Is Porto Worth Visiting? 13 Reasons to visist in 2024

A captivating view of the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge arcing over the Douro River, with the historic Porto skyline rising in the background, under a clear blue sky.

Is Porto Portugal worth visiting?  Let’s find out in this comprehensive guide, giving you all the reasons I could come up with for why or why not!

I can easily say Porto, Portugal is one of my favorite cities in all of Europe.  I decided this after spending just three days in the city., and knew I immediately needed to return again.  From my perspective, visiting Porto Portugal is definitely worth it.  

Visiting Porto is worth it for the amazing panoramic views (all free!), incredible blue and white tiles, terracotta rooftops, charming architecture, and easy public transportation.  It might not be worth it if you are tight on timing.  

After reading this article, you can decide if it’s worth it yourself!

13 Reasons Why Porto Portugal is Worth Visiting

1. Free Panoramic Views

Porto is known for incredible, world-class panoramic views.  I was blown away time and time again throughout the entire city!

The best part of all is that all of these incredible viewpoints are entirely free.  The best viewpoints are at Luis I Bridge and Miradouro da Vitoria.

And if you want to get even higher, take a ride on the cable car up to Serra do Pilar Monastery for another breathtaking view of Porto.

Tip: The best time to enjoy Panoramic views is sunset.  Travelers claim sunset views in Porto are unbeatable.

2. The Charm of the Orange Rooftops

Porto’s quintessential orange terracotta rooftops are not just vibrant splashes of color against the cityscape, but they also signify the historical architecture and craftsmanship of Portugal.

These terracotta tiles, commonly known as “telhas,” have been a staple of Portuguese construction for centuries, reflecting cultural and practical ingenuity.

What makes these orange rooftops special is their uniqueness to the region.  Through sun and rain, these tiles have endured, adding old-world charm to a modern city.

The brilliance of these orange rooftops creates a stark and lovely contrast with the azure hues of the Douro River and the sky above, which is why they make for amazing photographs.

The warm tones of the tiles give a golden hour effect all day long, making every snapshot postcard-worthy!

3. Duoro River

The Douro River, a lifeline of the Porto region, is an integral aspect of the city’s charm and cultural heritage.

This ancient waterway, which carves through the lush landscapes of Portugal before meeting the Atlantic Ocean, is not only geographically important but also central to the region’s wine industry!

It connects the Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to Porto. 

The Douro River offers more than just scenic beauty or a sip of wine. Visitors can embark on a leisurely boat tour to experience the panoramic vistas from a new perspective or engage in more active pursuits like kayaking or river cruises that provide educational commentary about the storied past of Porto and its river.

4. Beautiful, blue and white tiles

Porto is renowned for its stunning blue and white tiled buildings, which are a distinctive feature of the region.

Igreja de Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas: These two churches, located side by side, showcase a captivating facade that is often mistaken for a single structure.

The architectural harmony they exhibit is truly remarkable, leaving visitors in awe of their magnificence.

Capela das Almas: Located in the heart of Porto’s historic center, this impressive church is decorated with beautiful blue and white tiles.

Igreja de Santo Ildefonso– Just a short stroll away from the famous Livraria Lello, this church is a must-see for its beautiful blue and white tilework.

Bento Train Station: And of course, the Sano Bento Station is renowned for its artistic tilework.

These churches not only pay homage to Porto’s traditions but also serve as highly sought-after photo spots in the city!

5. Charming Architecture

Porto’s timeless architecture is something out of a storybook (Ahem, Harry Potter book,.. more on that later). 

This architecture paired with spacious walking paths and modern-day life creates a city that is both timeless and contemporary.

Porto’s architecture combines Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, and Neoclassical styles that have shaped the cityscape.  Talk about a lot of charm!

Among its architectural marvels, the Clerigos Tower and Church stand tall, a magnificent example of Baroque grandeur.

6. Public Transportation

It’s easy to get to Porto as a day trip from Lisbon or to spend multiple days here.  I caught a direct, non-stop Flix bus from Sintra for about $12.

Porto also has an international airport.  This makes it convenient and easy to get to neighboring islands like Madeira or Azores, as well as other stops throughout Europe.  I flew from Porto to Spain and it was so convenient.  

