Portugal is an amazingly beautiful country we have been to in Europe. It was a great decision to visit Porto with kids during our Christmas and New Year holidays. The weather was nice and warm, and we actually had a chance to avoid crowds making our Portugal family holidays unforgettable.
Of course, Portugal has to offer gorgeous sandy beaches. It is also a great place for food lovers and wine tasters. It is generally considered that the best time to visit Portugal is in spring (from March to May) or autumn (from September to the beginning of November). The weather is perfect during these months for sunbathing, swimming and enjoying various water sports. Also, you will be able to save some money compared to the peak-season deals (from June to August).
However, if you are planning to have city breaks with kids in such places like Porto, Lisbon, Sintra, Braga, Amarante or any other city that excludes beach time, we strongly suggest Christmas and New Year season. Portugal got so popular in recent years as it is, indeed, a fantastic place to be. But this is one of the main reasons for kilometer-long queues to get into one palace or castle, especially if we are talking about Sintra. If you are traveling to Portugal with kids, it would be probably a bit difficult to wait for a couple of hours to visit one sight. But! If your kids are under two, you have got a free priority entrance in the whole of Portugal!
We have made a 16-day trip across Portugal with our 2-year old toddler and our family friends with a 1-year old baby. Check our full itinerary with all sorts of things to do in Portugal, tips & tricks, and important information to know about
- Driving across Algarve coastline;
- Wandering around beautiful Lisbon;
- Taking the train to magical Sintra;
- Enjoying medieval and baroque Porto with children (you are reading this post now!)
Porto is a coastal city in northwest Portugal known for its stately bridges and port wine production. Like Lisbon, it is separated into neighborhoods which I found was an interesting way to explore the town.
It is a very cozy and extremely relaxing city. There are tons of things to do in Porto with kids too. The weather in December is nice and warm. It was our last place to stay, and we felt a bit exhausted after 12 days of visiting three cities, walking, hiking, climbing the palaces and castles, driving along the coast, taking a bus, train and even a boat to get around. But Porto welcomed us to its charming tranquil lifestyle and let us rest.
We have done a free Porto walking tour planned by us and could see the whole city and major sights in one day. Also, we added Virtudes Garden and Garden of the Crystal Palace for the other day. Apart from this, there is plenty of amazing day trips from Porto, such as going on a river tour to see the fabulous valley, do the wine tasting, join one of the cooking classes to make traditional Pastel de Nata or work with Portuguese azulejo tiles.
Let us share our itinerary in Porto with kids and important tips to walk around that will make your stay in Porto memorable.
- Getting to Porto
- Local traditional food, Portuguese delicacies, and Porto wine
- Porto Itinerary and Free Things To Do In Porto
- Day Two in Porto
Getting to Porto
You can fly into Porto, there is only one international airport, but due to Portugal’s popularity, they are now planning to construct another one.
For your arrival and departure, you have several options at your disposal:
- Subway: Line E. All the trains that depart from the airport stops at Trinidad station. You should also use the same line for your departure.
You can purchase the ticket at one of the ticket machines in the metro. The ticket shall say “Andante” on it and then you choose a title, which in our case was “Z4”. The trip takes approximately 35 minutes.
We arrived in Porto from Sintra. The best way to get from Lisbon to Porto, Cascais or Sintra is to take a bus. We have used Rome2Rio service for that and booked bus tickets online. Kids under five years of age can go free of charge unless they sit on a lap. The good news is that new direct bus lines departing from Sintra and Cascais were launched in November 2019. Now it is faster and more convenient as buses do not need to go through Lisbon anymore.
Local traditional food, Portuguese delicacies, and Porto wine
Northern Portugal is well-known for its gastronomy and as such Porto could not be an exception. This is why we decided to share some of the real Portuguese delicacies that you can’t miss during your visit to this beautiful unbeaten city:
- Tripas à Moda do Porto: a recipe that is very appreciated by locals and tourists, this dish is made with beans and various kinds of meat. According to history, in preparation for the expedition to Ceuta, locals used to slaughter a considerable number of cattle. They sent animal carcasses by ships and left only guts. It was considered that only they know how to prepare this delicious dish of Porto;
- Francesinha is a type of sandwich that consists of meat and charcuterie accompanied by a delicious sauce. This dish was created by northern Portuguese who got the influence from France and introduced “croque-monsieur”. They believed that “The hottest woman is French” which explains the name of the dish.
- Bacalhau à Gomes de Sa: Gomes de Sá was a merchant in Porto who created this finest dish at the end of the 19th century.
Here are some of our suggestions where you can taste these and other local delicacies:
Restaurants in Porto
- Le chien qui fume – R. do Almada 405 (Center)
- Copos e Cusquices, tapas portugais – Caiprinhas top.
- A Tasquinha – R. do Carmo 23, 4050-164 Porto (University neighborhood)
- Os maus habitos – R. de Passos Manuel 178, 4º Piso, 4000-382 Porto (Santa Catarina neighborhood)
- Fado restaurant – A Casa da Mariquinha (Cathédral neighborhood)
- Miss’opo Rua dos Caldeireiros 100 – Porto
Nightlife in Porto
- Casa do Livro
- Plano B
- Café au lait
Getting a drink in Porto
- A Capela
- Maus Habitos
Getting brunch in Porto
- Padaria Ribeiro
- O Diplomata
- O Zenith
- Le Picaba Castelo de Queijo
Porto Itinerary and Free Things To Do In Porto
Day One in Porto with a toddler
Where to stay in Porto?
