In the northern part of Portugal, on the shores of the Douro River, you can enjoy a picturesque view of Porto, proudly called the “undefeated city”.
A short walk along the streets of the center or the atmospheric promenade by the river is enough for you to fall head over heels in love with this city. However, Porto has many places worth special attention. In this article, I will present you with the most interesting attractions in Porto, monuments that played a key part in the history of the city, attractions for children, galleries and many other places that will make your visit to this city unforgettable!
SEA LIFE Porto
We will start our visit to Porto right next to the ocean, because this is where SEA Life Porto is located. The aquarium invites you to dive into the depths of the sea to see turtles, sharks and rays. The main tank is in the form of a tunnel, and as you walk through it, you will feel surrounded by the natural biodiversity of the sea. The aquarium is divided into distinct zones, each focused on a specific species. if you are even more curious, you should definitely approach the shallow reservoir where it is even possible to touch smaller animals. If, on the other hand, you want to be closer to the larger ones, go for a feeding of sharks or rays, during which employees will share the secrets of the life of these fish with you.
The Porto Cathedral
Sé do Porto, or the Porto Cathedral, is one of the most important monuments of the city and its oldest churches. Construction began in the 12th century and although it is not difficult to notice that the cathedral’s architecture today is a mixture of different styles, it is worth knowing that its origins were closely related to Romanesque art.
The present appearance of the temple is the result of numerous architectural interventions in later periods. In the 14th century, a monastery with Gothic cloisters was added, which, although clearly distinguishable from the rest, is an integral part of the building. In addition to the gilded altar and the chapel, which is surprisingly rich in wall paintings, the cathedral also has a treasury, hiding unusual artifacts of sacred art. In addition to the stunning history and rich interior, the building will also win your heart with its location, as it is situate on a hill that is offering you extraordinary views of the riverside district of Ribeira.
Clérigos Church and Tower
One of the most representative buildings that proudly dominate Porto is the Church of the Clerics, built on a small hill. The 18th-century temple built by the Clerical Order is one of the most visited symbols of the city. The marble interior impresses the visitors with its unusual colors that merge beautifully with the light shining into it.
Right next to the church, there is a museum containing valuable works of art, including liturgical vessels and sculptures. Interestingly, it is not the temple itself, but it is the Clerics’ Tower, whose museum part is connected with the church, that is the element that is most often found in photos and postcards. The belfry is not only an expression of baroque richness and beauty, but is also the point from which you can admire most phenomenal panorama of Porto.
Estádio do Dragão – FC Porto stadium and museum
Established in 2003, the kingdom of dragons, as the football team from Porto is called, is a must-see for football fans. Not only is it the most important sports facility in the city, but it is also a culturally important point of reference. The FC Porto stadium was built for Euro 2004, hosted by Portugal. The building designed by Manuel Salgado is a combination of functionality and innovation. It pays tribute to the past while expressing pride in the present. The white and blue stands can accommodate as many as 50,033 fans, who can watch the matches of their favorite team. Of course, such an excellent club could not do without its own museum. The interactive center celebrates the beautiful history and victories of FC Porto through trophies, documents and art.
The Stock Exchange Palace (Palacio da Bolsa)
Palacio da Bolsa, the seat of the Trade Association, will make you speechless even if visiting museums is not your cup of tea. The palace, the construction of which began in 1832, was built on the ruins of the monastery of St. Francis. The remains of this old building is a small church which is adjacent to the palace. A group of six main architects created a neoclassical composition that today attracts around 300,000 visitors a year! They come to see, among other things, unique rooms, which are distinguished by the richness of stucco, wall paintings and decorative elements. The Palacio da Bolsa space is an ideal place to organize lavish parties, meetings, congresses and even concerts.
World of Discoveries
World of Discoveries is an interactive exhibition that allows the youngest and the older visitors to go on an expedition worthy of real sailors and explorers. The unique theme park is entirely inspired by the period of the Great Geographical Discoveries, which played a key role in the history of Portugal. The facility presents 20 thematic zones reflecting the atmosphere of sea expeditions in the 16th century.
