Where To Stay in Porto
Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Hello Lovelies! I am FINALLY getting around to organizing my photos, videos, and thoughts from our Portugal trip in February. Phew! As you know, on the flight home from our trip I started feeling very drained and unwell, and by the time I woke the next morning I knew I was sick and went in for a visit to my doctor. Turned out I had pneumonia (not COVID) and I battled that well into the beginning of COVID-19 social distancing protocols and isolations. You guys know the whole story, and if you don't, Click here! So yeah, that and life have kept me from getting this all together, until now.
Anywho, I decided to capture Porto in three articles, to best cover each aspect of the stay. The first article is about the best neighborhoods to stay in (in my opinion) and highlights the area we chose as our base. The next two articles (coming in the next few weeks) will focus on attractions (exploring the city) and the yummy food. Yep, it makes me hungry just thinking about all the yummy food. So much yummy food, so little time. Craving something savory, they have you covered. Need somethings sweet? They have that too. It's all so delicious... but I digress.
When we first started researching Porto stays we thought we'd need to be by Cais da Ribeira (the waterfront) in order to enjoy all Porto has to offer. But, not so!
I'd only recommend staying on the waterfront if all you want to see of Porto is Cais da Ribeira and Dom Luís I Bridge, or climbing hills multiple times a day isn't a problem for you. Otherwise, stay somewhere more central, and preferably uphill from there. The waterfront is downhill from most other parts of the city, making walks up and the down the hills to get to the other numerous sites around Porto quite strenuous at times. If you choose to stay in a more central part of the city you'll only need to descend and the ascend the hill once to check out the waterfront or to cross over into Gaia for a beautiful view of Porto on the water. It's a much better scenario, especially if you aren't as physically fit as you once were, you have mobility issues, or you don't want to pay the high price to ride the funicular up and down the hill. It was closed while we were there, so you can't even count on that option.
The neighborhoods I talk about have adequate accommodations including hotels, hostels, and vacations rentals such as Airbnb; which is usually our choice as we like to be able to have meals in, and like feeling that we are at home when we travel. It's really a personal preference and you can't go wrong either way in Porto.
So without further ado, let's talk neighborhoods other than Ribeira. The following are the top three neighborhoods (in my opinion) in which to best explore all Porto has to offer.
This is the neighborhood in which we rented our Airbnb (pictured above), though some maps show it to have been in the Bonfim neighborhood, it's really right on the border or the two. No matter where you draw the neighborhood line, we couldn't have been more pleased. Baixa is what is considered "downtown" Porto and it's the neighborhood located just above Ribeira. This neighborhood can be a bit loud with nightlife, in some parts, but we chose to stay in the area of Bolhoã Market and Rua Santa Catarina, a lovely sometimes pedestrian street. Where we were literally two doors down from The Chapel Almas de Santa Catarina, also known as the Chapel of Souls. We found walking to other areas of the city to be quite easy from this location. Even though our Airbnb was on the pedestrian street, we didn't find our stay to be noisy at all, but be aware that the streets close by were full of people and nightlife.
If you are driving, parking is very convenient and cheap at either of the two malls (ViaCatarina & La Vie Porto) in this area. Tip: if you park at ViaCatarina (supposedly the same at La Vie), do not pay at the machine! It will charge you the hourly rate which is ridiculous. When leaving, first find the parking attendant on level 6 of the garage, tell him you parked for a hotel stay, and he will charge you a nightly rate which was super cheap compared to regular parking garages in other parts of the city.
From this area many (if not all) of Porto's attractions are easily reached by foot. Some of which are; The Cathedral of Porto, Lello Bookstore, Clérigos Tower, and Avenida dos Aliados. Not to mention so much shopping and yummy food!
This neighborhood borders Baixa/Sé & Ribeira on the east, and will require you to do a bit more walking to reach the city center, about 15 to 25 minutes depending on your speed and what part of the neighborhood you're coming from. That being said, it's quiet and would be a relaxing place to explore the city from. It was described to me as being what us North Americans like to call a hipster area with it's coffee shops and craft beer, while also being more representative of the locals.
It's location offers little by way of attractions and monuments, but makes up for that in local pubs, cafes, and eateries. It would be a great area to be if you want some nightlife, but don't want your sleep disrupted after.
This neighborhood borders Baixa/Sé on the west, and is just north of Ribeira. It's the city's art district and has been described as both trendy and romantic. If you love art, this is the spot for you. Make sure you visit Rua Miguel Bombarda, known as the Art Block, with its many galleries. It's also home to The Crystal Palace Gardens and the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis, both a must see.
This neighborhood is quiet, yet very cultured, and would be a great spot for families, art lovers, and couples alike. It's a short walk to most of the city's attractions and monuments, making it a great base from which to explore all Porto has to offer.
Porto offers up other neighborhoods to choose from, but they are a bit too far out of the city center for my liking. If you don't mind a long walk, public transit, or driving and searching for parking; you might also check out Boavista (often lumped in with Cedofeita), Foz, and Marquês. Alternatively you can stay across the river in Gaia, which is much cheaper and affords you views of Porto which are beautiful at sunrise or sunset. Do you have a favorite neighborhood in Porto? If so, tell us about it in the comments below!
Just a note... when I post about our travels I am doing some from our perspective based on our experience. I understand everyone has different experiences, and that's ok.
I hope you've found this information helpful and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. You can also check out my instagram for full photos and videos from our travels! So, until next time, make sure you are following me on Instagram and Twitter and that you subscribe to my blog (at the bottom of the page!). I promise never to send you spam, just notifications of new posts. Remember to be kind, be loving, & be better!