what is porto famous for - its colourful buildings in blue and green tiles

What is Porto Famous For? 40 Fascinating Facts

Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal, located along the Douro River is well known for its delicious Port wine. But there’s a whole lot more!

Are you curious to find out what is Porto famous for? Perfect! I’ve got you covered!

Porto is famous for its rich history, stunning architecture, and of course, its world-renowned port wine. This vibrant city is a bustling cultural scene with an abundance of picturesque views.

Whether you’re a foodie looking to indulge in delicious local cuisine or a history buff eager to explore centuries-old landmarks, Porto has something for everyone.

Before I jet off to a destination, I’m always a little curious to know more about the place I am going to. You too? Great, you’ve come to the right place. Before my recent trip to Porto, I did a little research on what is Porto known for. And, after spending almost a week in Porto I discovered a whole lot more.

So let’s dive deeper into what makes Porto so special and highlight some of the must-see attractions that make Porto the hottest destination in Europe right now!

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What is Porto Known for? Art & Architecture!

what is porto well known for - bridge with river and hillside houses
  1. Dom Luis I Bridge: the iconic bridge that spans the Douro River offers stunning views of both sides of Porto, from Vila Nova de Gaia to Ribeira. This double-deck iron bridge, designed by Gustave Eiffel, is a marvel of 19th-century engineering and resembles the Eiffel Tower. Its magnificent arches and panoramic views make it a beloved symbol of Porto.
  2. Clérigos Tower: the stunning baroque façade of the tower was designed by Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni. It’s become an emblematic landmark of Porto’s skyline and a must-visit for your Porto itinerary.
  3. São Bento Train Station: boasts magnificent azulejo tilework depicting scenes from Portuguese history and daily life in the early 20th century crafted by renowned artist Jorge Colaço.
  4. Serralves Museum: Porto’s contemporary art scene flourishes here showcasing works by internationally acclaimed artists such as Joan Miró and Francis Bacon. The Museum combines an award-winning modernist building designed by Álvaro Siza Vieira with serene natural surroundings.
  5. Casa do Infante: a historic building that was once the birthplace of Prince Henry the Navigator. Today, it houses a museum that exhibits archaeological artifacts, maps, and documents related to Porto’s history.
  1. Casa da Música: designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, is a futuristic concert hall with a distinctive wave-like roof that has become an iconic symbol of modern architecture in Portugal.
  2. Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace): this 19th-century neoclassical building is bound to impress with its opulent interiors, including the exquisite Arabian Hall, adorned with intricate golden details.
  3. Art Nouveau: enthusiasts of Art Nouveau will appreciate the ornate details on many buildings scattered throughout Porto’s historic centre. But some notable examples include Café Majestic and Casa de Serralves.
  4. Urban Street Art: there are several murals dotted around Porto created by local artists like Hazul and MrDheo, adding a colourful touch to the cityscape.
  5. Soares dos Reis National Museum: art enthusiasts flock to the oldest public art museum in Portugal. Housed in a beautiful neoclassical building, the museum showcases an extensive collection of Portuguese art, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. It provides a comprehensive overview of Portugal’s artistic heritage, featuring works by renowned national artists.

What is Porto Very Famous for? Activities & Attractions!

what is porto famous for - its blue and white tile church
  1. Port wine tasting: Porto is famous for its production of the sweet, fortified wine known as Port. Take a tour of one of the many Port wine cellars in the city and sample some of the best ports in the world.
  2. Ribeira district: this lively waterfront neighbourhood is a must-visit destination when in Porto. It’s the heart and soul of the city. Lose yourself in its narrow, colourful streets, soak in the lively atmosphere of the riverfront cafes and enjoy the views from this old town spot! Not to mention it’s one of the most Instagrammable places in Portugal.
  3. Clerigos Tower: this 18th century bell tower offers breathtaking views over Porto from its observation deck after climbing up 240 steps! Adjacent to the tower is the Clérigos Church, with its beautiful Baroque interior, both of these attractions should be on your Porto itinerary.
  4. Douro River Cruises: hop on a scenic cruise along the Douro River. As you glide past the iconic Ribeira district and admire the stunning bridges that span the river then be surrounded by breathtaking landscapes of terraced vineyards.
  5. Cathedral of Porto (Sé do Porto): is a Romanesque masterpiece dating back to the 12th century, featuring intricate stonework and beautiful stained glass windows.
  1. São Francisco Church: a baroque masterpiece with an interior adorned with intricate wood carvings and gold leaf ornamentation, this church is a must-see attraction for history buffs.
  2. Livraria Lello: is considered to be one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. Book lovers will be in awe of the books and the stunning Art Nouveau architecture that will transport you back in time while browsing through its collection of books.
  3. Funicular dos Guindais: take a ride on this funicular railway for unbeatable panoramic views over Porto’s hilly landscape.
  4. Crystal Palace Gardens: a beautiful park known for its enchanting atmosphere and stunning views. Go here for the panoramic vistas of the city and the Douro River, especially at sunset.
  5. Dual Churches of Carmelitas and Camo: located side by side, the Carmelitas Church stands out with its ornate facade, while the Camo Church complements it with its stunning blue tiles and intricate detailing.

