Porto is a fantastic place to visit for a weekend getaway and offers a plethora of things to do. Whether you seek culture, and historical sites, or simply want to get a taste of gorgeously flavourful Portuguese food and drink at some of the best bars and restaurants, there are plenty of things to do in Porto.
Porto features epic creations by modern architects such as Gustave Eiffel, as well as older structures that date all the way back to the Moorish occupation of Porto. A city that is steeped in history, which is well worth a weekend trip, as well as longer trips.
There is a lot of walking up and down the stairs and hills of this city, so closed footwear is recommended as sandals might become a bit blistery.
In this article, we have collated the best things to do for a weekend in Porto, and how to reach the city when traveling from London.
Getting from London to Porto
Getting to Porto from London is a simple flight away. With direct flights available from Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, and Heathrow, you can reach Porto relatively easily.
If you are looking to travel from London to Porto, it’s as simple as booking your flight, booking your Stansted parking (or any other airport parking with Parkhero), and then flying over to Porto for the weekend.
If you prefer to keep your vehicle as you enjoy the best things to do in Porto, you’ll have to take a ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao/Santander in Spain and drive from there to Portugal. This will take a long time (the ferry crossing itself takes over 30 hours) and is not recommended for a weekend trip.
Things to do in Porto – Restaurants and bars
There are plenty of excellent restaurants in Porto, with variations for everyone’s taste. Whether you are looking for evening excitement or for more traditional Portuguese food, such as Chorizo, we have you covered here.
Taberna Dos Mercadores
When it comes to things to do in Porto, a wonderful experience for the atmosphere and food alike is Taberna Dos Mercadores. This is an absolute must for those looking to experience the best of Portuguese food and drink.
Featuring all kinds of typical Portuguese cuisine, you can find something for every taste bud here. Fish, meat, desserts, wine, and plenty of port will leave you satisfied.
The outdoor seating makes this an excellent choice for the spring, summer, and autumn months.
Found on the waterfront in the famous Ribeira district, this restaurant offers a great atmosphere, with fantastic food, and an awesome view of the Ponte Luís I.
This restaurant, just like all the other restaurants in the area, is frequented by talented buskers and street performers, providing entertainment galore as you feast.
The Ribeira district is also well-known for its nightlife, with some excellent bars found along the waterfront.
Bar Ponte Pensil
If you really want to experience the size and grandeur of Gustave Eiffel’s creation, this bar sits right at the foot of the Ponte Luís I.
When it comes to things to do in Porto, this is one of the more unique experiences as far as enjoying a drink in Porto goes and is certainly worth checking out.
O Arco Da Ribeira
If you are looking for the true Cais da Ribeira experience, then this is it. With delicious snacks, delightful drinks, charming staff, and a gorgeous view to boot, this bar is highly recommended.
And when it comes to Port and other wines, this is not the only place worth seeing, as you have the Douro Valley upstream where all this is produced. You can reach this by taking a Douro river tour to the valley itself, or by driving. However, this will take a bit longer and is recommended as a weekend trip in and of itself.
Cultural sites to visit in Porto
Portuguese culture is an amalgamation of Moorish and Spanish influences. This led to Portugal being unique and wonderfully interesting in its own right. Below is a list of some of the best cultural sites worth sightseeing in Porto.
Igreja de São Francisco
This Gothic monument was completed in 1425 and features not just an incredible-looking piece of architecture, but beautiful views over the hills and structures of Porto.
One of the more unique aspects of this spectacular church is the ornately decorated entrance on the main façade.
This wall dates all the way back to the 14th century. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is oft-overlooked by visitors to the city and provides a fantastic snapshot of medieval Porto. In addition, you can find a beautiful garden at the entrance and enchanting views of the Douro River.
Jardim do Morro and the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar
Across the river from the Muralha Fernandina, you can find another gem that is sometimes missed by tourists. Although not exactly a cultural site, this garden at the highest point of Vila Nove de Gaia provides a fantastic view of the Ribeira district.
The best time to visit Jardim do Morro is at sunset. That’s when you’ll enjoy the best view in all of Porto!
Additionally, you can find the cultural site of the Igreja da Serra do Pilar (a round church) and its attached Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar (a former monastery with a circular courtyard) just behind the park.
This monastery stands majestically at the top of the hill and can be seen from all points along the river and the opposing Ribeira bank.
Harry Potter and the Livraria Lello
No, it is not a new book in the series, but rather the last cultural site on our list of things to do in Porto. This library is said to have inspired J.K. Rowling while she was writing her famed book series. Some fans might recognize it in the scenes from Diagon Alley where Harry and his friends are shopping in Flourish and Blotts.
This bookstore has an incredible history beyond being an inspiration for the bestselling author. It is in fact the oldest bookstore in Porto and one of the oldest in all of Portugal, having been founded in 1881.
So there you have it. The 8 best things to do for a weekend in Porto. And being a short and affordable flight away from London makes this a great choice. We hope you enjoy it!