Rich history, Nice location on the sea & the Douro river estuary, Port wine and a fun nightlife – this is Porto! With around 240.000 inhabitants it is the second largest city in Portugal but still nice & charming with semi-Mediterranean climate and medieval as well as modern living side by side. But what to do there on a Budget? Here you go – with a list of totally free things to do in Porto![box type=”info”]This article is part of the free Backpacking in Europe Guide where you find more great information, resources and destination guides to plan & organize your trip to Europe![/box]
1) Ribeira and the Luís I BridgeThe riverfront district of Ribeira was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An absolute must-see! The area has a very unique character and nice atmosphere. The buildings are old and worn but very charming.
Ponte Dom Luís I is the best place to take pictures, the view from the top of the bridge is fantastic! There are pedestrian walkways on the top and the bottom of the bridge – if you are afraid of heights, you should think about walking the top twice. It is the best way to get from Ribeira to Vila Nova de Gaia, where all the Port wine cellars are located.
Additional Tip: If you are in Porto on Monday, you should go to Ribeira at night. There is not much going on other days, but Mondays are different. A couple of bars have special offers (two huge long drinks for 5 euro!), so lots of people come to grab a drink and enjoy it outside with all the pretty lights.
2) Port wine tastingWhat is Porto most famous for? Port wine of course! There are many cellars that offer guided tours and wine tasting, some do it for free. You definitely have to try!
Taylor’s offers very detailed tours through their cellar explaining how Port wine is made. You also get a glass of white and red Port for free; enjoy it on their terrace with amazing view of Ribeira. Croft is another cellar that offers free tours and wine samples too, they even have pink Port. In my opinion – Taylor’s has better tours and nicer venue, but Croft has nicer wine. I recommend trying both and making your own opinion.
3) Livraria Lello
The ultimate place for book lovers! Livraria Lello is a beautiful neo-gothic bookstore; it opened its doors in 1906. Lonely Planet classified Livraria Lello as the third best bookshop in the world.
4) Museums on Sunday morningThe entrance to all the museums is free every Sunday morning until 2 pm. Good chance to get some culture, right? Porto has many museums – Port wine museum, Tram museum, Photography museum…
I recommend visiting the Serralves Foundation of Contemporary Art. Not only has the museum interesting temporary exhibitions and amazing architecture, it also has a wonderful park! You can easily spend the whole day there. (Regular entrance fee is 5 euro, for students it is free all the time.)
5) Matosinhos beach and Foz do Douro promenadeTired of the city streets? Take the bus 500 from Sao Bento train station in the centre and get off at Praia de Matosinhos. It is a city beach, therefore it is probably not the nicest beach you have been to but still it is a great place to enjoy the sun and relax. Why don’t you take one of the affordable surfing classes?
Additional Tip: After you are finished with beaching, walk the promenade along the ocean as far as you can and then take the bus back to the centre.
6) The Crystal Palace Gardens
Porto has many nice parks and gardens but Jardim do Palacio de Cristal is my favourite. Flowers and peacocks everywhere! This is the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the river.
7) Piolho at nightDo not leave Porto without going out! Porto has a busy, super fun night life that you should not miss. Start your night at Piolho, a square next to the building of University of Porto. Piolho has many small bars with cheap drinks (beer and shots for 1 euro, caipirinhas for 3… try and stay sober!); it gets very crowded at night. Rua da Galeria de Paris with lots of clubs with different types of music is your ideal next stop. It is just steps away from Piolho and many clubs have no entrance fees.
Accommodation, Transportation & Must Eat
The Gallery Hostel is by far one of the best hostels in Europe: lovely breakfast, modern, super friendly staff. Beside the ubercool design the hostel also offers a free city tour regularly. Moreover I guess a Hostel which offers wine tasting and dinner is hard to find!
Get in & around
The airport of Porto (OPO) is directly connected to the metro which is very convenient and cheap. Same goes for the central station. The public transportation is quite modern but due to the size of the city walking is mostly not the worst option.
by plane – Porto offers numerous low-budget connections e.g. to Barcelona, Rome or London. The main carrier in Portugal is TAP. Check Skyscanner for the cheapest connections to Porto.
by train – There are regular connections to Madrid and Paris, the station Sao Bento is located directly in the center. Check RailEurope for connections.
The Francesinha is the dish to try when in Porto – even though it‘s like a heart attack (one of these sandwiches has more than 1000 calories) it has been considered as one of the 10 best sandwiches in the world!
Anything to add to 7 free things to do in Porto? More suggestions?
We love to hear them! Just share it below in the comment section – i will add the additional tips from time to time.[framed_box]
I'm a student from Bratislava, trying to travel as much as possible to find the right place for me in this world. I was very fortunate to get opportunities to study and live abroad; this experience left me very hungry for more globetrotting.
Visit Dominikas Blog for more!
I’ve just got back from Porto and I think the only place I didn’t make it to was the Crystal Palace Gardens. Looks beautiful so I’ll have to save it for next time.
I also loved walking up to the old monastery where there are incredible views over the city.
..another chance to do it in september, right? ;)
What a great place for a short break.
So excited! I will be doing all of this except for Sunday museums as I'll be up the Douro valley on Sunday this week. Great article. Love the bit about being scared of heights! Beautiful photo of Lello's. I know you're not allowed to take pictures inside there (unless you're very sneaky). Can't wait!
Wow, that bookshop looks incredible! I just booked a weekend to Porto for April so I've added that to my list!
Nice post <3.
It all looks awesome, I can’t wait to get there in less than a month. And guess what, I’ll be there Monday night :)
Palácio de Cristal doesn’t look anything like that picture. The crystal palace was demolished years ago. But the gardens are beautiful and there are often events on there.
Thx for pointing that out – I used the chance and changed the picture ;)
No problem! :)
Taylor’s tour and tasting now costs 7-12Euro; the book store charges 3Euro entrance but deducts that from the price of any book you buy.
Lello Bookstore is not free, it is 3€
The wine tours are not free either.