Leisure activities in Porto

Things to do in Porto on weekdays
Updated 2023-11-12 08:23

While walking through the streets, interacting with the people, and visiting local museums, restaurants and concert halls, there are details that will forever shape your experience in Porto, as this is a city that, if you search hard enough, truly allows you to dive deep into its core. That being said, there are plenty of activities for you to choose from, depending on your mood and – of course – company.

Activities to do with kids in Porto

Considering the country's family-oriented mindset, it comes as no surprise that there are plenty of kid-friendly activities in Porto!

The World of Discoveries is one such activity, offering loads of fun and educational activities for kids and grown-ups alike. This interactive museum and exhibition center focuses on the iconic travels of Portuguese sailors and explorers, highlighting the small (or big) ways this tiny country ended up influencing places all over the world. Across the river, in Vila Nova de Gaia, you can also take the family on a day out to the Santo Inácio Zoo and to the nearby Gaia Biological Park. For something a bit more active, you can take your kids to one of the many beaches located 20-30 minutes away from the downtown area, especially in Matosinhos, Foz do Douro or Leça da Palmeira; go for a (literal) walk in the park at Parque da Cidade or through the beautiful Crystal Palace Gardens; or test your accuracy skills at the Foz Minigolf Club.

If you want to keep your kids busy but wish to check out the city as well, catching one of Porto's old trams is a must! There are only 3 lines remaining, but they'll take you along the river banks in a short but very picturesque journey. Alternatively, you may also check the Gaia Cable Car or the Funicular dos Guindais for great views over the Douro. Furthermore, and since Portugal is a nation that is absolutely obsessed with football, catching a local game at Estádio do Dragão (or at Estádio do Bessa, for a more rugged experience) can also be a pretty cool thing to do with kids.

On the other hand, if you happen to get unlucky with the weather and need somewhere indoors to spend time with the kids, why not check what's on display at one of the local theaters or concert halls (such as Rivoli, Sá da Bandeira or Casa da Música)? If that doesn't hit the sweet spot, then you may simply grab a bag of popcorn and catch a movie at one of the city's many cinemas (mostly located inside shopping malls). As an alternative, you can also discover one of the city's many museums, such as the Tram Museum, the Pharmacy Museum or the National Press Museum.

Special events and tourist attractions in Porto

Although not as lively or “happening” as Lisbon, Porto still plays host to some pretty amazing festivals and events throughout the year. Out of all the music festivals that take place in Porto every year, Primavera Sound and MEO Marés Vivas rank among the most popular, while Blues fans are also welcome to join in at the Porto Blue Jazz Fest.

However, the most spectacular night of the year takes place on June 24, during the celebrations of Saint John, the city's patron saint. It's by far the best party of its kind in Portugal, overshadowing Lisbon's Santo António by a mile! During the festivities, the streets get jam-packed with people from all over the city and all walks of life as dozens of impromptu parties, bars, and concerts spring up everywhere (and anywhere). Also, don't raise an eyebrow when you see people hitting each other over the head with a plastic hammer; it's tradition, so everything goes!

Be that as it may, and even on the rare instances when there isn't much going on in the city, Porto is still very much worth exploring for the typical “tourist experience”. Just take a walk, explore the river banks and downtown area, and hit all of the classics, such as the Clérigos Tower, the D. Luís I Bridge, or the Lello Bookstore.

Sports in Porto

Football is by far the most popular sport in Porto, with the overwhelming majority of locals supporting the local giant FC Porto. Needless to say, matches usually attract big crowds, with people who didn't make it to the stadium gathering to watch the games in pubs, restaurants of cafés. Even if you don't feel like catching a game, fans can simply take a tour of the city's largest stadium: Estádio do Dragão. Other popular sports in Porto include cycling, futsal (a 5vs5, indoor variation of football), basketball, handball and roller hockey. Lately, it has also become quite common to meet people who play either padel or tennis on a regular basis.

Moreover, there are lots of gyms scattered across the city, tending to all budgets and levels of expertise. If you'd like to play some sports but struggle with finding people to pair up with, there are also mobile apps that help you find other players interested in joining a game of padel, tennis or football.

Besides, with many beaches within 20-30 minutes from the city center, surfing is another sport that some Portuguese natives are very passionate about. Most beaches like Matosinhos, Leça da Palmeira and Miramar will have surfing boards for rent and even surfing schools if you are new to the sport.

Nightlife in Porto

Finally, if you want to party all night and have a great time, there is an insane plethora of discos, bars and nightclubs in Porto that will be happy to accommodate visitors! The Galerias de Paris is the quintessential nightlife street in the city, flanked by dozens of small bars and clubs, and one of the hotspots where everyone gathers on Friday and Saturday nights. Nearby, you'll also notice large groups of students congregating around Cordoaria Square, where people just enjoy hanging out and drinking!

However, if you just want to hit one club and dance the night away, it's worth checking out Indústria, Maus Hábitos or Gare. For the LGBTQ community, Pride is the go-to place for a night out in Porto!

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