Guide To the Best Photo Spots in Porto Portugal

pretty facades on the Cais de Ribeira in Porto Portugal
pretty facades on the Cais de Ribeira in Porto Portugal

Here’s my guide to the 13 best places to take photos in Porto Portugal.

Colorful vintage-y Porto Portugal is a travel photographer’s dream. Or just a dream. It’s so dreamy that, right now, Porto is one of Europe’s hottest destination.

guide to the best photo spots in Porto

Porto’s magical, has a pretty palette, and is full of Baroque churches, azulejo tiles, and dreamy cobblestone streets. And hills.

While those hills may make your quads burn, they provide amazing vistas to view some of Porto’s visual treats.

Capela das Almas on the Rua Santa Caterina in Porto
Capela das Almas on the Rua Santa Caterina in Porto

Best Photo Spots in Porto

Here are my picks for the best places to take photos in Porto.

1. Capela das Almas

Capela das Almas is a little charmer of a church. It’s completely wrapped with a ornate blue and white tile mural on its entire exterior.

The bright blue mural was added in 1912. But it’s painted in an 18th century style.

Its 15,947 tiles depict scenes from the death of St. Francis of Assisi and the martyrdom of Santa Caterina. It was one of the most extraordinary things I saw in Porto. So unique.

The enchanting little church is on the Rua Santa Caterina and is sometimes called the Chapel of Santa Caterina. Santa Caterina is a popular pedestrianized street filled with shops and cafes, near Bolhão Market.

Capela das Almas and its Instagrammable exterior
Capela das Almas and its Instagrammable exterior

That’s the one downside. It’s hard to get a proper photo of the church, so many people are milling about and gawking at it.

But plenty of people still nabbed photos against the beautiful azulejos. So be patient and you’ll be rewarded.

Address: Rua de Santa Catarina, 428 Porto

Cost: free

Hours: exterior visible 24/7, 7:30 am-7 pm Mon-Fri, 7.30 am-1 pm & 6-7 pm Sat

Livraria Lello's iconic crimson staircase
Livraria Lello’s iconic crimson staircase

2. Livraria Lello Bookstore

Porto’s Livraria Lello is stunning. It’s considered one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, clocking in at #3 on Lonely Planet’s ranking.

Time Magazine placed it among the world’s 15 most interesting bookstores. In 2014, CNN declared it was the most beautiful bookstore in the world. It’s now classified as a National Monument.

It’s one of Porto’s most popular and photogenic destinations. People come in droves to see its lovely art deco, art nouveau, and gothic interior. It also claims bragging rights as the rumored inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series.

carved plaster decorations on the Livraria Lello staircase
carved plaster decorations on the Livraria Lello staircase

view from the second floor of Livraria Lello
view from the second floor of Livraria Lello

The downside of all this beauty and the bookstore’s Harry Potter affiliation is that it’s very crowded. 

The bookstore lets in too many people at once. So it can be difficult to get quality photos with Instagrammers vying for a coveted spot on the iconic red staircase.

My advice is to come an hour or so before closing when the crowds may have dissipated. Don’t bother coming right when it opens or a half hour early. There will already be a significant line. For visiting tips, read my separate article on Livraria Lello.

Address: 144 Rua R. das Carmelitas 111, Porto

Cost: 5 euros, credited back against book purchase, online tickets

Hours: Mon to Fri: 10:00 am to 7:30 pm, Sat & Sun 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.

azulejo murals in the São Bento Train Station in Porto
azulejo murals in the São Bento Train Station

3. São Bento Train Station

Another great place for photos is the São Bento Train Station. A train station, you say? Isn’t that rather utilitarian? Why yes, but it’s unexpectedly gorgeous.

I think it would’ve been extremely cool to have purchased a train ticket to Porto, and arrived at the Bell Epoque station without realizing that amazing azulejo murals await you.

That would have put the “romance” into into train travel, a phrase I frequently hear but can’t often agree with.

Alas, I was driving on this geographical cure. And so I paid a tourist visit. With scads of other tourists. It’s a popular place.

azulejo murals in the São Bento Train Station in Porto
azulejo murals in the São Bento Train Station in Porto

You enter the station and there is an extraordinary soaring atrium covered with 20,000 azulejo tiles from 1905-16.