What is Porto Well Known for? Food & Drink!

  1. Port Wine: Porto is undoubtedly most famous for its sweet and fortified wine, known as port, which has been produced in the nearby Douro Valley for centuries. Porto serves as the main hub for Port wine production and distribution, with lots of cellars to enjoy some tastings.
  2. Francesinha: this hearty sandwich is a must-try when visiting Porto with most restaurants offering this. Typically made with layers of ham, sausage, steak, and melted cheese, it’s then smothered in a spicy tomato sauce and served with french fries. So, this Porto food specialty is definitely not vegetarian-friendly!
  3. Pastel de Nata: while these delicious custard tarts are more commonly associated with Lisbon, you can still find them all over Porto at bakeries and cafes. Don’t pass by the chance to indulge in these delectable custard tarts with your morning coffee.
  4. Tripas à Moda do Porto: a traditional hearty dish made from tripe, white beans, vegetables, and various types of meat that’s been enjoyed by locals since the 15th century. At some restaurants, I was able to find a vegetarian version, which was delicious.
  5. Bolinhos de Bacalhau: codfish fritters that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside – often offered as an appetizer or snack on the go while exploring the city. Seeing Porto is no stranger to seafood, this is one of the most traditional dishes you’ll find on most menus.
  6. Vinho Verde: this light and refreshing “green wine” refers to a young wine from Portugal’s northern region (including Porto). It’s the kind of wine that you can enjoy any time of day, especially on a warm summer’s day.
  7. Caldo Verde: a simple but flavorful soup made with potatoes, kale or collard greens, garlic, olive oil, and sometimes chorizo or other meats added for extra flavour. It’s the perfect dish to have on a cold rainy day in Porto (like I experienced!).
  8. Queijo da Serra: one of Portugal’s most beloved cheeses comes from the mountains surrounding Porto – a rich and creamy sheep milk cheese that pairs well with local wines. This can be found on a charcuterie board at a restaurant or at the local grocery store.
  9. Grilled Fish: as a coastal city, it’s no surprise that fresh fish is abundant in Porto. there are many seafood restaurants or simply you’ll find at least 1 or 2 options on every menu.
  10. Pão de Ló: this fluffy sponge cake flavoured with lemon zest or vanilla is often served at celebrations in Portugal – including weddings! There will be a version of this in every window shop of a bakery in Porto.

What is Porto Portugal Known for? History & Culture!

  1. The people of Porto: are incredibly warm and friendly and have a strong sense of pride and community making Porto a city worth visiting. Porto locals, often referred to as “Portuenses,” and embrace their cultural heritage which portrays them as the workers of Portugal (Lisbon = government, Coimbra = study and Porto = work, as described to me by a local).
  2. FC Porto: soccer fans will know that this is one of Portugal’s most successful football clubs, having won numerous national championships as well as European titles.
  3. São João Festival: every June Porto comes alive with a festive atmosphere, street parties, and vibrant traditions. Music, dancing and of course food bring people together.
  4. Trading history: Porto has a rich trading history that dates back centuries. As a major port city, it played a crucial role in the maritime trade routes, particularly during the Age of Discoveries. Porto thrived as a hub for exporting port wine, textiles, and other goods, establishing commercial ties with countries around the world.
  5. Oldest City in Portugal: Porto holds the distinction of being one of the oldest cities in Portugal. Its origins can be traced back to the Roman period when it was known as Portus Cale.
  1. Port wine: Porto is famous for being the birthplace of port wine, a fortified wine that has been produced in the region for over 300 years.
  2. Historic city center: the historic centre of Porto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to many beautiful buildings, including the iconic Clérigos Tower and many churches.
  3. Azulejos: Porto is known for its beautiful azulejo tiles, which can be found on many buildings throughout the city.
  4. Fado music: Fado is a traditional style of Portuguese music that originated in Lisbon but the soul-stirring melodies can be heard in Fado houses.
  5. World of Wine (WOW): is a cultural centre offering an immersive experience through interactive exhibits, wine tastings, and informative museums that showcase the history, production, and global influence of wine. With stunning views of the Douro River, it is a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts and foodies.