Almost all the sights are located in Porto’s central part. And we were very lucky to stay quite near to all central activities. It is highly recommended to choose a place within a 10-15-minute walk to Igreja dos Carmelitas or São Bento Station.
Before coming to Porto, I starred all the magnificent places I wanted to visit on my map, so, later on, it was a matter of linking them together and making up our own Porto travel route. It was all within walking distance. Seeing everything in one day is absolutely doable, but we wanted to stop for lunch, enjoy sun at the panorama view, listen to street music at the Ribeira riverside, watch the sunset on top of the Clerigos Tower, so we had reserved a few activities for the next day to make everything at a relaxing pace with our toddler.
The Cathedral and its neighborhood
This neighborhood is one of the main and important. We have started with the visiting Igreja de Santo António dos Congregados which I couldn’t find until I turned around. It is a great church built in 1703 and located in Praça de Almeida Garrett. On your left, you can find a small Liberdade square with the monument to Pedro IV.
When you cross the street from the church you will be right in front of the São Bento railway station. Although you are not planning to take the train, this station became a significant landmark of Porto. It was built in the early 20th century by the painter Jorge Colaço and is worth popping into for a look at the 20 000 tiles (azulejos). They depict scenes from the history of railways and transport, as well as events in Portuguese history.
The next stop is Sé do Porto – the Porto Cathedral. You can see it at the railway station as it is located on the hill. The Porto Cathedral was the heart of Porto in the Middle Ages and is the city’s most important historical building. Indeed, it looks incredibly gorgeous. But the most I loved was the violin player next to it. It just gave me an unforgettable feeling of the place. The cathedral has an amazing panorama view and square to enjoy the time in Porto with a baby.
On our way to Dom Luis Bridge, which is already considered to be a Ribeira district, we passed by the Santa Clara church (Igreja Santa Clara) that looks magnificent on the pictures; however, it was closed for the reconstruction at the time.
Dom Luis Bridge is one of the main attractions of Porto. You can spend hours there watching the view. The panorama view from both sides is fantastic! If you didn’t have enough, climbing to Jardim do Morro and Claustros do Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar that are located next to the bridge for a better view is highly recommended. We also enjoyed taking the coffee break (or wine) in one of the glass cafes that had an open view of Porto too. This bridge reminded Karluv Most in Prague but seemed to be bigger as you have got trams passing by all the time.
As our little traveler went for his nap, we decided to explore the furthest part. The very popular district of the Fontainhas and the Alegria Square was nice to wander around. We also visited the S. Lázaro Garden. However, the most we liked to get down the narrow streets on our way back to Ribeira riverside. Porto is all about the hill, I believe locals are very sporty because it is just not easy to go up and down the 45-70-degree inclined hill every day.
The Ribeira Quai and its neighborhood
Ribeira district is one of the most famous neighborhoods, the name means riverside. You will be walking along the riverside enjoying loads of merchants, markets, cafes, and restaurants. There are lots of street musicians, dancers, and performers who always make up the crowds.
This is just a great time to pass your time, especially on a sunny day. Apart from the riverside, the whole district looks quite charming with its narrow cobbled streets and cafes. You can see The Church of Saint Francis and Mercado Ferreira Borges with a monument to Henry the Navigator. There is also a tourist center if necessary.
The Clérigos Tower and its neighborhood
Walking towards the main attraction, Clérigos Church, you can find also twin churches on the way, Igreja dos Carmelitas and Igreja do Carmo. We have decided to visit a church, the entrance costs €6 per person. You will find the church, a very interesting church museum and be able to climb all the way up to meet the sunset, which was the best way for us to finish the day!
Day Two in Porto
Boavista and its neighborhood
On our second day, we decided to explore the western part of Porto. One of the first picks was Jardins do Palacio de Cristal. The venue is mainly used for exhibitions, events, and concerts. But the area is amazing to explore landscaped gardens designed in the 19th century offering fountains, paths and Douro River views.
For museum lovers, in this neighborhood, you can find Casa da Música (a concert hall), the National Museum Soares dos Reis and the Romantic Museum of Quinta da Macieirinha.
The Foz neighborhood and the Porto harbor
Foz district is the furthest one, but you will have a nice getaway from all the crowds enjoying the views to the mouth of the River Douro, which is also considered to be one of the most interesting tours. Particularly, the Old Foz and the Queijo castle are recommended to visit.
At last, return to the Virtudes garden for sunset that is located near the Clérigos Tower and finish your second day in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Porto, Miragaia, where you can have a nice dinner.
As been mentioned above, if you have got more time in Porto, I suggest considering the Douro valley tour and exclusive Porto wine tasting. If you get to spend a night or two in this incredibly beautiful place, you should consider staying at Casa Cimeira.
Also, taking cooking and craft classes sounds like a splendid idea!
So, is Porto now on your bucket list? We certainly hope so!
Enjoy your stay at Porto!
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Also, check out:
- Portugal with kids: Lisbon with a baby and toddler (+Itinerary & Tips).
- Portugal Family Holidays: Sintra With Kids.
- Portugal Family Holidays: Algarve With Kids.
- Things to do in Mar del Plata Buenos Aires with kids.
- 15+ must-see and FREE things to do in London with a baby.
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