In this Porto solo travel guide, you’ll learn not only the best things to do alone in Porto. But also why Porto is a great destination for solo travellers, top tips on how to stay safe in Porto and the best areas to stay in Porto as a solo traveller.
I’ve got you covered with everything you’ll ever need to know about solo travel in Porto!
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A little bit about Porto
Porto, also known as Oporto, is Portugal’s second-biggest city and is a favourite destination for tourists.
Although it is a commercial trade city, it’s medieval setting is built on hillsides, so it offers tourists a convenient mix of nature and history.
Over the years, Porto has increased in popularity and has become a world-renowned destination. It appeals to all types of travellers who wish to explore blue-flag beaches, wineries and rich history.
But, in particular, solo travellers flock to Porto, and there are valid reasons for this. Here’s a guide for all solo travellers heading to this multifaceted city.
Why solo travel to Porto?
Porto offers solo travellers many different activities; such as lazing on the beaches, appreciating the medieval architecture, and wine tasting to mention a few.
It provides tourists with the quintessential Portuguese holiday but without the crowds of Lisbon.
This is because of its historical features such as the São Bento train stations, markets and vintage trams that have remained untouched over the years. And in terms of cuisine, you’ve hit the jackpot.
Is it safe to travel to Porto alone?
In 2019, Portugal was rated as the third-safest country to visit in Europe and the fourth-most peaceful country in the world. Porto itself has been proven to be safer than Lisbon in terms of the scale of the crime, and no areas pose a significant threat to tourists.
Thankfully, English is widely spoken throughout Portugal, and the friendly locals will always be willing to help you.
So, with Portugal being a progressive and generally safe country, and Porto being one of the safest cities, you’ll be safe here alone.
Why is Porto a great for solo female travellers?
According to the 2019 ‘Women’s Danger Index’, Portugal ranks 7th globally for the safest countries for females to travel to.
So, as a female travelling solo, Portugal is a safe option. With friendly locals and safe areas, you should be fine here.
I visited Porto as solo female travel and felt very safe there, even when walking around the city by myself at night.
However, you should never travel naively, and always be cautious whenever you travel alone.
Tip: If you plan on visiting the wine valley, and drinking, you should do so with a guided tour. Getting drunk on your own, especially as a female in a foreign city, is not a good idea, and less fun.
Still undecided if Porto is the city for you? Read Porto Vs Lisbon, the help you choose the best Portuguese city to choose for your next city break.
Porto travel guide | Tips on how to stay safe in Porto
There aren’t many places to avoid in Porto, but just like any major city, there are some sketchy areas.
But these are mainly at the outskirts of the area and include Bairro do Cerco and Bairro do Aleixo.
Tourists don’t usually venture out to these areas anyway, so this won’t affect your Porto things to do list.
Because Porto is a coastal city, if you plan on having a beach day alone, and even swimming in the ocean alone, make sure that you go to a lifeguarded beach.
Also, never go on a hike alone, because if you injure yourself or get lost, you’ll be stranded. You should either book a tour, or ask new-made friends to join.
Things to do alone in Porto Portugal
How to plan your solo trip to Porto
You’re visiting an unfamiliar city, so you’re bound to get lost at least once. I know I did a couple of times.
You should always share your live location with a friend or family member from home. You should also plan an itinerary of what you want to see on each day, and send that to your friends/family too.
Just so that someone is aware of where you are, just in case of an emergency. It is the adult thing to do.
If you’ll be relying on your mobile for directions, this means you should invest in a portable charger, as this will kill your battery.
I also joined a few guided tours and walking tours by locals. This helped me get a sense of Porto and where the cool watering holes where to visit.
I also ran my itinerary by the host of my accommodation, and he was able to recommend some cool local restaurants and places I should visit.
Best areas to stay in Porto as a solo traveller
As a solo traveller, your most important job is to make sure you are staying in a reputable, safe and centrally located accommodation. This space will be your base for all your departures, so you should make sure that it is in close reach to public transport too.
Thankfully, accommodation prices for Porto’s city centre are affordable. I would advise you to stay in the central areas because you’ll be able to walk to the major Porto attractions, with easy.
To be near to all the top things to do in Porto, you should stay in Ribeira. This district is on the banks of the Douro Estuary and contains many of the historical buildings that are on every Porto itinerary.
