Porto is a charming and charismatic city, and everyone who visits falls in love with it. Much of the city is old with cobblestone streets and historic buildings as well as port wine lodges that the city is popular for. As a waterfront city, Porto is home to beautiful landscapes both by the water and on the hills that it is built on.
Art and history lovers will enjoy spending time in the museums and art galleries or just walking around the streets which are decorated with street art and landmarks. Younger visitors might spend more time in the bars and clubs taking advantage of the active nightlife of Porto.
As you can tell, Porto has something for everyone to do. Most of the town's neighborhoods are known for specific activities and attractions and you need to travel around depending on what you want to do and what your budget is. This will also affect where you choose to stay in Porto, since you will most likely want to choose a hotel near the places that you want to visit.
Deciding where to stay in Porto? Before choosing your hotel, stow your suitcases at a baggage locker in Porto. Meander through a few neighborhoods and take your pick!
Where to stay in Vila Nova de Gaia
If you have traveled to Portugal to try the famous port wine then Vila Nova de Gaia is where you will want to stay. This is where many of the wine cellars are located and also where most of the process of making the wine happens. This neighborhood has been the main base for the maturing, blending and bottling of port wine since the 17th century. Its close proximity to the River Douro has also contributed since most of the wine casks were brought to the city by barge up until 1952.
Overall, there are at least 20 port houses in this part of the city alone and while you are staying in Vila Nova de Gaia you definitely have to take part in one of the cellar tours. On the tours, you will be walked through the whole process of making Porto wine and after, you will be treated to a wine tasting.
Some people consider this area of Porto to be like its own little city, and you can find basically everything that you need here. Since it is located on the opposite side of the river as the other neighborhoods you will have to either cross the Dom Luis I Bridge to get here or take a ferry ride. Other activities for you to enjoy here include taking a ride on the Cable Car or visiting some of the local landmarks like the Serre Pilar Monastery or the Lord of the Stone chapel. It also has its fair share of bars and restaurants and a zoo that you can visit if you are traveling with kids.
This is one of the more touristy neighborhoods so you will have no problem finding a place to stay. One of the best luxury hotels in the area is The Yeatman which has spacious rooms with unique decor and an outdoor terrace. If you are looking for a more modest sleeping arrangement, the ClipHotel is a good choice.
Where to stay in Downtown Porto
The area of Downtown Porto is actually called Baixa and it is one of the best neighborhoods in Porto thanks to its attractions and sightseeing. Baixa is also the main nightlife district of the city. The area is basically made of two hills with shops, restaurants and attractions found on each one. This is where a lot of the good bars are located, making it a nice spot for drinking and partying but it is also great for history lovers since much of it is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On one side of the neighborhood is where you can find the Porto Cathedral which is definitely worth stopping by while you are in the area. Clérigos Tower and the beautiful Lello bookstore are also worth visiting and should be added to your itinerary. The gorgeous São Bento railway station is in this neighborhood and home to some of the stunning Azeluja tiles.
Most events and festivals are held in Baixa too, and if you have some free time you should take a stroll down the Rua das Flores. Aside from bars and restaurants, this part of the city has grocery stores selling traditional Portuguese cuisine.
Visitors often say that hotels are more expensive here than in other parts of the city, so keep that in mind. You can stay at the Hotel Dom Henrique which is within walking distance from the City Market Bolaho as well as a metro station. The Monumental Palace and Yotel are also good choices, and the former is one of the most high-tech hotels in the city.
Where to stay in Ribeira
One of Porto's most famous areas is Ribeira which is located in the Sao Nicolau district. Most people who travel to Porto come here to see the beautifully decorated streets and colorful rooftop houses. Porto Ribeira is arguably one of the most picturesque places in the city and one of the nicest spots to stay for people who are visiting for the first time. This part of town is old and full of both history and culture. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the year 1996.
This neighborhood has many great bars, excellent restaurants serving delicious Portuguese street food, hotels, and stores for you to browse, so it is an ideal location for shopping or visiting attractions. Some of the buildings date back to the 14th century and since Porto is a walkable city it can be nice to take a stroll to imagine what life was like back then.
While you are out you can stop by for a fabulous breakfast in one of the cafes before heading to sightsee. Make time to stop at the Praça da Ribeira and the old townhouse called The Royal Mint. If you want to see amazing views of the city you should walk along the Ponte Dom Luis I Bridge. When the sun goes down be ready to party since this part of town has a vibrant nightlife.
