Are you looking for the best areas to stay in Porto Portugal? Then this is the right place to be!
At a first glance, Porto compared to Lisbon seems somewhat outdated. But appearance deceives. Immerse yourself in Porto city life. It is one of the best, most vibrant, and most enjoyable cities to stay in.
During the day there is plenty to visit, where you can enjoy the highlights and its picturesque river. At night Porto has amazing nightlife and bars to pass your time in the late afternoon. Activities to enjoy like no other.
Neighborhoods with restaurants and Bars where everything is hip and happening. Porto is one of the best areas to stay.
Nightlife in Porto Portugal is full of movement. Dancing all night long, and where bars serve a variety of ports, special beers, and cocktails.
This guide provides the best areas in Porto, Portugal to stay in. For your accommodation and highlights. I will guide you through the best places. Enjoy the vibrant nightlife in Porto during your holidays.
Note: Tourism increases in numbers every single year. Planning your accommodation ahead of time is important. The best accommodations in Porto sell out fast.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you click on them, at no additional cost to you. Hope you find the information here useful! Thanks.Bruno
How many nights should I stay in Porto Portugal?
A couple of guides tell you that you can visit Porto in one day. In all honesty, I do not think it would do it in any respect.
The best way to experience the city of Porto in Portugal is by staying for at least 3 days. The longer you stay the more Porto you can experience and see the true beauty of the Porto areas and its parishes.
Below I created a small itinerary of what you can do in 3, 4, or 6 days.
Highlights to view in the first 3 days:
- Porto Old Town
- Douro River
- Clérigos Church and tower
- Palacio de Bolsa
- Porto Cathedrals
- São Bento Train Station
- Dom Luis I Bridge
- The Parish Church of Santo Ildefonso
- Carmo Church and Carmelite Church
- Serra do Pilar
- Foz do Douro
- St Francisco Church
- Jardim do Morro
- Bulhão Market
- Chapel of Santa Catarina
Highlights to view on the 4 days:
- Admire Casa da Musica
- Visit Livraria Lello Bookshop
- Have a Porto City Park picnic
- Shop on Rua Das Flores Street
Highlights when you stay for 6 days:
- Carve out some time for a cruise tour of Porto’s six bridges
- Visit the parish to Vila Nova de Gaia and spend some time on the beach
- Take a tour through a Port wine cellar – and enjoy tastings, of course
- Head out into the Douro Valley for a wine tour
- Take a guided street art tour and enjoy the stunning images
Is Porto a walkable city?
Although Porto has enough public transportation, the best way to get around in Porto is by foot.
After all, this is the best way to experience the city. When you are staying for 3 days, Porto is small enough to walk between highlights and parish areas.
Of course, public transportation is always an option or you could rent an e-bike.
Is Porto English friendly?
The language spoken in Porto, Portugal is Portuguese. Most of those who work in the tourist industry have no language barrier when speaking in English.
Like in most countries, locals do appreciate it when you attempt a few basic words in their language. It’s not necessary to start a language course.
Most signs in public transport have an English translation. Make sure to visit the amazing city of Porto and its surrounding areas.
Is Porto Portugal safe?
Like in most big cities there are common rules to take into account. Most crimes will be from opportunity theft. Porto and its surrounding areas are safe. Most persons visiting Porto will not experience crime-related activities.
A few rules to consider when you are in Porto are:
- Do not flash cash or other valuable items
- Place wallets in bags of pockets, where it is not visible
- Visit cash machines during the day or accompanied by someone
- Do not leave expensive equipment in the car
- If you wear expensive jewelry make sure it is not visible
- When using public transport, be aware of pickpocketing
Is Porto an expensive city?
Well, every city trip can be as expensive as you want. Porto in itself is not that expensive.
The most expensive costs are for accommodation and depending on your restaurant’s needs. I would recommend having a look at those restaurants where locals eat.
If you would compare Paris, Barcelona, or Amsterdam, then Porto is less expensive. If you have not visited Porto yet then, now would be the moment.
How far is Porto from the ocean?
If you are planning to visit beaches near Porto more than once, renting a car is the best way to go. A car gives you the freedom to explore the entire Porto region. This includes the Douro valley, which is beautiful.
There is always the possibility of catching a train in the direction of the south. This will stop at a coastal town.
Out of my own experience with 30 minutes, you can be at Praia da Aguda, one of my preferred beaches.
Beaches that are closer to the city are the following:
- Praia da Granja
- Praia de Canide Sul
- Praia do Senhor da Pedra
- Praia São Pedro da Maceda
- Praia de Ofir
Is there a train station at Porto Airport?
