Winter Guide to Porto: Winter Activities in Porto 2023-2024

Written By Mihaela Gutu

If you haven’t bought your winter tickets to Porto yet, this is your sign! Don’t hesitate to embark on a historically, culturally, and gastronomically rich journey through Portugal’s City of the Bridges.

Be it that you arrive in December or February, Porto will enchant you just as much with its extensive list of landmarks and events that can suit anyone’s preferences. Keep reading to learn more about the region’s weather, as well as some of the best Porto winter activities.

Porto in Winter: Porto Weather in Winter

Like Lisbon, Porto is quite warm during the winter, making it an excellent destination for the holidays. However, since Porto is in Portugal’s northern region, it can get a few degrees colder than the capital. Even so, it is among the warmest European cities during the winter months, so don’t even falter in choosing it for your trip!

The coldest winter month in Porto is January, when average day temperatures reach 13.8°C, whereas at night, they drop to approximately 5°C, rarely below 0°C.

Nonetheless, although the weather is quite springish, don’t forget that Porto has abundant precipitation levels from October till February, December being the wettest month. So make sure to pack a raincoat!

On the other hand, although a coastal region, the city center is quite sheltered from strong winds.

Porto in the Winter. Photo by xandro Vandewalle (Unsplash)

7 Best Porto Winter Activities

If you’ve booked a trip to Porto this winter and are worried that bad weather will ruin your plans, we’re here to tell you otherwise! There’s plenty to do in the city even on a rainy day. If it’s sunny, the better!

Keep reading to learn about the 7 best Porto winter activities.

1. Explore the Azulejo-Covered Landmarks

As you’ll soon notice, Portugal is a country of handicrafts. Azulejo tiles are by far the most cherished artisanal art by both locals and tourists. The cities are filled to the brim with buildings covered in azulejo tiles, and Porto is no exception.

In fact, Porto is home to some of the most iconic and popular azulejo spots that attract hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world! After all, what better way to spend a day in Porto if not to admire its iconic landmarks that offer a glimpse into the country’s artistic and historical values?

A top destination and one of the world’s most beautiful buildings is Porto’s São Bento railway station built in 1904. Its interior is covered in over 20,000 azulejo tiles painted by Jorge Colaço. They depict rural scenes and historical events like the Battle of Valdevez or the iconic 12th-century meeting between Egas Moniz de Riba Douro and Alfonso VII of Leon.

Photo by Ray in Manila (Flickr)

Let’s not forget the famous Chapel of Santa Catarina, also called the Chapel of Souls. It is located on Rua de Santa Catarina and is covered in over 15,000 azulejo tiles designed by Eduardo Leite. Not only is it an enchanting delight to anyone’s eyes, but it also opens the doors to the lives of Saint Catherine and Saint Francis of Assisi.

And, of course, the Porto Cathedral, the most iconic Romanesque monument of the city, offers a glimpse into a myriad of architectural elements, as well as the art of baroque azulejos painted in the 18th century.

If you’ve still got time, make sure to check out Igreja do Carmo as well.

2. Attend Essência do Vinho – Porto

Essência do Vinho is a wine-tasting event that earned its place as the best wine experience in Portugal. It takes place in Lisbon, Porto, and Madeira. If you visit Porto in February 2024, you may be just lucky enough to attend it.

Not only will you experience the best wine event there is, but you’ll also enjoy it in the famous Palácio da Bolsa, also called the Stock Exchange Palace. Thanks to its stunningly beautiful architecture and interior decorations, the palace is now on the Porto winter activities list of any tourist coming to Porto.

palacio da bolsa porto
Bolsa Palace. Photo by Kevin Ohashi

The 19th edition of this wine event welcomed approximately 400 wine producers and over 4,000 wines available for tasting. The 20th edition of Essência do Vinho – Porto will likely take place between the 19th and the 25th of February, 2024, although the exact dates and program haven’t been officially announced yet.

So, if you’re just as passionate as we are about Portugal’s art of producing wine, keep an eye on for updates!

3. Have Fun at The Christmas Market

If you’ve planned to spend your winter holidays in Porto, get ready to step into a magical realm filled with millions of Christmas lights! You won’t even have to get to the most crowded places – the whole city gets “carried away” by the enchanting holiday atmosphere.

