Porto’s unmissable landmarks and historical sights

With stunning architectural landmarks like the Dom Luis I bridge and scenic wonders like the beautiful beach at Póvoa de Varzim, these are the top 15 landmarks in Porto.

What makes Porto so special? It certainly has great food, and the romantic atmosphere in the old town is hard to beat. It's also a lively city, with plenty to keep the whole family busy. However, its natural and historic landmarks are what really make it stand out. Check them out for a vacation to remember.

This list includes incredible architectural landmarks, from historic churches like Porto Cathedral to marvelous bridges like Dom Luis I. You'll also enjoy exploring natural landmarks, including rivers, mountains, and stunning sandy beaches, such as those at Póvoa de Varzim. See the very best of Porto and the north of Portugal with this guide, which will take you on a journey through the city's most interesting landmarks to see.

Historic and architectural landmarks in Porto

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1. Palácio da Bolsa

Originally built as Porto's stock exchange, the Palácio da Bolsa is a true testament to the country's wealth in its golden age. Construction started in 1842, but the incredibly detailed neoclassical architecture meant that it took half a century to finally complete the building.

Highlights:

There's lots of interesting art inside the palace, but most visitors choose the Arab Room as their highlight. Its unusual Moorish Revival decor is strikingly exotic.

Address and opening hours:

Rua de Ferreira Borges, 4050-253 Porto. Open Monday-Sunday, 9:00 AM-6:30 PM.

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2. Luis I Bridge

Many of Porto's bridges have become city landmarks, but nothing compares to the Dom Luis I Bridge. This enormous iron arch bridge broke records when it was first built in 1886 and remains an enduring symbol of the city.

Highlights:

No trip to Porto would be complete without a few photos of the bridge. Daredevils can even sign up for the bridge climbing experience, but it's not a great choice for the faint-hearted.

Address and opening hours:

Ponte Luís I, Porto. Open 24 hours.

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3. Clérigos Tower

This impressive religious complex consists of a tower, museum, and church. The Clérigos Tower is the main landmark. You'll need to climb up 225 steps to get to the top.

Highlights:

The views from the top of the tower are beautiful by day, but you might also want to visit on a Sunday night - late opening hours let you see Porto all lit up.

Address and opening hours:

Rua de São Filipe de Nery, 4050-546 Porto. Open Monday-Sunday, 9:00 AM-7:00 PM, and Sunday 9:30 PM-10:30 PM.

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4. Porto Cathedral

The Porto Cathedral is one of the city's most iconic buildings. It was originally built in the 12th century, and it has rich, stunning decor throughout. Popular with pilgrims and tourists alike, it's a must for all visitors.

Highlights:

Check the timetable before you visit. There are often organ concerts that have a wonderful atmosphere and are a great cultural experience.

Address and opening hours:

Terreiro da Sé, 4050-573 Porto. Open Monday-Sunday, 9:00 AM-6:30 PM.

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5. São Bento Station

São Bento Station is more than just a transit hub; it's a work of art. This incredible station feels like a museum or a palace thanks to its 20,000 hand-painted azulejo tiles. Take your time to admire them, as they show important moments in Portuguese history, as well as humble depictions of daily life in centuries gone by.

Highlights:

You'll want to have plenty of time to check out the tiles, particularly if you're interested in art. Visiting outside rush hour is best, as this is still a working station.

Address:

Praça de Almeida Garrett, 4000-069 Porto.

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6. Church of St Francis

The Church of St Francis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it's easy to see why. This Gothic church, with its oldest parts dating back to the 13th century, is one of the most impressive buildings in Porto. The outside is imposing in the Gothic style, while the interior is a masterpiece of gold-edged religious artwork.

Highlights:

Take your time to visit the chapels inside the church. The best might just be the chapel of St John the Baptist, with an impressive Renaissance tomb set into a wall.

Address and opening hours:

Rua do Infante Dom Henrique, 4050-297 Porto. Open Monday-Sunday, 9:00 AM-8:00 PM.

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7. Clérigos Church

The Clérigos Tower is one of Porto's best-known landmarks, but the adjacent Clérigos Church is also worth a visit. This beautiful church is a great example of the Baroque style. The highlight is probably its stunning altar, a masterpiece of polychromed marble.

Highlights:

To see the church in a new way, pick up a Spiritus multimedia show ticket. Visit after dark and watch a breathtaking show of lights, music, and poetry that totally transforms the building.

Address and opening hours:

Rua de São Filipe de Nery, 4050-546 Porto. Opening hours vary.

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8. Livraria Lello

Some say that the Lello Bookstore was the inspiration for Hogwarts, as JK Rowling was a regular visitor when she lived in Porto. Check out this magical place for yourself, with its winding staircases and gorgeous bookshelves piled high with inspiring volumes.

