City Orientation Walk (Self Guided), Porto

Porto, also known as Oporto, is one of the largest cities in Portugal. Although it has a long history, this city is very modern and highly developed. It is full of quaint streets, historic palaces, ancient cathedrals and architecturally stunning buildings. Take this orientation walk to discover the most popular attractions in Porto.
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City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: Portugal » Porto (See other walking tours in Porto)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 km
Author: ChristineS
1
Praça da Liberdade

1) Praça da Liberdade

Liberty Square is located in the very heart of Porto. Originated in the early 18th century, this square is dominated by the monument of King Peter IV, who was inaugurated here in the 19th century. The mounted statue of the King holds the Constitution which he had fought fiercely for during his life in the so-called Liberal Wars. Siding Praça da Liberdade are numerous cafes and shops, and the square itself is large enough for a pleasant stroll or a comfortable sit on one of the benches and having a carpe diem moment watching the crowds pass by.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Igreja dos Clérigos

2) Igreja dos Clérigos (must see)

Igreja dos Clérigos ("Church of the Clergymen") is a Baroque temple in Porto whose tall bell tower can be seen from various parts of the city and has long become its symbol. The church was built for the Brotherhood of the Clergy by Nicolau Nasoni, an Italian architect and painter who did extensive work in the north of Portugal in the 18th century. Construction began in 1732 and was finished around 1750. The main facade is heavily decorated with baroque motifs (garlands and shells) and was based on an early 17th-century Roman scheme. The altarpiece of the main chapel, made of polychromed marble, was executed by Manuel dos Santos Porto. The monumental, six-floor tower behind the church was built between 1754 and 1763 to the design inspired by Tuscan campaniles. Inside the tower, there are 240 steps leading to the very top from which opens a magnificent panorama of Porto.

Tip:
While the church is free to enter, you are better off getting the tower ticket if you can afford it as then you can walk around the 2nd floor and get a different view of the main part of the church.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-7pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Torre dos Clérigos

3) Torre dos Clérigos (must see)

Torre dos Clérigos – the bell tower of the Clérigos Church in Porto – is one of the most noticeable sights of the city from many different vantage points. When in Porto, make sure to grab the opportunity and climb to its top to take in an incredible view. The structure, one of the first Baroque constructions of the period, is clad in polychromatic marble. It was constructed in the 18th century by Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni, member of the Brotherhood of the Clergy, who also built the Archbishop’s Palace and the Misericórida Church and is buried in a crypt beneath the tower. Both the church and the tower are open to visitors all year round.

Tip:
Try to get there early, as there's rather little room to walk upstairs.
Bathrooms are on the 4th floor, along with a water vending machine.
It would be a shame not to take in the area, too – especially during dawn.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-7pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Igreja do Carmo

4) Igreja do Carmo (must see)

One of the oldest buildings in the historic part of Porto, Igreja do Carmo is actually a combination of two buildings: one dating from the 1600s and the other from the 1700s. Originally, it was built for the Carmelite order of the Roman Catholic Church and was used as a convent. The Baroque style structure features golden woodwork in the interior along with neoclassical tiles. It has a classic façade with a bell tower. The oldest of the two parts of the church – built with a single nave – has seven altars created by Francisco Pereira Campanhã. The exterior wall of the building is covered in tiles depicting the history of the Carmelite order. Connecting the right and the left side of the structure is a narrow building which measures only one meter in width and was meant originally to keep the monks separated from the nuns of the convent, thus preserving the nuns' chastity and helping the monks keep their vows of celibacy.

Why You Should Visit:
Stunning inside and out; a glorious example of Porto's traditional 'azulejos' (tiles), which are often blue and white and have been handpainted.
The organ is a piece of art and highly unusual, in that there are horizontal horns protruding from the pipe area.

Tip:
Be sure to visit the 1-meter wide house separating the two churches – one of the world's narrowest buildings.
5
Palácio da Bolsa

5) Palácio da Bolsa (must see)

Built in the 1800s, Palacio da Bolsa (the Stock Exchange Palace) is one of the key historic sights of Porto. It stands in Infante D. Henrique Square in the center of the city and shows Neoclassical design reminiscent of the English influence largely observed throughout the city.

Initially used as an international stock exchange, the palace shows resemblance to the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. Several architects lay claim to its design, including Joaquim da Costa Lima Junior, Gustavo Adolfo Gonçalves e Sousa, Tomás Augusto Soler, and Joel da Silva Pereira. The structure is dominated by a grand dome and boasts, among other features, tremendous staircases and a richly embellished interior. The latter includes paintings, sculptures, furniture and frescoes made by acclaimed artists such as Tomás Soler, António Soares dos Reis, António Teixeira Lopes and António Ramalho.

