In Porto, the Christmas season brings a festive charm to a city already renowned for its stunning river views, historic architecture, and world-famous port wine.
Visitors to this vibrant Portuguese destination during the winter months will find Christmas markets that provide an array of crafts, seasonal foods, and traditional decorations.
In this guide, I’ll share everything you’ll need to know, including 2023 dates, opening times, locations and local specialties.
Christmas in Porto is marked by an atmosphere of warmth and tradition, complemented by the city’s historic charm.
Streets are adorned with festive lights, and local shops and restaurants embrace the season with special menus and decorations, adding a unique touch to the holiday experience in this renowned Portuguese city.
Porto Christmas Market 2023
Porto’s Christmas Market is a unique experience that blends local tradition with festive celebrations.
Stalls line the streets filled with Portuguese crafts, including intricate ceramics and handwoven textiles, providing an opportunity to purchase distinct gifts.
The market also features Porto’s renowned culinary delights, such as Francesinha and Bolo Rei, allowing you to savour local flavours in a festive setting.
Alongside shopping and dining, the market hosts live performances of traditional Fado music, creating an ambience that reflects the rich cultural heritage of Porto.
Dates and Location
Porto Christmas Market dates: Likely dates: 1st to 23rd December 2023.
Location: Jardins do Palácio de Cristal.
Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 2pm to 7pm. Friday: 2pm to 9pm. Saturday: 10:30am to 9pm. Sunday: 10:30am to 7pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Admission: Free, no tickets required.
Christmas lights: Lights and the Christmas tree at Praça General Humberto Delgado. Switch-on: 1st December 2023.
Ice skating: Yes, at Praça de Mouzinho.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended during busy periods.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Beautiful Old Town, waterfront location, traditional Fado music.
Recommended tour: Historical centre walking tour.
Specialities: Francesinha, Bolo Rei, salted cod fritters, pasteis de nata.
Where to stay: Torel Avantgarde is a popular hotel, located 5 minutes from the Christmas market.
Hotels near Porto Christmas Market
To enjoy close proximity to the Christmas market in Palácio de Cristal, the area surrounding the gardens and nearby neighbourhoods such as Cedofeita and Massarelos make ideal locations to stay.
These areas provide convenient access to the market, along with other local attractions and dining options.
For a popular hotel choice in a great location near the Christmas market, Torel Avantgarde is a suitable option.
Location of Porto Christmas Market
City and Christmas Tours
A city tour of Porto is an excellent way to explore the city’s diverse heritage and cultural landmarks. With its iconic Ribeira District, historic churches, and renowned port wine cellars, Porto is a destination that attracts visitors throughout the year.
I recommend this historical city centre walking tour of Porto as you can discover many of the city’s highlights with a knowledgeable local guide at a reasonable cost. This tour would be particularly interesting for those visiting Porto for the first time.
On a city tour, you’ll explore some of Porto’s most recognisable sites, including the stunning Livraria Lello, the monumental Clerigos Tower, and the picturesque Dom Luís I Bridge.
Of for something different, you might like this hugely popular cooking class where you’ll learn how to make Portugal’s famous custard tarts, pasteis de nata.
In my guide to the best Christmas markets in Portugal, you’ll find detailed information on various locations, including dates, opening times, and unique features of each market, allowing you to plan your festive season in the most festive cities across the country.
Christmas in Porto
Christmas Specialties in Porto
Francesinha: A unique sandwich originating from Porto, Francesinha is typically loaded with ham, sausage, and steak, covered with melted cheese, and soaked in a tomato and beer sauce. At the Christmas Market, this comforting dish is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike, perfect for warming up on a chilly winter’s day.
Pasteis de Nata: One of Portugal’s most renowned pastries, pasteis de nata are small, creamy custard tarts. They are a delightful treat at the Porto Christmas Market, offering a blend of flaky crust and rich custard, often enjoyed with a sprinkle of cinnamon and powdered sugar.
Bacalhau: Known as the Portuguese staple, bacalhau, or dried and salted cod, is prepared in various ways throughout the country. In the Christmas market, vendors serve different bacalhau dishes, from croquettes to casseroles, highlighting the fish’s versatility.
Caldo Verde: A traditional Portuguese soup made with potatoes, collard greens, and chorizo, caldo verde is a nourishing option. As a vegetarian alternative, some vendors omit the chorizo, providing a hearty plant-based meal that captures the essence of Portuguese cuisine.
