Flying into Porto Airport? Even though it is a small city compared to others in Portugal, Porto is a gorgeous town on the coast with many attractions, shops, dining opportunities, and entertainment. The Douro River (or River Douro) runs right through the city as well. But what many people do not know is that there are many Porto museums worth a visit as well. In fact, you will find some of the best museums in Porto.
Whether you want to take a walk in the Porto sun at an open-air museum or seek shelter from the rain, you can find what you are looking for in the museums of Porto. Besides the typical science, history, and art museums, you can also find a biodiversity gallery, beautiful gardens, a tram museum, and even a museum dedicated to Port wine.
In this small city, you will find that it houses several museums and art galleries dedicated to contemporary art and a few that showcase special art exhibits. The most important museums in Porto, according to locals, include the FC Museum, the World of Discovery, and the oldest one in town, the Soares National Museum.
The Museu da Misericórdia do Porto (MMIPO) is a small and unique place hosting an important collection of artwork including the "Fond Vitae" from 1519, Flemish paintings, Chinese porcelain, spectacular Japanese screens, and other eclectic exhibits. The Tram Museum is also a great place to visit with its gallery of electric cars dating back to 1895 as well as a section just for industrial machines.
So, whether you are an art aficionado, history buff, or a family wanting to visit some fun museums, you cannot bring your luggage or large bags with you. Luckily, there are some excellent suitcase storage facilities in and around Porto to leave your bags while you go and explore.
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Serralves
The Museum of Contemporary Art is just one of the important cultural attractions located in the Serralves Foundation and is the most visited museum in Portugal. Although there are no permanent collections, the museum features rotating exhibitions featuring five different artists every year.
The Serralves Museum of Porto is also on the property and is one of the few museums in Porto with such a magnificent art deco house. The pink outside and blue limestone interior make this one of the most unique buildings in the world. Besides the museum, you can also visit the park, which is full of interesting sculptures as well as plenty of green space.
Tram Museum of Porto
The Porto Tram Museum, or Museu do Carro Electrico, is also worth a visit. Housed in what used to be a power plant near the river, the museum is a popular choice for everyone. The first trams started service in 1895 and there are several still in use. You can take a ride after exploring all of the unique exhibits in the museum, including 16 old train cars as well as some trailers and maintenance vehicles.
Trailer Car 8 was built in 1872 and was pulled by horses in those days. Trailer Car 18, from 1934, was called a smoker car because during the summer, the windows were removed so people could smoke on board. It is located on the banks of the Douro River on Alameda de Basilio Teles next to the Gardens of the Crystal Palace.
Romantic Museum of Quinta da Macieirinha
Just to the east of the Tram Museum and surrounded by the Palácio de Cristal Gardens and the Douro River, even the setting is romantic. Users of the Porto Card can visit for free. The Museu Romântico da Quinta da Macieirinha reproduces 19th century Romanticism in Porto and also worth visiting are the garden and the Paths of the Romantic.
In what was once the home of exiled Prince of Piedmont and King of Sardinia, you can find many rooms set in periods of the past. The King's Room is where he saw visitors, in the Canvasses Room, there are several dozen paintings, the Dining Room is still set for eight, and the children's room is full of toys from the 1800s.
The Military Museum
Not far from the Museum of Romance, right next to the Prado do Repouso Cemetery, the Porto Military Museum features a variety of interesting military artifacts. One of the most popular is the set of approximately 16,000 miniature toy soldiers that represent armies all over the world.
You can also see machine guns, conventional weapons, and a vast array of uniforms, photos, and other historic pieces. Learn more about the history of Portugal and discover some of the most unique items from the past in this vast collection. You may even find a sculpture or two.
World of Discoveries
Are you looking for activities to do with the kids? This family-friendly museum, the World of Discoveries, is billed as a theme park and interactive museum combined. During your visit, you can reenact the traveling of the famous Portuguese navigators who discovered the "world." Good for a rainy day, you can discover how the country was founded and take a boat ride to reenact the traveling route that they took so many years ago.
Some of the items you may see include tools and boats from the 1200s to the 1800s. There is a three-dimensional globe sculpture, full-scale replica boats, and tons of data about the famous sailors. Some of the most famous include Cristopher Columbus, Pedro Alvares, and Dom Henrique.
FC Porto Museum
Just two minutes walking distance from the Estádio do Dragão subway station in northeastern Porto, the FC Porto Museum is also known as the football museum. However, you may know the sport by a different name, what Americans call soccer. The FC Porto Museum is one of the best museums in Porto as well as one of the most popular in the city.
Learn the history of the club and the sport as a whole and see artifacts dating back to 1893. You can see trophies, medals, uniforms, and documents as well as other interesting pieces. You can also get a tour of Dragon Stadium, learning even more about the history.
The National Press Museum
The National Press Museum can be found on the shores of the Douro River just off Interstate N108. Whether you are interested in printing and lithography or just like history, this museum will fill your eyes and your mind with some very cool artifacts from the past.
