Where to stay in Porto – The best areas and hotels
My first trip to Porto was 30 years ago. The city has changed and improved so much since.
In this guide, you will find all the information and tips to help you decide where to stay in Porto, and which area works best for your type of trip.
I have also added a few hotels I suggest for your stay, based on different budgets and styles, with a few apartments too.
Before getting into the juicy stuff, let me give you my opinion about the best neighbourhood of Porto to book your accommodation.
The best place to stay in Porto is Baixa, the city centre. It has arguably the best sightseeing, with so many beautiful streets, churches and monuments to experience. Bars and restaurants are everywhere, with a few cool places not to be missed. And you can still find hotels in quiet streets to spend a peaceful night.
There are, however, other accommodation options that may work better for you, like the picturesque Ribeira neighborhood, on the Douro River, or the arty Cedofeita, with some pretty cool galleries, or why not the leafy Bonfim, trees are a rarity in Porto.
Table of Contents
- 1 Baixa (city centre) – Best area to stay in Porto overall
- 2 Ribeira – the picturesque place to stay in Porto
- 3 Cedofeita – the arty place to stay in Porto
- 4 Bonfim – the leafy alternative
- 5 Where to stay in Porto for the view
Are you looking for the best view? It is all covered below. I have actually dedicated a full chapter to this.
There are indeed many options, all with their own drawbacks and advantages which I have listed in this guide.
One of the best things is that Porto is at the end quite small and all these neighbourhoods are within easy walking distance (15-20 minutes), although be ready to wear comfortable shoes because it is a hilly city, unfortunately.
Baixa is the best place to stay in Porto because:
- it is the best area for sightseeing with so many museums, monuments, beautiful squares, and narrow streets, and I could keep going
- awesome nightlife, mostly centred in 2-3 streets/lanes
- great shopping and interesting shops as the (in)famous Livraria Lello, with its Harry Potter staircase.
- beautiful architecture all around, from Gothic to Baroque and Neoclassical style, as the impressive belle époque Majestic Café.
- best place to stay in Porto for a first-time visit to the city
- easy stay for couples or solo travellers
- short stay with all around you
- good nightlife
The weakest points:
- it can be noisy. Be selective, because you can find super quiet streets, as well as impossibly rowdy lanes. The suggested hotels below are safe 😉
- get ready with some hiking. It is a hilly area, which can be tiring if done all day long.
- it is not the cheapest place to stay in Porto, but also not the most expensive
- family can find it a bit too busy, especially with small kids (getting around with a pram is not going to be easy)
Baixa, the city centre (downtown or CBD, as we call it in Australia) is the place to stay for sightseeing.
And it’s not just about the amazing historic buildings and the many beautiful streets, like the Avenida dos Aliados that divide the neighbourhood into two areas, but also the many beautiful churches, cathedrals and interesting museums to visit.
The main attractions are listed below (and hopefully I haven’t forgotten any)
- Igreja do Carmo, with its unique blue-tiled facade
- Igreja dos Clérigos, a baroque church with a 75m tall bell tower from where you can have one of the most impressive views in the city (6euro to climb it)
- Igreja da Santíssima Trindade
- Câmara Municipal do Porto, the town hall at the end of the Avenida dos Aliados, where you can have again a beautiful view of the area
- São Bento Station, a 19th-century old station famous for its decorative tilework
- Museu de História Natural e da Ciência, the free natural history and science museum of Porto
- MMIPO – Museu da Misericórdia do Porto, for its 16th-century collection
- Portuguese Centre of Photography
Then have a walk for a drink on Rua de Cândido dos Reis, the nearby Rua da Galeria de Paris or Rua de Santa Catarina, three beautiful lanes famous for their bars and nightlife.
Keep in mind these streets because you will want to stay away from them with your hotel, way too noisy.
Take the walk down to the picturesque Ribeira riverfront neighbourhood through Rua das Flores, another lovely street with many bars and shops.
Overall, in my opinion, this is the best place to stay in Porto, you are so close to everything.
Moreover, if you are planning a short stay, like a weekend or 3 days, look no further than here.