They come courtesy of Jorge Colaço. He also created the tiles for the Igreja de Ildefonso. Colaço sought to depict important moments in Portuguese history, including bloody battles and rural festivities.

Address: Praça Almeida Garrett, 4000-069 Porto

Open: 24/7

Cost: free

the Cafe Majestic on Rua Santa Caterina in Porto
the Cafe Majestic on Rua Santa Caterina

4. Majestic Café

The Belle Epoque is alive and well at Porto’s beautiful Majestic Café. The eye catching cafe is considered one of the most beautiful cafes in the world. 

It appears regularly on top ten lists. It’s certainly the prettiest one I’ve been inside or eaten at.

My daughter and I had dinner there our last night in Porto. It was one of the more touristy things that we did. And the cafe is definitely overpriced.

But I have to say, it was completely worth it just to see the extraordinarily beautiful Art Nouveau architecture and setting. And grab more photos in Porto.

Everywhere you look, it was beautiful, down to the tiniest details. I loved the period lighting, ornately carved wood, and the vintage mirrors.

Cafe Majestic. Image source: José Moutinho
Cafe Majestic. Image source: José Moutinho
the intricate chairs at Cafe Majestic
the intricate chairs at Cafe Majesti
curved wood door details at the cafe Majestic
curved wood door details at the cafe Majestic

And the food was actually quite good. The pastel de nata and the hot chocolate were especially delicious. A great chance to both eat and snap photos.

If you want something simpler, check out the world’s most beautiful McDonalds on Avenida dos Aliados, right next to City Hall and near Porto Cathedral.

Address: Rua Santa Catarina 112, 4000-442 Porto

Hours: Mon to Sat 9:00 am to 11:30 pm

Website

Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas
Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas

5. Igreja do Carmo

The lovely Igreja do Carmo is close to Livraria Lello and the Palacio da Bolsa. It’s Instagram famous for its grandiose and exquisite side panel festooned with azulejo tiles.

The Baroque and Rococco style church was built in the 18th century and had its exterior tiles installed in 1910. The tiles depict the founding of the Carmelites religious order.

The church seems big, and looks like two churches smooshed together. And it is.

the Instagram famous rectangular azulejo covered flank of the Igreja do Carmo
the Instagram famous rectangular azulejo covered flank of the Igreja do Carmo

The Carmo is actually two churches, Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas. They are separated by a tiny thin house, which is the narrowest house in Porto. The nuns lived and worked at Igreja dos Carmelitas and the monks at Igreja do Carmo.

Like Capela das Almas, people line up and take turns getting photos against the famous wall.

Address: Rua Carmo, Porto 4050-164

Cost: free

Hours: exterior 24/7, open 8 am-noon & 1-6 pm Mon & Wed, 9 am-6 pm Tue & Thu, to 5:30 pm Fri, to 4 pm Sat, to 1:30 pm Sun

view from the Miradouro da Vitoria

6. Miradouro Da Vitória

Shabby chic Porto becomes picture perfect from the superb Miradouro da Vitoria. 

You can see all of Porto — Vila Nova de Gaia, its wine lodges, the Dom Luis I bridge, the monastery Serra do Pilar, the large glass dome of the Palacio da Bolsa, Sé Catedral. It’s all of Porto and Gaia in one fell swoop!

And it’s the perfect spot in Porto for photographers or Instagrammers. Plenty of room to set up a tripod and shoot away. And you’ll have no trouble getting selfies.

And it’s the perfect spot for photographers or Instagrammers. Plenty of room to set up a tripod and shoot away. And you’ll have no trouble getting selfies.

Ali and I at the Ponte de Dom Luis I, Gaia side
Ali and I at the Ponte de Dom Luis I, Gaia side

7. The Top Level of the Ponte de Dom Luís I

Another great place for photos in Porto is the Luís I bridge. You can walk across the top of the twin level bridge for stunning views. 

This bridge connects the city of Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia. Gaia is a town south of the city. It’s famous for its port wine warehouses.

