Guys and girls… Porto is the perfect place to go for your next travels. Don’t just take our word for it! The city was crowned the top place in Europe to visit in 2017 by the European Best Destination association, due to the 1.6 million travelers that flock here every year. Seriously, it’s where it’s AT.
Of course, the ground-breaking arrival of Cats to Porto obviously has everything to do with the city’s growing popularity, but that aside, the biggest reason that Porto is now so darn popular is its vibrant street life. The Undefeated City’s street way of livin’ will sweep you off your feet. You’ll be so obsessed with soaking up the neighborhood vibes that you’ll likely forget half of the plans you had made pre-trip. C’est la vie!
There are actually many sides to Discover Porto; kinda like mini cities within the actual Porto, if you will. 15 neighborhoods (‘freguesias’ in the local tongue) make up this wonderful city: Aldoar, Bonfim, Campanhã, Cedofeita, Foz do Douro, Lordelo do Ouro, Massarelos, Miragaia, Nevogilde, Paranhos, Ramalde, Santo Ildefonso, São Nicolau, Sé and Vitória (information on public transport and how to get from Porto airport to city center).
Each of these enticing areas has its own unique personality, which makes them all so adorably quirky and unforgettable. Each area, however, blends in well with the next, and together they end up creating a perfect mosaic of amazing places. Every traveler finds the ‘freguesia’ of their dreams. Which will be your favorite?
So, now you’ve been warned of the high risk of falling head over heels with at least one of the city’s districts, let’s give you a nice little list of the 6 coolest ‘hoods in Porto. Let’s see what our highly qualified Cats staff have come up with this time! They are, after all, true ‘Tripeiros’, otherwise known as people who were born and bred in Porto (Lucky guys).
CEDOFEITA (BAIRRO DAS ARTES)
Why not start with the crown jewel, the icing on the cake? Cedofeita is one of the most authentic yet modern neighborhoods in Porto. The area prides itself on its bohemian spirit, giving it the nickname of Bairro das Artes (Art District). It would be the equivalent of Soho in NY, Montmartre in Paris or even Malasaña in Madrid.
Over the years, countless pop-up art galleries, alternative book stores, and design schools have taken Cedofeita by storm. Not to mention the area’s trendiest restaurants, bars, and hip clothes stores as well!
This neighborhood draws in the most creative and curious of travelers. The famous Cedofeita and Miguel Bombarda Streets are the two main arteries that cross through the territory.
Worldly hipsters, rejoice!
Ribeira is, quite frankly, the very essence of Porto. You know the typical postcard image of Porto that comes to mind? Yeah, that’s Ribeira. Its charming Sá Carneiro (maze of winding streets and hills) and its cute little abandoned and colorful houses along the river Douro will melt your heart in an instant.
This is likely the most touristy area of the entire city, located in the São Nicolau district. But do not be fooled, mass tourism has not affected the spirit of this wonderful freguesia, which remains as authentic as ever. Ribeira is known and loved for its colorful façades and rooftops. This Portuguese treasure has so much artistic-historical value, that it was named a UNESCO Universal Heritage site.
You’re gonna spend quite some time discovering the Ribeira area, so go get lost in its little labyrinth and have a bite to eat in one of the homely restaurants, before ending the night with a lovely promenade along the river. You won’t want to miss out on watching the sunset right by the Luis I bridge… the twinkling lights of the Vila Nova de Gaia wineries across the river, mixed with the sky’s amazing explosion of color above… It’s a magical moment.
Welcome to our neck of the woods! The Sé neighborhood (named after the city’s cathedral) is where Cats Hostel Porto City Center is located: home sweet home!
This is the oldest part of town, where the beautiful Sé cathedral lies, perched majestically up high on a hill. Here you’ll enjoy some seriously jaw-dropping views of the city. The Sé precinct is where the ancient town of Portus Cale originally spread its roots, which would then expand and become the modern-day Porto we all know and love.
Even today, you can appreciate the medieval feel of the Sé district, which blends in perfectly with the day-to-day chaos of Porto: washing lines blowing in the wind, entwined from balcony to balcony, and neighbors chatting in their colorful houses. It’s well worth the visit.
There are a million things to do here, number one is to come on down to Cats, obviously! The Sé district will show you the REAL Porto experience. If you fancy listening to some typical fado music, look no further, Sé is full to the brim of amazing fado venues.
This little gem is also located in central Porto. Cordoaria is another one for the tourists, seeing as it’s home to the Clérigos Church and Tower, the Igreja do Carmo church and… last but not least: the Harry Potter-esque Lello Bookstore!!
The Galerías de París Street is one of Porto’s best places for nightlife. There are bars and nightclubs on every corner, where you’ll have a grand old time for sure.
Whether you’re a bit of a hipster or consider yourself the posh type… There’s something for everyone along this well-known strip. And if you don’t go to the party… the part will surely come to you! It usually gets so busy that people end up spilling onto the streets and getting festive outside the bars as well!
FOZ DO DOURO
Let’s take the mayhem down a notch, shall we? If you are looking for somewhere to wind down a bit and take in some calming scenery, it’s time to get away from the buzzing city center and say “hola” to the sea. We’re talking about Porto’s Foz de Douro neighborhood, of course. Located to the west of the city, it will guide you in the direction of those well-needed seaside breeze vibes.
Porto’s shore and the surrounding area have around 10Km of trails for walking, running or cycling. Perfect if you’re looking for a moment to reconnect with nature. Sometimes you just need to take it easy, right?
VILA NOVA DE GAIA
WARNING! Bonus points up for grabs.
Okay Okaaaaaay, we know. Vila Nova de Gaia isn’t technically part of Porto (you know-it-alls!). This cute little area does, however, manage to find its way into the heart of everyone who has ever stepped foot in Porto.
For this reason, we’re prepared to ignore the geographical technicalities and include this wonderful area (sat on the other side of the river) on our list of the best places to visit in (and around) Porto. You simply have to save some time for wandering over to this riverside delight or take the cable-car across if you’re a little on the lazy side (no judgment).
Vila Nova de Gaia is a traveler’s Portuguese Paradise. Especially if you like to enjoy a glass of the good stuff…
What’s that you say? It’s Wine O’clock?? Perfect timing! Vila Nova de Gaia is the place to find all the wine your heart could ever desire. Grab a spot on our specialty wine tour and you’ll be sipping away contently while taking in the gorgeous views of Porto from the other side of the river in no-time. It’ll be one for the books!