The Best Free Experiences in Porto

April 2, 2024

Let’s get to know this city a bit more, and what better way than to travel back in time, from its centuries-old history to modern times?

To understand the city’s history over these centuries, there’s nothing better than to visit its churches. To fully grasp this scope, there are more than 180 churches scattered throughout Porto, all of which have a vast history of centuries-old traditions. One of these traditions features the famous tiles (or azulejos in Portuguese) that adorn the walls of these churches. Some of the most striking and sought-after sites are the São Bento train station (Estação de Comboios de São Bento), the Carmo Church (Igreja do Carmo), the Chapel of Souls (Capela das Almas), and even the Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto).

If you’re an art lover, and for those who want to get to know our museums and art galleries better, this is your lucky day. As a way of promoting our culture, the Portuguese state offers entry to certain museums on specific dates (the Soares dos Reis National Museum is free every Sunday, the Serralves Museum on the first Sunday of each month, and the Biodiversity Gallery on the morning of the second Sunday of each month). Another place you can’t miss is the famous art galleries on Miguel Bombarda Street. For all art lovers, this is an absolute must. The aim is to make known the different artistic currents, as well as the names of the artists who, through art, show the world their vision and the particularities of their techniques and works. And if you’re a photography lover, you can’t miss the Portuguese Photography Center (Centro Português de Fotografia), a free public service based in Porto, in the old Cadeia da Relação building. Here you’ll find old national and international archives related to our recent history.

Other forms of art are gaining more and more admirers, particularly urban art. In Porto, this artistic style is gaining more and more fans and has even received the support and initiative of many local communities who want to promote their traditions and, in doing so, bring more life to the city. Whether on the walls of abandoned buildings or made available for this purpose, works of art by renowned names such as Mr. Dheo, Hazul, Vhils, Youth One, Daniel Eime, and Bordalo II, among others, stand out. Several of these murals can be found throughout the city, but the most famous are Trindade, by Hazul Luzah and Mr. Dheo; Don Quixote & Sancho Panza, by Mesk, Fedor, and Mots; Meio Coelho, by Bordalo II (this one in Vila Nova de Gaia); AN.FI.TRI.ÃO by Frederico Draw; and in Francos, also by Mr. Dheo.

Being a city where you can enjoy both the riverside and the seaside, a stroll along the river or the seafront is a must-do activity and certainly something you won’t regret. For nature enthusiasts, there’s nothing better than the emblematic City Park (Parque da Cidade), the largest of its kind and with enormous biodiversity. If you like sunsets, we recommend the famous viewpoints of Serra do Pilar and Virtudes, or the beaches of Luz and Matosinhos.

In conclusion, from exploring Porto’s historic churches to immersing yourself in its vibrant art scene or enjoying its scenic riverside and seaside views, there’s a wealth of free activities to enjoy in the city, promising a memorable stay.

Graffiti of an old man welcoming people near Ponte Luis I in Porto by Frederico Draw

Street Art by Frederico Draw