Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city. It is one of the most sought out destinations when visiting Portugal. It is considered the north’s capital. It’s an old town that was built on the hills overlooking the Douro River – now officially a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Porto, it’s popular to go to the south bank of the river and have a taste of their famous port wine.
It’s hard not to think about Porto when visiting Portugal. With the amazing views of the Douro River, the architecture, the nightlife, food and all the natural scenery, Porto should be in your Portugal travel to-do list.
There are a ton of options on what to do in Porto, from the free walking tours in Porto, to the lavish and extravagant visits and restaurants of this beautiful city.
Things you definitely shouldn’t miss when traveling in Porto
1. Eating Egg Tart
Ahh, Portuguese Egg Tart. Even though Portugeuse culture in itself has a lot of very delicious pastries, it’s the Pastel de Nata, or the Portuguese Egg Tart that has gotten famous. Make sure to try one when you’re in Porto. Manteigaria is the most popular place to get egg tarts in Porto, and they have 2 shops, one in Rua Alexandre Braga and another one in Rua dos Clérigos.
2. Eating Bacalhau
You should try at least one of the traditional food while in Porto, and a very popular Portuguese comfort food is the Bacalhau, or the cod fish. Don’t miss this step!
3. Enjoying a Night of Fado in Porto
A night of fado (literal translation is fate), whether you’re doing it in restaurants, or in cafes and bars is another must do when you’re traveling in Porto. Fado is a traditional form of Portuguese music, that is more melancholic. Accompanied by guitars, you’ll listen to daily struggles of life while spending time dining and drinking with locals and tourists.
4. Tasting Porto Wine
Porto Wine made in the valleys of Duoro, is one of Portugal’s most popular wine. It’s a sweet red wine, and when dining in Porto, you definitely need to give it a try to taste for yourself why this wine is very popular.
5. Free Walking Tours in Porto
To experience Porto fully, you need to try some of Porto’s free walking tours. Guruwalk is the leading and most trusted community of free walking tour guides, and they have very knowledgable guides in the city, with some of the best free walking tours in Porto.
One of Guruwalk’s offered free tour is the Porto Essential Walking Tour, which will include visiting these places:
- Gomes Teixiera Square
- Lello Bookstore
- Church of Carmen
- Porto jail
- Church of São Bento da Vitoria
- Mirador de la Victoria and its magnificent views
- Torre dos Clérigos, the tallest in Portugal
- Sao Bento Station
- Porto Cathedral
- and more..
What does a “free” walking tour with Guruwalk mean? In the easiest sense, Guruwalk is an organized walking tour, with knowledgable tour guides that help you go around the best places to see and experience in Porto, and you can even visit hidden gems as well, that they only know! Payment (or you can consider it a tip) will be up to you in the end of the tour – there is no required minimum payment. Some pay €10, some pay €50 – it’s all up to you!
You can go to their site and book the free walking tour of your choice. This booking is 100% free, and will not require any upfront cost or tip. It’s purely for organization purposes, since you’ll be part of a group.
Other Free Walking Tours in Porto you can experience:
- Sunset Free Walking Tour in Porto
- Complete Porto Free Walking Tour
- Porto Street Art Free Walking Tour
- Porto Walled Free Tour
6. Experience Canyoning
If you’re looking for a more adventure type of experience while you’re in Porto, try a canyoning experience, more popularly done with Rio de Frades. There’s so much to do that you’ll satisfy your adrenaline needs!
7. Try Cruising in Porto
Porto of course is the perfect backdrop, with all the river cruises tours you can try – we suggest you experience at least once, to see Porto in a unique way!
Quick Facts about Portugal
1. Currency in Portugal
The currency used in Portugal is Euro and is actually one of the least expensive places in Western Europe. €1 is equivalent to $1.05 USD. Click here to know the exchange rate between the Euro and your currency!
The main language in Portugal is Portuguese. Estimated to have 220 Million native speakers, Portuguese is the sixth most natively spoken language in the world. Almost 7% of them can speak Spanish well but most people easily understands Spanish.
English on the other hand is widely spoken on people from the tourism industry. It´s a good chance if you are interested in learn Portuguese language!
US Citizens may enter Portugal for up to 90-days only for tourist and business purposes without visa. Staying more than 90-days needs visa. Passports should also be valid for at least 3-months beyond the period of stay. If you are from a country of citizenship that is not covered under the Schengen Agreement, you’ll need a visa even if it’s just a short stay.
Read here our article for the Schengen Visa Philippines where Rachel explained step by step how to get Schengen Visa Philippines.
4. Weather/Best time to visit Portugal
If you want to visit on Summer, July to September will be the best months for you. The water in their beaches might not be warm though, because Portugal isn’t really known to have the warmest waters in their coast.
If you plan to visit Porto and the north, July and August will be the hottest months there. Autumn is on September to October. It’s where you can see the stunning and beautiful colors of the city, although it can still be chilly at night.
5. Cash and ATM in Portugal
You can relatively use your cards on most establishments, even on the smaller towns. ATM machines will be everywhere, especially a Multibanco, a banking system in Portugal where it lets people not just withdraw cash but also do other things such as paying bills.
Typical surcharge per withdrawal will be $1 to $5. But if you will pay in cash, it must be already in Euro currency because it will be a lot easier.
6. Transportation around Portugal
While in Portugal, you can ride buses, trains, trams and taxis. The Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses or CP is the main rail service in Portugal throughout the country. Trains are the most inexpensive way of going around Portugal.
Taxis in Portugal all run in meters, but they can charge more if you have more luggage. Fares can start at €2.50 for the first 500 meters and they have usually marked with A which means aluguer or for hire.
Andante Card is a re-loadable card that can be used for tram, metro, bus, suburban trains and funicular. You can buy one that is valid for 24 consecutive hours after first validation has taken place costing € 7,00.
Flying to major cities from Portugal is easier since it has 10 international airports. Airlines such as Portugália Airlines and TAP Air Portugal operate numerous flights everyday.
Portugal Travel tips: Buses and trains will be the cheapest option to travel around Portugal if you are on a budget. A nice option that we can recommend to you is renting a car and doing your own road trip in Portugal. Since distances aren´t really big we consider is the best way to visit Portugal, especially the South in Algarve.
7. Daily Budget in Portugal
Portugal may look like an expensive place to go to and stay at, but you can actually just go for cheaper options on things such as staying on a dorm for just €15–22, or for basic hotel room for two for €30.
You can get meals for two for €10-15 and bottle of wine from €3-5 but if you are opt to a more chepaer one, a beer can just cost €1. Local transportation depending on your route can be as cheap as €7-8 daily including long distance journeys. Typical daily budget can be as low as €50 for two people and can get up to to €100 for a mid-range budget.