It is a hilly area, as already mentioned, so it does not work so well if you have a pram or mobility is an issue.
In this case, check out the next area, Ribeira, which is absolutely more picturesque, but also the most touristy part of the city.
One important tip. Porto is a popular destination and you should book well in advance. Most of the properties suggested here have a free cancellation policy for peace of mind.
I have been upset so many times myself to miss out on accommodations that I usually book mine as soon as I see them, and cancel later if I find something else.
The Mercado dos Poetas is one of my favourite accommodations in Porto and one of the top guest houses in the city, with a great location, metres away from the action, but still in a quiet area overlooking a little square.
You can book from a studio to a 2BR apartment which is just so cosy and lovely. The kitchen is well-equipped and the high ceiling makes the unit feel so much more spacious.
I had the 2BR on my last trip, on the top floor with a balcony too, and I was so impressed by it.
Other accommodation options to stay in Baixa
- ($$$) PortoBay Teatro: this is a 4 star hotel just re-opened in 2021 after a full refurbishment that gave a well-deserved boutique touch to the hotel. You can find all the usual 4-star amenities in this hotel, from free wifi to satellite TV. The breakfast has a good choice of food and drinks, the best way to start off the day. The perfect location, right in the heart of Porto and next to a metro station, is a big plus too.
- ($) 7 Bridges Estúdios: One of the best deals in Baixa and probably in Porto for a double room. Besides the cheap price, the hotel offers freshly renovated private rooms, some of them with balcony too.
Can’t choose between Porto and Lisbon?
- Check out my guide to the best and worst of Porto vs Lisbon
Ribeira is the best place to stay in Porto because:
- it is so picturesque and romantic, to fall in love with it
- flat and easy to get around
- plenty of bars and restaurants
- even on hot days, there is always a nice fresh sea breeze coming through the Douro River
- best place to stay for the picturesque area and view
The weakest points:
- the most expensive part of the city
- there is not much sightseeing (but truly, Ribeira is so picturesque that you will not notice that)
- it’s a 15-20 ruthless hike up to Baixa or Cedofeita (although you can always take some form of transportation, taxi included)
- most touristy area of the city, someone would say too touristy (too picturesque not to be)
Who would not be impressed by Ribeira and its multicolour buildings facing the Douro River? Truly a real love at first sight.
Added in 1996 to the UNESCO World Heritage Site List, Ribeira is a must-visit, doesn’t matter if you finally decide to book a hotel here or not.
Getting lost in the small back lanes or having a walk on the promenade is the most common pastime in Ribeira
It is a flat area to walk around, so much better than Baixa, perfect if you have a pram or you have limited mobility.
The walk along the promenade is very popular, especially in summer, with that nice fresh sea breeze coming from the Atlantic Ocean.
There are so many bars and restaurants around, facing the Douro River, however, they will not come cheap.
Unfortunately, the walk up to Baixa, although a beautiful one, is quite a climb, almost ruthless, and slippery too, if on a rainy day.
Here is a tip that may save you some time. Catch the Lift Lada Ribeira, an elevator that will help you partially on your hike up to Baixa (free of charge).
Alternatively, take the inclined railway at the station just under the Luís I Bridge, to Batalha.
It is an expensive option, at 3euro for a minute trip, but you will save yourself a few steps.
Although absolutely beautiful, this is an area that lacks local feeling. In fact, it can be very busy, possibly too busy, with travellers, especially on the spring and summer weekends.
I would personally suggest Ribeira to everyone wanting to stay in the picturesque old part of Porto, which can be so romantic too.
This is one of the best if not the best luxury hotel in Porto, in a top location right in front of the river and the iconic Praça da Ribeira.
The building is 400 years old, and the rooms have been carefully refurbished, bringing out all the small details of the original building.
The never-ending breakfast and the lovely service take this hotel really apart from anywhere else in Porto
Other accommodation options to stay in Ribeira
- ($$$) Go2oporto: a beautiful 2BR apartment at a very competitive price, considering the location and the view to die for. The fully equipped kitchen is perfect if you prefer to cook your meals and the small balcony is just ideal for a sunset drink.
