This Northern Portuguese city made its name (quite literally) through its famous dessert port wines, hence Porto. Any wine enthusiast will have a marvelous time in Porto, enjoying Portugal’s underrated wines.
That said, this charming, small city is well worth visiting, even if you don’t drink a sip.
Wander around the medieval streets surrounded by neo-classical and modernist architecture, and stroll alongside the riverside promenades while sampling Portuguese food and drink.
Eat traditional Portuguese food at a local restaurant and catch a fado show. Browse through various art shops and fashion boutique stores, then stop to grab a cup of coffee at one of the many quaint shops.
Lose yourself in the history of his port town. And yes, go wine tasting too.
With so much to do in Porto among its distinct neighborhoods, you’ll want to base yourself in the perfect area for your travels.
Our guide will cover where to stay in Porto based on every travel budget and interest.
Table of Contents
- Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Porto
- Where to Stay in Porto
- Porto Neighborhood Guide
- 5 Best Areas to Stay in Porto
- 1. Baixa (Centro) Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Porto for the First Time
- 2. Boavista Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Porto on a Budget
- 3. Ribeira – Where to Stay in Porto for Nightlife and Charm
- 4. Cedofeita Neighborhood – Coolest Place to Stay in Porto
- 5. Vila Nova de Gaia Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Porto for Families
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Porto
- Where to stay in Porto for the first time – Baixa
- Where to stay in Porto on a budget – Boavista
- Best area to stay in Porto for nightlife – Ribeira
- Coolest place to stay in Porto – Cedofeita
- Best neighborhood in Porto for families – Vila Nova de Gaia
- Visit the most beautiful bookshop in the world, Livraria Lello.
- Snap 100 photos of ceramic tiles of the stunning São Bento railway station
- Stroll through the impossibly beautiful Palácio de Cristal gardens
Looking for a specific place to stay? Here are our top picks for places to stay in Porto.
Best Hostel in Porto: Nice Way Porto Hostel
Cool and chic, this hostel’s stylish design isn’t all it has going for it. Its location, in the middle of downtown and close to transport, along with comfortable beds, welcoming staff, clean kitchen, and bathrooms, and a fun social atmosphere makes Nice Way the best hostel in Porto.
Best Hotel in Porto: Pao de Acucar Hotel
Fun and quirky decor mixed with endlessly helpful staff make this hotel a fantastic place to stay in the center of Porto.
Surrounded by restaurants and tavernas, the location is superb. Plus, you’ll be near metro and bus stops to explore the rest of the city. Rooms are big and clean, tasty breakfast included.
Best Airbnb in Porto: Cosy Studio Apartment
The ideal spot for exploring what Porto has to offer, this bright and modern apartment is situated in a building in the heart of the city’s historical center.
Many of Porto’s top tourist attractions are within easy walking distance, and you’ll be close to vibrant restaurants and bars. The studio has its own kitchen so you can enjoy breakfast with views of the city skyline.
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Porto
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Vila Nova de Gaia
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Porto is Portugal’s second largest city, packed full with riverside promenades, medieval streets, neo-classical buildings, modernist structures, and of course, the famous Porto wine. Overlooking the Douro River, Porto is a hilly city that dates back to the 4th century AD. Porto developed as a port city under Roman rule, falling to the Moorish invader, and then won back by Christians in the 9th century.
It’s safe to say Porto has a chequered history, and it became world-renowned as a port during the medieval period.
With this long history, the districts of Porto are diverse and choc-a-block with a variety of architectural styles as well as different local scenes and atmospheres. So where to stay in Porto?
Beginning in the cultural heart of the city we have Baixa do Porto or its downtown district, an area known for its hipster cafes, cool hang-outs and decadent baroque façades. A lot of your Porto itinerary will probably focus on this area.
Here is where you’ll find infamous landmarks like the stunningly gothic library Livraria Lello, perhaps one of the most famous bookshops in the world, and the area around Avenida dos Aliados.
Slightly to the northwest of Baixa, there’s the jumbled up district of Boavista. Exploring this area is like a trip in a time machine: ancient buildings give way to modernist museums, and baroque edifices follow art nouveau structures. It’s home to the city’s largest park – Parque de Cidade – as well as the biggest synagogue on the Iberian peninsula, Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue.
Ribeira is Porto’s riverside district, just west of Baixa. Traditionally an industrial part of town, but now possibly the most picturesque, this beautiful and historic part of the city can be viewed in all its glory by crossing the astounding D. Luiz Bridge.
And to the north is Cedofeita, which is an up-and-coming area frequented by students; it’s full of vintage stores, earthy eateries, bars, and nightclubs galore.