One of the most interesting is the 1900 guillotine, which is a paper cutter rather than a beheading machine as its name would suggest. The building also houses a printer from the 1700s, an International Cartoon Gallery, and some stunning artworks.
The Natural History Museum
In southeastern Porto by the Igreja dos Clerigos, the Natural History Museum of Porto is located in the University of Porto. It is housed in what used to be the rectory but now features items related to zoology, paleontology, geology, and anthropology.
Botany is another part of the research here and you can see a plethora of it right outside in the Jardim Botanico do Porto, or the Porto Botanical Garden. It is part of the gardens of the Andresen House. Also in the museum, the Biodiversity Gallery, where they have 49 narrated installations about biological and cultural diversity.
National Museum Soares dos Reis in Cedofeita Reis National Museum
Carrancas Palace, from the 1700s, houses paintings and sculptures done by Flemish and Portuguese artists over the centuries. National Museum Soares dos Reis can be found between the Crystal Palace Gardens and the Central Hospital on Dom Manuel II. It is the oldest public museum in Portugal and features thousands of pieces.
Also known as Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis, you can see some of the best Portuguese art in the city. Some of the most famous artists featured include sculptors Soares do Reis and Augusto Santo as well as painters Sofia Martins de Sousa, Angelo Lupi, and Domingos Sequeira. As one of the most important museums in Porto, you will also see glassware, textiles, cutlery, and jewelry.
The Photography Museum
If you enjoyed the Museum of Romance, this one is a must-see. Another romantic museum, the Photography Museum (Centro Português de Fotografia) tells the love story of Ana Augusta Placido and Camilo Castelo Branco. The famous Portuguese writer, Branco, was arrested for having an affair with a married woman, ana Placido. She was also a writer and was married to Manuel Alves when she fell in love with Branco.
The building is actually the old prison from the 1700s where Branco was housed. Every floor of the former prison boasts permanent and temporary exhibits from different themes. On the first floor are the temporary exhibitions, the second is the themed works, and the third is a camera exposition with cameras dating back to the 1700s. What makes it even better is the fact that it is free of charge. Check out this Bounce guide for more free things to do in Porto.
The Museum of Transport and Communications
Between the Tram Museum and the Photography Museum, the Museum of Transport and Communications is one of the best museums in Porto. Nominated for European Museum of the Year in 2014, what was once a busy customs house is now housing a collection of vehicles and other artifacts.
One of the highlights is the first car to be driven in Portugal from 1895. Many of the vehicles in the old customs house were official presidential cars, some dating back to 1912. You should also see the canvas by Julio Resende remade with tiles right at the entrance.
Casa Museu Guerra Junqueiro
Located in the former home of famous poet Guerra Junqueiro on one of the oldest streets in the city of Porto, the 1730s Baroque-style palace was transformed into a house museum. The collection inside features decorative arts such as textiles, ceramics, jewelry, and furniture from the 1400s to the 1800s.
The neighborhood itself is also fascinating and is considered to be the medieval part of the city. Other highlights include a permanent collection of Portuguese art and sculptures lining the eastern and southern walls as well as a coffee shop and store to get some souvenirs.
What are the best free museums in Porto?
Some of the best museums in the city of Porto are free, especially for those who have a Porto card. The visit to the Museu Guerra Junqueiro is free if you have a Porto card and is free for everyone on the weekends. It is not much more without one and will only cost youabout $2.50 without a card. Also, the Photography Museum is free for everyone all the time.
Which are the best museums in Downtown Porto?
In Campo Alegre, be sure to visit the Jewish Museum to discover the synagogue of Kadoorie Mekor Haim and the history of Judaism in Portugal. Nearby, the Porto Planetarium is housed in the building for the Centre for Astrophysics of the University of Porto.
The Marta Ortigao Sampaio's House Museum is another unique museum, this one is located in the building where Marta Ortigao Sampaio was supposed to live. However, her husband died during the building of the house so she stayed in Matosinhos. It features impressive furniture and works of art from Silva Porto, de Souza, and Sofia Martins de Sousa.
Are there any cheap museums in Porto?
The National History Museum is also one of the best museums in Porto and is just over $5 for adults and half that for children. This makes it a very inexpensive place to visit with a plethora of things to see and do.
Another favorite, the Port Wine Museum (Museu do Vinho do Porto) is a great place to visit even if you just want to try a glass of wine. You will only pay around $2.50 for this museum. In fact, it is free for Porto Card holders and for everyone on Saturdays and Sundays.
Museums in Porto
Ont thing to note, having the Porto Card really pays off as it gets you free unlimited use of public transportation and free visits to many of the museums and other attractions. You will also enjoy discounts on tours, restaurants, bars, and fado shows. With this card in your pocket, you can enjoy a fantastic lunch on the cheap, all sorts of attractions, and free rides to all of the above.