- ($$$) Descobertas Boutique Hotel: What this hotel lacks in view, it makes up with a contemporary interior design and a great ambience. This is a great place that you cannot miss if you are an arty type of person.
Thinking what to visit next in Portugal?
- Check out my guide to Algarve, south of Portugal
Cedofeita is the best place to stay in Porto because:
- it has a lovely arty culture
- cheaper beers and food
- great nightlife
- Great value accommodations (some of the cheapest in Porto)
The weakest points:
- it can be noisy on the eastern side
This is the student area of the city, which has become so famous for its art district, full of art galleries, and a few murals and street art (some have been covered lately, which is a pity).
If you compare Porto to Lisbon, one of the major outcomes is that in Porto it is much easier to have a walk around art galleries, mostly concentrated in Cedofeita, meanwhile, in Lisbon, they are all scattered around.
It used to be a quiet area, where you could have a peaceful night’s sleep, but in the last few years, things have changed a bit and you need to be selective about where to book (the suggested hotels are all safe)
The beer goes cheap in this area, at 1euro/glass (the plastic glass you can take out in the street, especially on the warm nights of spring/summer)
Explore the area starting from Rua Miguel Bombarda, and explore the nearby lanes like Rua do Breiner. You will be right in the centre of the art district here.
Step into the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis, hosted in an 18th-century building with an impressive collection of Flemish paintings and Portuguese artwork.
Have a stop at the Catraio, a brewery/pub, for lunch or dinner with some beer tasting.
As a general rule of thumb, book away from the east side of Cedofeita and you will be assured a quiet night.
And in this respect, this is a nice area to stay also for families with kids, although my suggested one would be Bonfim (the next described area)
Stay closer to Rua de José Falcão or R. Das Oliveiras, if you are planning to have plenty of nightlife.
The heart of the cheapest student nightlife is the Jardim de João Chagas (towards the Coreto da Cordoaria side), probably the loudest place in Porto that you want to avoid for a peaceful night of sleep.
Interestingly enough, the same garden area during the day is so peaceful. Such a different day and night experience.
The Domun is one of the best value accommodations in Porto, in a perfect quiet location, next to the art district and a short walk to Baixa (10 minutes).
The building and the rooms have been recently renovated. In fact, the apartment is spotlessly clean with plenty of space.
Free wifi, a flat-screen satellite TV and a well-equipped kitchen, with a coffee machine too, are just all you need for a stay.
Other accommodation options to stay in Cedofeita
- ($$) Bombarda House 2BR: this massive 115 sqm apartment with 2 spacious rooms can host up to 6 people in a very comfortable space. If you are travelling with a big family or you just need space, then this is the place for you. But it is not just about the space, because there is no compromise in quality too. The location is also perfect and close to the previous accommodation Domum.
- ($) Gallery Hostel: one of the cheapest places to stay in Porto, but still offering a very high level of quality and service, including free wifi, a 24-hour front desk, a lounge area to relax, a communal fully kitchen and a terrace to have your nice meal, excellent in summer. The interior has a contemporary design.
Bonfim is the best place to stay in Porto because:
- it is a leafy and open area. Trees are a bit of a rarity in Porto
- it is a cool area with no shopping centres but plenty of boutique shops and concept stores
- walking distance to the city centre or take a quick 5 minute train from the nearby station
- Porto’s main bus terminal and train station are in the area
- best for families looking for a quiet area
- great for seclusion from the tourist world, with more of a feeling of being between locals than travellers
- best for longer stay
The weakest points:
- not a wide choice of bars, cafes or restaurants, however, you will have more of a classic neighbourhood experience.
- no sightseeing, although there is a must quirky experience to have (more below)
- you are not in the middle of the action, distant from both Ribeira and Baixa
Bonfim is still one of the neighbourhoods in Porto that has not gone under the touristic transformation, in fact, you will be quite unlikely to see many travellers around, as it is more of a residential area.
What I like the most is the leafy feeling of the area, with nice trees around and a few parks, like the Parque das Águas or the Jardim Marques de Oliveira, the oldest park in Porto, right on the border with the Baixa neighbourhood.
It is a much quieter area than any of the before-mentioned neighbourhoods. It also comes with a beautiful local feeling, almost a village feel.