And finally, there’s Vila Nova de Gaia. This area of town lies on the south side of the Douro River and came into being at a similar time to Porto proper over a thousand years ago. It’s famous for the cellars used for storing world renowned Porto wine, now major tourist attractions.
Porto is a vibrant place, full of history and culture, but where in this gem of a city should you be staying? We’re diving into more detail to help you answer that question.
5 Best Areas to Stay in Porto
Possibly the most interesting way to see the city is by foot, properly getting into the various areas of town and getting lost down winding backstreets.
Whilst Porto easily walkable, for a quicker way to get around town you can try out its trolleybuses and trams, or its slick metro system with six lines and a whole host of stops.
With public transportation, you can be in Vila Nova de Gaia one minute and in Baixa the next. Porto is a well-connected city, but since each district has its own feel, basing yourself somewhere that will suit you (and your budget) is best.
So are you going for an up-and-coming area, or somewhere dripping in old world charm? No matter which, we’ve got you covered below.
Baixa is Porto’s bustling downtown. Centred around the grandiose Avenida dos Aliados, here is the commercial and banking heart of the city; there’s the busy shopping street of Rua de Santa Catarina, the traditional market of Bolhão, the famously beautiful São Bento train station, and other important monuments such as the Clérigos Church.
Whilst famous for grand monuments, however, Baixa is also all about its labyrinthine side-streets, terrace cafes, getting lost in narrow lanes that open onto small squares of activity and local life. As such there are famous cafes to visit and interesting sights dotted everywhere.
Things to See and Do in Baixa
– Marvel at the baroque bell tower of Torre dos Clérigos – an icon of Porto – and climb its 240 steps.
– Visit the most beautiful bookshop in the world, Livraria Lello.
– Browse the fresh produce on sale at the traditional market, Mercado do Bolhão.
– Snap 100 photos of ceramic tiles of the stunning São Bento railway station.
– Saunter down the picturesque Rua das Flores and stop for a coffee to watch local life unfold.
– Eat a pastel de nata (egg custard tart) at the impossibly beautiful Majestic Café – a Belle Epoque-era building complete with ornate glass and wood carving.
– Go for an evening drink and dance at one of the bars on Galeria de Paris or Cândido dos Reis.
– Visit the Teatro Nacional São João and take a guided tour of this splendid space. You can even go backstage!
– Stroll through the impossibly beautiful Palácio de Cristal gardens.
– Hang out in the Quarteirão das Artes and check out its art shops and fashion boutiques.
– Go to ‘the most beautiful McDonald’s in the world’ – housed in a beautiful art nouveau building, formerly called Imperial Café.
Best Hostel in Baixa: Porto Downtown Hostel
Quiet, comfortable, and clean rooms give guests a chance to get a good night’s sleep after a busy day in the city.
An excellent location close to Porto’s top sites, plus a helpful staff offers great value for money. Spend some time making new friends in the hostel’s common room or chat about your day whilst cooking dinner in the shared kitchen.
Best Hotel in Baixa: Porto Charming Hotel
Situated in a classic Porto house, this newly opened hotel is bright, light and airy. Rooms are large and clean, and the staff offers daily fresh fruit and refreshments to guests.
The historic center is a quick walk away from shops and traditional restaurants. Staff members are professional and helpful, and happy to give sightseeing hints and tips.
Best Airbnb in Baixa: Central Porto Duplex
With 3 beds, this central Porto apartment is perfect for 4 guests. Close to everything (railway station 500m, bus 200m, catering, access freeway, park, traditional festival). Located 25 minutes by car from the beach.
With its masterpieces of architecture through the ages, Boavista can feel like an outdoor museum.
Beginning as a small area in the relative center of Porto, the city’s longest road – Avenida da Boavista – acts an extension of the district and runs all the way to the coast. On the way there is Porto’s biggest park: Parque da Cidade do Porto.
This district is all about grand boulevards and large buildings. It’s easy to walk around the smaller, more central area, but the sweeping avenue of Boavista itself can be navigated even easier by the metro system.
Things to See and Do in Boavista
– Explore the sprawling green space that is the Parque da Cidade do Porto.
– Visit the iconic Serralves, a cultural institution and museum set around the cool 1980s art deco architecture of Casa de Serralves.
– Marvel at the bold modern architecture of Casa da Música.
– Imagine Porto’s heyday at the crumbling but beautiful Casa da Viscondessa de Santiago de Lobão.
– Admire the sea view from the Castelo do Queijo.
– Cross onto the Rotunda da Boavista and wander around the Praça Mouzinho de Albuquerque.
– Experience local life and have a bite to eat at the Mercado Bom Sucesso.
– Try amazing traditional Porto dishes done vegetarian style at Essência.
– Shop in an array of fashion stores at Península Boutique Center.