The metal arched bridge was designed by one of the famous French engineer Gustave Eiffel’s pupils, Théophile Seyrig.

a fearless man about to jump from the Dom Luis I bridge
a fearless man about to jump from the Dom Luis I bridge

Its construction began in 1881 and required 3,054 tons of metal. When built, it was the longest metal bridge in the world.

When I was there in May, young men in wetsuits lined up to jump off the bridge. It didn’t look appealing to me. But they earned a few euros.

Address: Ponte Luís I, Porto, Portugal

the fortress-like Sé do Porto
the fortress-like Sé do Porto

8. Sé Cathedral Terrace

You get a two for one at Porto’s stern looking cathedral, the Sé do Porto. It’s located right in the heart of the old town. 

You can feast your eyes on photogenic azulejo tiles. You also get grand view for more photos of the pretty city.

The imposing fortress-like cathedral is part of Porto’s UNESCO designation, it’s so old. Construction began in the second half of the 12th century. 

It’s been renovated and now sports three different architectural styles — Roman, Gothic, and Baroque.

Gothic cloister of Se Cathedral
Gothic cloister of Se Cathedral

The church features a facade of two towers topped by 2 crowned cupolas, 2 buttresses, a rose window and a crenellated arch. The barrel vault ceiling, the nave and the altar are fabulous.

But it’s the Gothic Cloister that’s a must see. Entry to the main part of the cathedral is free. But you’ll pay 3 euros to visit the cloisters and museum. 

The entrance to the cloister is located inside the cathedral, through a door to the right of the temple.

view from  Sé Cathedral terrace
view from Sé Cathedral terrace

t’s worth parting with the cash, just to view the gorgeous azulejos. 

These 17th century baroque tiles were created by the artist Valentim Almeida. One set depicts the Life of the Virgin while the other depicts scenes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

Be sure to step out onto the terrace for one of the best views in Porto.

Address: Terreiro da Sé, 4050-573 Porto

Cost: Cathedral: Free entrance, Cloister: €3.

Hours

Congregados church with Clerigos tower in background
Congregados church with Clerigos tower in background

Clérigos Tower is the tallest campanile and a famous landmark in Portugal. It’s a Baroque masterpiece, dating from the 18th century that stands 250 feet tall. 

For €5, you can climb the 200 steps for a privileged view over Porto, the Douro River, and Vila Nova de Gaia.

Be forewarned that the steps are narrow and packed with tourists. It may be a chore to get to the top unless it’s off season.

view from Clérigos Tower
view from Clérigos Tower

9. Clérigos Tower

Clérigos Tower is the tallest campanile in Portugal. It’s a Baroque masterpiece, dating from the 18th century that stands 250 feet tall. For €5, you can climb the 200 steps for a privileged view over Porto, the Douro River, and Vila Nova de Gaia.

Be forewarned that the steps are narrow and packed with tourists. It may be a chore to get to the top unless it’s off season.

view from Clérigos Tower
view from Clérigos Tower

An interesting factoid about the tower is that, in 1917, it was successfully scaled by two Spanish acrobats in front of an enormous crowd. Looking at the tower, such a feat seems impossible.

Address: Rua de São Filipe de Nery, 4050

Cost: €5

Hours: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm

the Palácio da Bolsa in the old stock exchange building
the Palácio da Bolsa in the old stock exchange building

10. Palácio da Bolsa

Porto’s old stock exchange was built next to the Church of São Francisco in 1832. The exterior was finished in 1850 and has a Neoclassical design. 

The eclectic interiors were decorated right up to the start of the 20th century. It’s an underrated tourist attraction in Porto, in my view.

You need to go inside to comprehend the richness of the elaborate sculpture, decorative carvings, plasterwork, frescos, chandeliers, and tiles. 

the Moorish Revival Room in the Palacio da Bolsa
the Moorish Revival Room in the Palacio da Bolsa

The stuccoed Moorish Revival Salão Árabe is almost overwhelming. The style is Moorish, a type of architecture that dates back to the 13th/14th century. 

It was recreated here by Gustavo Adolfo Gonçalves de Sousa. He was inspired by the Alhambra palace in Granda Spain.

The monumental Pátio das Nações courtyard is lit by an octagonal metal and glass roof.