You suddenly think you are outside the busy city.
And this is even more highlighted by the food offered at the local restaurants, mostly family-run, with receipts that are probably handed down from the grand-grand-ma.
And this comes usually at a cheaper price too.
Once in the area, you should check out Madureira, on Rodrigues de Freitas Avenue, or the Tasquinha Rebelo, one of the most genuine food experiences in Porto, although you need to be lucky to get a table in the tiny space.
Looking for coffee? Head to the hipster Combi, on Rua to Morgado de Mateus, or Confeitaria Roma on the wide Rua do Heroísmo, for a more local experience.
If staying on the eastern side of Bonfim, you will be just 15-20 minutes walking distance from central Porto.
If you stay on the western side, go for public transport, from either the Metro station Heroismo or take the direct train to São Bento Station from the Campanha Station (5 minute’s trip).
Talking of boutique shops and concept stores, have a look at Salut au Monde! on Rua de Santos Pousada, or Loja Laranja on R. Joaquim António de Aguiar.
On my last trip, I also found a great photography exhibition that changes on a regular basis at Espaço Mira, on R. de Miraflor.
True, there is not much sightseeing around. It’s about having a local experience than visiting museums and cathedrals.
In saying that, you should have a stroll at the big Cemetery of Prado do Repouso, probably the quirkiest experience in the city
With over 200 years of history and over 180 years of service, this cemetery is the oldest in the city and one of the oldest in the country.
The impressive tombs and tiny churches are something to remember, all immersed in green leafy vegetation.
Bonfim is the best place to stay in Porto for a week or so if you want to experience the city in a local way, but still, you want to have easy access to the mainstream Baixa and Ribeira.
It’s one of the best neighbourhoods also for a quiet stay, if compared to all other areas
This is also an area where you can find beautiful apartments at a very reasonable price, which works great for a family stay
This is a beautiful apartment in a great quiet position, within walking distance of the historic centre.
The apartment is well equipped (dishwasher, satellite flat-screen TV, etc) with a contemporary design over two levels, with two bathrooms too, which is a great bonus.
If you are travelling in the warm season, you will appreciate the small terrace area where you can easily organise your breakfast.
Other accommodation options to stay near the Campanhã Station
- ($$$) Housing Campanhã: the more sophisticated option, with plenty of space (up to 6 people) and a well-thought interior design. The kitchen is so well equipped and you have air conditioning too, which is great for those hot nights. The sunny balcony is the perfect place for a drink or breakfast. The location is unbeatable, next to the Campanha Station, literally 5 minutes from the central São Bento Station. Parking is included, which is great if travelling around Portugal by car
- ($) Oporto Living Apartment: this is the budget option for a stay in Bonfim, and overall a cheap stay in Porto too. The location is great, again next to the Campanha Station. The apartment is only 1BR but the sofa in the living room can be used as a second bed. It is a recently renovated apartment with all you need for your stay, including a kettle and a coffee machine.
If you are after hotels with the best view in Porto, you have two possibilities.
The first option is to stay in the Ribeira area, which I have already talked about previously.
In this case, you can book riverfront accommodation on the promenade with a view of the water and the port wine cellars on the other side of the river.
The Porto River ($$$) is one of them, with rooms that almost feel above the water. You can select between either a studio,a 1BR or a 2 BR.
The old building has been fully renovated and the room design is just superb, with all you need inside. Breakfast is with a Douro River view, of course.
The second option is to stay in Cais de Gaia, opposite Ribeira, on the other side of the river.
The great advantage of this side is that you will have a view of the city of Porto and the Luís I Bridge, which is, in my opinion, so much better.
The accommodations are also better value for money, compared to the popular Ribeira
The Vincci Ponte de Ferro is one of the best hotels with amazing views in Porto, if not the best one.
The sleek interior design is to die for, with plenty of facilities like a wonderful outdoor pool overlooking the bridge, a gym, a restaurant, and a beautiful bar for a sunset drink and I could keep going.
The location is not only great because of the view but also because it is so practical, within 5-10 minutes of walking over the bridge to the heart of Porto.