Deciding where to stay in Porto is easier with a little insight into the key areas. Porto’s historical centre is compact enough to facilitate walking between most major sights as long as you’re based in a central neighbourhood. If you opt for accommodation away from the city centre, you’ll need to factor public transport journeys into your itinerary.
The best areas to stay in Porto for sightseeing are near the riverfront in Ribeira and the streets around Avenida dos Aliados but I’ve included some alternatives in this guide. As well as providing a brief overview of the best neighbourhoods, I’ve made suggestions for Porto accommodation options in each area to save you the time and trouble of searching.
There are several gorgeous boutique hotels and guesthouses in Porto and an ever-increasing number of apartments. My criteria for selecting accommodation in Porto are: value for money, levels of comfort and service, sense of style and charm.
Read on for my suggestions for the best locations to stay in Porto city centre as well as in Vila Nova de Gaia, which is on the opposite side of the Douro River.
Area overview: Ribeira as a base in Porto
One of the liveliest and most attractive places to stay in Porto is the riverside Ribeira district, dominated by the iron Dom Luís I bridge and rows of colourful houses above the sturdy medieval walls. There are plenty of restaurants and bars along the waterfront and in the main square, although this could be a problem for light sleepers.
Ribeira is a great place to simply sit at a café with a glass of port tonic and watch the boats come and go or stroll along the water’s edge.
Other Porto attractions in this area include the 6 Bridges Douro river cruises, a weekly craft fair, Casa do Infante Museum, the golden Gothic church of St. Francis and the Palácio da Bolsa Stock Exchange building.
Ribeira district, Porto
Where to stay in Porto: Accommodation in Ribeira
Pestana Vintage Porto 5-star hotel is in prime position overlooking the river and the square from its 16th century building. Try to get a room with a river view and check room sizes before booking as some can be a bit small. Find a room with a view.
The architecture and interior design of the 4-star Descobertas Boutique Hotel Porto are impressive to say the least. Located on the back street that runs parallel to the river, this may be quieter in the evenings than hotels near the main square. Check availability and prices.
Another 4-star option that’s on the banks of the river but set apart from the hubbub is Eurostars Douro. Tasteful decor with character, comfortable rooms and excellent service make for a very pleasant stay, especially if you get a river view. Check availability and prices
For a boutique guesthouse situated right in front of the river, 1872 River House is fabulous. There are eight rooms to choose from either facing the river or the city. The decor is thoughtfully done from the lovely stone walls to the tasteful reclaimed furniture. Which room would you choose?
With a stunning view over the river Douro, Mo House combines bohemian style with luxury comfort. Rooms are bright and spacious and a fabulous breakfast is served daily. There is a relaxing outside patio area, and an elevator. Check for availability.
Area overview: São Bento and Avenida dos Aliados
In terms of public transport, you couldn’t be much better placed in this area. The most central and most famous train station in Porto is São Bento. Even if you’re not using it to go anywhere, you should pop in to see the stunning azulejo panels that decorate this historical building.
From São Bento, it’s easy to walk to the cathedral and the main shopping streets leading down to the river, such as the trendy Rua das Flores, or Avenida dos Aliados, the central avenue that leads up to the City Hall.
Best places to stay in Porto around São Bento and Aliados
For a 5-star luxury hotel in Porto city centre, InterContinental’s Palacio das Cardosas is your best option. Not only is the location ideal for exploring Porto on foot, the 18th century palace-turned-hotel is gorgeous, especially if you appreciate inlaid marble floors and the convenience of an onsite spa and restaurant. Check prices and availability.
Another 5- star option is the friendly Maison Albar Hotels Le Monumental Palace located in a renovated historic building. You can relax in the indoor swimming pool and be pampered in the Spa & Wellness Centre. Check prices and availability.
The Pestana Porto – A Brasileira is among the newest 5-star hotels in Porto. Built in the historic A Brasileira Café, the decor is inspired by the role of spices and other products imported during the Portuguese maritime expansion of the 15th and 16th centuries. Try to get a room overlooking the city rooftops. Take a look at the photos.
Flores Village is a highly sought after luxury complex of rooms and self-catering apartments within a beautifully restored 18th century historical building. A blend of contemporary and historical features adds to the charm and the onsite wellness centre with hammam and indoor pool will soothe away the strains of a full day’s sightseeing or long journey. Grab a room in the main building if you can.
As the name suggests, the 4-star Porto A.S. 1829 is in a 19th century building at the end of the revitalised Rua das Flores, mid-way between Ribeira and Aliados. There’s a swish restaurant beneath the comfortable, spacious rooms. Choose a room and check prices.
B The Guest is a 10-bedroomed boutique guest house near Bolhão market (and metro station) where you’ll be made to feel exceptionally welcome. There’s no elevator so be prepared to climb some stairs. Otherwise, it’s hard to find fault. Check availability for your stay.
If you are looking for a self catering apartment then Bolhão Nobre fits the bill. The rooms provide all you will need for a stay and hosts really go out of their way to help. It is situated on the 3rd floor of a 19th century Art Noveau building with no elevator. Take a look at the photos.