One of the best boutique hotels in this neighborhood is the Pestana Vintage Hotel whose rooms offer a gorgeous view of the Douro River. Another of the city's luxury hotels is the Torel Avantgarde which has an infinity pool and a stunning outdoor terrace. A nice budget friendly but still beautiful hotel is the Ribeira do Porto Hotel which is not as fancy as some of the others but has friendly staff and great service.
Where to stay in Cedofeita
Another great location in Porto is the Cedofeita area which is also the centre of Porto's art scene. It is a lovely neighborhood and many people say that it is perfect for a romantic getaway. It is also great for families since the area is quiet compared to the rest of the city. You can find some cute cafes and unique concept stores here, so make sure you have some spending money on hand for when you visit.
Cedofeita is where the beautiful Crystal Palace Gardens are located and it is right next to one of the city's best museums; the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis. While you are in the area you should take advantage of the art district on Rua Miguel Bombarda and the shopping mall and independent stores on Rua do Rosário. One place that you must see is the Casa da Música which serves as an artistic institution and a music venue. Since Cadofeita is within easy walking distance from the city centre you can still participate in all of Porto's main attractions or use one of the metro stations to explore other parts of town.
If you are searching for the best hotel in this quiet neighborhood consider staying at the Hotel Cristal Porto which has a nice restaurant on-site, small but modern rooms and friendly room service. The Eurostars das Artes Hotel is a stylish hotel that is great for art and history lovers since it is home to some of Porto's azulejo tiles, like the ones that can be seen at the São Bento train station. The Canto de Luz is a nice luxurious hotel that has skylights and gorgeous open windows, a flat screen TV in every room and everything else that you could need.
Where to stay in Miragaia
Miragaia is the best neighborhood for those who are traveling for leisure and just want to relax. Much of the area dates back to the 14th century and Miragaia has medieval streets that are lined with gorgeous traditional houses. It is often quiet and if the weather is nice you can make your way to one of the beautiful sandy beaches in Porto.
It has a similar hilly landscape as Porto's downtown neighborhoods and some of the streets can be steep, so if you aren't up for walking around you can take a ride on one of the old tram cars. The famous sights in this neighborhood include the Church of São Pedro as well as the Alfândega Nova which serves as the customs house. You can easily spend an afternoon strolling through the streets window shopping in the Porto antique stores or grabbing a bite to eat at the local coffee shops. When the sun sets you can take a stroll by the riverfront to watch the sun disappear over the water.
Whether you are looking for an expensive hotel or more affordable accommodations this neighborhood has something perfect for you. Some of the best hotels include the Pensao Favorita which is minimalist but functional and has everything that you could need to be comfortable during your trip. The Torel Avantgarde is more expensive but still a nice place to stay.
Where to stay in Bonfim
The area of Bonfim is a combination of different styles and businesses like hipster coffee shops and craft beer pubs, and it is the sort of place that anyone can fit in. It is where tourists and locals live together and the perfect spot for people who visit Porto and want to see what local life is life. It is not where you will find any of the main sights or city attractions but is perfect for escaping the tourist crowds and getting a feel for real life in Porto.
This place is not as exciting from a touristic point of view compared to the city centre but it still has its own hidden gems that are worth visiting. For example, the first cemetery and the first public garden are found here. It is home to the Rua de Santa Catarina which is a great shopping street, but if you want to get close to the action you are just a short walk away from the historical centre of the city and can easily plan a day trip to see the major attractions in central Porto.
Some of the best Porto hotels in Bonfim include the Seculo Hotel which is close to the Natural History Museum and the shopping street, or the Moov Hotel which is great for anyone traveling on a budget. The Eurostars Heroismo is in close proximity to the metro station and also has a private parking garage if you bring your own car.
Staying in the Best Neighborhoods While Visiting Porto, Portugal
As you can see, Porto is known for more than just its port wine cellars and has several amazing neighborhoods that each have a unique personality and style. If you have the opportunity to choose where you get to stay you should do your research to decide which area is better for you, although the city has an efficient public transportation system that can still give you access to the main attractions and tours no matter where your hotel is. After all, with so much to discover in Porto, you won't want to spend much time in your room!