very centrally located. Clean rooms with ensuite showers. Very close to the train station, but may be difficult to find, so check a map before arriving. €19.
- Residencial Marfim (AC Guest House), Rua Alvares Cabral 213 (at the end of Rua da Cedofeita turn right), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Renowned for excellent customer service and the lowest prices in Oporto. In a quiet area within easy walking distance of the historic centre (5 minutes). With rooms that can accommodate from 2 persons up to 8. Fluent English, Spanish, Portuguese, French. Some Italian, German, Bulgarian. From €12.50 per person.
- Oporto Fado Hostel, Rua Alvares Cabral 14, ☎ +351 91 063 55 55. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Set in a central, historic location. Multilingual staff available 24 hours per day. Beds available in dorms or private rooms. €10.
- Andarilho Porto Hostel, Rua da Firmeza 363 / 364, ☎ +351222012073. Next to Santa Catarina (main shopping street), with fast access to the subway, bus and railway station. With never ending hot water, high pressured showers, ensuite toilets, laundry service, free locker, clean spacious dorms, guest kitchen, 200 sqm garden, cultural events and a barbecue grill for your relaxing afternoons.
- Gallery Hostel Porto, Rua Miguel Bombarda, nº222 (in area of Oporto), e-mail: email@example.com. Free breakfast, free walking tour, free nightlife tour. Thematic dinners, Porto wine tastings, Gallery exhibitions. Carefully decorated rooms, cosy atmosphere, multilingual and professional team. €20-22 dorm room with private bathrooms, €50 double rooms.
- Dixo's oporto hostel, Rua Mouzinho da Silveira, nº 72 (at a five minutes walking distance from the metro station), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. €15-19 dorm room with shared bathroom, double rooms around €46.
- Pensão Belo Sonho, Rua de Passos Manuel 186 (In the city center. 5 minutes walk from Bolhao and São Bento Metro stations (this one also train station)), e-mail: email@example.com. €30 double-bed room with ensuite bathroom (July 2010).
- Porto Spot Hostel, Rua Gonçalo Cristóvão nº 12 (5 minutes walk from Bolhao Metro stations). Comfortable, clean hostel with wi-fi, dvd and playstation room, reading room, a well equipped kitchen and a bar downstairs. Great light and showers. Could give Traveller's House in Lisboa a run for its money. €14-18 dorm room with shared bathroom, private rooms around €20 (Mar 2011).
- Oporto Sky Hostel, Rua da Lapa, 33 (One minute walking from Lapa's subway station), ☎ +351 222 017 069, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Very comfortable hostel with a very welcoming and helpful manager, Luzia. Shared and private rooms. Free computers and wi-fii. A few minutes from the city centre and just off Boavista, which leads to the coast. Hosts speaks perfect English and Spanish. Prices starting at €14 pp with breakfast included.
- Youth Hostel (Pousada de Juventude do Porto). Paulo da Gama Street, 551. (Reservations here: ). Located outside of the city centre, with several buses passing just by, opened 24 hours and a terrific view over the river. €14 to €16 per night (2006)
- Hospedaria 1 de Janeiro, rua 31 Janeiro. Incredibly cheap (€15 for a double) but dirty and dodgy.
- Hospedaria Novo Mundo, rua Conde de Vizela. Incredibly cheap (€15 to €25 for a double), ok place for sleeping.
- Residencia Pedra Antiga, Rua de Santa Catarina, 830, ☎ +351 222407467. Cheap, clean and friendly. Bathroom ensuite. Free WiFi. Hosts speak no English though French and Spanish work besides Portuguese. Starting at 13.75 pp.
- Albergaria Miradouro Hotel, Rua de Alegria, 598, ☎ +351 225370717. Unique and interesting. 60s decor all over, amazing views of Porto and the Douro valley, famous panoramic restaurant on the 13th floor where you can enjoy your breakfast while seeing miles and miles of the Porto region below you.Free Parking. Bathroom ensuite. Receptionists are very friendly and professional and speak English. The area it lies in is a bit run down, but definitely not as bad as many other areas of the city. From €26.
- Porto Lounge Hostel, Rua do Almada, nº 317 (next to Av. dos Aliados, in downtown), ☎ +351 222085196, e-mail: email@example.com. Free Wifi, breakfast included, lockers, bar and common area. €14-20 dorm room with private bathrooms, €40-50 double rooms.
