How to Taste Delightful Porto with a City Walking Tour

Porto is a quaint old city built on the hillsides, overlooking the Douro river in northern Portugal. Its charming historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site worth visiting.

One of the best ways to explore Porto is to walk the narrow, streets and discover the hidden staircases. Full of cultural insights, Porto has much to offer when it comes to historical sites.

When you pair a Porto walking tour with local specialties, including olive oil, you get a delicious introduction to Portugal’s second city.

See what it’s like to discover Porto on a walking tour. Join us!

Article last updated – July 10th, 2019 with additional information
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Porto Walking Tours 

The historic center of Porto is relatively compact and you can see the main sights in a single day. One of the best ways to explore the city is on foot with a local guide. As such, we recommend taking a Porto walking tour to explore the narrow and winding streets and discover the secrets of the Invictus City.

The city of Porto is quite hilly, plan ahead and wear comfortable walking shoes.

There are several different types of walking tours of Porto available. Depending on your preference you may consider the following.

Porto Food Tour 

Another way of exploring Porto is to add the local food specialities to the walking tour and take a Porto food tour instead. 

We recommend this Porto half-day food tour provided by a local tour company offering bespoke tours with locals. On the tour, you will taste many of the local specialties and sip on the locals wines.

As you walk around Porto, you will learn about the history of the city and finish off with a local Portuguese sweet treat.

Porto Walking Tour – Guided 3- Hour Experience 

Discover the lesser known areas of Porto with a local guide who has grown up in the city. You will see the important historical sites in the city as well as other areas not visited often by many tourists.

On your tour you will discover more about the daily life of locals (Triperios) and several hidden culinary gems.

Porto Free Walking Tour

Offered by Porto Walkers, you can enjoy a free walking tour of Porto with local guides. Over a 3-hour period, you will see the main sites of the city, learn the history and get insider tips on things to do in Porto.

Due to the popularity of this free walking tour of Porto, booking in advance in highly recommended.

Porto Food Tour – A Bespoke Experience 

Walking around Porto and exploring the city by foot was what we wanted to do once we realized how compact and accessible everything was.

To get the most from the experience and learn about the history and food, we knew our experience would be enhanced with a local guide.

Christiane from Eco Trilha Tours, a tour company that specializes in eco tours and customized group tours offered to be our guide.

She created a customized Porto walking tour for us with an additional olive oil tasting.

Meeting Point – São Bento Train Station

To navigate us through Porto, Christiane, with  Eco Trilha Tours, met us at the main train station to start our Porto walking tour.

The São Bento Train station is one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. This station is famous for its floor-to-ceiling azulejo tile work that tell the story of Portugal’s history and royalty, and the progress of transportation.

These intricately designed blue and white tiles were placed over an 11-year period (1905-1916) by the artist, Jorge Colaço. One of the benefits of being with a local guide was getting a deeper understanding of the scenes in the tile work and the historical context.

São Bento Azulejos Porto Walking Tour Authentic Food QuestHistorical azulejo tile work at São Bento Train station

Stunning Azulejos Everywhere 

As you walk around Porto, you’ll notice other buildings and most notably churches with exquisite azulejo tiles.

On Santa Catarina street, one of the busiest streets in Porto, is the must-visit, Capela das Almas (which translates into Chapel of Souls) and is also called Saint Catherine’s Chapel. 

The exterior walls are almost completely covered with blue and white ceramic tiles depicting scenes from the life of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Catherine, the patrons of the chapel.

On your walking tour of Porto, let yourself be amazed by all the beautiful tiles and art.

Capela das Almas Porto Walking Tour Authentic Food QuestUnmissable azulejo tiles at Capela das Almas

Stop to Taste Portugal at Casa Portuguesa for Traditional Codfish Cakes

As we made our way through the narrow roads while admiring the historic architecture, we made a quick stop at Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau.

The Portuguese are obsessed with bacalhau or codfish and this particular new restaurant concept has put a new twist on the traditional Pasteis de Bacalhau or salted codfish cakes.

We learned from Christiane, our guide, that the chef has combined the traditional codfish cakes with the oldest and most recognized Portuguese cheese, Serra da Estrela Cheese to create one delicious Pastel de Bacalhau.

We went back later after the Porto walking tour and enjoyed the delightful treat served with a glass of white Port wine.

Pastel de Bacalhau Eat Bacalhau in Portugal Authentic Food QuestPastel de Bacalhau filled with Portuguese cheese and served with white Porto wine

Architectural Highlights on the Porto Walking Tour

Impressive Torre dos Clérigos

One of the main symbols of Porto we visited was the famous Igreja dos Clérigos or Church of Clérigos. This baroque masterpiece dating from the mid-18th century was designed by Italian architect, Nicolau Nasoni.

