Porto is a beautiful, historic city located in northern Portugal. It is also a great place to visit with kids. There are many fun things to do in Porto with kids, including visiting the Palácio da Bolsa, exploring the city’s bridges, and taking a scenic river cruise.
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There are many open, green areas to explore for free where kids can enjoy nature walks, play in the playground, and see a variety of flora and fauna. For a more urban adventure, Porto’s many bridges are a great place to explore. The Dom Luis I Bridge, for example, has a pedestrian walkway with stunning views of the city and an elevator to get to it. Finally, a river cruise is a great way to see Porto’s historic landmarks and get a different perspective of the city.
1. Spend a day at Parque da Cidade do Porto
Parque da Cidade do Porto is the largest urban park in Portugal. Its naturalized green areas extend to the Atlantic Ocean. The park is located in the heart of Porto and is home to a number of different species of trees, plants, and flowers. You will be able to see various pines, oaks, poplars, white birch and more. It is a good outdoor space for all to enjoy.
Spend a day with the kids walking the various paths and exploring the many different slides, swings, and other play structures for them to enjoy. You’ll find plenty of picnic tables and benches where you can enjoy a bite while taking in the beautiful scenery.
You can find free parking in front of the entrance on Avenida da Boavista. It can easily be reached via bus or the metro to the Matosinhos Sul station also. Use Explore Porto for help getting around the city, just change the language option to English on the site.
Make your way to The Water Pavilion (Pavilhão da Água) for fun interactive educational activities that introduce the importance of water and its functions. If you’re looking for beneficial souvenirs while supporting better trading conditions and the rights of producers, stop in the Fair Trade Shop for food items, decorative pieces, and even some clothing.
Check out some of the Best Places to Stay in Porto.
Near the Parque da Cidade do Porto:
SÃO FRANCISCO XAVIER FORT also known as Castelo do Queijo – “Cheese Castle”
- Location: Praça de Gonçalves Zarco 4100-274 Porto, Portugal.
- Opening hours: Winter: Tuesday – Sunday 13:00-17:00; Summer: Tuesday – Sunday 13:00-18:00; closed: Monday.
- Prices: € 0.50 Adult; Children: Free.
Unique underwater experience plus animal feeding sessions.
- Location: R. Particular Nº 1 Castelo do Queijo 1ª, 4100-379 Porto, Portugal
- Prices: TIckets start at €16.50 Adult; €11.50 Children 3 – 12
Book a Factory Tour to witness their famous age-old sardine canning process.
- Pricing options include a family pack, wine tasting, and/or a personalized tin. Save 15% with the Porto Card.
- Location: Av. Menéres 700, 4450-189 Matosinhos, Portugal
Pérgola da Foz
Enjoy the beach views and walk under the gorgeous pergola.
- Location: Av. do Brasil 694, 4150-378 Porto, Portugal
2. Visit the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
On a hilltop in the center of Porto sits a patchwork of botanical gardens and lawns with sculptures and fountains sprinkled throughout. For a particularly stunning adventure, climb up the hill to take in the stunning views of Porto from the Crystal Palace.
- Location: Rua de D. Manuel II, NA, 4050-346 Porto
- October 1st to March 30th: 8am-7pm
- April 1st to September 30th: 8am-9pm
There is a Paid entry 24hr underground parking garage on R. Jorge de Viterbo Ferreira.
3. Marvel inside Livraria Lello
If you want to visit this fabulously lavish and historic bookstore then you must buy a ticket. It is adorned with brilliant red winding staircases, ornate woodcarving details into its pillars and corners, and artfully distinguished stained glass ceiling.
Livraria Lello is worth a visit for book lovers, photographers, and anyone who just generally appreciates amazing craftsmanship and beauty in their surroundings. A captivating history surrounds the store, which is said to have inspired author J.K. Rowling. It is believed that during her time living in Porto, she may have found the inspiration for the magic bookshop in her Harry Potter books from Livraria Lello.
