The beautiful coastal city of Porto is a dream for any student to study in. Walking through the city is like wandering back through time, with medieval cobbled streets and Baroque architecture. A truly bustling city, filled with street art, local markets and delicious food, Porto is the place to be for students!
When you come to study in Porto, you’ll be doing much more than just attending lectures and classes. With Porto’s rich culture and history, there’s something new to learn around every corner. No matter what your interests are, there are so many fun things to do in Porto, from visiting Bolsa Palace to taking a river tour down the Douro River.
At Nido, we’re dedicated to helping you thrive and finding a study-life balance that works for you so we’ve created the ultimate Porto travel guide for you to understand more about all the unique things to do in Porto on a budget whilst living in the beautiful country of Portugal.
This Porto travel guide will cover:
- Top things to do in Porto
- Porto on a budget
- Porto restaurant guide for cheap eats
- Best things to do in Porto when friends & family visit
- Getting around Porto
So sit back, relax and prepare to be dazzled by how many amazing things there are to explore in the wonderful city of Porto!
Top things to do in Porto
If this is your first time in this beautiful city, you’ll be looking for the top things to do in Porto. As a student, it’s important to get to know the city you’ll be studying for the next few years, from its history and culture to cuisine and attractions.
We could list millions of amazing things to do in Porto but then you’d be too busy reading our city guide for Porto instead of experiencing what it has to offer. So, we’ve put together a few of our favourite fun things to do in Porto that will introduce you to the wonderful city and make it feel like home. Whether you’re looking for non touristy things to do in Porto or want to embrace your inner tourist, we’ve got you covered!
- Livraria Lello
As a student, you’ll be no stranger to spending days surrounded by books. However, Livraria Lello is a student’s dream as it’s renowned for being one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world.Livraria Lello’s stunning architecture makes it a must-see attraction for any student, with its gothic wood panelling, breathtaking stained-glass skylight and beautiful curved staircase. You could spend hours walking around this gorgeous bookstore, and come away with your next favourite novel.
We think Livraria Lello is one of the most unique things to do in Porto, especially if you’re a Harry Potter fan. The beautiful architecture has brought flocks of Harry Potter fans over the years, with many people thinking it looks like it belongs in Hogwarts itself. Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or not, Livraria Lello offers a truly magical experience!
- Douro River Tour
Explore the wonderful city of Porto from a new angle by taking a tour down the Douro River. Once you’ve explored the city by foot and taken in its treasures, there’s nothing better than jumping on a river cruise and discovering Porto from the water!You’ll learn about Porto’s rich history because you can travel the route that wine merchants used to take to bring Port from the valley to the cellars, and also get to admire Porto’s beautiful Dom Luis I Bridge.
Don’t fancy the cruise? You can still walk along the Douro River’s edge and take in the sights from land.
- Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art
If you’re looking for quirky things to do in Porto, you have to visit Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art. One of Porto’s leading cultural institutions, you can enjoy a wide selection of modern art installations, music performances and dance shows.If that wasn’t enough, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art is also home to a wonderful library and Serralves Park.
Serralves park is 18 hectares and has been listed as a national monument, making it a must-see attraction in Porto. Are you looking for crazy things to do in Porto as well as cultural and fun? Serralves Park is home to an exhilarating Treetop Walk where you and friends can have fun adventuring above the trees!
Porto on a Budget
We understand that, as a student, you may be sticking to a strict budget which means you might be worried you’ll not be able to do lots of fun things. However, we’re here to tell you that there are plenty of brilliant things to do in Porto on a budget.
On top of all the attractions and places in Porto you can visit, as a student you’ll also be eligible for discounts across restaurants, shops and attractions which will make living your best life all that more affordable! Keep an eye out for discounts and deals when booking attractions or events because you never know when you’ll be able to get some money off and make your budget stretch further.
- Explore the districts
There are so many fun things to do in Porto on a budget, such as exploring the different districts around the city. Porto is home to many brilliant districts, all rich in culture, history and sometimes both! Take yourself on a self guided walking tour of Porto and soak up what the districts offer, from Ribeira and Miragaia to Foz do Douro and Cedofeita.