As Christiane shared, the original plans called for 2 towers, but due to lack of funds, only one tower was constructed. While we didn’t go up the 76 meter high tower, there is an inner staircase that takes you to the top where you have some of the most beautiful panoramic views of the city.

Torre dos Clérigos Porto Walking Tour Authentic Food QuestCompleted in the 1750s, this is one of Porto's most interesting architectural sites

The Bookstore That Inspired Harry Potter

Just about a five-minute walk from the center of Porto is Livraria Lello, which has been described as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world.

Rumor has it that J.K. Rowling’s inspiration to write Harry Potter has begun in Porto and at this bookstore. Apparently, at the time, J.K. Rowling lived in Porto working as an English teacher and used to write and drink coffee on the second floor of Lello’s bookstore.

There are great similarities to the Lello’s bookstore staircase and the one described in Hogwarts. It is also believed that the Hogwarts costumes were inspired traditional black suit and black coat costumes worn by Portuguese students.

The bookstore draws long lines of tourists and charges a small entrance fee. We enjoyed walking around the bookstore and admiring this beautiful and historic piece of Porto.

Livraria Lello Porto Walking Tour Authentic Food QuestLivraria Lello is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world

Porto Olive Oil Tasting at  Mercearia das Flores

A Ceremonial Olive Oil Tasting

One of our favorite stops on the Porto walking tour was at Mercearia das Flores, a local grocery store specializing on Portuguese products from small producers.

The highlight was the olive oil tasting from three different regions of Portugal. Portuguese olive oil is among the best in the world, with the vast majority coming from the Alentejo region in the south.

This olive oil tasting was quite fascinating. You place the cup of olive oil in your hands to warm it to body temperature. You take a deep breath in and smell the aromas before taking a small sip. It was a very ceremonial experience.

The taste of each Portuguese olive oil was unique. The oils were from the north of Portugal, the Douro and Trás-os-Montes regions as well as the award-winning Galache olive oil.

Each had distinct flavors ranging from spicy, bitter to smooth.

Olive Oil Tasting Porto Walking Tour Authentic Food QuestDelicious tasting of three unique Portuguese olive oils

Delicious Portuguese Regional Specialties

Along with the Portuguese olive oils, we sampled three different types of Portuguese cheese. There was a goat cheese, sheep cheese and a mix of both. This was accompanied by different cuts of presunto (ham) including chorizo.

To complete the experience, a refreshing Portuguese Vinho Verde white wine made was served.

All the products were exceptional. You can really taste the quality and rich flavors in every bite.

The knowledgeable staff from the store took time out to share a bit about the local producers of the olive oils, cheese, wine, and ham. There was a sense of pride and desire to help us make the most of the experience and flavors.

The cheese, presunto, and wine were excellent and we could have spent all day happily sampling all the local delicacies. 

Eating Portuguese foods one of the best things to do in Porto Authentic Food QuestThe perfect combination of Portuguese cheese, ham and delicious Vinho Verde

Breathtaking Panoramic Views of Porto

One of the most beautiful views of the city is from the Dom Luís I Bridge above the Douro River. This double deck metal arch bridge links Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia where the famous Port wines are aged.

The upper deck is open only to pedestrians and the metro. From above, you can leisurely walk around and admire the Douro River, Vila Nova de Gaia, and Porto.

Underneath, you can see the Ribeira, Porto’s River Bank, filled with charming cafes and restaurants.

Dom Luís I Bridge From Ribeira Porto Walking Tour Authentic Food QuestThe Dom Luís I Bridge from the Ribeira

Majestic Porto Cathedral

On our way to the Ribeira, we stopped by the impressive Cathedral,  Sé do Porto, to admire the magnificent silver altarpieces. Originally built in the 12th century, this remains one of Porto’s most important religious buildings.

Porto Cathedral Porto Walking Tour Authentic Food QuestThe Porto Cathedral, a national monument with an impressive silver altar

With the insights from our local guide, we learned that the church was preserved by the locals who covered up the silver to protect it from the French invasion of Portugal.

The Cathedral sits on a square which offers impressive views over the city, Douro River and the wine cellars on the waterfront. You don’t want to miss this stop on your Porto walking tour.

From there you can leisurely walk down to the Ribeira through the narrow streets and stairways.

Narrow Staircases Porto Walking Tour by Authentic Food QuestDiscover Porto through the many narrow stairways

Unusual Historical Site

Before heading to our final tasting, we made a detour to visit the first McDonald’s in Porto.

You might wonder why in the world we would you stop at such an iconic American fast food joint?

