Where to stay in Porto for first time: 5 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Porto as a first-timer can be overwhelming. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Porto for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Porto for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Porto and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Porto, or Oporto, is Portugal’s second-largest city, after Lisbon, and one of the oldest cities in Europe. Situated along the Douro River estuary in northern Portugal, Porto is famous for its historic center, UNESCO World Heritage sites, port wine production, and stunning architecture.

The Ribeira District is a picturesque area along the riverfront that is filled with narrow streets, colorful buildings, and lively cafes. It’s a great place to wander around, and enjoy views of the Dom Luís I Bridge.

The Dom Luís I Bridge is an iconic iron double-decked bridge, designed by Gustave Eiffel, the architect of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The upper deck is used by pedestrians and the metro, offering stunning views of the city.

Dom Luís I Bridge spans the Douro River and connects Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia, where many of the port wine cellars are located. You can take guided wine tours to learn about the production process and enjoy tastings of Portugal’s famous fortified wine.

Some other highlights in Porto include the Clerigos Tower, Livraria Lello bookstore, Serralves Foundation, Casa da Música, São Bento Railway Station, and the 12th century Porto Cathedral Sé.

Porto also offers a wide range of delicious Portuguese cuisine, including fresh seafood, hearty stews, and pastries like pastel de nata.

Is Porto safe to visit?

Yes, Porto is generally safe to visit. But, like many other tourist destination, it has some safety concerns, including pickpocketing, street vendor scams, fake tickets/tours. It is essential to be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to your belongings, especially at tourist spots, and public transport.

I also advise using reputable and official websites to book tours and accommodations. Additionally, avoid walking alone in poorly lit alleys/streets at night; try to travel in a group and use rideshare apps or reputable taxi companies with good reviews.

Where to stay in Porto for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Porto for first-timers and tourists are Porto City Centre (Ribeira/ Baixa), Cedofeita/ Boavista, Miragaia, Bonfim, and Vila Nova de Gaia. It’s always essential to remain vigilant and take standard precautions regardless of which area you’re in.

Ribeira and Baixa are popular choices for first-time visitors. They are the heart of Porto and home to iconic landmarks such as the Dom Luís I Bridge, São Bento Train Station, and Porto Cathedral. You’ll find plenty of restaurants, cafes, shops, and cultural attractions within walking distance.

Vila Nova de Gaia, located across the Douro River from Porto’s historic center, is famous for its wine cellars where you can sample and learn about renowned Port wine. The waterfront area offers stunning views of Porto’s skyline, and there are often boat tours to explore the river. 

In addition to the city center, other neighborhoods like Cedofeita/Boavista, Miragaia, and Bonfim offer their own unique experiences and may appeal to travelers seeking a more local and quieter vibe.

While central areas are generally safe for visitors to book their accommodations, there are some areas to avoid staying in some bad neighborhoods such as Bairro do Aleixo, Cerco do Porto, and Lagarteiro. 

During my trip to Porto, I stayed at the Hotel Carris Porto Ribeira in the Ribeira district, close to everything. All Attractions, the river, and public transportations are within easy walking distance. Many restaurants and bars around. It can be noisy due to its central location, but you can ask for quiet rooms.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Porto for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Porto first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Porto first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Porto, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Porto have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

5 Best/Safe areas to stay in Porto for first-timers and tourists:

1. Porto City Centre (Ribeira/Baixa)

Porto City Centre (particularly Ribeira and Baixa) is often recommended as the best base in the city for first-time visitors. These areas provide central location, historic significance, and convenient access to major sights and amenities.

Ribeira and Baixa are among the oldest and most picturesque parts of Porto, with narrow cobbled streets, colorful buildings adorned with traditional Portuguese tiles (azulejos), and historic landmarks around every corner. You’ll feel immersed in Porto’s rich history as you explore these neighborhoods.

Porto’s most famous landmarks are located in or near the city center. In Ribeira, you can marvel at the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge spanning the Douro River, visit the Porto Cathedral with its stunning views, and explore São Bento Train Station, known for its beautiful azulejo panels depicting Portuguese history. 

In Baixa, you’ll find the bustling Avenida dos Aliados, the historic Livraria Lello bookstore, the enchanting Clerigos Tower, and the lively Galerias de Paris, Porto’s main bar area.

Ribeira and Baixa offer a wide range of dining options, from traditional Portuguese taverns serving local specialties to trendy cafes and international cuisine. You’ll also find plenty of shops selling souvenirs, artisanal goods, and local products, making it a great area for shopping.

