With its prime position on the mouth of the river Douro and its huddle of colourful buildings, Porto is extremely photogenic. Here are my tips for where to find the best views in Porto so you can go home with enviable holiday snaps.
Note that my flexible self-guided walking tour of Porto sights and highlights encompasses many of these viewing spots.
Climb Clérigos Tower for 360º views of Porto
You can see the 76-metre tower of the Clérigos church from many places in the city. Once you’ve admired the outside, go inside and pay the small fee to climb the 240 steps to the top of the 18th century baroque tower.
From here, you get a 360° view of Porto which is well worth the effort. You can avoid queues by buying your ticket online. Even so, it’s best to go earlier in the day to avoid crowds.Get my tips for where to stay in Porto Choose a boutique hotel or cute guesthouse in Porto Take a look at some wonderful holiday apartments in Porto
Porto Cathedral square for views of medieval Porto
Not far from the beautifully decorated São Bento train station you’ll find the Sé (Porto Cathedral). Even if you don’t visit the cathedral, be sure to take a look over the walls that line its square.
From one side, you’ll be able to see the crumbling houses of Porto’s ancient Ribeira district and the aforementioned Clérigos Tower in the distance.
Look down onto the street and you might catch the local women playing cards.
From the main wall, opposite the pillory, the view gets even better. The streets spread downhill past the impressive facade and bell towers of Igreja de São Lourenço.
It’s worth going down to the viewpoint on the level below for a closer look at the church and the glass rooftops of the Palácio da Bolsa.
This small park is a welcome respite from walking uphill from the narrow Ribeira streets.
It’s understandably popular with tourists but locals have been coming here for a stroll with a view since the 19th century.
If you can’t see it on your map, aim for the bottom end of Rua Azevedo de Alberquerque.
River views from Dom Luís I Bridge
You can cross this famous bridge on two levels but you’ll get the best views of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia from the top.
If you’re coming at it from São Bento station, just keep walking with the cathedral on your right. The metro line goes along this level of the bridge so watch out for trains when you’re taking photos.
To your right, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the Ribeira, a view towards the ocean and across the river to the port wine lodges of Vila Nova de Gaia.
Serra do Pilar Monastery
The circular building you can see above the iron bridge has a fascinating story and offers amazing views of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia from the exterior terrace and even better ones from the cupola. Read about it in this post.
Jardim do Morro
Once you’ve crossed the top of Dom Luís I bridge, just walk a little further up to the Jardim do Morro for spectacular views over the river and city before heading down to the river front again.
After you’ve had your fill of port-tasting, you can wobble back over the lower level of the bridge to Porto.
Arrábida bridge climb
The bridge you can see in the distance in the above photograph is Arrábida bridge. If you’re reasonably fit and have a good head for heights, it’s now possible to climb the arch for a different perspective of Porto.
Funicular dos Guindais
A great way to save your legs from having to walk back up to the city centre from the Ribeira riverside is the funicular, which is just behind the lower level of the Dom Luís I bridge.
From here you’ll get great views of the bridge itself and across the Douro River.
Jardins do Palácio Cristal
As well as being one of the city’s most attractive gardens, the views of Porto, the Douro River and Vila Nova de Gaia from the various terraces of Jardins do Palácio Cristal are well worth a visit.
Don’t forget your camera!
Most of these sights are included as part of my 1-2 Day Flexible Self-Guided Porto Walking Tour.
Alternatively, you can go on one of these Porto tours. Click on an image for more information and availability:
If you’re planning to use public transport in Porto or visit several attractions, it might be worth getting a Porto Card to save money. Check out the 1, 2, 3 and 4-day options here.
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