There is a Porto Metro station if you want to go to the Porto City center. The metro is above ground in the outskirts and underground in the city center itself.
The airport metro station is a short walk from the terminal and is well indicated. At the airport, you will board a train on Line E (The Violet Line). For most people traveling to Porto from the airport, it is the preferred option. The line itself is frequent, efficient and the cheapest public transport.
The Violet Line is a dedicated line that connects the Porto Airport to Estádio do Dragão in the city center. There are 21 stops on this line, among the popular stops of Casa da Musica, Trindade Station, and Campanha. The duration of the complete trip will be around 35 minutes and operates between 06:00 and 00:30.
The 7 best parishes and areas to stay in Porto Portugal
The district of Porto in Portugal consists of 7 parishes. 3 are unions of smaller parishes merged together.
1. Cedofeita, Santo Ildefonso, Sé, Miragaia, São Nicolau e Vitória
The merged parishes Cedofeita, Santo Ildefonso, Sé, Miragaia, São Nicolau e Vitória make up one of the trendiest parts of the city. This parish is also known as the historical center. It consists of several well-known neighborhoods for which a few are being described.
This parish makes it a great place to take a break. Art galleries, museums, gardens, cafes, markets, and shops are all around.
The parish of Cedofeita
The trendiest and best parish in the district of Porto Portugal, to stay in, is the parish of Cedofeita. The art area of Rua Miguel Bombarda and concept stores (especially at Rua do Rosário).
Things to do in Cedofeita:
- You can go for a romantic walk in the Crystal Palace Gardens
- Visit one of the best museum in Porto: Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis
- Indulge yourself in the Portugues culture by enjoying a Fado Show at Casa da Guitarra
If you travel alone or travel with your family and kids, this parish is the best area to stay in Porto Portugal. The parish of Cedofeita is close to the and the neighborhood of Baixa.
You will find most monuments here in Baixa. There are great bars and restaurants. It’s quiet enough and romantic to enjoy your stay in Porto, Portugal.
If you decide to stay in the historical center of Porto in Portugal, make sure to visit one of the best and most well-known neighborhoods in town.
The parish of Santo Ildefonso
Santo Ildefonso has some of Porto’s famous highlights. These are:
- Mercado do Bulhão
- Trindade, know for its beautiful church from the 19th century.
- Clérigos Tower
- Avenida dos Aliados
- Lello Bookshop is the beautiful library for which many think it inspired the Harry Potter`s Library.*
Other famous highlights which are nearby are monuments like:
*The writer of the Harry Potter books mentioned that the library of Harry Potter was not inspired by the Lello Bookshop: J.K. Rowling on Twitter: “never visited this bookshop in Oporto”
Santo Ildefonso has also some exquisite cafes like Café Majestic. The parish of Santo Ildefonso has good public transportation. The metro line runs through the area.
Sé is like the other parishes in this union. It is in the UNESCO World Heritage Classified Zone and is one of the smallest
The parish of Sé
Highlights in Sé are:
The Sé Cathedral do Porto is from the 13th century. Or at least a part of it. The cathedral in itself was completed in the 19th century in Portugal. Because of this the cathedral contain a mix of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque style.
The tower and the battlements are almost reminiscent of a medieval castle. The church was also intended that way. In the 13th century, part of Portugal was under the rule of the Muslim Moors. Catholics did well to entrench themselves behind the walls of their churches.
Next to the Sé is an imposing monastery from the 14th century. Photograph the amazing cathedral from the square in front of it, the Terreiro da Sé.
The parish of Miragaia
Next to the famous Ribeira area is Miragaia to stay in Porto Portugal. Miragaia is a historic 14th-century neighborhood located on the riverbank. It sits below sea level. and home to the Jewish and Armenian communities and was outside of the city walls. So-called “arrabaldes” (the suburbs).
The colorful houses of Miragaia are constructed below the level of the river Douro. Built on an ancient beach that served as a medieval shipyard. The boats were built during the Discoveries Era. Nowadays, the houses are protected by a large wall and the upper floors are built over arches. This gives the whole neighborhood a very special atmosphere.
To experience the area’s history you can visit the churches, museums, and palaces. The location at the river makes it perfect to hire a boat or join a tour to visit the highlights.
Some highlights to visit, which can be mentioned are:
On the 23rd of June, there is a famous celebration, the “São João do Porto” festival in Porto Portugal. When you stay in Miragaia you are assured that this is the best place to stay in. In Miragaia the party goes on and on all night long, and most of the time still moves in the morning.