Staying in Porto City Centre puts you within walking distance or a short tram ride away from most major attractions. Additionally, public transportation hubs like São Bento Train Station and Trindade Metro Station make it easy to explore city and day trips to Braga, Guimarães, Aveiro, and Douro Valley.

Ribeira and Baixa are a popular area for tourists and are generally safe both during the day and at night. If you exercise normal common sense, you should have a safe and enjoyable trip.

Best places to stay in Porto City Centre for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): GA Palace Hotel & Spa, a XIXth-Century Villa, great 5-star beautifully designed hotel in the heart of Porto, close to everything, including Santa Catarina street, Sao Bento Metro & Train Station, and Ribeira Square. It has paid airport transfer, exceptional breakfasts, a 24-hour front desk, an indoor/outdoor pool, and fitness center.

Luxury ($$$): Eurostars Aliados, popular 5-star hotel located on Avenida dos Aliados in central Porto,  right in the center of things yet quiet. The entrance of the hotel is directly next to a metro station. Easy access to historical places and shopping districts. The Francisco Sá Carneiro International Airport is easily reachable by trains. It has spacious soundproof rooms, delicious breakfast, and an indoor pool.

Mid-range ($$): Memoria Porto FLH Hotels, great 4-star hotel located in the central area, close to the river and the most important sites of Porto like Sao Bento Station, Clerigos Tower, and Ageas Porto Coliseum. There are hop on hop off buses and trams right at the front of the hotel. Neart bars and restaurants but quiet. The rooms are clean and well equipped. 

Budget ($): Ribeira do Porto Hotel, 3-star hotel in a prime location in the Ribeira District, close to D. Luís Bridge, Clérigos Tower and Lello bookshop. It has views of Douro River, a 24-hour reception. The hotel can help organize tours and activities such as river cruises, bike tours. If you come with a private car/ Uber, you have to walk a little bit of up the street to reach the hotel. 

Hostel ($): The Passenger Hostel, nice backpacker hostel in a strategic location, in the S. Bento Train Station, featuring dorm rooms with a shared kitchen and shared bathrooms. It is within walking distance from Douro riverside, Galerias de Paris street, and Santa Catarina shopping street.


2. Cedofeita/ Boavista

Staying in Cedofeita/Boavista offers a more local and contemporary experience for tourists. Boavista Avenue is one of Porto’s main thoroughfares and is lined with impressive architecture, upscale boutiques, and elegant cafes. 

You can take a leisurely stroll along the avenue, visit the landmark Casa da Música concert hall, or relax in one of the many green spaces along the way.

Best places to stay in Porto in Cedofeita/ Boavista:

Luxury ($$$): Porto Palácio Hotel by The Editory, 5-star hotel located on Avenida da Boavista, only a few mins walk from Casa da Música Concert hall and Estádio do Bessa. 15 mins walk from metro stations of Casa da Música and Francos. It is somewhat outside Porto Center, but easy to reach with a reasonably priced Uber/Bolt. It has soundproofed rooms, a rooftop lounge with views of the city/river, and a pool.

Mid-range ($$): Serviced Apartments Boavista Palace, 4-star nice apartment complex located in a quiet area in the business district, close to Carolina Michaëlis Metro Station, Mercado Bom Sucesso urban market, and Praça Mouzinho de Albuquerque. Accommodation comes with a fully equipped kitchen and modern bathrooms. 25 mins walk to the historic center, lots of buses and metro nearby.

Budget ($): Boavista Guest House, 3-star guest house located in the in a calm neighborhood of Boavista in central Porto, within walking distance from the old town and several attractions like the church of São Martinho da Cedofeita, Lello bookshop, and Carolina Michaelis Metro Station for links to the airport. 


3. Miragaia/ Massarelos

Miragaia/ Massarelos, located next to Ribeira andBaixa, are great locations for those who want a quieter residential atmosphere, while still being close to the city center.

In addition, for easy access to major sights, you have some local attractions. The Museu Romântico da Quinta da Macieirinha, located in Massarelos, offers insights into Porto’s romantic period, while the Jardim Botânico do Porto (Botanical Garden) in Miragaia provides a serene escape amid lush greenery.

Best places to stay in Porto in Miragaia for visitors:

Luxury ($$$): Torel Avantgarde, 5-star hotel, in central Porto, within walking distance to many sights including the Douro riverside, Clérigos Church, Cristal Palace Gardens, and Ferreira Borges Market. It has  panoramic views over the city, 2 swimming pools, and a wonderful breakfast. 