Well, the location of this McDonald’s is unlike any other. This McDonald’s opened in a space that once belonged to an iconic Portuguese coffee shop in the 1930s. Known as McDonald’s Imperial, it was allowed to take on this historical location only if it agreed to maintain the unique Art deco design and architecture.

As a result, it makes for a unique McDonalds with the Art Deco facade and a majestic interior.

Although, very impressive, we were disappointed that a fast food restaurant had inherited this iconic and historic space.

Mc Donalds Imperial Porto Walking Tour Authentic Food QuestMassive eagle on the Art Deco facade at this remarkable McDonald’s location

Sweet Treats on the Porto Walking Tour at Confeitaria do Bolhão

As we finished our Porto walking tour, Christiane recommended visiting Confeitaria do Bolhão, one of the oldest and most popular pastry shops in Porto. Unfortunately, on the day of the tour, it was closed.  We went back a couple days later to sample some of the local sweet specialties.

Confeitaria do Bolhão is a traditional bakery and pastry shop opened since 1896. Located across the Bolhão Market in downtown Porto, it’s always been a popular breakfast stop for locals on their way to the market.

Confeitaria do Bolhão, where to eat in Porto by Authentic FoodQuest.jpgFind a range of sweet delights at Confeitaria do Bolhão

The pastry shop was closed for 10 years at the end of the 20th century before being revived by Portuguese immigrants. Since then, it has become even more popular with locals and tourist alike.

You will find many delicious sweets and savory bites. One of their specialties is the Tigelinhas do Bolhão. This pastry is a custard tart made with eggs and almonds. It is quite sweet, with a soft filling and crunchy crust. This stop should not be missed on your walking tour of Porto.

Tigelinhas do Bolhão for Porto Walking Tour by Authentic Food QuestSweet and delicious local specialty, Tigelinhas do Bolhão
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In Summary

It is no surprise that Porto was selected European best destination to visit in 2017.

Porto is not only a picturesque city, it is also a medieval center with a wealth of cultural sites. 

The city is best explored by foot, allowing you to easily walk up and down the narrow streets and quaint stairways. Along the river, you’ll find many charming cafes and restaurants to relax and delight on local wines and foods.

Even though Porto is easy to navigate on your own, on a walking tour of Porto, you will learn more about the history and gain insights from a local guide.  In addition, you’ll make stops along the way to taste delightful Portuguese specialties including olive oil, cheese and wine and more.

Additional Information for your Porto Walking Tour and Olive Oil Tasting

Tour: Book your Porto Walking Tour directly on Eco Trilha Tours website

Duration: Approximately 4 hours. Bring comfortable walking shoes.

Customized food tour led by a knowledgeable Portuguese resident.

Have you been on a walking tour before? In the comments below, please tell us what you liked best about the experience?

Savor The Adventure!

Where to Stay in Porto

To easily walk around and discover Porto city, you  want to stay in a convenient location.

Feels Like Home Santa Catarina Prime Suites is a wonderful B&B conveniently located in downtown Porto, steps away from the main sites. The rooms and suites are in a traditional Porto building, which was recently fully refurbished and features modern comforts. 

A wonderful breakfast is included in a gorgeous setting, as well as an afternoon tea or coffee. 

Additionally, you may want to consider these accommodation options from our article where to stay in Porto for food lovers.

Budget Friendly 

The House of Sandeman – Hostel & Suites

Descobertas Boutique House 

Mid Range 

Oh! Porto Apartments

Casa Carolina

Luxury 

Charm Palace Porto

The Yeatman

To check reviews and see more options, check out our full article where to stay in Porto for food lovers to help you find the perfect home-away-from-home in Porto.

Special thanks to Eco Trilha Viagens for having us on this Walking Porto Tour. All views and opinions expressed are our own. Full bellies and happy taste buds too!

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33 thoughts on “How to Taste Delightful Porto with a City Walking Tour”

  1. Walking through the vibrant history of one of Europe’s oldest cities and discover some of its’ still hidden gems, I would love to do this 🙂 The Capela das Almas is beautiful !

    Reply
  2. This walking tour of Porto sounds like the perfect way not only to explore the city but also have some great culinary experiences! I love food and wine tasting tours and olive tasting sounds particularly intriguing to me! Also, the architecture in the city itself makes you want to walk around and explore, with a camera! I love the tile work in São Bento Train station. The Porto Cathedral is also so impressive! I’d love to try some authentic Portuguese food, can’t wait to get to Porto.

    Reply
    • The great thing about Porto is that it is an easy, walkable city. On a tour with a local, you get to learn more about the amazing history. So glad you enjoyed the article and discovering a little more about the city. Thanks for stopping

      Reply
  3. I am really curious about olive oil tasting, sounds like an interesting ceremony. Porto is fantastic with its old monuments. The tiles from the medieval times are very impressive.

