When I first booked our trip to Porto, I was extremely optimistic when it came to the weather. I assumed that Portugal was sunny all the time (naive, I know) and I’d spend the whole weekend waltzing around in flip flops and summer dresses.
Unfortunately for us, this wasn’t the case. Although we had one day of great weather, we also had three days of rain and even storms. Despite this, my boyfriend and I refused to stay in the hotel doing nothing, and instead found some pretty special ways to enjoy Porto in the rain.
Book a port tasting tour
As you may know, Porto is famous for its port – and what better way to spend a rainy day than taste testing some of its finest? We booked a tour with one of Portugal’s most established wine cellars, Sandeman, located by the water’s edge in the nearby city of Gaia (simply cross one of the bridges across the Douro river and you’ll find yourself in Gaia!)
We paid 16 Euro for a Premium Tour, which lasted roughly an hour in total. In a small group of no more than 15, we were lead through the underground cellars and taught about the history of port and Sandeman, before trying a glass of tawny, white and ruby port. The whole experience was great fun and a must-do if you’re visiting Porto!
Hit the beach!
No amount of rain was going to stop us from enjoying a trip to the beach, so we hopped on one Porto’s historic trams and, for only 6 Euros each, booked a return trip to Foz de Douro on the outskirts of Porto. We took the Linha 1 tram from the Infante stop and were lucky enough to get a seat – this is an extremely popular route for tourists, but standing up isn’t a big deal as the journey itself is no longer than 20/30 minutes.
The tram takes you on a route along the beautiful Douro river, so I’d try to sit on the left of the tram if you can (and on the right on the way back to Porto!). Fortunately the sun came out for us and we managed to enjoy a quick stroll along the beach, but even if the weather stays rubbish all day, the tram trip itself is still worth it.
Visit the Livraria Lello
Every blog you read about Porto is sure to mention Livraria Lello, some saying it’s a must visit and others saying they wouldn’t waste their time. However, as a literature nerd and a huge lover of gorgeous libraries, I knew I’d fall in love with the place no matter how many other tourists were there (just like J.K Rowling when writing the very first Harry Potter!) The bookshop gets even busier when it’s raining, but my boyfriend and I still had a great time.
The queues were nothing like we were warned they’d be – we only waited 10 minutes in total before being let inside. And, as you buy your tickets in another shop a few stops down the road, we didn’t have to queue in the rain. If you love browsing through shelves of books and beautifully ornate buildings, this is the place for you.
NB: The tickets are only 5 Euros each and can be redeemed as vouchers when making a purchase.
Take the Teleférico de Gaia
Just because it’s raining, there’s no reason to stay inside and miss everything Porto has to offer! The city is home to some truly beautiful views, with one of the most mesmerising being the view across the Douro river from the iconic Luis bridge. However, if it’s raining, the chances are you won’t want to spend too long without shelter. If this is the case, walk up to Jardim de Morro and take the cable car to the water front of Gaia.
The trip only lasts 10 minutes or so, but it’s a great way to enjoy the views across the Douro (with a great view of Porto’s riviera) without getting wet. A one-way trip only cost 6 Euro, and when we arrived at the bottom we were given a voucher for a free glass of port at a local wine cellar – bonus!
Race against the clock at Mission to Escape
On our last day in Porto, we were gutted to hear that our boat cruise along the Douro river had been cancelled due to bad weather. Fortunately, our wonderful hotel hosts came to the rescue with alternative plans – a morning in an escape room. While this is not exactly a cultural experience, the Pablo Escobar-themed escape room at Mission to Escape was the best I’d ever been in.
The prices depend on how many people are in your team, but with four of us we paid 20 Euro each – a price I thought was super reasonable for how much fun we had. Mission to Escape is also situated right in the middle of Porto’s city centre, just a short walk from Livraria Lello and some of the city’s most beautiful churches.
Have you visited Porto? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
P.S. Vegans, check out my guide to vegan food in Porto here!