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When you think about Portugal, what comes to your mind? Delicious port wine, colorful houses, blue skies, and yummy egg tarts? Here’s something you probably didn’t know yet: You can get all that in Portugal’s beautiful city Porto. And the best part of it: there’s so much for free in this charming place. Besides, there are many more amazing free things to do in Porto just waiting to be explored. So what are you waiting for? Let’s dig right into it.
Here are all of the best free things to do in Porto, Portugal!
Walk across the bridge Dom Luís I
During your time in Porto, taking a walk across the scenic bridge that connects Porto’s center to Vila Nova de Gaia is a must. That’s why it deserves to lead the list of free things to do in Porto. You can cross it on foot, by tram and even by car.
And while it may cost you quite an effort if you’re scared of heights, the view is so worth it! Standing up there with a view of the river, Porto’s hilly neighborhoods, and the other bridges is spectacular.
Also, if you want to catch the best sunset view all over Porto, then head to Ponte Dom Luís I.
Actually, the bridge has a famous relative: The Eiffel Tower in Paris. When you look at it, the resemblance between the two massive metal monuments can’t be overseen. That’s because Ponte Dom Luís I is the result of one of Eiffel’s students‘ designs.
Enjoy the riverfront views from Vila Nova de Gaia and Mirador do Serra do Pilar
Only the majestic Duoro river separates the colorful historic center of Porto from the neighboring municipality Vila Nova de Gaia. Both municipalities have grown together, so they seem like one large city and you can easily walk from one to the other. Just officially, they are separate.
From Vila Nova de Gaia you can get the best view of Porto’s colorful riverfront with its lively cafes, street musicians, and old wooden boats. So it’s also among the best spots to get a great photo of Porto.
Just look for a nice spot along the river where you can sit down on the grass, enjoy the sun on your skin and watch the hustle and bustle along the river.
Besides, a great viewpoint over there is Mirador do Serra do Pilar.
Watch how Pastel De Nata is made
Whenever you walk past a bakery in Porto, the smell of buttery pastry will sneak into your nose. If that already makes your mouth water, wait until you try them!
Pasteis De Nata is the typical breakfast egg tart that you can get all over Portugal. They’re like a small puff pastry tart with a creamy filling, baked in the oven until their tops sizzle. And to be honest, you can snack on them any time of the day!
And the best part of it: In many bakeries and pastry shops, you can even watch Portuguese specialists preparing the tarts. Some even have a huge glass front, so you can even watch from the outside.
It’s quite a special experience to see how the dough of a signature dish is prepared, how they’re filled and eventually sizzle in the oven. I guess I don’t have to say that besides watching you definitely have to try them.
Join a free walking tour
Whenever you’re in a foreign city you should take a walking tour. It’s simply the best way to explore the city on foot, to get the best tips from locals, and to learn about the city‘s history. You come across places and hidden corners that you may not find yourself.
In case you don’t know the concept of a free walking tour, here’s how it works: You can book a spot for free, take the tour and afterward only pay the amount you think the tour was worth.
In Porto, you can find several tour operators offering free walking tours, so check out the reviews and select the one you like the most. So definitely one of the best free things to do in Porto!
Take a look at Sao Bento train station
While there are quite a few impressive train stations in Europe, Porto’s Sao Bento is definitely among the prettiest. Thousands of typical blue-white Portuguese Azulejos (painted tiles) cover the walls of the beautiful entrance hall. This wall art tells a story about important moments in the history of Portugal.
In order to see it, you only have to enter the entrance hall, so you don’t have to buy a ticket. That makes it one of the best free things to do in Porto. Try to avoid peak times in the mornings and the late afternoons, so you can actually view the tiles and not just people rushing in and out of the train station.
Enjoy a free port wine cellar tour
What would be a trip to Porto without Port wine? Locals love drinking this famous dessert wine that shares the name of the city. So do visitors. That’s why many port wine producers offer port wine tastings and wine cellar tours. But you probably didn’t expect a port wine tour among the best free things to do in Porto, right?
It sounds unbelievable, but there are actually a few port wine cellars that you can visit for free. An example is Taylor’s Port as well as Croft Port Wine in Villa Nova de Gaia. So you don’t have to book an expensive tour. Just walk along the riverfront and pick the free tour that sounds the best to you.
Visit some museums on Sunday morning
In case you’re in Porto on a Sunday, don’t miss a visit to one of the city’s museums. While some of them are quite pricey on weekdays, you can visit all national museums for free on Sunday mornings.
You can make use of this great offer every Sunday morning until 2 p.m. And there’s a wonderful variety of museums participating, such as the Soares dos Reis National Museum, the Tram Museum, and the Photography Museum.
So keep your Sunday morning reserved for some culture before moving on to some more free things to do in Porto. If your Sunday morning is already fully planned, don’t worry. The Port Wine Museum and the Casa do Infante are free all weekend.
Spend a day by the sea
While you’re never really far from the sea anywhere in Portugal, in Porto you’re very close. You can enter the beach for free, and there are many ways how you can reach it. You can either take a long walk or bike along the river Duoro until it reaches the ocean, or you can take the historic tram or a bus, which is still very affordable.
Enjoy the breeze of the Atlantic Ocean dancing around your nose and feel the freedom of being on holiday! During summer, don’t miss bringing a towel and jumping into the water. Portuguese summers can get really hot, so refreshing yourself by the beach sounds just right, doesn’t it?
If you’re curious about riding the historic tram to the sea, check out this post with tips on a long weekend in Porto.
Relax in Porto’s parks
Is there anything better than a walk through a lush, green park to take a break from the city? Especially on warm, sunny days (of which you can get plenty in Portugal), you should check out one of the parks.
Palácio de Cristal is especially beautiful with its colorful flowers, landscaped gardens, and fountains. It also offers great sunset views. Besides, Parque da Cidade do Porto which is close to the sea, and Parque Urbano da Pasteleira, which is closer to the city center are two great parks to escape the city and relax.
Climb up the iconic stairs in Ribeira
Even though Porto is close to the sea, the city is hilly. So whenever you’re strolling around, there are always some hills to walk up or some stairs to climb. Among the nicest paths is the Barredo stairs that connect the Ribeira area and the upper part of Porto’s center.
When you take a walk here, you’re right in one of Porto’s oldest neighborhoods. So there’s a lot to see if you take a look around. And it’s also a very authentic area where you can get an idea of how Porto’s old inhabitants live.
Always look out for the colorful Azulejo tiles decorating the pretty houses. They make up such a beautiful picture motive.
Visit the viewpoints in Duoro Valley
A true highlight when you‘re in Porto is a visit to the Duoro Valley, where the famous Port wine grows. It’s a very beautiful area and landscape, as the river Duoro curls right through the valley. So it’s definitely worth a day trip if you’ve got the time.
You need a car to get there, but there are so many viewpoints that you can visit for free that offers a spectacular view across the growing grapes, the river Duoro and some of the vineyards. Already the ride along the riverbank surrounded by vineyards is very picturesque. So don’t miss it!
If you enjoyed these free things to do in Porto and want to get to know more highlights during a long weekend in Porto, visit https://jillonjourney.com/porto for more juicy insights about this beautiful gem in Portugal’s north.
Meet the Guest Author: Jill
This post was written by Jill, the author behind Jill on journey, where she writes on sustainable travel, shares inspiration on travel destinations, and provides tips on how to travel more eco-friendly. Having traveled to more than 50 countries, she has a rich experience of different cultures all over the world. Her mission is to inspire other travelers to see the beauty of this world, so they learn the importance of protecting it.