Updated: December 14, 2022
What Are the Best Neighborhoods in Porto for Families?
Planning to move to Portugal with your family? The northern gem of the country, Porto, is bursting with attitude and has become the city of the moment. There are many different places in the city, each with its own character. However, where are the best neighborhoods in Porto for families?
The northern gem of Portugal, Porto is a city that you can stroll around with ease. The city overlooks six bridges – including the famous Maria Pia bridge, designed by Don Gustave Eiffel – spanning the Douro River. On the other side, you can make out the 300-year old port houses, lighting up the river in the evenings.
A city steeped in history, Porto pushes the boundaries of modernity, with trendy gin bars and bistros popping up across the city. Also, a short distance from the city, you will find some of the most beautiful beaches overlooking the Atlantic.
In this article, we’ll provide you with an overview of the best neighborhoods in Porto for families. It’s essential to know which neighborhood is best suited to your needs to make an informed decision.
Firstly, you should be aware that Porto is the best city in Europe to live as a family, and therefore a good choice of location to buy a house in Portugal. A Norwegian study on family quality of life gave Porto the top spot in the study (Lisbon still ranked highly, in third place). Also, the Northern Portuguese are known to be some of the friendliest in the country. They are very welcoming and always happy to help.
The very best neighborhoods in Porto for families
The picturesque cobblestone streets of Porto are charming with riverside restaurants close at hand creating a peaceful, yet buzzing city.
Here we provide an overview of some of the best neighborhoods in Porto for families, whether you are looking for a central location or to buy real estate in Porto a little further out.
Foz do Douro
Foz do Douro is the coastal neighborhood where the River Douro meets the ocean. Here you have endless views of the Atlantic, with the famous Felgueiras lighthouse welcoming boats back to shore. The remains of the famed Fortress São João Baptista da Foz provide history lovers with the chance to look back to the 16th Century.
Once a small fishing village that was transferred to cater for the upper class, Foz do Douro is now home to all sorts of people. Many houses along the shore provide stunning sea views and the neighborhood offers all the amenities that you need. Some of the best schools can be found in Foz do Douro, such as Oporto British school. This area is particularly appealing, as it has all the amenities that you could need.
Just 20 minutes from the city center, Foz do Douro could be a good point of call. The beaches provide children with a ready-made play area, where you can while away the long summer days together.
You can also rent bikes for your family to cruise along the coast with views of the glimmering sea. Home to some of the best seafood in the country, and with a neoclassical Pérgola da Foz promenade to wander up and down, Foz is a treat for locals and expats alike. If you are other looking for beach properties close to Porto, there are also other options to Foz.
The center of Porto, the lively downtown neighborhood of Baixa has some of the city’s best known landmarks. If you think of where to live in Porto, there are beautiful hotels and apartment complexes bordering the Avenida dos Aliados, which is a work of art in architecture. Also, it serves as a key gathering spot for important occasions like the São João Festival or New Year’s Eve. For one of the best views of the city, walk to the top of the nearby 18th-century Torre dos Clérigos. Visit the Porto Romanesque Cathedral, ascend the 240 steps to the top of the Clérigos Tower for breathtaking city views, and explore the labyrinthine Lello Bookstore, which served as the primary influence for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter world. If you are out of town and want to see one of Portugal’s most picturesque locations, don`t miss a chance to visit the São Bento train station with the trains whistling in and out, decorated with traditional Portuguese glazed tiles.
There are also a lot of lively bars and cafes. The majority of them are concentrated along Avenida dos Aliados, particularly Rua Galeria de Paris, which is one of Porto’s greatest nightlife locations. The bustle is dispersed throughout the adjacent streets and squares on weekends. There are also small coffee shops, bookstores, and a range of cafes for every taste and price. The variety of lodging alternatives is equal; there are both luxury hotels and low-cost lodgings available.
Miragaia, which once lay beyond the Porto suburbs‘ city walls, is located to the west of the city center. With its brightly colored, closed homes and winding alleyways lined with laundry, the neighborhood gives the impression of being an expansion of the Ribeira.
A very picturesque part of the city. The colorful houses here were built below the level of the River Douro, where the beach served as a medieval shipyard where boats were built to discover the new world. Nowadays, houses are protected by a large wall and the upper floors of these houses are built over arches, giving this area of Porto a very unique ambiance.
A former Medieval shipyard, Miragaia served as the center of Porto’s Jewish and Armenian communities. With its labyrinth and stairway alleys, Miragaia originally housed the medieval Jewish quarter. This part of town remains part of the historic past of Porto, including a portion of the city’s once-protective 14th-century walls. These steep streets are lined with both traditional tascas (taverns) and creative gastropubs, so you’ll get good exercise while exploring them.
This district has a bohemian character with secret backyard cafes and breathtaking vistas where you can meet with locals for beers at sunset. Additionally, some affordable guesthouses and hostels provide themed rooms and there is local artwork on exhibit to highlight the uniqueness of the area. With charming restaurants, the infamous Church of São Pedro is the centerpiece of the neighborhood. Less busy than Ribeira and Baixa, here could prove to be a great location for families. In short, Miragia is a neighborhood that allows you to take in the rich history of Porto.