Like the neighborhood of Ribeira, you can enjoy the view. Sipping at the bar or enjoying authentic cuisine. Since Miragaia is next to the river you could also take a tour of Portuguese port houses.
If you do decide to stay in the Miragaia parish it is one of the best places Porto Portugal. Indulge yourself in the history of the Portuguese port. Take a river cruise and visit churches, museums, and palaces ready to explore.
At the heart of Miragaia is the Church of São Pedro. For centuries the relics of St. Pantaleon of Nicomedia were saved. The relic was brought from Armenia to Portugal. After the fall of Constantinople, in 1453, it ended in the hands of the Turks.
The parish of São Nicolau
The highlight of this small parish is the St. Nicolas church.
In the 13 century, religious services were carried out in a small chapel. Religious services of the parish of São Nicolau needed a larger space. The chapel was demolished to make way for the Church of São Nicolau in 1671.
The Church of São Nicolau suffered a fire in 1758 in Porto Portugal. Its reconstruction was completed in 1762.
Since you are in the center of the historical area, you sure have the time of your life to view all highlights around it.
The parish of Vitoria
A major landmark of Vitória is the Clérigos Tower (“Torre dos Clérigos”). The Vitória district neighboring the Cedofeita, Santo Ildefonso, São Nicolau, Sé, and Miragaia districts.
Vitoria is the old commercial heart of the city and is centered around the University. If you are looking for vibrant nightlife this is the place to be. Two streets to be recommended are Galeria de Paris and Rua do Almada.
If you are looking for a moving and livelier area then for sure this is your place to stay.
The neighborhood of Baixa do Porto
The Baixa neighborhood is the historical soul of the city. When staying in Porto Portugal’s best areas, chances are high that you spent a lot of time in this neighborhood. On one side there are a lot of highlights to see, on the other side relax at the river at Cais da Ribeira.
For centuries Baixa was the place where locals wanted to live. It was a neighborhood full of employment, shops, and vibrant nightlife. In the second half of the 20e century, the neighborhood changed.
Companies moved to the outskirts and so did their employees and customers. A period that transformed Baixa completely. From a lively neighborhood to a neglected neighborhood that became a no go-zone.
In 2004 the city decided to do something about the neglected state of Baixa. The historical city center. A city center that became part of the UNESCO World Heritage for Porto Portugal.
Thanks to a planned transformation, companies started to return. And nightlife became a safe place. These changes made the city center again a vibrant and beautiful place. A place that is deserved for tourists and locals alike.
Baixa has a maze of small streets and for sure it is the place where you will find the most trendy bars and nightclubs.
When you stay in Baixa, Porto you will climb the Torre do Clérigos. Read your way through various books at Livraria Lello. And enjoy the amazing view at Miradouro da Vitória en Terreiro da Sé or cruise through the streets on a vintage tram.
Though you will still find some neglected buildings and poor families living here. It all shows in a way Porto in its true authentic essence.
The neighborhood of Ribeira
The Ribeira neighborhood is one of Porto’s most amazing areas to stay in. The neighborhood is part of the UNESCO World Heritage and contains a labyrinth of medieval streets down to the famous Douro River. A promenade where you can enjoy your time next to the water.
You have a fabulous front-row view to admire the Ponte de Dom Luís I. The port-wine lodges across the river are in Vila Nova de Gaia. Be aware that in summer this place is full of tourists, but a place to visit as it is the postcard image of Porto.
There are some of the most famous monuments in Porto that are worth the visit. The following can be mentioned:
As mentioned before, on the other side are the Port wine lodges just 10 minutes of walking distance away. I would recommend doing a guided Port tasting.
If you are looking to go to Foz do Douro from here, you can take the famous tram #1 ride that departs from this parish.
This parish has a lot of tourists, there is no lack of accommodations and restaurants. Prices are quite high in this region as it is very touristic.
The parish in itself is flat, but since it is sitting on the riverside, going to downtown Porto to visit some highlights might be a challenge for some. The streets that go downtown are steep and climbing up the hill is the only way up. It will take around 15 minutes.
If you do decide to stay in the Ribeira parish in Porto, Portugal then the following two accommodations can be recommended:
- Eurostars Porto Douro (4 stars hotel with an amazing view)
- Oporto Trendy River (apartment)
2. Aldoar, Foz do Douro e Nevogilde
Located on the western coast of the city, at the mouth of the Douro, the union of 3 parishes can be found. These are Aldoar, Foz Do Douro (or Foz), and Nevogilde. These parishes are the best place to enjoy the best beaches the city has to offer. Aldoar is on the east side of the other parishes and does not have a coastal line, the beaches are easy to reach.