If you want to be closer to the beach, a lovely area to stay in is Foz do Douro. It’s a less-touristy area, but at the same time is still very safe.
This is a beachfront, upmarket area with excellent cuisine and long beaches. And if you want to combine beach-going with cultural activities, then Porto’s city centre is a short tram ride away.
During my visit to Porto, I stayed at The Gallery Studios II in the Bonfim area is only a 10 minutes walk from the Majestic Cafe and Riverfront.
What is there to do in Porto alone?
You could simply never be bored in Porto. It’s a premium beaching destination and is famed for its port wines.
You could spend hours in the cobbled-street, historic city centre, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, countless churches covered in thousands of azulejo tiles and national monument.
Best Things to do in Porto Alone
Now that you’re rest-assured that Porto truly is the perfect option for solo travelling, it’s time for the fun stuff. Porto is a multi-faceted city that boasts some really awe-inspiring natural features, as well as architectural masterpieces.
So, what should you not miss in Porto? Let’s start by the city’s best neighbourhoods.
Spend a Day in Ribeira
The riverside district of Ribeira is known for its multi-coloured buildings and vibrant energy. It’s home to many of Porto’s historical sites that are necessary to visit on your solo travel in Porto.
These sites are easily accessible, popular, and are key to understanding the city’s essence.
See the Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas
When travelling alone, you’re able to engage more with the local culture because you don’t have the distraction of travel buddies.
This could mean making friends with locals, or it could mean learning about the history and culture of the city.
Ribeira has many historical architectural wonders, but this Baroque-Rococo Church is a treasured, national monument.
It stands side-to-side with the Igreja dos Carmelitas, another Baroque Church that was actually built before the Igreja do Carmo, in the 1600s.
The only structure that separates these two churches is a 3.2-foot house. This house was occupied until the late 1900s and is extremely narrow.
Clérigos Church & Tower
When walking around Porto, you’ll often notice this tall Bell Tower. It belongs to a 1700s complex is home to the tallest campanile in Portugal, almost reaching a height of 80-metres!
The views from the top of the Bell Tower are truly spectacular, but be prepared because you’ll have to go up 200 stairs to arrive there. It’s a typical symbol of Baroque influences and drew inspiration from Roman methods. You can get tickets to the tower here.
You can also visit the nearby free Photographic Museum – Centro Português de Fotografia.
Fonte Dos Leões
If you want to see more examples of Roman influences in the city, go view the Fonte Dos Leões. This is a 6-metre tall Roman-style fountain within Plaza de Teixeira Gomes. The fountain was created to supply water to the locals in the late 19th century and has not been altered since.
Visit the Igreja Paroquial De Santo Ildefonso
Another Baroque-style Church in Ribeira that’s worth a visit is this granite Parish Church.
What sets it apart from the other Churches is that this one is elevated. In 1932, over 10,000 Azulejoz tiles were added to the exterior of the Church, by an Italian artist.
If you’re battling with what to do in Porto on your own, then set an entire day aside to appreciate the city’s architecture.
The Baroque influences that are visible throughout the city and deserve much attention. And since you’ll be on your own, you won’t have to feel pressured with how much time you take to view these magnificent monuments.
Marvel at the Palacio de Bolsa (Stock Exchange Building)
If you want to make your friends back home jealous about the cool holiday you’re having, be sure to take a selfie here.
This gorgeous neoclassical Stock Exchange Palace was constructed in the 1800s and is also attached to the historic city centre’s UNESCO World Heritage Site title.
This is currently where the city’s Commercial Association Headquarters is. Should you visit, you’ll walk into a massive courtyard that is sealed by a glass roof. It also provides ideal lighting for photos.
Explore the Hidden Gem District, Foz do Douro
This waterfront district presents the best combination of beaches, seafront bars and insta-worthy lighthouses.
It is scattered with spacious beaches that are blue-flag labelled. They are exceptionally clean to swim in, and quite literally have crystal blue waters from being unspoiled.
But other than its pristine beaches, you simply have to try the local delicacies here. If you’re going to stay in Porto, then cycling to Foz do Douro is highly recommended! You’ll ride along the Douro River, and eventually see where it joins the Atlantic Ocean.