If you want to unleash your inner tourist, Ribeira is definitely somewhere worth visiting. It’s bustling at all times of the day, with plenty of delicious restaurants and places to eat too. Ribeira is famous for its colourful houses which make great photos for Instagram.Looking for non touristy things to do in Porto? Visit Miragaia which is similar to Ribeira but much quieter. You can still enjoy delicious restaurants, mesmerising street art and colourful houses, but with less people around!
- Visit Dom Luis I Bridge
One of the best free things to do in Porto is to visit the Dom Luis I Bridge. You can view it from a distance by walking along the edge of the River Douro and learn about its 900 year history, or you can experience it in person for free.You can soak up its deep history and culture while also taking in the magnificent views of Porto. The best time to visit? As the sun is setting so you can watch the beautiful Porto sunset. Whether you admire the bridge from afar or experience it in person, Dom Luis I Bridge is one of the top things to do in Porto on a budget.
- Go Azulejo tile spotting
Porto is renowned for its charming white and blue Azulejo tiles and they’re a must-see for any international students coming to Portugal to study.You can spend the day with your friends wandering around the city looking out for these beautiful tiles and learning about their rich history. It’s a fun way to learn more about the city you’re studying in without spending a penny!
One of the best places to see Azulejo tiles is Porto Cathedral. Alongside being one of the city’s oldest monuments, its stunning architecture and gorgeous Azulejo tiles will blow you away. Plus, who doesn’t want a beautiful photo in front of them for Instagram?
Porto Restaurant Guide For Cheap Eats
Now, we don’t know about you but we love food! One of the best parts of visiting a new city is trying out all the delicacies they offer. However, as a student we understand that you’ll be looking for cheap eats in Porto so that you can easily stick to your budget while also enjoying delicious meals.
Whether you want simple takeaway options, or to try Porto’s national dishes and immerse yourself into the culture, we’ve got you covered!
- National dishes
What better way to immerse yourself into Porto life than by trying their world-renowned national dishes? If you’re looking for the best cheap eats in Porto, national dishes are ideal because they’re generally inexpensive and available in most restaurants and cafés.The two delicious dishes that stick out to us as some of the best cheap in Porto are Pastel de Nata and Francesinha.
Pastel de Nata is a delicious sweet treat that you’ll find in any bakery, market, restaurant or café. It’s an egg custard tart that’s often dusted with cinnamon and it’s making our mouths water just thinking about it!
Looking for cheap eats in Porto that are savoury? Francesinha is a tasty sandwich usually made up of bread, cured ham, fresh sausage, steak (or some kind of roasted meat), linguiça, melted cheese and a hot spicy tomato and beer sauce. Ideal for both lunch and dinner, Francesinha is a favourite among the people of Porto!
- Street food
Porto has a bustling street food scene, offering very affordable food options which are both sweet and savoury. Why not take yourself off to your local market and discover your new favourite cheap eats in Porto?When it comes to street food, you’ll find an abundance of sweet treats that will always leave you wanting more. Teixeira is a delicious honey cake topped with cinnamon, bolinhos is a bite-sized chunk of iced sponge cake, and farturas are similar to churros.
If you don’t have a sweet tooth but are still looking for cheap eats in Porto, market stalls are filled with seafood, pork and other delicious savoury foods. In particular, Porto is renowned for its sticky seafood rice which makes a perfect lunch or dinner!
- Eat at home
Eating at home is a great way of sticking to a food budget, whether you cook meals yourself and order a takeaway.How is ordering a takeaway saving you money? Well, you’ll likely already have drinks at home so you won’t need to add those to your bill, and you can save leftovers for your lunch or dinner the next day. Porto has a wide range of takeaway options around the city so wherever you’re living, you’ll be able to enjoy pizza, pasta, Porto delicacies, sushi and more!
However, if you really want to know the best cheap eats in Porto, we’ll let you in on a secret: home-cooked meals are always a winner. There’s no better feeling than sitting down to enjoy a tasty meal that you’ve cooked yourself or with friends! Porto has a brilliant selection of affordable supermarkets, market stalls and other shops that make home-cooking easy.
Best Things To Do in Porto When Family & Friends Visit
One of the most exciting times as a student is when your friends and family from home come to visit. You get to show them your uni life, where you live and all around the city you’re studying in.
So, what are the top things to do in Porto with friends and family? If they’ve never visited before, you’ll want to have a mixture of tourist and non touristy things to do in Porto, so the possibilities are truly endless!