Why You Should Visit:
The guided tour takes you through many of the exquisitely decorated rooms of this amazing building. Some are a little over-the-top but they are really something to see, each decorated in a completely unique way.

Tip:
The Palácio is ONLY to be visited on a guided tour and you should make a reservation to do this. Upon arrival, there's a computerized screen telling you which tours in which languages are full.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-6:30pm (Apr-Oct); 9am–1pm / 2–5:30pm (Nov-Mar)
The guided tour lasts approx. 45 minutes and the language is marked according to the order of arrival. Languages: Portuguese, Spanish, French, English
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Estatua do Infante D. Henrique

6) Estatua do Infante D. Henrique

The Estatua do Infante D. Henrique, or the statue of Prince Henry the Navigator, was first installed in Porto in 1894. The creation of sculptor Tomás Costa, it celebrates the life of this 14th century prince who is famous for his many maritime discoveries. The prince was the fifth son of King John I who was the founder of the Dynasty of Avis. Born in 1394, Prince Henry was a master seaman whose expeditions and military exploits are famous. He was credited with securing significant trade routes for Portugal, making the country the world's major economic power of the time. It was under the leadership of Prince Henry that Portugal sent expeditions around the Ivory Coast of Africa, which gave Portugal access to the vast riches of Africa, including gold. He was rewarded for his discoveries with many titles, including appointment as the leader of the Order of Christ. The monument is located near the Ribeira section of Porto. It has a very tall pedestal with the sculpture of the Prince who is turned toward the ocean and points authoritatively, as if giving orders to his men. The pedestal has relief sculptures encrusted thereupon, depicting scenes from the life of Prince Henry.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Igreja de São Francisco‎

7) Igreja de São Francisco‎ (must see)

Located in a historic part of Porto at Rua Infante Dom Henrique, Igreja de São Francisco (or St. Francis Church) is a mixture of Rococo and Late Baroque styles, featuring elaborate columns with garlands of roses, animals, and cherubs. Built in the 14th century by the Franciscan order, the church was originally created for the local merchants. In the 16th century, it was redesigned to the tastes of the more affluent class and included the addition of the Chapel of St. John the Baptist. Throughout the 18th century, the interior of the church underwent further changes and saw gilt woodwork added to mirror the Baroque style. The façade features a large Gothic rose window, and the naves with three aisles make up the main portion of the interior with three chapels on the east side, along with a large granite statue of St. Francis of Assisi.

Why You Should Visit:
If you like seeing countless hours of opulent, very ornate wood carving covered in gold leaf, then this is the place for you.

Tip:
Don't miss the little museum and the catacombs that are included in the ticket price.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am–5:30pm (Nov-Feb); 9am-7pm (Mar-Oct); 9am-8pm (Jul-Sep)
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Casa do Infante

8) Casa do Infante (must see)

Built in the 1300s, Casa do Infante – also known as Alfandega Velha or the Old Customs House – is a beautiful mansion located on Porto's periphery. Believed to be the first home of Prince Henry the Navigator, it has originally served as the residence of the royal family and, later, as a customs house due to its proximity to the river Douro. Prince Henry the Navigator, the fifth son of King John I, is famous for the many discoveries he made while at sea, including the opening of many trade routes which made Portugal a world power of his day, back in the 1400s. Presently, it serves as the municipal archives and museum. The latter comprises three levels with exhibits on each floor.

Over the years, the building has been remodeled many times to fit the needs of new inhabitants, which in turn makes it an interesting mixture of architectural styles. More recently, it has been the focus of archaeological research which has revealed Roman foundations along with the incredible mosaics currently displayed at the museum, which features interactive displays in both Portuguese and English.

Why You Should Visit:
Compact but informative museum; gives a good insight to the building itself, which was used as a Customs House and coin mint, and also the growth and development of the city of Porto from Roman times onwards. A lot of the exhibits seem very new, with some audiovisual and interactive displays. Entry fee is very reasonable!

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am–1pm / 2–5:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Cais da Ribeira

9) Cais da Ribeira (must see)

The alluring district of Ribeira – the focal point of historic Porto – is made up of medieval streets and seedy alleyways. It is crumbling yet fascinating a place which culminates in a bustling riverfront square, Praça da Ribeira. The 14th-century wall and its four gates flank the Cais da Ribeira; behind it, there are steep narrow streets which make up the Barredo district.

Since 1996, all of historic Porto is considered a World Heritage Site, and although there are some parts that are pretty grimy, the Ribeira remains within the acceptable bounds of cleanliness. An evening stroll by the Ribeira is a must for the lively nightlife in the area.

