What is Porto Famous For? 40 Fascinating Facts

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

What is Porto famous for you ask? Porto is famous for its charming Ribeira district, Douro River, Dom Luis bridge and countless azulejos tiles. Then there are the fun facts about Porto Portugal like the Harry Potter connection, the Eiffel Tower connection and how it got its nickname of City of Six Bridges. One thing is for sure there are a lot of reasons why Porto is the hottest destination in Europe right now!

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.

Before I go on a trip, I like to learn about the place I’m going. Do you feel the same way? Well, you’re in the right spot. Before I went to Porto I did a little research on what is Porto known for. After spending almost a week there, I found out a lot more cool stuff about the city. And, I’m happy to share it with you.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on an affiliate link, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you decide to book. Please check out my privacy policy and disclosure for more information.

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.

One of the interesting facts about Porto is its Eiffel Tower connection. This double-deck iron bridge was designed by Gustave Eiffel, but it was Théophile Seyrig, a former business partner of Gustave Eiffel who completed the bridge after Eiffel withdrew from the project.

2. Clérigos Tower

The stunning baroque façade of the tower was designed by Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni. It’s become a famous 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. Porto fun facts: it is said that over 20,000 tiles were used in the station’s decoration.

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 the Porto history legends and tales.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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

11. 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.

12. Ribeira district

This lively waterfront neighbourhood, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, 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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. Cathedral of Porto (Sé do Porto)

Is a Romanesque masterpiece dating back to the 12th century, featuring intricate stonework and beautiful stained glass windows.

16. 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.

17. 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.

This bookstore is said to have inspired J.K. Rowling while she was living in Porto. The bookstore’s unique ambiance is thought to have influenced the description of the Hogwarts library in the Harry Potter series.

18. Funicular dos Guindais

Take a ride on this funicular railway for unbeatable panoramic views over Porto’s hilly landscape.

19. Crystal Palace Gardens

It is 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.

20. 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

21. 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.

22. 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!

23. 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.

24. 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.

25. 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.

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

26. 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 you can enjoy anytime, especially on a warm summer’s day.

27. 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!).

28. 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.

29. 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.

30. 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

31. 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,” 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.

32. 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.

33. 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.

34. Trading history

The history of Porto includes a historic connection to the Age of Discoveries. A trading history that dates back centuries. Infante Dom Henrique, an important figure in Portuguese exploration, was born in Porto. The city played a role in financing and supporting these maritime expeditions.

As a major port city, it played a crucial role in the maritime trade routes and Porto thrived as a hub for exporting port wine, textiles, and other goods, establishing commercial ties with countries around the world.

35. 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.

36. Porto Nicknames

Porto is known as “Oporto Portugal” 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.

Porto is also often referred to as the “City of Six Bridges” due to the numerous bridges that span the Douro River.

37. Historic city center

The historic centre of Porto in Portugal is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to many beautiful buildings, including the iconic Clérigos Tower and many churches.

38. Azulejos

Porto is known for its beautiful azulejo tiles, which can be found on many buildings throughout the city.

39. Fado music

While Fado, a traditional Portuguese music genre, is more closely associated with Lisbon, Porto has its own version known as “Fado do Porto.” It reflects the city’s unique cultural identity.

40. 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.

As a Holidaymaker

Beyond the Porto facts, Porto, Portugal 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.

Explore more about what to do in Porto Portugal

For assistance in planning your trip to Portugal, check out my recommended resources. If you’re seeking inspiration for your Portugal holiday, visit my Portugal page, which offers a long list of destinations, including Lisbon, Sintra, Cascais, regions of Algarve and Alentejo, and more.