Resting on Portugal’s coastline, Porto is a family-friendly city bursting with child-oriented attractions. Though you may know Porto for its charming medieval district and cobbled streets, or its Baroque church and nineteenth-century palace, there are also lots of exciting features that you can visit to keep the little ones entertained.
If you’re struggling to plan a day trip, follow this itinerary and make sure you hit all the best child-friendly attractions for a day of family fun.
Ride the Teleférico de Gaia
Similar to London’s Emirate’s Air Line, this aerial gondola runs between the southern end of the Ponte Dom Luis I and the riverside. Enthral your little ones with a five-minute ride suspended above the city. Take your seat in the glass dome and let your kids stare in awe at the bustling city below. You’ll even be able to point out the other attractions you’ll be visiting that day and get them excited for the adventures ahead.
Walk Across the Impressive Dom Luis I Bridge
One of my favourite memories as a kid is throwing a stick over one side of the bridge and running across to the other side and watching it race down the stream (the little things really do stay with you!).
You can create equally fond family memories at the Dom Luis I bridge. An imposing double-decker ironwork bridge, it stretches across a span of 172 metres. Though the bottom arch is used by motor vehicles, the top deck features a pedestrian walkway. Suspended 60 metres above ground, you can hold your kids’ hands as you cross the impressive architectural edifice. They will love to watch the Douro’s flowing waters and admire the city below.
Visit the Porto Tram Museum
Just a half-hour walk or 20-minute tram ride from the bridge, you’ll find the Museu do Carro Eléctrico. Set in what used to be a Thermo Electric Power Plant, this museum exhibits the birth of the Porto tram system, from the horse-drawn to the electric carriage. Ignite your children’s imaginations by exploring the various tram driver uniforms on display and numerous other interesting artefacts. There are photographs of out-of-use trams too. Better yet, the museum houses several restored vintage trams that date back to as early as 1872.
Conquer the Fort of São Francisco do Queijo
Here’s a fun fact that will make your kids laugh: if you translate Castelo do Queijo into English, the name literally means the Castle of Cheese. It was designated as such because of its unusual shape that makes the fort look like a very large chunk of cheese. It is one of three castles posted along Portugal seafront. It was erected by King John IV to protect Porto and prevent intruders from entering the city or navigating down the Douro River.
To reach the Fort, catch a bus from the Tram Museum – you’ll be there in roughly 20 minutes. The young’uns will love exploring this seventeenth-century fort, with its large wooden gate and drawbridge. They’ll be able to see the artillery officers’ old quarters, visit the fortified camp that once stored shells and gunpowder and admire the fort’s chapel. They can even roleplay being one of the lookout soldiers posted in the castle watch tower where they once peered out through the small slits in each corner of the fort.
Insider tip: Be sure to tell your kids to keep their eyes peeled for the Portuguese coat-of-arms which is suspended above the gate.
Admire Incredible Marine Animals at Sea Life Porto
Now, this is the kind of place every kid loves. Located just 300 metres from the Fort, it is a terrific place to bond as a family and spend a lovely afternoon together. From colourful Clownfish (they’ll be ecstatic to meet Nemo and his dad!) to amazing Sea Turtles (maybe you’ll run into Crush and his son too), this sea world has it all. If your little ones prefer the cute and cuddly, you can visit the fluffy otters and little penguins, or, if they’re fascinated by the ocean’s predators, check out the sharks and huge octopuses.
Insider tip: You can even make the trip both fun and educational by taking your kids to see the animals getting fed. There are several feeding demonstrations throughout the day, including the otters’ lunch at 2pm and the penguins’ teatime around 3pm.
How to Get to Porto
The easiest way of getting to this family-friendly Portuguese city is to fly to Porto Airport (OPO). Several low-cost airlines, including Ryanair and easyJet, offer direct flights from London. After a 2 hour 25 minute flight, your little ones may be starting to tire or be over-excited. Don’t try and drag them on public transport with all your luggage. End your journey in comfort by booking a private, shared or group transfer with Shuttle Direct. In just half-an-hour, you can be settling into your accommodation and starting to create long-lasting memories in Porto.
About Shuttle Direct
When it comes to your family, you want to be sure you’re putting yourself in safe hands. Shuttle Direct is a trustworthy company that puts its customers first. Offering a variety of transport options that suit your family budget, they have become Europe and North Africa’s leading transport provider. Best of all, all your travel arrangements can be sorted well in advance via their user-friendly website. You’ll be met outside the terminal building by a local driver who will even help you with your bags.