Tip:
Avoid eating at the restaurants on the riverside. They charge extra for the view and don't serve the best quality food... so choose wisely.
10
Ponte de Dom Luís I

10) Ponte de Dom Luís I (must see)

The Luís I Bridge, locally known as Ponte Dom Luís, is one of the key sights of the historic part of Porto, dominating the riverfront view. It was built in 1886 in honor and during the reign of King Luís I, known for his vernacular poetry and love of the sea. The arched bridge rises 172 meters above the Duoro River linking the city of Porto to the neighboring Vila Nova de Gaia.

The whole structure is made entirely of wrought iron and was designed by architect Téophile Seyrig, a protege of the famous Gustav Eiffel. The structure stands 385 meters long and weighs over 3,000 tons. Structurally, this is a two-hinged bridge with a double deck designed to serve various types of traffic: pedestrian, motor, trolley, and railroad. Climbing it to the very top will have you thrilled by the astounding views of the city and the river down below. Crossing it to the other side, you'll be welcomed by a bunch of picturesque cafes luring to sit and savor the surrounding atmosphere.

Why You Should Visit:
It's an easy walk on the lower level (or the upper one if heights are your thing) from Porto to Gaia.
You should do it at least once, as both sides are fun and a photographer's paradise (especially during sunset).

Tip:
Check out the markets by the water, too, but make sure you take cash.
Try not to get run over by the Metro D line on the upper level as that would probably spoil the fun.
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
Sé Catedral do Porto

11) Sé Catedral do Porto (must see)

The Porto Cathedral is a 12th century temple in the center of Porto, renowned for having the much revered Prince Henry the Navigator baptized here back in the 14th century. Originally Gothic, the building underwent numerous reconstructions over the centuries, resulting in a combination of styles – Romanesque, Baroque, Neoclassical, – which may represent a certain interest to architecture and history buffs. In fact, the Romanesque rose window is the only part of the original building that has survived. The nearby cloisters are clad in vivid blue and white tiles and also feature a magnificent alter, made of pure silver, and red marble holy-water fonts. Flanked by two square towers, which make it look like a fortress, and topped by a dome, the cathedral itself is rather drab and unadorned, as compared to other structures of that period, except perhaps for the Baroque loggia added by architect Nicolau Nasoni in the 18th century. Visitors might be interested in examining the flying buttresses – the first example of such architecture in the city.

Why You Should Visit:
You wouldn't want to miss the city's oldest and most visited monument! The square also offers impressive views over the city, the Douro River and the wine cellars on the waterfront.

Tip:
While admission to the Sé Cathedral is free, there's a small fee to get into the Sacred Art Museum and the magnificent Gothic cloisters attached to the church.
If you're feeling fit you can also climb the tower (steps are steep and numerous!) for amazing views, including at the bits of the Sé you can't see from further down.

Opening Hours:
[Cathedral] Mon-Sat: 9am-7pm; Sun & holydays: 9am-12:30pm / 2:30-7pm (Apr-Oct); Mon-Sat: 9am-6pm; Sun & holydays: 9am-12:30pm/ 2:30-6pm (Nov-Mar)
[Cloisters] Mon-Sat: 9am-6:30pm; Sun & holydays 2:30-6:30pm (Apr-Oct); Mon-Sat: 9am-5:30pm; Sun & holydays: 2:30-5:30pm (Nov-Mar)
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Porto, Portugal

Create Your Own Walk in Porto

Create Your Own Walk in Porto

Creating your own self-guided walk in Porto is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Tour of Porto's Places of Worship

Tour of Porto's Places of Worship

Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe, and is home to a number of historic worship sites. The Catholic religion has deep roots in this country, which is why you will see many chapels, churches and monasteries. Whatever your religion may be, you will not be disappointed by your visit to some of Porto's most beautiful places of worship.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 km
Tour of Porto's Specialty Shops

Tour of Porto's Specialty Shops

Porto is home to some amazing stores that sell a variety of unique products. You can find everything from books and perfumes to porcelain and traditional handicrafts. Buy a souvenir for yourself or get some memorable gifts for your friends and family back home. Porto is also a great place to find fashionable clothing and accessories. If you are looking for clothes by local designers, you should...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 km
Tour of Porto's Landmarks

Tour of Porto's Landmarks

Porto is home to a wide variety of landmarks, which the city has acquired over a long period of time. Today the city works hard to preserve these landmarks and keep them looking as they did when they were originally built. Take this tour to visit the most famous sites in Porto.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.2 km
Tour of Porto's Museums

Tour of Porto's Museums

One of the best ways to learn about the history and culture of Portugal is to visit the museums in one of its largest cities, Porto. See a variety of exhibits that teach about everything from transportation and history to wine and geology. Take this tour to visit the most interesting museums in Porto.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 km