Hence, the name: ‘Foz’ translates to ‘mouth’ in English. So this ride will give you the best opportunity to view the confluence and will provide an excellent overview of the city.
Eat the Best Pastéis de Nata at Confeitaria Paparoca da Foz
When you’re adventuring a new city on your own, who cares about social graces? You can eat as much as you want. And you’ll certainly be going back for many more helpings of this Portuguese delicacy.
A Pastel de Nata is a traditional Portuguese custard egg tart that is finished off with dashes of cinnamon. It’s very popular in Portugal as well as in its colonies, so many restaurants are very competitive with creating the best pastry.
And when you’re spending time in Foz do Douro, Confeitaria Paparoca da Foz is your best bet for the Portuguese tart. The pastries
Get Up High in Vila Nova de Gaia
If you’re searching for the source of port wine in Porto, then this area (colloquially referred to as ‘Gaia’) will be well-suited to you. It offers tourists a great mix of riverside as well as coastal activities.
You should also visit this area if you’re looking for the best panoramic viewpoints in Porto.
As a solo traveller, you’ll want to fill your time up with activities that will give you great insight into the city. And what better place to do that than from a viewpoint?
And because you’re travelling unaccompanied, you could even tell a tiny white-lie to your friends back home that you ‘saw the whole city’. Because you kind of do when you have a 360-degree view of it!
But views aren’t the only reasons to visit this area. It’s also home to some stellar Porto Brunch places, like 7G Roasters.
Get Amazing Views at Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar
The 17th-century Monastery of Serra do Pilar is a very picturesque building, with an even more picturesque view. This partly owes to it being positioned near the Douro River, which makes everything more scenic.
It’s also on top of a hill, which provides visitors with long-stretching vistas of the city and river from its cupola (dome-like feature on the roof of a building). It is the architectural emblem for Gaia and is assigned as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Catch the Gaia Cable Car to Jardim do Morro
If the Monastery’s view was too mediocre for you, why not ride a cable car above Vila Nova De Gaia and the Douros River? This cable car starts at an elevation of 4,5-metres and runs along the river and its attached bridges.
You’ll eventually, after a brief 5-minutes, be elevated 63-metres above ground. This is when you’ll arrive next to the beautiful Jardim do Morro, or the Garden of Morro. This is a spacious park that is great for picnics.
Pérola do Bolhão
You should visit Pérola do Bolhão. It is a traditional grocery store that is only a 25-minute walk away from the Gaia Cable Car starting point. You’ll find some of Portugal’s long-established delicatessens, such as cheeses and wines.
Things to See in Porto at Night Alone
Things to do at night in Porto are endless! From eating the fresh catches from the ocean at the waterfront restaurants to partying the night away.
You’ll surely have a good time here alone, and night-time is your best opportunity to make some friends.
Eat Seafood at Matosinhos
Dining in Porto is a dream! And you could experience this for yourself if you ventured out for half an hour to the neighbouring city of Matosinhos.
Here, you’ll find the best Porto seafood, and you have to dine at Marisqueira A Antiga.
At this restaurant, you’ll enjoy the most traditional and authentic Portuguese seafood dishes. All the produce, from the fish to the vegetables, is freshly prepared and carefully cooked.
The restaurant also is known for its friendly and engaging staff who are passionate about their work. So, if you eat here on your own, you’ll never feel alone.
Party at Mercado Ferreira Borges (Hard Club)
Experiencing Porto nightlife solo shouldn’t worry you. Ribeira, other than being a historically important area, also offers some pretty great nightlife options.
Mercado Ferreira Borges, known for its lower-storey nightclub and concert house, ‘Hard Club’.
It is red iron design is very striking and is a symbol for the iron period, which hasn’t got many survivors today. The surprising feature of this building is that its structure’s facade was never updated. So, you’ll be partying in a historically maintained building.
Eat and Dance at Maus Hábitos
Maus Habitos is a cultural intervention space that also has an Italian restaurant called Vícios de Mesa. It has a broad menu with lots to choose from and is especially famous for its thin-based pizzas and hearty lasagnas.
This is a perfect spot for solo travellers to eat because it has great entertainment value. There is always an occasion here because it hosts art galleries and is a concert venue too. International acts often play here, so be sure to check the schedule.