World of Discoveries is not only a permanent exhibition. There is also a place for temporary, smaller exhibitions. A large part of the activities are also extra activities organized for school groups, which help children learn and understand the history better.
Alice in Magical Garden in Porto
The botanical garden in Porto hides a little secret among the unique specimens of plants that create beautiful compositions. It is an open-air exhibition that turns an ordinary garden into Alice’s Magic Garden in Wonderland. A walk along the park paths takes you to a crazy, fairy-tale world. It is all thanks to huge installations which, thanks to special lighting and interactive solutions, lead visitors through the story of the fairy-tale character, Alice. There are also multimedia projections that add some more magic to the whole project. Of course, do not forget to schedule your visit for the evening hours, because the real magic of this place wakes up after dark …
Immersivus Gallery is another place that, thanks to the combination of technology and art, allows you to enter a world that you have not seen before. It uses the same solutions as its sister institution in Lisbon. The area of 2000 m2 of the gallery, equipped with projectors, projecting images in 360 °, allows you to literally get immersed in the spectacle and at the same time look at your favorite works of art from a completely new perspective. In addition to the constantly changing main exhibitions that host the art of the most eminent Portuguese and international artists, the Immersivus Gallery also houses a permanent exhibition. Using the same technology, it introduces you to more and less known legends related to Porto and its surroundings.
The Chocolate History Museum
The Chocolate History Museum located in the cultural center of WOW in Porto shows you how delicious chocolate is made from inconspicuous cocoa beans. It will take you to the plantation and reveal its innermost secrets. It will reveal curiosities that will surprise every chocolate lover. You will learn all the processes necessary to make your favorite sweets. Make sure to conclude your visit to the museum with a tasting, thanks to which you will be able to engage all your senses in learning the secrets of the most popular confectionery.
Stained Glass Museum (Museu do Vitral)
You will learn how the combination of glass and light gives rise to beautiful art in the Museu do Vitral, or the Stained Glass Museum in Porto. There you will see unusual compositions of glass puzzles in the form of panels, rosettes or kaleidoscopes. Surrounded by a palette of colors, you will learn the secrets of creating these works of art, their relationship to religion, and the importance of stained glass for various artistic tendencies. All this focuses on Atelier Antunes, the oldest stained glass workshop in Portugal, creating art at the highest world standard.
Other attractions in Porto
Of course, the magic of Porto goes far beyond the above-mentioned places. The city has much more to offer. The Serralves Foundation allows you to enjoy art and the surrounding nature all day long. Applied arts lovers will be interested in visiting the Museum of Textiles and Fashion, which outlines the history of the Portuguese clothing industry. The Water Pavilion will improve your knowledge about pollution and protection of the aquatic environment, Planet Cork will show you why cork wallets are the bestseller of souvenir shops, and The Bridge Collection will tell you the story in an unusual way, that is by means of… glasses! Also, be sure to visit Calem Cave, Poças and the Burmester Cellar, which you will surely leave with your head full of interesting facts about wine making.
Discover PortugalDiscover other interesting places, attractions, and monuments in Portugal:
|Tourist attractions and interesting places
|Attractions in Lisbon: Lisbon Oceanarium, Lisbon Stadium (Estádio da Luz), St. George's Castle, Jerónimos Monastery, National Pantheon of Lisbon, Royal Treasury Museum, Lisbon Cathedral, National Azulejo Museum, Lisbon Cable Car, Lisbon Zoo, Belém Tower, Ajuda National Palace, Immersivus Gallery Lisbon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Arco da Rua Augusta, Iconic Trams of Lisbon, Cod's Interpretation Centre, Pilar 7 Bridge Experience, National Coach Museum, Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, Carmo Convent, Berardo Collection Museum, Fado Museum. Other attractions in the Lisbon district: Monserrate Palace and Park, Pena National Palace, Castle of the Moors, Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra Myths and Legends Interactive Centre, Mafra National Palace, Queluz National Palace and Gardens, Dino Parque Lourinhã, Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, Capuchin Convent in Colares, The National Palace in Sintra.Interesting cities: Lizbona, Sintra, Mafra, Queluz, Lourinhã
|Attractions in Porto: Porto Stadium (Estádio do Dragão) and FC Porto Museum, Stock Exchange Palace, World of Discoveries, Alice Porto's Magical Garden, Immersivus Gallery, The Chocolate Story Museum, Stained Glass Museum, Serralves Foundation, Museum of Textiles and Fashion, Calem Caves, Pocas Caves, Burmester Cellars, Water Pavilion, Cork Planer, The Bridge Collection, SEA LIFE Porto, Porto Cathedral, Church and Tower of the Clerics, Vila Nova de Gaia wine region, Douro Valley.Interesting cities: Porto
|Attractions in Aveiro: Costa Nova, Aveiro Canals, Aveiro Museum of Modern Art, Barra Beach, Aveiro Lighthouse.
