Porto is a charismatic city located in northern Portugal. The city centre has been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and many of the buildings remain untouched so you can see exactly what Porto was like centuries ago. You have most likely heard of the Port wine that the region is famous for, and should make it a priority to stop by a local wine bar to try a glass. Although the city is relatively small, there are more than enough fun things to keep you busy if you ever get the opportunity to visit. From informative museums and historic landmarks to cultural festivals and lively bars, there is something to do both during the day and at night, too.
Traveling can be expensive and it is always a good idea to find some free activities to fill your schedule so you can save money for the bigger events. Check out the things listed below which won't cost you a dime! You can keep your luggage safe while you are out exploring the town if you stop by a suitcase locker in Porto. Explore this terrific city without bags slowing you down.
Stop by São Bento Train Station
Most people say that the São Bento Train Station is one of Porto's top highlights and it is a highly recommended place to visit on your vacation. The building is quite impressive and is decorated with more than 20,000 azulejo tiles that are all hand painted.
These polished stones can be found at different locations around the city and are usually painted to tell stories. If you want to learn more about the azulejo tiles then you can pay for guided tours, but stopping by to see them is free!
See the Views From Serra do Pilar
One of the best places to see amazing views of the city of Porto is from another town located just across the Douro River called Vila Nova de Gaia. We recommend traveling across the water and taking a walk around the city before stopping by the viewpoint.
The best place to go is by the bridge called Serre do Pilar, and apparently, the sights are even more magical at sunset. You can also see the stunning river walk of Cais da Ribeira from up here. Stopping by to sightsee is completely free, but if you want to add to the experience you can take a ride from the Cais de Gaia cable car to get up here.
Explore Some Local Museums
Porto is a city with a great culture and they are proud of it. There are museums here that can teach you about all sorts of topics, and the bonus is that they offer free entry every Sunday! At 2 pm entrance fees are back, so make sure that you visit as many of them as you can on Sunday morning.
Some of the best museums and galleries include the Tram Museum and the Photography Museum. If you have time you should also stop by the Port Wine Museum and the Serralves Foundation of Contemporary Art which houses some amazing exhibitions and impressive architectural displays, as well as a park.
Admire the Sé do Porto
This building, also known as the Porto Cathedral, is one of the top free attractions in the city. It dates back to sometime between the 12th and 13 centuries and was built using several different styles including baroque, gothic and Romanesque.
It stands as Porto's largest cathedral and also one of its oldest, so you can come here to learn about the architecture and history of the city. The exterior of the building is quite impressive with size and its two twin towers, but just wait until you step inside. The interior is decorated with sculptures that are centuries old, a silver altarpiece and stunning stained glass windows.
Browse Local Stores at Rua de Santa Catarina
Rua de Santa Catarina is one of the main shopping streets in Porto and if you are interested in seeing what the local stores have to offer then this is a great place to do that. Make your way here if you are a huge fan of fashion and want to visit all of the independent stores in Porto.
Obviously, you will have to pay if you want to buy anything from the shops but many tourists say that they loved walking down the street and window shopping. This street is also home to one of the oldest shopping malls in the city center and it has an impressive food court selling delectable treats in case you get hungry.
Attend a Concert at Igreja dos Clérigos
The Igreja dos Clérigos, which is also known as Clérigos church, is an impressive piece of architecture located by Clérigos Tower. The tower is made with 225 steps and will bring you to an impressive lookout that offers a 360 degree view of the city below, although to climb the tower you will need to purchase a ticket.
If you find yourself in the area and are looking for something free to do then you should definitely stay for the free pipe organ concerts that are held in the church. They happen daily at noon so that is the best time to visit. If you are busy at that time you should still stop by the church since it is one of Porto's most beautiful buildings.
Spend a Day at the Beach
If you want something free and fun to do in Porto you should spend an afternoon relaxing at a city beach. As a coastal city, Porto has several beaches and most of them are stunning. If the weather is nice you can wade in the water and play some water sports, or just suntan by the coast. However, be aware that some waters can be dangerous and you shouldn't venture too far away from the coast.
One of the nicest places to go is Matosinhos Beach. Even if you don't want to go in the water, this place is perfect for taking a walk at any time of the day.