The coolest neighborhoods in Porto for families
Bonfim is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Porto, according to The Guardian. The neighborhood owes much of its character to its early 20th-century townhouses. With city center prices continually on the rise, this district has become the place for the young, creative crowds of the city, while still retaining its older generation of Portuguese residents. With a metro line close to the airport and the train station close by, there are great transport links.
Make your way to Bonfim, which is connected to the riverbank by a funicular, if you want to escape the tourist crowds. This calm residential district, which is home to a mix of elderly people and students who enjoy less expensive accommodation, is located east of Porto’s liveliest neighborhoods, Ribeira and Baixa. This corner of the city has a very local vibe, although the district is gentrifying slowly. You’ll be able to find cozy craft beer taverns and hipster coffee shops are just starting to appear, providing a more modern trendy vibe to this part of town.
Bonfim could prove to be a great location for families. Parque de Nova Sintra offers splendid views of the Douro River and is a great place to spend time with your family at the weekend.
A traditional neighborhood close to the heart of the city, here you will find some cheaper properties. This part of Porto is becoming the latest modern fashion hub of the city, yet you can still recall memories from the past all around you. Take the architecture of the train station for example. From the 19th Century, you can step back in time as you take your morning café and pastel de nata (famous Portuguese custard tart).
Art galleries, cafes, and theatres are opening here, as you are a short distance from the historic center and the River Douro.
Cedofeita, Santo Ildefonso, Sé, São Nicolau and Vitória
Cobbled-stone streets, colorful houses, and restaurants galore serving traditional Portuguese fare, this is a neighborhood of tradition. Various civil parishes merged together in 2013 to create this unique heart of the city, also including the aforementioned Miragaia. You can feel the excitement in the streets and are also just a short walk from the riverfront.
As this is the center of Porto, bear in mind that house prices are a little more expensive. It can be busy in the summer months as tourists come to enjoy this part of the city.
Nonetheless, in less busy streets, you may be able to find a more peaceful home for your family. What’s more, you will never be short on finding exceptional food and Douro wine. Nonetheless, some of the other neighborhoods may be more family-friendly than this beautiful centerpiece.
The center of the city has many key landmarks and monuments. Although perhaps not the most family-friendly because of the hustle and bustle, the cultural significance of this neighborhood is palatable. With the Romanesque Cathedral of Porto and the Lello Bookstore, where JK Rowling gained inspiration for her novels, even if you do not have a house here, you will no doubt spend many days exploring the cultural center.
The most practical neighborhoods in Porto for families
One of the largest neighborhoods of the city, Ramalde is continually growing. The neighborhood matches normal residencies with luxury houses and condos. In the Pinheiro Manso area, properties tend to be more expensive. Nonetheless, you can find cheaper buys in this neighborhood, so it is definitely worth scouting this area. As a residential neighborhood, Ramalde is a neighborhood of practicality and necessities.
Lordelo do Ouro and Massarelos
Lordelo do Ouro (Lordship of Gold) gained its name from gold continuously arriving in ships from Africa and Brazil during the Portuguese Empire. Home to the chapel of Santa Catarina where you can see stunning views of the ocean, Lordelo do Ouro is a neighborhood of practical charm, which merged with Massarelos in 2013.
Located in between Foz do Douro and the historic center, Lordelo do Ouro is perfectly situated. Close to spending the day with your family by the beach, but also not too far from the center. Many locals live here because houses are generally cheaper than in Foz and the center. If this is not enough of a selling point, homebuyers have spectacular views of the Douro River.
Vila Nova de Gaia
While technically still in Porto, on the other side of the River Douro, you have Vila Nova de Gaia. While many residents on the other side of the river (Porto city side) joke that the only good thing about Vila Nova de Gaia is its incredible view of Porto, this is unfair. Nowadays, Vila Nova de Gaia has some of the most beautiful spots and you can find much cheaper properties on this side of the river. Additionally, Vila Nova de Gaia is still incredibly famous for its Port wine, where there are over 60 port cellars.
To visit different port wine lodges for tours and tastings, cross the Dom Luís I Bridge. Rabelo boats that were originally used to transport wine barrels bob on the water’s surface as the cable car goes by in the distance. The steep lanes of Vila Nova de Gaia wind up to the mountaintop Serra do Pilar church, which offers panoramic views of Porto at sunset.
Also close to vast stretches of beach and with trendy restaurants opening to cater for the increasing interest in houses here, this could be a great area for family life. Close to Porto city, not far from the best beaches in the north, such as Praia da Madalena, this could be a very viable option for you.
Porto Neighborhoods Map
Porto neighborhoods are divided into municipalities. For real estate in Porto, prices will vary depending on the location. On the western north coast of Portugal, the northern city has the famous Douro River running through the city.