- Clérigos Church and Tower
Clérigos Church is one of the most famous landmarks in the city which makes it one of the top things to do in Porto when your friends and family come to visit you.Its fame is largely down to the Clérigos Tower that accompanies the church. The bell tower is 75 metres tall and can be seen from many other places in the city.
Your friends and family will love learning about its almost 300 year long history and its cultural significance. Plus, as a Baroque church, the architecture is truly breathtaking from both the outside and the interior!
- Bolsa Palace
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Porto with friends and family to highlight the city’s rich history, wonderful culture and gorgeous architecture, you need to take them to Bolsa Palace!Spanning over 100 years of history, Bolsa Palace was actually built on the ruins of the cloisters of St Francis Church of Porto! You can enjoy a 45 minute guided tour of Bolsa Palace with your friends and family where you can learn about the history of the Portuguese Stock Exchange.
If that wasn’t enough, the architecture of Bolsa Palace is breathtaking. It has a noble staircase, a glass dome covering the Hall of Nations and also has an intricately designed exterior. No Porto travel guide would be complete without mentioning Bolsa Palace!
When your friends and family visit, you may want to look for non touristy things to do in Porto so that they can get a taste of what it’s like to live in the city rather than just visit.Visiting local markets is a great way to show Porto in all its glory, from locally produced food to handcrafted trinkets. There are markets all over Porto, running at different times on different days so there will be somewhere you can go to enjoy market goodies!
One of the most renowned markets in Porto is Bolhão Market as it’s the only fresh market left in Porto, meaning you can get delicious fruits, vegetables and baked goods. If you’re a fan of vintage items, Porto Belo market is ideal as you can pick up anything from vinyl records to vintage clothing. This market is great if you’re looking for a mixture of tourist and non touristy things to do in Porto because it’s close by to attractions such as Livraria Lello, meaning you can immerse yourself into city life at the market before channelling your inner tourist around the corner.
Getting Around Porto
Now you know about the unique, quirky and even crazy things to do in Porto…how can you get to them?
You’ll be pleased to know that getting around Porto couldn’t be easier! Porto is a very walkable city so you can give yourself a self guided walking tour of Porto whenever you like. There are also plenty of safe and beautiful cycle routes around the city so you can take in the beautiful scenery while cycling to uni.
On a rainy day you might not fancy stepping in puddles, but that’s okay because Porto’s public transport is fantastic. Train, bus, tram and metro services run throughout the day and span the entire city so you’ll never be stuck with no way to get home. The metro even has routes into Porto’s neighbouring cities so if you’re looking for fun things to do in Porto that aren’t actually in Porto, you can have an adventure to close-by cities!
Public transport in Porto is affordable and easy. You can buy an Andante Card which works similarly to a travel card so you don’t need to worry about carrying around cash for each journey. You can also get an Andante 24 which gives you unlimited journeys on Porto’s public transport for the whole day. This is perfect if you want to do some sightseeing as you can hop on and off metros, trains and buses whenever you like without worrying about cost!
Not Found Your Perfect Student Accommodation in Porto?
We don’t know about you, but this has made us want to jump on the next bus into Porto city and enjoy a delicious pastel de nata on our way to the famous Livraria Lello!
There are so many fun things to do in Porto on a budget. Whether you want to take in the history and culture of this wonderful city at Bolsa Palace or want an exhilarating experience on the Treetop Walk at Serralves Park, this Porto travel guide has something for everyone. Want to explore further than Porto? Check out our blog on the best things to do in Portugal.
Studying in a new city is an exciting experience and we want to help you create memories that last a lifetime! We’re not just talking about this Porto travel guide though, we provide stylish student accommodation in Porto.
Having a study-life balance is very important and at Nido, we provide student accommodation with all the facilities to help you achieve your ideal balance. With yoga and wellness rooms, gyms and games areas, you can chill out and unwind by yourself or with friends. When it comes to studying, we also have quiet study spaces for you to get your head down and concentrate.
At Nido, we believe student accommodation should help you thrive and reach your full potential, which is why Nido Porto is in the heart of the city, close to all the facilities you need to make your student life amazing. Book a tour today and see where you’ll be calling home!
Want to join the Nido family but you’re studying elsewhere in Portugal? No problem, we also have Nido Campo Pequeno in Lisbon. Get in touch with us today with any questions and a member of our friendly team will be more than happy to help.