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    • The olive oil tasting was quite an interesting experience. We got to learn to appreciate the subtleties of the different aromas and tastes from around the country. Truly, the tiles in Porto are magnificent!! Thanks for stopping by, Indrani.

      Reply
  4. I love walking tours, something which I don almost the first thing when I land up in a new city 🙂 Combine a food tour , the day is made . The old city looks beautiful and I see even McD seems to wear an archaic look 🙂
    Portugal generally and Porto particularly has been on my list for many years now. I have been to all countries near Portugal but somehow things don’t seem to work out.

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  5. Porto is so on my list of places to visit and it looks beautiful. The tiles at Capela das Almas is stunning and I can’t believe that’s on the outside of a building! And I so did not know that about JK Rowling living there and finding inspiration from that library. that’s a super cool fact.

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  6. We do not have a lot of Portuguese food from where I am and so this made me really curious (and hungry!) My favorite would have to be the olive oil tasting and the photos of the Porto Cathedral is awesome!

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    • So glad to have introduced you to Portuguese food through this city walking tour. The olive oil tasting was quite special, especially for a country that produces some of the best olive oils in the world. There is so much history and you’ll see many more historic churches. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  7. This comes right on time: I’m going to Porto (and other destinations in Portugal) next month so I certainly will pin this. A walking tour is always a good idea – and in combination with food….that’s my kind of day!

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    • Perfect. So glad you saw this article at the perfect time. The walking tour gives you a chance to walk off what you’ve eaten and then eat more 🙂 Check out more articles under the destination tab “Portugal” on the website. Have a safe trip.

      Reply
  8. I looooved Porto! I want to go back with my husband as I went without him but know he’d love it too. So good excuse to visit again. The food tour looks perfect, I love taking this kind of excursion to get a feel for local cuisine and the best places to eat, though I didn’t warm to bacalhau, I loved local meat and cheese, and some of the rich egg desserts in particular! On the sightseeing front, the sites with those stunning blue and white azulejo murals were my favourites.

    Reply
    • Love it that you love Porto so much. Introduce your husband to the wonders of the city and he will love it as well. Be sure to visit the wineries in the Douro Valley as well. So much to see and eat/drink in Porto! Cheers.

      Reply
  9. I paid particular interest to this post as I’m heading to Portugal in June, this tour looks like something I should definitely get involved in, I’m getting quite excited in experiencing the city and the food and reading through this post only accelerated my excitement, I know I’m going to be in for a treat, both visually and foodwise 😀 – Is there any advice other than the place you’ve mentioned in this post that I should definitely check out?

    Reply
    • Awesome and perfect timing for your upcoming trip to Portugal. The country has so much to offer. On the website, look under Portugal in the destinations tab and find all sorts of things to eat and experience in the country. Feel free to reach out with any questions, as you prepare for your trip!

      Reply
  10. Oh your post has taken me back to my 40th birthday spent travelling with friends and a week in beautiful Porto, after reading this I think I shall have to go back for more regional specialities and of course the wonderful Porto region wines. Your photos are gorgeous by the way

    Reply
  11. Portugal is our next destination so we were lucky to have found your post. We are in love with the Cathedral, it is so amazing and the shape wow
    Thank you for the tips about where to stay, appreciated!

    Reply
  12. Porto is so on my bucket list since visiting Lisbon last summer – and eating is what I remember most about my stay in Portugal! I’m definitely bookmarking this (and now, I’m craving a Pastel de Bacalhau!)

    Reply
  13. I keep hearing about Porto and this has clinched my interest. Of course, a food tour would be wonderful. I love the idea of Bacalao with cheese, the ceremonial olive tasting and any pastry with almonds wins my heart. Such a beautiful place – even MacDonalds!

    Reply
  14. Porto sounds like a beautiful city. Any inspiration of Harry Potter sounds like it should be something special. The cheese and meat plate looks to die for. I can only imagine how good that all must have tasted.

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  15. Wonderful timing Claire 😉 One of my wife’s readers aka podcast listeners stopped by the crib last night here in New Zealand. She is a German woman who spent years in Portugal. Raves about the place; its food, people and simple, paradise type life there. Added to my travel list and of course we will see Porto too. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Ryan

    Reply
    • That’s perfect timing indeed 🙂 Porto is indeed an amazing city, and so is Portugal in general. Your wife’s friend is right, you’ll find amazing food and wine, a laid back pace and warm people. Take her advice (and ours too) and plan a trip to Portugal soon 🙂 Thanks, Ryan.

      Reply

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