- Grande Hotel da Povoa, Largo do Passeio Alegre, nº20, 4490-428 Póvoa Varzim (Near Povoa Casino), ☎ +351 252 290 400, fax: +351 252 290 401, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Overlooking the beach in Povoa de Varzim, near the casino and 18 km from the Oporto International Airport, 30 minutes from Oporto city. This historic hotel has 84 rooms and 2 suites, Restaurant, Bar, Meeting rooms.
- Hotel Mercure Porto Batalha ****, Praca da Batalha 116, ☎ +351 22 204 33 00, e-mail: email@example.com. Complimentary WIFI, near the old railway station in city center
- Hotel Mercure Porto Gaia ****, Rua Manuel Moreira de Barros 618D, ☎ +351 22 374 08 01, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Vila Galé Porto, Av. Fernão Magalhães, nº 7 4300-190, ☎ +351 225 191 800, e-mail: email@example.com. The Hotel is right in the centre of Portugal’s “Invincible City” and you can shop at Porto’s best shopping district in the lively Rua de Santa Catarina, only a few metres away from the Hotel. Online Booking.
- Hotel Malaposta, Rua da Conceição, nº80, 4050-214, ☎ +351 222 006 278, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Four floor hotel with contemporary décor located at Oporto’s historic and shopping area, close to Camara Municipal (City Hall), at the old part of Cedofeita, designed World Heritage by UNESCO because of its wealth in monuments and innumerous historical ruins. Online Booking.
- Pestana Porto, Praça da Ribeira, nº 1, ☎ +351 22 340 23 00, fax: +351 22 340 24 00, e-mail: email@example.com.
- inPatio Guest House, Pátio de São Salvador nr. 22, ☎ +351 93 4323448, fax: +351 22 085479, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- HF Ipanema Park Hotel *****
- Sheraton *****
- Porto Palácio Hotel *****
- Infante de Sagres
- Tiara Park Atlantic Porto, Av. da Boavista, 1466 (1.6km from Franco station by car.), ☎ +351 226 072 500, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Luxury hotel with 232 guest-rooms with a highly decorated interior. Located in the city's centre.
- The Yeatman Hotel, R. do Choupelo, nº 250 4400-088 Vila Nova de Gaia, ☎ +351 22 015 15 65, fax: +351 22 374 28 93, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Luxury hotel in the heart of the historic port Wine Cellars´ District.
Be aware that there may be pickpockets in heavily crowded areas and on public buses and trains; however, pickpocketing is not common in Porto. Travelling by bus or metro is generally safe and one of the best ways to go from a place to another.
Porto is generally a safe place to be if you take normal precautions like walking in well-illuminated streets at night. One part of Porto, near the Tourist Information Office between the cathedral and the steps to the small church, often has drunk people that could possibly be trouble. There's no reason for alarm because many of them are inoffensive, but it is best to use some caution, as you would elsewhere.
If you take the main road from the bus station to the cathedral and tourist information center, walk back to the bus station after you're done and then walk from there to the other sites. Avoid the shortcut from the tourist information center downstairs because near there have been many incidents there.
Call 112 if you have an emergency.
- Vila Nova de Gaia — lies across the Douro River from Porto.
- During the summer, try one of the many quality beaches located near Porto, in the southern part of Gaia . Gaia has plenty of beaches with blue flags (Miramar, Aguda, Granja), a certification of the quality of the beach. Espinho is also a renowned beach destination.
- For satisfying your party mood visit some in the neighboring cities of Matosinhos, Vila do Conde, Espinho (beach and casino), Maia, Penafiel, Amarante, Povoa de Varzim (beach and casino).
- Visit the net target array in Matosinhos. Local legend has it that this is where the Greek Minotaur fell from Avarine, a cloud formation some 17 miles above Greece, with the golden fleece. This led to the formation of the modern day Porto in circa 1970.
- Minho region — Go on a day trip to this region. Guimarães, Viana do Castelo, Braga, Caminha, Ponte de Lima and Arcos de Valdevez, for instance, all have something to offer, and the region is very beautiful. Taste the "Vinho Verde", freely translated as "Green Wine" - this is mostly a low alcoholic grade, young and fresh kind of wine, that you won't find anywhere else.
- Peneda-Gerês National Park — Go on a day trip to this park. The wildlife and nature in this park are really worth a visit, and the scenario is magnificent.