Beaches in the parish of Aldoar, Foz do Douro e Nevolgilde:
- Praia das Pastoras
- Praia do Carneiro
- Praia do Ourigo
- Praia dos Ingleses
- Praia da Luz
- Praia de Gondarém
- Praia do Molhe
- Praia do Homem do Leme
- Praia do Aquario
- Praia do Castelo do Queijo
Foz do Douro
Amazing golden sandy beaches line the coast, including resort hotels located around them. Walk on the following streets near the waterfront. Bars, restaurants, and cafes are found here:
- Avenida do Brasil
- Avenida do Montevideo
- Passeio Alegre
At the boulevard of Foz do Douro you will pass by the Jardim do Paseo Alegre and the Pérgola da Foz. Definitely to be visited for a romantic one-on-one and to take pictures.
You will find the Farol De Felgueiras lighthouse at the southern point of Foz do Douro. Here the Douro River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Together with the historic inner city and the coastal region.
Further down the bouelevard you will find the Castelo de São João and the Castelo do Queijo.
Other highlights that can be mentioned are:
- Serralves Museum: the most important museum in Portugal. It is housed in a building, designed by Álvaro Siza, and surrounded by beautiful gardens.
- Sea Life Porto: the city’s famous aquarium with about 5,800 species of marine life. A place recommended for families and children.
- Mercado da Foz: if you like to experience the local cuisine.
If you do decide to stay in the parish of Foz do Douro or one of the other two parishes, beaches are for sure within reach. There are also hop-on-hop tourist bus tours that go to Ribeira and Miragaia.
The historic city center is reachable with the tram line 1. The tram starts in Passeio Alegre in Foz and brings you to the city center of Porto. The stop is near the Stock Exchange Palace, reachable within 10 minutes. The tram stops also at famous highlights like the Porto Wine Museum, the Tram Museum, and the Arrábida Bridge.
Staying in the parish of Foz do Douro is the place to be when you want to combine beaches, history, and culture.
3. Lordelo do Ouro e Massarelos
The parish of Lordelo Do Ouro
Lordelo do Ouro is on the eastern border of Foz do Douro. Here you can enjoy the amazing beaches within minutes. You stay in a more traditional area where you can enjoy the silence, though the city center is nearby.
The most popular highlights in the area in Lordelo do Ouro are:
The area of Lordelo do Ouro also features several mesmerizing gardens. The Garden Of Calem, and the Jardim Botanico are a few to mention.
The most famous park in the area is Serralves Park. Containing a classical Villa and the Serralves Museum. The museum is the second most visited museum in Portugal and the top 100 in the entire world.
With the ease of access to the busier areas, this is an ideal spot for anyone traveling on a budget. It also counts when you seek a bit of variety during their stay. Accommodations are lower priced.
Lordelo do Douro is the best place to stay in Porto Portugal, if you want to have easy access to the beach and city center. Lordelo do Douro has affordable accommodation if you are on a budget. All highlights are within reach, with wonderful gardens to walk around.
The parish of Massarelos
Massarelos is south of the city of Porto. It is next to the Douro River in the South and Lordelo do Ouro to the west. Massarelos is located centrally, which makes reaching the city center easy. This parish is known as the creative heart of the city.
In this part of the city, you will find traders, artists, and designers. All work with precious stones and metals, glass, textiles, and ceramics. Rua Miguel Bombarda is the main street and the heart of this parish., Here you will have the opportunity to find workshops and galleries displaying their creative work.
I would recommend visiting, the Museu Nacional Soares Dos Reis. In this museum, you can view the wonderful collection of art pieces created.
Since this area is full of artists. Because of this, you will find areas with a very hip and trendy atmosphere. Many cafes and bars, all with an amazing vibe.
The parish of Massarelos also attracts many students. Some University faculties of Porto are here. Faculdade de Farmácia (Farmacy) and Faculdade de Direito (Law) are some to mention.
Some highlights to visit in Massarelos:
- Jardins do Palácio de Cristal, Museu Romântico
- Ponte da Arrábida
- Igreja do Corpo Santo de Massarelos
- Museu do Carro Eléctrico
- Porto’s main Custom House
- Rosa Mota sports hall
If you decide to stay in the area of Massarelos, the accommodations you get are diverse. Choice of hostels and well-decorated guesthouses. From low-budget accommodations to more exclusive ones.
4. The parish of Bonfim
Bonfim neighborhood is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Europe by The Guardian. Bonfim is the hipster parish of the district of Porto and is located in the southeastern part of the city. The area is located near the historical city center and is well known by locals.
