Where to Stay in Porto
Best for: Picturesque views
Ribeira is the most popular and most visited neighborhood in Porto. The city of Porto is a UNESCO Heritage site but Ribeira is the oldest district. Often called Old Town, you can’t get a more authentic and picturesque experience. Since the fourteenth century the winding streets meet colorful terraced houses overlooking the riverfront. A wide, paved promenade hosts numerous cafes, bars, and restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating.
The perfect neighborhoods for both history buffs and partygoers. For example, the Praca da Ribeira is a medieval square dating back centuries that is now home to several bars and restaurants. As you make your way through the tiny streets of old town, you will also uncover a number of other monuments such as the Stock Exchange Palace, St. Francis church, and Casa do Infante, a 14th century house which is said to be the birthplace of Prince Henry the Navigator in 1394. Near the river are also a number of traditional restaurants and the Irong Bridge Luiz I, a very photogenic spot.
If you wish to leave Ribeira, hop on the scenic trams which will transport you all over Porto.
2Baixa / Sé
Best for: Vibrant nightlife
The Baixa/Sé commonly known as downtown porto is brimming with character. Venture through the steep medieval streets past trendy bars, terrace cafes, and charming boutiques. Baixo attracts budget and lavish travelers alike with an array of bars, restaurants, and accommodations at every price.
Baixa is situated directly north of Ribeira on two hills which stretch from the Avenida dos Aliados (Avenue of the Allies) at the one end, to Praça da Liberdade (Liberty Square) on the other. Avenida dos Aliados is a grandiose avenue showcasing ornate buildings and prestigious hotels.
Baixa is home to several attractions you must see. Whether you choose to take a guided tour or discover on foot, make sure to see the Cathedral de Porto, Clerigos Tower, Lello bookstore, Dom Luis I Bridge, and the São Bento railway station. A favorite spot is also the Rua das Flores, or ‘street of flowers’, which is a vibrant, narrow street of beautiful architecture.
3Foz de Duoro
Best for: Seaside retreat
Escape the bustle of the city center and immerse yourself in local life. Located along the sea, Foz de Duoro is Porto’s westernmost neighborhood. Formerly a fisherman village, people from Porto used to only go there during the summers. This resulted in several beautiful mansions and charming fishermen houses along the best beaches in Porto.
There are 5 beaches in Foz neighborhood including Luz, Ingleses, Ourigo, Carneiro, and Pastoras. Each are awarded the Blue Flag eco-label for their efforts in suitability. They are located near boutique hotels as well as a public garden called Passeio Alegre.
What better way to end a day soaking up the sun than to have an extravagant culinary experience at a Michelin restaurant? Porto’s only Michelin star restaurant, Pedro Lemos, is located in the Foz neighborhood. If a unique gastronomical experience and peaceful beaches sound like your kind of holiday, Foz is the destination for you. Keep in mind that Foz is a thirty minute commute to downtown. If you wish to partake in nightlife and the main attractions, consider staying in a closer neighborhood.
Best for: Art
Porto’s trendiest neighborhood is Cedofeita, which is unofficially known as the Bairro das Artes, or Art District. Pop up galleries, premier museums, and design schools are strewn about the city. Many of the most notable art galleries are on the Rua Miguel Bombarda where you can also find amazing concept stores, restaurants, and bars.
Other attractions include the Crystal Palace Gardens (Jardins do Palácio de Cristal) where you can take a romantic walk before heading into Porto’s best museum, Nacional Soares dos Reis. Similarly, check out a fashion show at Casa da Guitarra or a local market.
One of the best aspects of staying in Cedofeita is it’s location. Located directly next to the touristy neighborhoods, it is a short walk from the main attractions and night life without having to deal with the noise and slightly higher prices. Cedofeita in Porto is also home to one of the world’s most beautiful bookshops Livraria Lello- which is it’s rumored to have inspired J.K. Rowling’s depictions of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.
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5Vila Nova de Gaia
Best for: Port wine
If you are a wine lover, you must stay in Vila Nova de Gaia. While not technically a neighborhood in Porto, its proximity and adoration put it on the list. Since the 17th century, Vila Nova de Gaia has been the center for maturing, blending, and bottling port wine. There are more than twenty port houses offering tours and tastings. If you aren’t staying in town, it is still easily accessible by ferry or by crossing the Dom Luis bridge.
Other attractions include the Santo Inacio Zoo, the Teixeira Lopes Museum, or stroll through the beautiful gardens of Jardim do Morro. You can also spend some time at Praia de Miramar beach.
Best for: Antique Shops
In medieval times, Miragaia was outside city walls so was technically considered a suburb of Porto. The colorful houses of Miragaia are built upon an ancient beach that used to serve as a shipyard. Today, a large wall protects the houses while also giving the neighborhood special character.
The neighborhood has many cultural influences from the Armenian and Jewish communities that reside there. In fact, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, relics of the St. Panteleon of Nicomedia were brought from Armenia to Portugal and stored in the Church of São Pedro for centuries.
In addition to breathtaking historical features, make your way down the narrow, cobbled alleyways and stop by an antique shop, café, or boutique. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head toward the River Douro to enjoy a waterfront restaurant or bar. If you happen to visit during the São João do Porto festival, you can stay up through the night at the local taverns. The festival is famous for being an all-night party and celebration.
Best for: Shopping
While most of Porto dotes medieval and historic architecture, Boavista does not. The neighborhood was laid out in the 1800s and finished in 1917. It was designed to be a much more spacious part of town to serve the rich merchants and nobility. Today, the area is still known as the most affluent residential neighborhood as well as the business district.
Its most famous attraction is Boavista Avenue, the longest street in Porto, extending 5.5 km line with luxury hotels, shopping centres, and entertainment venues line the street. It is also home to Casa da Música, or House of Music, which created quite a stir when it was built in 2005. The contemporary style was not universally appreciated despite the amazing acoustics it creates. Make sure to see what concerts or recitals are taking place during your visit for a chance to hear Portuguese fado, rock, jazz, electronic, and classical.