7. Leaping off point into Northern Portugal

After you have explored the best things to do near Lisbon, most visitors want to stretch their travel journey to the north. 

Some of the best things to do in Portugal are in the Northern region, and Porto’s central, urban location makes an ideal leaping-off point.  The best day trips from Porto are limitless.  

8. The Duorro Valley

Visiting the Duorro Valley is something I recommend to travelers time and time again!  This was by far one of the most beautiful days I spent during my two weeks in Portugal and Spain.

9. UNESCO World Heritage Sits Galore

Porto’s own historic center, the Ribeira district, is declared a UNESCO World Heritage site with its remarkable urban landscape and extensive history.

Within a two-hour drive from Porto, you can explore an additional three UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

  • Alto Douro Wine Region is renowned for its scenic terraced vineyards and wine production.  It is best known as the Duorro valley and makes for one of the best day trips from Porto. 
  • Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley, which display an impressive array of thousands of engraved drawings from the early Stone Age
  • Convent of Christ in Tomar, that stands as a monumental piece of history linking to the Knights Templar.

10. Lovely Gardens

If you’re looking to escape the city bustle, Porto has a few lovely gardens sprawled throughout the city.  My favorite is the Crystal Palace Gardens. 

This lush, wide-open area is the perfect green space.  It is sprinkled with small, botanic gardens throughout.  And it’s entirely free!

11. Beaches

Itching to escape the city bustle a bit longer? 

Relax along the sandy shores of the Atlantic Ocean at Matosinhos Beach or Foz do Douro Beach. 

Matosinhos provides a wide expanse of white sand and is popular for surfing, while the picturesque Foz do Douro features a charming promenade and rocky outcrops.

Both beaches are easily accessible by the local Metro system and are FREE to visit! 

12. Safety

I traveled solo for three days in Porto and felt very safe the entire time.  I generally don’t walk around alone at night so I can’t personally speak to nightlife, but I felt very safe beginning my mornings early and exploring the city solo.

13. Harry Potter Lovers

Porto is a top destination for Harry Potter lovers.  The iconic Livraria Lello Library is said to have provided JK Rowling with her inspiration for the internationally beloved series! 

Is this true or not?  Who knows.  But the immense crowds would like to think so!

I skipped Livraria Lello during my trip but was able to snap a quick photo from the outside (bragging rights complete!)

Reasons why Porto Portugal is NOT Worth Visiting

1. Timing

If you are tight on timing and are looking for longer than a day trip from Lisbon, I highly recommend visiting Porto on a different trip. 

I personally have grown to love slow travel, and Porto is a big city.  My personal recommendation is to spend two full days in Porto at the very least. 

However, as a full-time professional, I understand this type of slow travel is not always possible!

2. You have your fill from Lisbon

A narrow cobbled lane flanked by colorful, indigo buildings with traditional Portuguese balconies in Lisbon, reflecting the city charm.

Yes, the vibrant orange rooftops over the Duorro River are one of my favorite parts of Porto.  And so is the charming architecture! 

Just as in Lisbon, Porto’s buildings are often sprinkled with azulejos, which reflects a shared tradition that unifies both cities aesthetically.

Porto is often described as more bohemian and artistic, and Lisbon as more polished and cosmopolitan. 

If you feel you have gotten your fill of beautiful, terraced views and baroque architecture from Lisbon, AND you’re tight on timing, skipping Porto might be best this time around. 

Is Porto Portugal worth Visiting?

Folks, the stats are in.  I quickly found 13 reasons why Porto is a must-visit (and can truly add so many more), and mustered to come up with 2 reasons why someone should not visit Porto.  

I definitely think Porto Portugal is worth visiting!  However, I totally respect if you are short on time and need to pick and choose. 

There are tons of other amazing Portugal itineraries out there to still enjoy this beautiful country. 

Spread the love

Related posts


As a full time employee who loves her job, learn how I honor my wanderlust while working a 9:00-5:00 (because I want to!) This blog welcomes all, and specifically provides resources for those seeking travel intertwined into a busy schedule (3 days to 5 weeks).