BO Almada 346 offers a selection of clean, modern and bright self-catering accommodation in air-conditioned lofts and studios with a balcony. The location is great and the host friendly and helpful. Choose a room and check prices.
Area overview: Batalha, Porto
What used to be a rather run down area has changed dramatically in recent years. The city’s emblematic theatre, Teatro Nacional São João, is in Batalha, as are the main bus stations. The main church (and other name) for this neighbourhood is the beautifully tiled Santo Ildefonso.
It’s close enough to Porto city centre to walk to the shopping street of Rua Santa Catarina and the beautiful Majestic Café. The Coliseu do Porto hosts international concerts and there are plenty of restaurants nearby.
You can walk to places like Clérigos on the other side of Aliados (I do) but it would be less tiring to take the tram or a taxi.
Tip: If you’re coming to Batalha from the Ribeira area, take the Guindais funicular up the hill to save your legs and enjoy the view.
Best places to stay in Porto’s Batalha district
On the road between the funicular stop and the cathedral, Design Palácio Flats offer bright, spacious and modern self-catering accommodation in a 13th century building with great views and access to a garden. Check prices and availability.
Cocorico Luxury Guest House is a gorgeous collection of unique rooms, many of which have original stucco ceilings and touches of old world glamour mixed with modern comforts. Fall in love with the photos
A little further away from the centre but worth a mention because it’s a delightful and affordable place to stay is Duke’s Corner Guesthouse. It’s in a typical traditional townhouse with the added bonus of a garden and terrace. See photos and prices.
Area overview: Porto’s Arts District and around Clérigos
Rua Miguel Bombarda and the surrounding streets have been given a new lease of life in recent years as the city’s arts district. You’ll find concept stores, designers, vintage shops, independent art galleries and cute cafés and bars around here.
Clérigos Tower, to the west of Avenida dos Aliados, is a Porto icon and one of the places to go for the best views of the city.
It’s also where the nightlife district spreads away from and is home to the Photography Museum, the famously beautiful Lello bookstore, the university and Natural History Museum and my favourite sculptures in the Jardim das Cordoaria.
Great guesthouses in Clérigos and the Arts District
Oporto Serviced Apartments – 1858 offer very comfortable, spacious apartments with their own catering facilities (or you could try the onsite bbgourmet restaurant when you feel like a change). If you are using a car whilst in Porto onsite parking is provided for an extra fee. Take a look at the photos.
Casa do Conto & Tipografia are two properties located close together in renovated 19th-century bourgeois buildings. Rooms come with a balcony and city views and the spacious, concrete suites are furnished with designer items and period furniture. There is also a lovely garden with fruit trees and a lounge to while away any free moments. Check availability and prices.
A beautiful guesthouse located in an old iron warehouse, Armazém Luxury Housing- Architectural & Design Hotel offers a range of fully equipped rooms and a lovely terrace that overlooks the city. The decor of stone and wood works well throughout and there are lovely communal areas to relax in. Check out the photos.
Pensão Favorita is on Rua Miguel Bombarda itself and offers spacious rooms with seating areas. There’s a garden area at the back of the building and some rooms have a little terrace. Choose a room and check prices.
For cosy, well run apartments with simple cooking facilities near Clérigos, try Liiiving in Porto Historic Clérigos Studios. I love the door headboards! Some rooms have private balconies so grab one if you can.
Area overview: Vila Nova de Gaia instead of Porto?
The other side of the Douro River is not Porto, it’s Vila Nova de Gaia, home to the port wine cellars. Staying here offers, among other things:
- easy access to the wine
- a pleasant riverside promenade
- fabulous views of Porto
- access to the smaller river cruise ships
- Serra do Pilar Monastery
And, as you head out towards the ocean:
- nature reserve and nudist beach
- traditional fishing village
- boat maker’s yard
See more in this post.
Best accommodation options in Vila Nova de Gaia
On the more affordable side of the accommodation scale, Reis de Gaia offer a range of apartments for those with strong legs (up to 4 flights of stairs and no elevator). Your reward is views, excellent service and a terrace. Check availability and prices.
The gorgeous 296 Heritage Apartments has a modern yet classy-minimal look with granite walls and offers a range of rooms to make your stay in Vila Nova de Gaia special. The views are stunning and the rooms are super comfy with a very good continental breakfast delivered each morning. Check out the rooms and availability.
The Bridge It – Suites & Views has a fantastic location and offers great views of the river and bridge. The rooms are bright, clean and modern and the hosts go out of their way to help. There is a nice terrace, a shared lounge and a bar for that refreshing drink after a long, hot day. Choose a room and check prices.See all my Portugal accommodation guides
Porto guide books
Aside from my self-guided walking tour of Porto, if you’re spending a long time in the city, you may find a dedicated Porto guidebook useful, and perhaps a city map. You can pick up free paper maps from the airport and tourist information offices but they won’t cover the outlying areas.
Click on any of these to get more details from Amazon:
Choose between the Lonely Planet Pocket Porto Travel Guide andPocket Rough Guide Porto for a city-specific guide book.
If you want something more robust than the free city maps, try thisPorto map
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