Mid-range ($$): NEYA Porto Hotel, 4-star nice chic hotel, located close to the river, and Palacio da Bolsa. It is not quite central, away from all the hustle and bustle, but walkable along the Douro to Ribeira. Trams/buses can be found outside of the hotel. Lovely rooftop bar for cocktails and light meals.

Budget ($): HF Tuela Porto, popular 3-star hotel, in Massarelos, 10 mins walk from the Douro River. You can find various restaurants and bars around the hotel. Easy access to the Palacio de Cristal gardens, Península shopping center. Rooms are spacious with well-equipped bathrooms.


4. Bonfim

Bonfim, located just east of Baixa and Ribeira,  offers visitors a taste of authentic Porto life while still being within easy reach of the city’s main attractions.

The Igreja do Bonfim (Church of Bonfim) is a notable landmark with its distinctive blue tiles (azulejos) decorating the façade. You can also wander through the neighborhood’s streets to admire the charming old buildings and colorful facades.

Bonfim also offers easy access to Campanhã Train Station, which is one of Porto’s main transportation hubs along with São Bento and Vila Nova de Gaia, connecting Porto with other cities in Portugal or Europe. It is an especially convenient base for visitors arriving by train from Lisbon or Spain.

Best places to stay in Porto in Bonfim for tourists:

Luxury ($$$): The Editory Artist Baixa Porto Hotel, 5-star hotel in a quiet area, close to the center and the main attractions. The  Santa Catarina shopping street is nearby. 

Mid-range ($$): Oca Oriental Porto Hotel, beautiful modern 4-star hotel in Bonfim, only 10 mins walk from Campanha Train Station where the train arrives from Lisbon. You can walk/ take  a local commuter train/ cheap Bolt/Uber to the old town. Breakfast has lots of choices.

Mid-range ($$): Eurostars Heroismo, 4-star hotel located close to the main train station in Porto, the underground, and the historic Center. They have a high quality breakfast buffet with a lot of variety.


5. Vila Nova de Gaia

Vila Nova de Gaia is one of the most popular locations to stay in Porto for visitors. This area offers stunning views of the city’s historic center across the Douro River and is home to the famous Port Wine Cellars and beautiful riverside promenade. 

Vila Nova de Gaia is famous for its wine cellars, known locally as “caves.” Here, you can tour several renowned Port wine lodges, such as Graham’s, Taylor’s, and Sandeman, where you can learn about the history and production of Port wine and enjoy tastings. It’s a must-visit for wine enthusiasts and provides insight into one of Porto’s most iconic products.

The waterfront area of Vila Nova de Gaia offers beautiful promenades along the Douro River, with stunning panoramic views of Porto’s skyline. It’s an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll, especially during sunset when the city is bathed in golden light.

Vila Nova de Gaia boasts a diverse culinary scene, with numerous restaurants offering delicious Portuguese cuisine, fresh seafood, and, of course, excellent Port wine pairings. You can enjoy waterfront dining with views of Porto across the river or explore the charming streets for local eateries.

From Vila Nova de Gaia, you can easily access boat tours that cruise along the Douro River, offering a different perspective of both Porto and Gaia. These tours often include commentary about the history and landmarks of the region, making them both informative and scenic.

While Vila Nova de Gaia has its own distinct character, it’s conveniently connected to Porto’s city center via several bridges, including the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge. You can easily walk across the bridge or take a short tram ride to explore Porto’s historic neighborhoods and attractions.

Best places to stay in Porto in Vila Nova de Gaia:

Luxury ($$$): Hilton Porto Gaia, 5-star hotel  in Vila Nova de Gaia, very close to Douro river and WOW Porto – The Best Cultural District, the World of Wine. It has absolutely stunning views over the city. The hotel has amazing breakfast, well kept facilities, a fitness center, and a pool. 

Mid-range ($$): Vincci Ponte de Ferro, popular 4-star hotel in a unique location in Vila Nova de Gaia, only a few mins walk from D. Luis I Bridge. You can enjoy beautiful views from all around the hotel. It is also next to the light rail station to get into the town center.

Mid-range ($$): 296 Heritage Apartments, 4-star beautiful accommodation in Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the bridge from Porto city center, in the middle of everything. It features air conditioning units with a well-equipped kitchen. Great location steps to the port houses for tastings.


In conclusion, Porto City Centre (Ribeira/Baixa), Cedofeita/ Boavista, Miragaia, Bonfim, and Vila Nova de Gaia are the best places to stay in Porto for first-timers and tourists. While these areas are generally safe, it’s always a good idea to take standard precautions while traveling to have a pleasant trip.

You can continue reading about Porto and other destinations in Portugal in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Porto. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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