|Attractions in Beja: Beja Cathedral, Beja Regional Museum, Castro Verde Castle, Castro Verde Regional Museum, Aljustrel Archaeological Museum.
|Attractions in Braga: Braga Cathedral, Bom Jesus do Monte, Bishop Castro Monteiro Museum, Caniçada Lake, Tibães Monastery.
|Attractions in Bragança: Bragança Cathedral, Bragança Castle, Military Museum of Bragança, Montesinho Natural Park, Macedo de Cavaleiros Archaeological Museum.
|Attractions in Castelo Branco: Castelo Branco Cathedral, Castelo Branco Textile Museum, Serra da Estrela, Sertã Ethnographic Museum, Cabril Lake.
|Attractions in Coimbrze: Badoca Safari Park, Berlengas Nature Reserve.
|Attractions in Évorze: Évora Cathedral, Chapel of Bones in Évora, Almendres Cromlech, Água de Prata Aqueduct, Évora Archaeological Museum.
|Attractions in Faro:Benagil Caves, Lagos Zoo, Sand City Lagoa, Algarve region, Zoomarine in Algarve, Praia da Marinha Beach, MiniGolf Amusement Park, Aquashow Park in Quarteira, Ponta da Piedade.Interesting cities: Albufeira, Lagos, Lagoa
|Attractions in Guarda: Guarda Cathedral, Serra da Estrela Natural Park, Guarda Museum, Tower of Homage, Gouveia Regional Museum.
|Attractions in Leiria: Leiria Castle, Leiria Cathedral, Nazaré Beach, Batalha Monastery, Alcobaça Monastery.
|Attractions in Portoalegre: Portalegre Cathedral, Portalegre Tapestry Museum, Serra de São Mamede, Marvão Castle, Cabeço de Vide Archaeological Museum.
|Attractions in Setúbal: Arrábida Natural Park, Alcácer do Sal Monastery, Setúbal Archaeological Museum, Sado Estuary Natural Park, Setúbal Cathedral.
|Viana do Castelo
|Attractions in Viana do Castelo: Viana do Castelo Cathedral, Serra de Arga, Cabedelo Beach, Viana do Castelo International Region Museum, Viana do Castelo Provincial Museum.
|Attractions in Vila Real: Vila Real Cathedral, São Gonçalo Monastery, Peneda-Gerês National Park, Vila Real Archaeological Museum, Douro Museum.
|Attractions in Viseo: Viseu Cathedral, Grão Vasco Museum, Serra da Estrela, Lamego Castle, Casa da Ribeira.
|Attractions in Santarém: Santarém Cathedral, Vasco da Gama Bridge, Convent of Christ, Castelo do Bode Lake, Tejo National Park, Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima.
|Tourist attractions and interesting places
|Interesting cities: Flores.Islands in the Azores archipelago: Corvo, Faial, Pico, São Jorge, Graciosa, Terceira, São Miguel, Santa Maria
|Attractions in Maderze: Cable car from the botanical garden, Garajau Natural Reserve. Cities in Madeira: Funchal, Machico, Santana, Porto Moniz, Câmara de Lobos.Other islands in the Madeira archipelago: Porto Santo.