But don’t think you can just walk in like any ordinary bookstore. Head to their store online and purchase a ticket-voucher. It will cost an extra €1 if you purchase at the door. The 5€ option gets you entry plus a 5€ discount on 1 book purchased. You will still need to wait in line to enter.
Option 2: Purchase a ticket-voucher book such as Romeo & Juliet which is available in Portuguese, English, French, and Spanish for 15.90€ for a priority entrance included. No need to wait in line.
Become a friend of the bookstore – Purchase an annual membership card for 30€ or a family card for 40€ (up to 2 adults and 2 children) and you can enjoy free and priority access all year plus deduct the annual fee from your book purchase.
What’s to see inside:
- José Saramago Room – Dedicated to the only Portuguese writer awarded a Nobel Prize in lIterature.
- Neo-gothic architecture
- Busts of Portuguese writers – Antero de Quental, Eça de Queirós, Camilo Castelo Branco, Teófilo Braga, Tomás Ribeiro and Guerra Junqueiro, sculpted by Romão Júnior
- Le Petit Prince theme room
- Art Installation – “O Rosto do Porto” features 400 clay busts of famous figures of Porto.
- Secrets behind the crimson staircase.
- Appointment access only to the Gemma room where the most precious jewels are housed. High value items such as Rare books, Manuscripts, First Editions, and Luxury Books.
Near the Livraria Lello:
Clerigos Church and Tower
If you’re up to it, you can climb the 240 steps to the top of the tower. You can purchase a Day pass for 8€ or a guided tour of the museum, church, and tower for 9,5€. Children under 10 are free.
- Location: Rua de S. Filipe de Nery , NA, 4050-546 Porto
4. Take the kids to the largest zoological park in Portugal – Zoo Santo Inácio
Santo Inácio Zoo’s main concern is the protection of wildlife and the welfare of animals. As a result, all animals at the Zoo live in green and wide environments, replicating their natural habitats to provide them with the best conditions to stay healthy and maintain true behavior.
- Priced from 17.90€ per adult and 11.90€ per child ages 3 – 11.
- Location: Rua 5 de Outubro, 4503, 4430-809 Vila Nova de Gaia
5. Spend an afternoon playing under the Giant Sycamore Trees of Jardim da Cordoaria also known as Jardim de Joao Chagas
This area once served as the center for rope makers. The park houses some interesting statues, rare plants around the pond and some of the most interesting large Sycamore trees. There’s also some playground equipment for the children to enjoy. Look for the sculpture of 13 people called Treze a Rir uns dos Outros (13 Laughing at Each Other).
Near the Jardim da Cordoaria :
Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas
Here is where you’ll find 2 famous churches separated by the smallest house in Porto with various tales as to why it is this way. Some say it was to keep the nuns away from the monks, or that law required no 2 churches to share a wall, or that the more ornate of the 2 churches was for the rich.
Igreja do Carmo was built between 1756 and 1768 in Baroque styling, it sits on the corner with its brilliant exterior covered in Azulejo tiles added in 1912. The tiles exhibit scenes of the Founding of the Carmelite Order and Mount Carmel. You can go early and enter the church for free or pay for entry to the catacombs, museum, and house.
Igreja dos Carmelitas was completed in 1628 and was part of a convent. Its bell tower on the left is covered in Azulejos tiles.
If you’re looking for something familiar there’s a Steak and Shake and a pretty famous McDonald’s nearby. The Steak N Shake sells beer and wine, pretty different from what we’ve experienced locally at home.
- Location: Praça Guilherme Gomes Fernandes 67, 4050-159 Porto, Portugal
The McDonald’s is considered one of the most elegant ones in the world because of its historic chandelier and stained glass. You’ll also be surprised to find things like a pineapple spear offered in a Happy Meal and the old style of fried apple pies that we no longer get in the U.S. If you wind up somewhere familiar, don’t feel too bad about it, the kids might need that little bit of usual when you’re traveling abroad.
- Location: Praça da Liberdade 126, 4000-322 Porto, Portugal
6. Visit the World of Discoveries
The World of Discoveries Museum is an interactive hands-on experience through Portugal’s Age of Discoveries. Journey with Portuguese explorers and pioneers with voyages to Africa, South America, India, and China.