All forms of cultural and artistic statements are welcomed here and is a great place to meet the friendly locals or other travellers.
Unique Porto Things to do on Your Own
Porto is a historic city that brings about many traditions brought down the centuries. Porto has a medieval charm, and boasts some great nature activities, along with cultural and artistic ones.
Ride the Old Trams
While certain traditions have been carried down the years, some structures have just stayed over the years. And these trams aren’t just for viewing pleasure,. You can actually ride on one to get to your destination! If you don’t have much time in Porto, this is great for you to get a sense of the old city structure, and its history.
Porto is one of the only cities where you can do this. That’s because most of these trams are stored in museums for viewing only.
Cruise the Douro River and see the Ponte de Dom Luis I
The Douro River is a major river that forms part of the Iberian peninsula. Its source originates from quite a far way into Spain’s frontier and stretches for 900-kilometres. It is an important historical site for Porto.
At the point where it joins the Coa River, carvings were uncovered on the rocks on land. These trace to as far back as 30,000 years ago!
Cruising along this river will either lead you into the Atlantic Ocean or into the Douro Wine Valley that skirts the river. You’ll also see all the 6 bridges that extend over this major river, including the UNESCO-listed Ponte de Dom Luis I.
This is a great activity to do solo in Porto because you’ll be able to see most of the city and its surroundings.
Day Trips From Porto | Day trip to the Douro Valley for a Wine Tour
A day trip to the Douro Valley Wine tour or doing a Douro Valley tour is the perfect escape from the city. Grapes are grown along its elevated banks, producing the Portuguese fortified Port Wine, which is exclusively concocted in the Douro Valley.
Port Wine is usually a sweet dessert-paired wine. This valley is picture-perfect because of its rolling green hills brimming with vineyards. But also because of the gleaming Douro River, which meanders through the valley.
Tours operate throughout the valley, and it’s suggested that you visit these wineries accompanied by with a guided tour.
I did the Douro Vally wine tour with a group and loved it, I got to learn a lot about Port wine, drunk a lot of Port wine and met some new people.
If you have reservations about going on a Douro Valley tour alone, don’t I did and had a blast. It is one of the top places to visit in Porto.
Join an Azulejoz Tile Painting Class
If you’re looking for cultural activities to do as a solo traveller, then Porto will impress you. If you felt inspired by the art and culture of the ceramic tiles of the iconic Sao Bento Train Station, then later try to reproduce your own masterpiece.
Gazete Azulejos is a specialised tile store in Porto that offers workshops on painting the Azulejos tiles. The store makes use of traditional hand-painting methods from almost 200 years ago and also has a shop where you can buy merchandise.
This is perfect for some therapeutic down-time on your own and to let your creative juices flow.
Join a Porto Street Art Tour – Street Art in Rua das Flores
Porto is brimming with street art that deserves lots of attention. A street art walking tour with a local is your best opportunity for understanding the motifs behind these artworks. Be sure to ask your guide for a Porto attractions map for recommendations.
Doing a walking tour of the city and, in particular, roaming Rua das Flores street will expose you to the city’s slickest street art.
This street used to be a jewellers street, but presently its structures such as electric boxes have been updated with an explosion of colours.
These Graffiti works are either light-hearted, abstract or political.
Admire the Casa da Musica
Maybe you’re sick of seeing medieval buildings everywhere, even though you shouldn’t. But if it does happen, Porto also boasts some innovative contemporary landmarks, such as the Casa da Musica.
It is a premium concert venue, with an other-worldly appearance. Be sure to check the schedule to see if you can make a show. It is the first building in Portugal that is entirely devoted to music only.
Final Thoughts on Porto Solo Travel
So, you should be entirely encouraged to visit this wide-ranged coastal city. Safety won’t be a concern on this trip, but remember that you must always be vigilant.
Porto can be used as a beach and relaxing holiday, or you can jam-pack your itinerary with heaps of cultural and artistic activities to do around the Porto city.
Porto has easy access to nature such as the Douro River, and steep hills that all are great to do on your own, at your own pace. But the best characteristic of the city is its inclusive and culture-promoting nature. And besides, who needs a travel buddy anyways?