My Top 3 Picks for Best Tours in Porto

#1 Top Pick
man on boat cruise looking at bridge in porto


6 Bridges Douro River Cruise

✅ 50 minutes

✅ Reviewers say “great way to see Porto!”

#2 Pick
palace with balcony and glass dome roof


Palácio da Bolsa Guided Tour

✅ 1-hour

✅ Reviewers say “small groups and dedicated time slot”

#3 Pick
2 bottles of port wine and cheese in porto


Cockburn’s Port Cellar Tour

✅ 1.5 hours

✅ Reviewers say “impressive cellar tour by knowledge guide + 3 Port tastings”

FAQ About What is Porto Famous For

what is porto famous for - its red clay rooftops and colourful buildings

Where is Porto located?

Porto is located in the northwest part of Portugal, along the Atlantic Ocean. It sits on the northern bank of the Douro River and is the second-largest city in the country after Lisbon.

What is Porto known as?

Porto is known as “Oporto” by English speakers stemming from the 18th and 19th centuries when the city’s Port wine exports were primarily shipped from the Port of Porto to the rest of the world.

What is Porto famous for?

Porto is famous for its port wine, stunning Douro River views, historic Ribeira district, and its impressive bridges like Dom Luís I Bridge.

What to do in Porto?

The top attractions in Porto include the Ribeira district, Clérigos Tower, Livraria Lello bookstore, Dom Luís I Bridge, and the port wine cellars.

Is Porto a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Yes, Porto’s historic center, Ribeira district, and the Douro River are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Is Porto known for its bridges?

Yes, Porto is famous for its remarkable bridges, including the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge and the modern Arrábida Bridge, offering impressive city views.

Portugal Travel Resources

what is porto known for - it's tall buildings with iron balconies and laundry hanging

Day Trips from Porto

Porto serves as an excellent base for exploring the surrounding region, offering a variety of day trip options. Just a short journey away, you’ll find beautiful villages like Amarante or Guimarães.

Another option for a day trip is Coimbra, home to one of Europe’s oldest universities and an enchanting blend of historic architecture and vibrant student life. I spent a full day in Coimbra and found there is a lot to see and do making it a city worth visiting.

Porto also provides an ideal starting point for exploring the breathtaking Douro Valley. This UNESCO World Heritage site is renowned for its terraced vineyards, scenic landscapes, and charming riverside villages. I took a 1-day guided tour of Douro Valley and it was a definite highlight of my trip!

Beyond Porto

I have travelled to Portugal twice, spending a total of a month on both trips. That’s afforded me the opportunity to see some incredible places beyond Porto. Yes, of course, Lisbon is on that list. Whether you have 1 day in Lisbon or longer, you’ll want to check out my itinerary guides to make the most of your time.

Just like Porto, Lisbon makes for an excellent base for exploring nearby destinations like Sintra and Cascais. Sintra is home to the UNESCO sites of the magical Pena Palace and the fairy tale castle of Quinta da Regaleira. And, one of my favourites was taking the train from Lisbon to Cascais, a chic resort town.

Part of my Portugal itinerary also included spending time in the Algarve, famous for its beautiful beaches and charming towns like Tavira. As well as Alentejo region where I got to visit beautiful towns like Evora.

To see the full list of articles and travel planning resources for booking your trip’s accommodations, car rentals and tours check out my Europe Travel page.

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As a Holidaymaker

Porto is a city that offers an incredible mix of history, culture, and gastronomy. From the stunning Douro River to the grand architecture of its buildings and the famous Port wine cellars, there are countless reasons why Porto has become one of Europe’s most popular destinations. And, why I keep coming back!

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing vacation or an adventure-filled trip, this charming city makes for a great city break as part of your Portugal itinerary.

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