Address: Rua do Infante Dom Henrique, 4050

Cost: € 8, students & seniors € 4.50

Hours: Apr to Oct: 9 am – 6:30 pm, Nov to Mar: 9 am – 12:30 pm & 2 pm – 5:30 pm.

The Teleferico de Gaia cable car
The Teleferico de Gaia cable car

11. Teleférico de Gaia

The Teleférico de Gaia cable car provides great views and photo opps over the Duoro River. To catch the cable car, cross the lower level of the Luís I bridge from Porto.

Turn right and walk along the river in Vila Nova de Gaia past the vendors and wine caves. Eventually, you’ll come to the ticket office for the cable car on the river.

You can get a one way ticket or a return ticket. But the one way ticket is likely the best. It’s the ascent and will save you a steep hike upon landing.

Ali and I riding the Teleférico de Gaia cable car
Ali and I riding the Teleférico de Gaia cable car
heading into the one way stop near the Serra do Pilar monastery and miradouro
heading into the one way stop near the Serra do Pilar monastery and miradouro

When you disembark, you can hang out in the Jardim de Morro gardens.

Alternatively, make the relatively short hike up to the Monastery of Serro do Pilar for more views.

The Teleférico is only a 5 minute ride, but we loved it.

Address: R. Rocha Leão 236, 4430-148 Vila Nova de Gaia

Price: One way trip adult €6, return trip €9

Hours

the very round Serro do Pilar Monastery
the very round Serro do Pilar Monastery

12. Serra do Pilar Monastery Miradouro

If you have the legs for it, head to the Serra do Pilar Monastery miradouro for more photo opportunities. 

The monastery sits loftily on a hilltop across from the Luís I Bridge. It’s in the town of Vila Nova de Gaia. It has a prime position overlooking the Douro River and Porto.

The monastery itself wasn’t open when were were there. But the views from its miradouro are well worth the hike up.

view from the Serra do Pilar miradouro
view from the Serra do Pilar miradouro

You have a good look at a length of Porto’s 14th century fortress battlements, which are actually pretty interesting and part of Porto’s UNESCO designation.

The nearby Jardim de Morro also has good views. You can sit down and rest in the grass with the young hipsters of Porto. The day we were there, music was blasting and people were recruiting voters. It had a fun, relaxed vibe.

Address: Largo de Avis, Vila Nova de Gaia

the Praça da Ribeira
the Praça da Ribeira

13. Walk along the riverbanks of Porto’s Ribeira or Vila Nova de Gaia

Nothing beats a stroll along the Cais de Ribeira. You’ll have some of the best photo ops in Porto.

The riverside quarter of Porto is a medieval warren of narrow winding streets and pastel painted facades in faded glory.

Tall and colorful row houses are crammed along the river bank. And there are plenty of trendy bars, cafes, shops, street artists, and entertainers.

a street entertainer making like a statue in the Ribeira
a street entertainer making like a statue in the Ribeira

a lovely ceramics store in the Ribeira
a lovely ceramics store in the Ribeira

Waking along the riverbanks of the Vila Nova de Gaia affords great views back on the Ribeira. You can also inspect the wine carrying boats called rabelos.

If you peak down the side streets as you go, to the left you’ll see a magnificent art installation: Half Rabbit by Lisbon street artist Bordalo II. 

It’s part of his Trash Animals series (dogs, fish, bees, rabbits). Bordalo II is known for creating works of art from “waste” as a statement on the impact of consumerism.

Half Rabbit was simply arresting.

a rabelo boat loaded with caskets of port on the Douro River
a rabelo boat loaded with caskets of port wine on the Douro River
street art installation “Half Rabbit” by Lisbon artist Bordalo II.
street art installation “Half Rabbit” by Lisbon artist Bordalo II.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to the best photos spots in Porto.You may enjoy these other travel guides and resources for Portugal:

10 day itinerary for Portugal

Historic landmarks in Portugal

4 day itinerary for Lisbon

Guide to the Alfama neighborhood

Guide to the Belem neighborhood

Day trips from Lisbon

Hidden gems in Lisbon

Guide to Jeronimos Monastery

If you’d like to see the best sites in Porto Portugal, pin it for later.

guide to the best photo spots in Porto
guide to he best places to take photos in Porto



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