Though the city center is nearby, Bonfim in itself has plenty to offer. The Fontainhas viewpoint with a stunning view, or even the Cemetery Of Prado Do Repouso.
But do not forget the beautiful churches and parks all around. In the heart of Bonfim, you will find the Church of The Lord of Bonfim, known as Igreja de Nosso Senhor. A church that was built in the 19th-century in Neoclassical style.
If you are more like a park person you will love Parque de Nova Sintra with stunning river views. Also, the Jardim das Virtudes surrounded by some of Porto’s best restaurants is worth the visit.
I would recommend the modern art gallery, Casa Sao Roque. within Palacete Ramos Pinto Manson.
The area is also popular with students and backpackers. Accommodation prices in the region are affordable. Bonfim also has several hipster coffee shops, bars, and restaurants which are affordable.
If you are planning to stay in Bonfim, then this is the place to be. When you tend to travel on a budget, enjoy the vibrance of the student lifestyle. When you stay outside of the busy areas then for sure you will love this. It’s close to the historical center.
Public transportation is plenty available. If you do arrive from another city Bonfim is a perfect place to stay.
- By Metro: 24 de Agosto and Heroismo are the metro stations in the parish of Bonfim.
- By Bus: Bonfim knows more than enough bus lines. Use Google Maps or Moovit (my preferred) to load journey details. Rede Expressos buses to Douro Valley towns like Lamego depart from near 24 de Agosto station. Easy!
- By train: Aveiro, Braga and Guimarães taking the train from Campanhã. This parish is on the edge of Bonfim and makes it a great place to stay and if time allows to plan day trips outside.
5. The parish of Campanhã
Campanhã is close to the heart of the city. Here you can experience the rural and local traditions. All combined with modernization and recent tourism. Art galleries, cafes, and theatre companies are found in the neighborhood of Campanhã.
Like many other districts also this neighborhood is close to the city center. It is close to most major highlights and not far from the Douro River itself.
This area is well known to students since its central location. It has low rental prices, and proximity to Faculdade de Belas Artes. Traveling to other Portuguese cities becomes easy in Campanhã. You have the main train station around the corner.
6. The parish of Paranhos
Paranhos, another residential neighborhood is located to the northeast of the city center. This parish is known for its large numbers of students since it is near the Universities.
Because of this student-dominated area, Paranhos is known for its vibrant, bohemian atmosphere. The place for a successful nightlife is full of a variety of bars, cafes, and restaurants.
Accommodations are cheaper in this parish according to the student’s budget. Paranhos has public transport which brings you to the city center of Porto in no time.
If you decide to stay in Paranhos, Porto Portugal this is a great place if you travel on a budget. But also love the vibrant and bohemian atmosphere.
7. The parish of Ramalde
The last of the seven parish areas to be discussed are Ramalde. This parish is located in the very north of the city.
You can stay in Ramalde, Porto if you need to be close to the airport. The Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport is located outside of the city itself. Like Campanha, anyone who doe not want to drag their luggage. Or for those who are unsure of missing their flight makes this parish is well suited for them.
If seeing the city is not your main priority Ramalde is a great parish to be in. You can plan to split your time between sightseeing and moments of relaxation at the beach. Ramalde has some lower-priced accommodations when you are traveling on a budget.
Being located in the western part of the city, it is much closer to the beaches. You can find beaches in the parish of Foz Do Douro. Do keep in mind that if you want to see the highlights in the city center, it takes around 20 minutes by car.
The main areas that you can stay in the Ramalde parish are:
- Boavista Avenue: This is the largest avenue in the city.
- Pinheiro Manso: Here you can find the Ramalde House (a national monument)
- Bessa: Having the largest stadium in Portugal, Estádio do Bessa
- Pedro Hispano: With amazing hotels, music houses, and Botanical Garden.
Note: A travel insurance is highly recommended. If you want to know more, read my complete World Nomads vs SafetyWing review for digital nomads.
My experience in Portugal on the best areas to stay in Porto
The city of Porto is a great place to stay, to experience the history and culture. People treat you like you are a very old friend. Enough bars and restaurants to meet each other. For those staying for a longer time in Porto or working remotely try to connect through social media. There are often communities for ex-pats and digital nomads who meet almost on a daily basis.
In March 2022 I stayed in a coworking place in Porto for which I feel the need they need to be mentioned. If in any case, you might wonder, I am not being sponsored at all.
Synergy is an amazing coworking place, with all facilities you need. They are accessible 24/7 after your registration which is a pré when you work with different time zones. For each week they create a lunch menu for which you can subscribe.
The family spirit is high within this co-work which I experience as pleasant. Definitely a place to return!