With Porto, it was always love at first sight. The city’s crumbling tiled buildings and hilly streets overlooking the Douro River have always mesmerized me, especially after a glass or two of delicious port wine. Now, as a mom, I love that Porto is an affordable city for the whole family to enjoy.
These days, my toddler enjoys chasing pigeons in Porto’s squares and playing in the gardens around the Crystal Palace—but as he grows older, Porto’s allure broadens. I can’t wait to take him to the beautiful Livraria Lello bookshop to pick out books or to grab a Happy Meal at what may just be the world’s most beautiful McDonald's in Aliados Square (yes, there’s even a chandelier!).
While Porto’s weather is generally mild, it’s often cool and rainy in the winter months. Pack accordingly.
If you only have time for one thing, make it a riverboat tour. It’s an easy way to enjoy riverside scenery, and children will love being out on the water.
Start by exploring Porto on foot, wandering around the city center and visiting sights like the Dos Clérigos Tower (the kids may want to run up the steep spiral staircase) and the Porto Cathedral. Families that love to read should stop at Livraria Lello, one of the world's most beautiful bookstores. If little legs can’t handle all the walking, consider exploring the city by tuk-tuk. You’ll cover a lot more ground, and the whole family will enjoy traversing the hilly streets in a new and exciting way.
Spend the afternoon with a relaxing ride on the Douro River. Cruises typically sail beneath the city’s many bridges and offer a free glass of Port wine for the parents.
Start today with a bit of culture. Porto has numerous museums apt for the whole family, from the Paper Money Museum to the World of Discoveries, which has interactive exhibits guaranteed to impress kids. Soccer fans big or small won’t want to miss the FC Porto museum.
In the afternoon, stretch your legs and get outside with a cycle along the Douro River. Alternatively, if you have an aspiring artist in the family, join a walking tour to see Porto’s colorful street art.
Walk across the top of the towering metal Dom Luís I Bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia, home to a number of Port wineries (which allow children in for tours) and a cable car that rides high above the city’s red rooftops. It’s also home to WOW, an entertainment complex with lots of museums and restaurants—kids will love the interactive chocolate exhibit, while parents will enjoy a port and chocolate tasting from the onsite wine school.
End your trip at Matosinhos Beach, just a short taxi ride away. Little ones can frolic in the sand, while teens can test their luck surfing some of Portugal’s famous swells.