This year, the Christmas Market will be open from the 1st until the 24th of December. You can find a myriad of handicraft shops and entertainment spots in Praça da Batalha, which becomes a Christmassy land every year in December!

There you’ll find everything you need for a perfect winter evening – gift shops jam-packed with various national products, including pieces of artwork or handmade jewelry, traditional foods and drinks, decorated wooden houses, and various live music events.

But don’t worry if you want to mix things up – there’s another Christmas Market in front of Matosinhos Town Hall in Basílio Teles Park. This one opens even sooner, on the 24th of November, and provides the public with over 80 artisan shops. We promise that your eyes will keep moving from one to another, and you’ll find it quite difficult to choose a souvenir!

While you’re at it, don’t forget to delight in the famous bolo-rei (king cake), also called bolo de Natal, a traditional Portuguese dish that cannot not find itself a spot on any local Christmas dinner.

Bolo Rei. Photo by Britta Frahm (Flickr)

4. Spiritus Light Show at Clérigos Church

The Clérigos Church is one of Porto’s most famous landmarks and one of the country’s first baroque churches featuring a baroque elliptic floor plan. It is particularly known for its 75-meter-tall bell tower. The interior of the church is a delight to anyone’s eyes!

If you’ve already added the Clérigos Church to your must-visit list, make sure to plan it during the Spiritus Light Show. The creative combination of light, music, and colors will take you beyond the building’s architecture. It will make for a spiritual journey into the realm of imagination.

The show is inspired by After all, the best way to travel is to feel signed by one of Fernando Pessoa’s best known heteronyms, Álvaro de Campos. In short, if you’re looking for a truly remarkable cultural and spiritual experience, this is it!

The tickets are only €10,70, and the experience will undoubtedly make for an unforgettable memory!

5. Visit Some Museums on a Rainy Day

Does the weather forecast predict a rainy day with no chance of catching any sunlight? No need to worry – Porto’s got this covered. You can visit some museums or art galleries – there are plenty to choose from, depending on your preferences.

Are you a doctor, a pharmacist, or simply curious about the history of medicine? Check out the Health and Pharmacy Museum, which traces 40 million years of medicine by exhibiting the healing and disease-fighting methods of various cultures and civilizations.

Or maybe you’re passionate about art history or literary and humanitarian studies. If so, don’t miss out on the Press Museum, Marta Ortigão Sampaio House Museum, or Museu da Misericórdia do Porto.

Of course, don’t forget about the world’s most beautiful bookshop – Livraria Lello. It’s not a museum, but its interior can definitely classify it as one! Once you set foot in the bookshop, you’ll be transported back in time or maybe to another universe of your own choice – be it the world of Harry Potter or maybe the enchanting realm of classic literature.

Porto with Kids: 9 Best Family Activities in Porto
Livraria Lello. Photo by Ivo Rainha (Unsplash.

6. Don’t Leave Without Trying Francesinha

If you’re a gastronomy enthusiast, you should definitely taste the traditional Francesinha dish. It is a sandwich consisting of thick white loaf bread with fiambre (ham), steak, sausage, and cheese. The whole sandwich is covered in more cheese (yummy!) and comes with a special tomato-and-beer sauce, thus making for a delicious meal!

Portugal is in itself a country of rich gastronomic experiences, so you’ll probably taste plenty of traditional foods. What makes Francesinha special is that it originates from Porto. More precisely, it is thought to have been invented by Daniel David in an attempt to adapt the croque monsieur to the subtleties of Portuguese cuisine.

Francesinha in Porto. Photo by Kevin Ohashi

7. Have Your Best Cultural Experience at WOW Porto

WOW Porto is any culture enthusiast’s paradise. Not only does it have multiple museums and restaurants, but it’s also full of souvenir shops and provides a variety of workshops that suit any visitor’s idea of having fun. This cultural district even has some fantastic panoramic viewpoints overlooking the city and the Douro River.

Be it that you want to have dinner in a lovely atmosphere, buy some traditional canned fish from Companhia das Conservas, or discover the magic behind the famous Port wine – everything’s available at WOW Porto!

Photo by Hayffield L (Unsplash)
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