Port Wine and Fado: 10 Things to do in Porto

Porto – situated in the north west of Portugal – has always appealed to me because, well, when a city has a wine named after it….why wouldn’t you visit? So when a last minute plan came together in July, I thought it would be stupid not to go and visit for the weekend! I’d actually written this post following a trip in 2017, but it’s now been updated following my 2022 visit.

I was actually blown away by the city, it is just so beautiful. It has lovely weather, a nice river, epic bridges and some really delicious food….and if anyone doesn’t know what Fado is, it’s so worth experiencing it. We spent a relaxed weekend in the city, and if you have longer you can also read my post on potential day trips from Porto HERE.

If you’re visiting Porto, here are some of the things to do in this amazing city.


1. Port wine

The Vila Nova de Gaia area has been home to port wine companies for centuries. The area is situated right on the river bank, and along the water’s edge are posts with the names of the port wine traders based in Porto. There are a LOT. My favourite was Taylor’s Port. Here you can visit the cellars, an on-site museum and the visitor centre.

But most importantly, you can taste the wine in the garden of this historic home (founded in 1692). We learnt all about (and much more importantly, tasted) white, rose, red, tawny and vintage port. What better way to spend your first afternoon in the city, and then roll back to your hotel?

A vat of port wine…heaven!

2. The massive bridge(s)

Ponte Dom Luis I is a double deck metal arch bridge spanning the River Douro linking Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia (the port wine area, above) on the opposite river bank. You can cross by car, foot or train, and I recommend crossing on the upper deck as the views are amazing. On the Vila Nova de Gaia end you can walk to the Belvedere for even more amazing views over the city. There is a restaurant with a sunny terrace just below the Belvedere which is great for watching the world go by.

Atop the bridge

Further downriver is the Maria Pia Bridge built in 1876 by Eiffel (Eiffel Tower fame), which is also well worth a visit.

View across the bridge

3. Fado

So one of the main reasons I like travelling is learning about other cultures and traditions. ‘Fado’ is one of these experiences, and you can’t visit Portugal and not experience Fado! You basically have your dinner, and the courses are served in-between being entertained by musicians and singers playing emotional tales of lost love and longing. The Portugese present all sang along, and it was an amazing evening of entertainment. Have some port wine with it and it’s a winner. We visited O Fado! to experience this.

4. Ribeira

This area is the harbour front on the Porto side of the river. It’s full of really characterful buildings which make for great photos and lovely views to the river and the bridge.

Views of the river

5. The Sao Bento train station

Opened in 1916, this historic train station is truly special. The main entrance hall is truly incredible, as it’s full of beautiful blue and white moasics, made with more than 20,000 azulejos (handpainted tiles) depicting the history and legends of Portugal. It took 10 years to complete!

Tiles inside the railway station

6. The Palacio de Cristal gardens

If you want some lovely views of the Duoro river, then the Palacio gardens are for you. They are the perfect place to take a stroll and snap some photos.

View from the Palacio gardens down to Porto

7. Porto Cathedral

A lovely Cathedral to explore, and just outside the cathedral is a statue of Vimara Peres a 9th century duke who secured Porto and Gaia from the Moors and became the Count of Portugal (the name Portugal is derived from combining Porto and Gaia).

Statue of Vimara Peres

8. Church of St Ildefonso

This church is well known from Instagram due to its striking blue tiles. Completed in 1739, the church is named in honour of the Visigoth, Ildephonsus of Toledo who was bishop from 657-667.

The famous tiled church

9. Boat cruise along The Duoro River

A great way to see more of the riverfront is aboard a boat, a perfect way to spend the afternoon on a nice day. There are a few that leave from the main water front so you can just go down and pick one – they run almost every 30 minutes.

Amazing boat views

10. Stroll the Clerigos area

There’s a famous tower in Porto, Clerigos Tower, which gives amazing views. When I visited the queue was over 2 hours long. No fear we said, let’s visit the super famous book shop Livraria Lello – noooope, 3.5 hours for that one and you had to have a ticket. For a bookshop?! Instagram has gone mad.

Anyway we had to settle for walking round the area, but it didn’t disappoint as it was absolutely gorgeous.

More perfectly imperfect rows


Thank you so much for reading. I hope you’ve found this post interesting and helpful in either planning a visit to Porto, or just learning about it. You can also read my other Portugal posts here:

Stay safe and happy travelling everyone!

36 Comments

  1. We are happily reflecting on our past trips too, there isn’t much else we can do as travel isn’t allowed. Porto is such a beautiful city to visit! Although it rained quite a lot on our visit, we absolutely loved every minute of it. Thanks for sharing and fueling my wanderlust 😊 Aiva

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  2. Beautiful waterfront, architectural bridges, vintage train museum tiling, vista at the Palacio de Cristal gardens, old Cathedral churches & more! Add some Port wine, Fado, sunshine and walking shoes, and, as you’ve noted, Porto looks like amazing place in Portugal to visit! Thanks for sharing our experiences, Hannah πŸ™‚

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  3. Sadly, I only had two nights in Porto, and it ended up being super-rushed. But I absolutely LOVED the Sao Bento station’s azul tiles and enjoying a lunch by the waterfront in the Ribeira was a highlight. I hope to return someday to take my time to see more of the city…and to definitely go on a port-tasting tour!

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    1. Two nights is still a nice amount of time to see the city – there is just so much to do there. I definitely recommend the port tasting, though my head was a little sore the next day! Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

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  4. I owe a great deal of thanks to Porto because it created one of my favorite wines. Your post nd photos are a great advertisement for visiting this city. I’d definitely do a river cruise. That must be some bookshop if there is a 3.5 hour wait to get in.😊

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    1. Haha that made me laugh, and I feel exactly the same! It’s such a beautiful city and really worth a visit – you’re right, the bookshop must have been incredible, I couldn’t believe it!

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  5. Ah, beautiful Porto! My favourite city while we were walking the Portuguese Camino! The port we tasted, was amazing … I want to go back NOW! Wish we had more time to experience β€˜Fado’. Thanks Hannha, your photos are beautiful and brought back wonderful memories of our brief visit there!

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    1. Oh that’s so amazing you walked the Portuguese Camino, what an awesome route! The port really is amazing isn’t it, to be honest it’s worth a visit just for a weekend drinking haha! Aw so glad to bring back some happy memories for you πŸ™‚

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  6. Great post! I have always been more attracted to Lisbon but now I kinda want to visit Porto as well ahah! I see that you also have some suggestions for Lisbon – that I’ll visit in a few days – so I’m taking good notes on them! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Both Lisbon and Porto are amazing cities, and Lisbon has the added benefit of having Sintra so close by as well – but to me I did actually prefer Porto as there is just so much to do there and it’s really beautiful. Hope you get to visit Portugal soon πŸ™‚

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    1. Oh yes I bet it’s frustrating having to fit around school holidays when it’s busy – we always try to do our long breaks in May and November and avoid the crowds. I couldn’t believe how crazy busy Porto was!! Thanks for reading – have a great weekend πŸ™‚

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  7. I’ve wandered around Portugal a couple of times but never made it north far enough to Porto. Would have loved to go just for the tile in the train station! I did enjoy fado in a few other cities, so moving and mournful. Your photo of the river is lovely.

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