When deciding where to stay in Porto, your choice of neighbourhood will be guided in part by how you want to get around the city centre. I like being able to walk to the main sites and fortunately, Porto’s historical centre is compact enough to facilitate that.
If you’re not burdened by a car and want to be based centrally, the best areas to stay in Porto will be near the riverfront in Ribeira and around Avenida dos Aliados. As well as providing a brief description of these neighbourhoods, I’ve saved you the time and trouble of searching for accommodation options in each area.
My criteria for choosing the best hotels and apartments in Porto is their value for money, level of comfort and service, sense of style and charm. I’ve ignored modern chain hotels in favour of places with character or history.
Here are my suggestions for the best places to stay in Porto city centre as well as in Vila Nova de Gaia, on the opposite side of the Douro River.
What Ribeira has to offer as a Porto base
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. There are plenty of restaurants and bars along the waterfront and in the main square, although this could be a problem for light sleepers.
It’s 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 attractions in this part of Porto include the short river cruises, weekly craft fair, Casa do Infante Museum, the golden Gothic church of St. Francis and its catacombs and the Palácio da Bolsa Stock Exchange building.
Note: For more info on these and other Porto sights, see my self-guided Porto walking tour.
Best places to stay in Porto’s Ribeira district
The architecture and interior design of 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.
I remember seeing the 1872 River House building before it was renovated so am thrilled to see the excellent job they have done with this riverside boutique hotel. Exposed chunky stone and brickwork and some beautiful original features have been tastefully blended with modern touches.
Pestana Vintage Porto 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.
Ribeira do Porto Hotel is good 3-star option. Again, housed within a tall, historical building, some of the rooms are small so check measurements if this is important to you.
São Bento and Avenida dos Aliados
In terms of public transport, you couldn’t be much better placed. 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 get to the cathedral and the main shopping streets leading down to the river, such as Rua das Flores, or Avenida dos Aliados, the central avenue that leads up to the City Hall.
Where to stay around São Bento and Aliados
For 5-star luxury at the base of Avenida dos Aliados, InterContinental’s Palacio das Cardosas is your best option (I made an exception to my ‘no chain’ guidelines in this case). 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.
Vitoria Village is a renovated old house with 5 luxurious self-catering apartments around a central garden. There’s an onsite spa and the staff will treat you incredibly well. Sister property Flores Village offers rooms as well as apartments and spa.
As the name suggests, the Porto A.S. 1829 is in a 19th century building at the end of the revitalised Rua das Flores. There’s a swish restaurant beneath the comfortable, spacious rooms. Some of them have a bathtub in the room – a feature that always bemuses me but seems popular these days. In terms of location, it’s mid-way between Ribeira and Aliados.
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.
Why Batalha makes a good base in Porto
What was a rather run down area has changed dramatically in recent years, as has much of Porto. The city’s emblematic theatre, Teatro Nacional São João, is in Batalha, as are the main bus stations.
It’s close enough to Porto city centre to walk to the shopping street of Rua Santa Catarina and the beautiful Majestic Café via the attractive Igreja São Ildefonso. 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. 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.
Where to stay in Batalha, Porto
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.
NH Collection Batalha offers 4-star contemporary luxury in a recently renovated 18th century palace in the main square. The hotel also has an indoor pool and spa.
A reasonable budget option in this area is Loulé Estudios, a set of studio and larger apartments with basic cooking facilities.
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
Mercador Guesthouse is on Rua Miguel Bombarda itself and offers uniquely decorated rooms with air-conditioning. There’s a garden area at the back of the building. Check room sizes before booking as some are more spacious than others.
Rosa et al Townhouse is another cosy but beautifully stylish guesthouse that offers rooms and suites, some with garden views. Service is excellent as is the foodSearch for other Porto accommodation options on Booking.com
Why stay in 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
One of Porto’s most famous luxury hotels, The Yeatman, is over here. The wine theme runs throughout with barrel-framed beds and a decanter-shaped pool.Book your luxury stay at The Yeatman through Booking.com
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.
As the name suggests, Oporto River and Ribeira Views offers just that, plus three apartments of varying sizes, all bright, stylish and modern.Search for other Vila Nova de Gaia accommodation