– Take a quiet walk through Cemitério de Agramonte, one of Porto’s most beautiful cemeteries…
– …And just next door, visit the important Sinagoga Kadoorie – the largest synagogue on the Iberian peninsula.
Best Hostel in Boavista: So Cool Hostel
Just outside of the main tourist area but close to the metro, this hostel’s charming Biju style makes it a fantastic place to stay in Porto.
Locally owned with a welcoming atmosphere, you can spend a peaceful afternoon in the garden chatting with new friends or take a stroll to the shops and restaurants close by. The hostel offers the choice of mixed dorms, female dorms, and private rooms.
Best Hotel in Boavista: Hotel da Musica
This hotel’s modern, urban style is eye-catching, unique, and unforgettable. With each room stylishly designed around the theme of music, the hotel is spotlessly clean and bright.
The staff members are always helpful. Located very close to the metro, the hotel is conveniently situated in a complex which includes a mall and dining options.
Best Airbnb in Boavista: Bold and Beautiful Boavista Home
Located in the heart of the city, the one bedroom and bathroom apartment is the perfect place for you to enjoy the beauties of the city of Porto, with all the facilities what you need, to you’re feel like in the comfort of home.
Ribeira is named for being Porto’s riverside district and is known for being exceptionally beautiful. This is the most photographed area of the city and for good reason; Praça da Ribeira is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The pastel colored buildings with their red roofs at the edge of the Rio Douro are like a postcard from any angle!
Formerly an industrial area known for its shipbuilding, Ribeira is now a charming area of cobblestone lanes and a whole host of cafes to sit in and watch the world go by. This small area is easy to walk around – and that’s the best way to see it, we’d say.
You’ll have an excellent time in Riberia by day and by night. This area is one of the best places in Porto for nightlife with a buzzing scene.
Things to See and Do in Ribeira
– Eat traditional Portuguese fare and catch a fado show at the charming O Fado restaurant.
– Cross the spectacular D. Luiz Bridge and admire Ribeira in all its glory.
– Take a ride up the unique public transport of Elevador da Ribeira – an elevator to the upper-level neighborhood of Barredo.
– Visit Oficina do Náná and watch master boat-builder at work creating miniature versions of rabelos – the Rio Douro fishing boats.
– Get historical at Casa do Infante, a former prince’s palace and one of Porto’s oldest buildings turned museum.
– Go and see Igreja de São Francisco, a Franciscan church, and stand in awe of its grand interior.
– Sample Porto’s speciality, Tripas à moda de Porto, at Antunes.
– Try Portuguese food at Adega São Nicolau, one of the best in Porto.
– And, of course, take a boat trip on the Rio Douro itself!
Best Hostel in Ribeira: Bluesock Hostels Porto
Next to Ribeira Square and São Bento station, this hostel’s location is superb when it comes to discovering Porto and traveling around the city.
The dorms are well organized and tidy, featuring bunk beds with privacy curtains; modern private rooms with private bathrooms are also available.
The river is just a road away from the hostel and the area is packed with eating and drinking options.
Best Hotel in Ribeira: Descobertas Boutique Hotel Porto
Spacious and stylish, this boutique hotel is beautifully decorated. Situated in a buzzing area, chic eateries and pretty tavernas are on the doorstep and the metro is a ten-minute walk away.
The staff here are friendly and will help you with any requests and the free breakfast buffet will fill you up ready for a day of sightseeing.
Best Airbnb in Ribeira: Charming flat near Porto’s Landmarks
Wake up to picturesque views of the Douro River from this enchanting gem boasting eclectic furnishings, vibrant artworks, and parquet wood floors. Fix breakfast in a bright, white-tiled kitchen and dine at a hip table beside a wood-burning stove.
Cedofeita has a reputation for being the trendiest area of Porto, and for good reason. It’s generally accepted that the city’s art district is located in this area, centered around Rua Miguel Bombarda, full of concept stores and art galleries.
Because of the art scene here, there are tons of hip cafes to grab a coffee, as well as a student scene that equates to a great nightlife and bars too; that said, it’s also a great area for families, and one of the best places to stay in Porto for couples.
Overall, it’s a great district to be in for a local scene away from some of the more bustling tourist destinations of Porto.
Things to See and Do in Cedofeita
– Visit the Church of Cedofeita, the oldest church in Porto, dating back to the 9th century.
– Admire the jewelry, ceramics, and sculpture at the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis…
– … And then go for a walk through the romantic gardens of Palácio de Cristal.
– Check out the art galleries on Rua Miguel Bombarda.
– Explore the multi-leveled gardens of Jardim das Virtudes.
– Hunt for street art between Rua de Cedofeita and Rua Miguel Bombarda.
– Embark on a spot of retail therapy on Rua de Cedofeita.