Take a Stroll Around the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
Do you like to walk or hike? One of the best free things to do in Porto has to be just walking around the city and experiencing everything that it has to offer. The streets are filled with impressive architecture and there are some great parks scattered in between, like the Crystal Palace Gardens. This park is well maintained and filled with winding walkways and bubbling fountains that make it the perfect spot for a romantic stroll with your lover.
There are some other great greenspaces in Porto that are also worth visiting, like the Parque da Cidade which is a nice place to have a picnic or relax after a long day of sightseeing. The Parque de Nova Sintra and Quinto do Covelo are also good options!
Visit a Local Nightclub in Piolho
You might be surprised that a city like Porto has an active nightlife, but if you make your way to the Piolho square by the University or Porto you will see just how energetic the city can be. This is a great place to make new friends or let loose on your own with music, dancing and drinks.
You can visit the square for free, although you will most likely have to pay for drinks. If you are interested in visiting any nightclubs, many of the ones nearby don't ask for entrance fees and will welcome you in as long as you are of legal age.
Sightsee at Ponte Dom Luis I
If you enjoyed the views from Serre do Pilar then you won't have to go far to reach the Luís I Bridge. It is also located on the riverfront town of Ribeira which is quite beautiful and a World Heritage Site. The best place to take pictures of the city below is on top of this bridge.
There are pedestrian walkways both on the top and the bottom of the bridge, and the ones on top will bring you pretty high up so they might not be suitable for anyone who is afraid of heights. Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and incredible views from on top of the overpass for free!
Go to Igreja da Lapa
Although most of Porto's most famous churches have started to ask for entrance fees, a few of the less well-known ones can still be seen for free and one of them is the Igreja da Lapa. This church is the resting place of D. Pedro IV who was one of the most important Kings of Portugal, and today you can visit his silver urn in this chapel.
This church is a beautifully designed building and is stunning both inside and outside. It was built over a century ago and follows a neoclassical and rococo style of architecture and design.
Stop by a Public Cemetery
This might not sound like a fun thing to do, but visiting some of the city's public cemeteries is actually one of the best free things to do in Porto. Cemeteries can be surprisingly interesting and even beautiful, and this city has a few hidden gems for you to discover.
The Cemitério de Agramonte is one of the spots that you should stop by and also one of the richest cemeteries in the city. Several well-known locals have been buried here, including Júlio Dinis the writer, the filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira and Guilhermina Suggia who was a cellist. The grave of a talented Portuguese poet named Eugénio de Andrade is found at the Cemitério do Prado do Repouso and his grave is quite impressive to see.
Make Your Way to Avenida dos Aliados
One of the most popular spots in the city is Avenida dos Aliados. This is where you can go to find hotels, cafes, shops, landmarks and more. The whole area is packed with impressive buildings and attractions so you will definitely be able to find something to do.
Some of the places that you should stop by include the city's Town Hall which is a gorgeous structure made of granite and marble, as well as the Liberdade Square and the General Humberto Delgado Square. Street performers, artists at work, and festivals are usually happening in this area.
Attend a Tour and Port Wine Tasting
You can't visit Porto without trying some of the famous port wines. Usually, you would have to pay to taste the local wine, but some companies offer free guided wine tours that will take you through their port wine cellars.
There are two places that offer free tours and tastings in Porto. Taylor's and Croft are two port wine cellars that offer tours and complimentary glasses of wine. Both of them are worth visiting so stop by and check them out!
Take a Walk and See Street Art
A fun thing about Porto, Portugal is that the whole city is basically an art gallery. The impressive street art installations that have taken over many buildings in the cityscape were drawn by local art students who were struggling to find jobs and wanted to display their talent. Although the government attempted to establish an anti-graffiti brigade, most of the buildings are still displaying the art today.
The street art gave new life to the city and revived some of the old and neglected buildings that were beginning to crumble. You can see a lot of artworks just by taking a walk around town, and it is the perfect free activity to do in the morning or late afternoon.
A Local Guide to Free Popular Attractions in Porto
Everyone knows that traveling can be expensive, and if you are traveling on a budget you should still be able to experience as much of the city as you can. There are lots of ways to save money, whether it is opting for using public transportation instead of a taxi or finding the best Porto things to do for free. Try to do as many of the things on this Porto guide as possible so you can have a blast on your vacation without any extra cost.