Highlights:

A walking city tour and Lello Bookstore visit is an excellent way to discover Porto when you first arrive, as you'll see plenty of Old Town highlights.

Address and opening hours:

Rua das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161 Porto. Open Monday-Sunday, 9:30 AM-7:30 PM.

Scenic and natural landmarks in Porto

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9. River Douro

The Douro River stretches for almost 900 km across Spain and Portugal. It finally meets the sea in Porto, and it's the city's main artery. Without the river, there would be no Porto, so hop on a boat.

Highlights:

You'll enjoy a complimentary glass of wine on your private sailboat tour on the Douro River. It's one of the best ways to see the sights of the city, starting from the Luis I Bridge.

Address and opening hours:

Rua da Praia, 4400-554 Vila Nova de Gaia. Start times vary.

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10. Peneda-Gerês Park

This national park is a short hop from Porto, and it's one of the most impressive natural landmarks in all of Portugal. With a crystal-clear blue lake, stunning waterfalls, and charming sandy beaches, it's the perfect place for anyone who needs an escape from the city.

Highlights:

Spend a full day in Peneda-Gerês Park, hiking and kayaking. Explore the wonders of nature and check out some Portuguese traditions at a nearby historic village.

Address and opening hours:

Peneda-Gerês National Park, 4845-999 Portugal. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 9:00 AM-7:00 PM. Closed Sunday-Monday.

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11. Douro Valley

Many regard the Douro Valley as a natural wonder, thanks to its exceptionally fertile soil. This is wine country, with acres of rolling vineyards everywhere you look. The stunning landscape deserves its UNESCO World Heritage label.

Highlights:

Make the most of a day in the valley with a Wine Tasting with Lunch session. You'll sample the very best local food and drink as you explore.

Address and opening hours:

Meet at Rua das Carmelitas 50-118, 4050-161 Porto. Tours start at 8:15 AM.

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12. Lima River

Northern Portugal is a land of rivers, and Lima is one of the most beautiful. Winding its serpentine way between tree-lined banks, it's a true paradise of clear blue water. Its lack of pollution makes it perfect for a day of watersports.

Highlights:

Strap on your helmet and take a Lima River kayak tour. Get your adrenaline pumping as you traverse the fast-flowing dams that mark this waterway.

Address and opening hours:

Meet at Parque da Fonte Santa, 4980-123 Portugal. Start times vary.

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13. Serras do Porto

You can see the Serras do Porto mountain range from many parts of the city, but you'll have a much better time if you get up close and personal. This rugged mountain range holds all kinds of secrets, including fascinating Roman ruins.

Highlights:

Take a walk on the wild side with a Serras do Porto Natural Park quad bike tour. Watch out for the Neolithic fort hidden in the mountains.

Address and opening hours:

Serras do Porto, 4400 Valongo. Open 24 hours.

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14. Póvoa de Varzim

All along Portugal's windswept Atlantic coast, you'll find beautiful beaches to explore. The best in the Porto area is Póvoa de Varzim, a brilliant expanse of white sand. There are actually several beaches here, but they link together to form an unbroken stretch more than 7 miles long.

Highlights:

The wind and waves make Póvoa de Varzim ideal for a half-day surf lesson. Beginners are more than welcome as you learn to master the waves.

Address and opening hours:

4490-407 Póvoa de Varzim. Open 24 hours.

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15. Ilha dos Amores

The name Ilha dos Amores means Island of Love, and you'll soon see why. There's something gloriously romantic about this tiny island, hidden in the Douro River. Covered in lush vegetation, it's a striking, dramatic sight.

Highlights:

One of the most fun ways to see the island is on a SUP Paiva River tour. You'll also get the chance to paddle down the Paiva River, exploring the quiet, natural side of the area.

Address and opening hours:

Isla dos Amores, 4690. Tour times vary.

FAQs

What is the oldest historic landmark in Porto?

There are many old buildings in the historic center of Porto. The oldest significant landmark is the cathedral. Construction began in the 10th century.

What are some free landmarks to visit in Porto?

Most of Porto's natural landmarks, like the rivers and beaches, are free to visit.

Are there any guided tours that focus on the architecture of Porto's landmarks?

Yes. There are several guided tours with an architectural focus. They usually take place in and around the old town.

How can I get the best views of scenic landmarks in Porto?

Try climbing to the top of the Clérigos Tower for amazing views of Porto's landmarks. You can also get good views from the Douro River.

What are some natural landmarks near Porto worth visiting?

The Douro Valley is an incredible natural landmark that you should spend a day discovering. There are also several interesting rivers, natural parks, and mountains in the area.