– Wander through Bouça, a unique social housing complex known as ‘Bairro Social da Bouça,’ masterminded by Álvaro Siza in the 1970s.
– Explore the hipster Carlos Alberto square, with its cafes and boutiques.
– Go for a lazy lunch at Pimenta Rosa.
– Visit the organic market of O Berdinho.
Best Hostel in Cedofeita: Gallery Hostel
If you’re looking to stay in a chic hostel surrounded by boutiques and independent cafes then Gallery Hostel is for you.
The dorms and private rooms on offer are large, spacious, and decorated in a chic mix of classic and modern design. The communal area is clean with a cinema room and lots of green spaces to enjoy.
Best Hotel in Ceidofeita: Lusitana Hotel
Cozy and clean, this chic little hotel has a lot to offer. Beautifully designed and housed in a historic building, the rooms are comfortable, newly decorated, and feature balconies with city views.
This is the perfect place to enjoy the sights of the city, with many hotspots nearby as well as public transport links. Staff are available at all times and are happy to help guests with sightseeing.
Best Airbnb in Ceidofeita: Airy and Modern Townhouse
The house can accommodate 6 people: The top floor can accommodate up to 4 people, has a master bedroom which has a double bed and another bedroom with two single beds. All rooms have a window, one with a balcony, both with direct light and plenty of privacy. It also has a full bathroom to support both bedrooms.
Back in the 9th century, Porto and Gaia emerged as what would become modern-day Portugal. Today, Gaia – known as Vila Nova de Gaia – is more of a suburb of Porto, located on the southern banks of the Rio Douro.
Modern transport links have made the distance between the two towns virtually unnoticeable.
Today, Vila Nova de Gaia is possibly most famous for its port wine cellars, with the area having a longstanding tradition of storing port wine before it was exported around the world.
These cellars are now major tourist attractions, but there’s much more to see in this sprawling area of southern Porto besides subterranean wine storage!
Things to See and Do in Vila Nova de Gaia
– Do check out the port wine cellars, a major heritage of Porto; there are many tours and tastings on offer!
– Check out the British-run Taylor’s, for instance, complete with English-style grounds.
– Visit all-things-port at Espaço Porto Cruz, an emporium dedicated to port housed in a stunning 18th-century building.
– Walk or drive to the scenic riverside road of Cais de Gaia…
– … And admire the amazingly picturesque view of Porto from this side of the river.
– Turn back the clock in the tiny fishing village of Afurada with its seafood restaurants, tiled houses, and cobbled streets.
– Visit the beach at Praia da Madalena for seaside fun.
– Or chill with a mojito at Praia da Aguda.
– Take the cable-car from Cais de Gaia to the Serra do Pilar hill and marvel at Porto from above.
– Enjoy the best pregos em pao (steak sandwich) in Porto at Offline.
– Have a family day-out at the Parque da Lavandeira, filled with various types of gardens and a great children’s play area.
Best Hostel in Vila Nova de Gaia: The House of Sandeman
Stay in this unique hostel where every detail has been considered for guests’ comfort and be enchanted by the amazing location, close to the Douro river and surrounded by the vibrancy of Porto.
The beds in the dorms and private rooms are large and comfortable, plus the bathrooms are clean with funky tiles and big showers. This is the kind of place you won’t want to leave.
Best Hotel in Vila Nova de Gaia: Hotel Mercure Porto Gaia
Grab yourself a room with a sea view and enjoy your stay in this modern hotel, where staff is more than happy to help you with you with your every need.
Situated close to public transport and buzzing tapas bars, this hotel has top-class facilities such as a fitness center and a restaurant where guests can socialize and enjoy the relaxing surroundings.
Best Airbnb in Vila Nova de Gaia: Home with view of River Douro
With amazing views of River Douro, the Arrábida Bridge and Bridge D. Luis from the property. This apartment is perfect for large families or groups of 6. The apartment has 2 bedrooms with 4 beds, one bathroom and a fully equipped kitchen with basic amenities.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Porto
Honestly, we can’t get enough of this up-and-coming, charming Portuguese city. It oozes of history and spectacular setting, and yet is modern and affordable. There is something here for every traveler! Only have 36 hours here? Check out this sample itinerary for 36 hours in Porto!
If you’re still not sure where to stay in Porto, we feel like you can’t go wrong with the fun and quirky Pao de Acucar Hotel in the center of Porto. It’s surrounded by restaurants and near public transportation to explore the rest of the city.
Nice Way Porto Hostel is another excellent choice for where to stay in the center of Porto, thanks to its welcoming staff, clean facilities, and a well-balanced atmosphere.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
Doubt that Portugal is, in fact, one of the safest countries in the world? Read out insider’s safety guide here if you need any convincing.
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Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.