The museum takes you on a boat ride through various stages of exploration with each location set with the area’s culture, flora, and fauna. You can even sample exotic delicacies in the museum’s restaurant inspired by its former colonies and trading partners.
- Location: Rua de Miragaia 106, 4050-387 Porto, Portugal
- Save when you purchase a ticket online from €12.75 Adult; €7.65 Children ages 4 – 12.
Special Note: Some people may find this experience offered here to be a bit tone deaf. It may be just a cultural difference in how we look at the history of exploration and colonization. There is still value in the experience but each family might want to be prepared and consider what additional information they might need to enhance this adventure and the valued takeaways to be gained from the entire museum as a whole.
7. Take a walk across the Dom Luís I Bridge
Any visit to Porto would be incomplete without a stroll across the Dom Luis I Bridge. Beautiful views of the city can be enjoyed from this bridge crossing the Douro River.
The bridge was completed in 1886 and was named after King Luis I of Portugal by a student of Gustave Eifel named Theophile Seyrig. It is a double deck metal arch that connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia.
There are two walkways on the bridge, one for pedestrians and one for cyclists. Both are accessible from the stairs or elevators on either side of the bridge. The walkways are covered, so you can enjoy the views even if it’s raining.
Near the Dom Luís I Bridge :
Parque Infantil Do Jardim Do Moreo
Often touted as the absolute best place to enjoy the sunset, the landscaped hillside has a cable car, curved concrete benches and a playground.
Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar
A 4 min walk from the bridge sits this former monastery that began construction in 1537 and one of the best views of the Douro River. The monastery was once occupied by Napoleon’s troops during the Invasion of Portugal also known as the Peninsula Wars or the War of National Independence (to the Spanish and Portuguese).
Recommended Tours for Limited Time or Accessibility Needs
If walking and using public transportation do not fit your plans, there are many recommended tours that will allow you to see hidden spots like the Miradouro da Vitória and take you to the many sites mentioned.
Definitely consider the Vintage Tour of Porto in a replica model T Ford. You’ll be picked up from your local hotel and your knowledgeable driver will show you hidden gems and treats along the way on both sides of the Douro River. You’ll get to go inside the Sao Bento Railway Station, pass the Majestic Cafe, cross the Luis I Bridge, take in the views at Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar, pass Torre dos Clerigos and a few more historic must-sees. Rates from $42.08 for up to 13 travelers. Reserve now and Pay Later with Viator.
Another option is the Private Electric Tuk Tuk Tour of Historic Porto. These are great eco friendly options that can easily maneuver along the smaller streets and hills.
Don’t forget to try these 5 Portuguese foods while you’re wandering:
1. Pasteis de nata: These egg tart pastries are a must-try when in Portugal. You can find them at cafes and bakeries all around the city of Porto. They are EVERYWHERE and soooo yummy.
2. Francesinha: This is a popular dish in Porto that consists of a sandwich with meat (ham, steak, & sausage), cheese, and eggs, all covered in a tomato and beer sauce. Try Lado B Café (Coliseu) for dine-in, takeout, or delivery and a vegetarian version.
3. Sardinhas assadas: Grilled sardines are a popular street food in Portugal and can be found all around Porto.
4. Caldo verde: This is a traditional Portuguese soup made with potatoes, kale, and sausage. It is a hearty and filling dish that is perfect for a cold winter day.
5. Bifanas: These sandwiches are made with pork and are usually served with mustard. They can be found at many of the cafes and sandwich shops around Porto.
Happy Wandering with the Kids in Porto!
Porto is the perfect destination for a family vacation. There’s lots of nature and museums to explore with the family. From wandering the historic center to visiting the zoo, boring is one word you probably won’t hear.
Bookmark these top resources to help you get around the city:
- Explore Porto – times and bus schedules on interactive map
- Porto Card– purchase unlimited bus/metro pass with discounts on local attractions
Read more about Portugal to help you plan your trip including: