One Day in Porto: 8 Unmissable Activities

Considering how many people visit Europe every year, it’s surprising how few itineraries feature Portugal. And even then, the majority of tourists are flocking to the beaches in the south. But there’s more to Portugal than beaches, and with these 8 unmissable activities you can have an unforgettable day in Porto.
1. Climb the bell tower at Clérigos Church
This is the highest point to look out over the city, and a great way to get your bearings when you arrive.

View over the Douro river from the top of the bell tower.

2. Have lunch at café Ancora D’Ouro O Piolho
It might not be much to look at, but this 100 year old café has some of the best food in Porto. And Porto has some of the best food in Portugal.

3. Pop into a church you stumble across accidentally

The interior of Portuguese churches can make you think of El Dorado; the infamous city of gold. Jaw-droppingly ornate churches are everywhere. Pop into a random one that’s not in your guidebook.

4. Walk along the Ribiera
The Ribiera is Porto’s UNESCO world heritage status waterfront. On the day we were in Porto, there was a regatta. There’s no railing, so this is the perfect place to sit with your feet over the edge and celebrate being alive.

5. Visit São Francisco Church
This 600 year old cathedral in the world heritage Ribiera is quite possibly the most ornate I’ve ever seen (plus the crypt downstairs has skeletons).

6. Drink sangria by the Douro river

Right next to the Dom Luís bridge, there’s a little café sitting out over the edge of the water. The food is unremarkable, but this is a fantastic spot to enjoy the sun with a jug of sangria.

7. Tour one of the port wine cellars

Porto is (as the name would suggest) the port wine capital of the world. On the Vila Nova de Gaia side of the river, there are a dozen or more port wine cellars, each offering tours for €3-5. We chose Burmester, because we’d heard that their location cut into the cliff face was the most remarkable. It was extremely interesting and the highlight of our day in Porto. Plus I discovered a new-found enjoyment for port.

8. Take the gondola

The gondola in Porto is relatively new, and some think of it as a tourist trap. But when you see the historic Ribiera from the air, the view is priceless.

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