Vinho Quente: During Christmas, a warm cup of vinho quente, or hot wine, can be found in the market. Infused with spices like cinnamon and cloves, this beverage is Portugal’s take on mulled wine, perfect for sipping as you explore the festive stalls.
Roasted Chestnuts: An international favourite during Christmas, roasted chestnuts are also popular at the Porto Christmas Market. Vendors roast these seasonal nuts on open fires, filling the air with an inviting aroma. They serve as an excellent snack while shopping and sightseeing.
Port Wine: Porto is the birthplace of Port wine, and the Christmas Market is an excellent place to enjoy this local specialty. Vendors provide different varieties, including White, Ruby, and Tawny Port, allowing you to experience the unique flavours of this fortified wine.
Azeitonas Temperadas: For a lighter snack, try azeitonas temperadas, or marinated olives. Olives are a staple in Portuguese cuisine, and at the Christmas Market, vendors marinate them in herbs, garlic, and olive oil, offering a flavorful vegetarian snack to enjoy as you wander through the festive atmosphere.
Churros: As an international Christmas market snack, churros have also found their place in Porto. Often served with a chocolate dipping sauce, these deep-fried dough pastries are a delightful indulgence for those with a sweet tooth.
Bolo Rei: This traditional Portuguese Christmas cake, called King’s Cake, is a staple during the holiday season. Made with candied fruits and nuts, it’s often enjoyed with a glass of Port wine.
Serra Cheese: A soft and delicious Portuguese cheese, often served with bread or crackers. It is made from sheep’s milk and has a unique, tangy flavour.
Ginjinha: This Portuguese cherry liqueur is typically served in a chocolate cup and can be found in some of the liquor stalls. It combines the rich flavours of cherries with a hint of cinnamon and other spices.
Christmas Gifts and Stocking Fillers
Cork Products: Portugal is the largest producer of cork in the world, and the market in Porto features various cork-based items like handbags, wallets, and coasters. These products reflect the country’s commitment to sustainable and eco-friendly practices.
Ceramic Decorations: Unique to the region, the Christmas market in Porto offers beautiful ceramic decorations, often hand-painted in traditional Portuguese patterns. From decorative tiles to festive ornaments, these make for thoughtful gifts and souvenirs.
Port Wine: Building on Porto’s reputation for its fortified wine, bottles of various styles and ages can be purchased. Specialty vendors often provide tastings to help you select the perfect bottle, whether for personal enjoyment or as a gift.
Azulejo-inspired Gifts: Azulejo is the art of Portuguese-painted ceramic tiles, and this influence extends to a wide array of products, including notepads, trivets, and framed art. These items pay homage to the city’s rich architectural tradition.
Olive Oil and Gourmet Products: High-quality olive oil and other gourmet products like honey and jams made from local fruits can be found at specialty food vendors. These are often beautifully packaged, making them excellent gifts.
Traditional Musical Instruments: For those interested in music, traditional Portuguese instruments such as guitars, tambourines, and accordions can be found. These make for an unusual and culturally significant gift.
Knitted Garments: You’ll find stalls offering knitted scarves, hats, and gloves, often made from local wool. These serve as functional gifts for the winter season and reflect the region’s traditional crafts.
Sardine-themed Souvenirs: As a symbol of Portugal, sardines are celebrated in various forms. Items such as sardine-shaped kitchen utensils and decorative pieces are popular choices.
Christmas Ornaments: In addition to the local products, the market also features classic Christmas ornaments, decorations, and festive lighting. These range from handcrafted wooden figures to delicate glass baubles.
Books and Literature: For book lovers, Porto’s market often includes vendors selling works by local authors, including poetry, novels, and children’s books. This provides a literary insight into Portuguese culture and history.
Wooden Toys and Puzzles: Traditional wooden toys and puzzles, handcrafted by local artisans, are popular with families. These items offer an educational and engaging gift for younger family members.
For additional resources on things to do and the latest events in the city, I recommend checking out Visit Porto, where you can find up-to-date information and guides that will enhance your stay and provide you with insights into local culture and attractions.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Here are a few tips on how we can travel more responsibly in Porto at Christmas:
Stay in Eco-Friendly Hotels: In Porto, many hotels are making a concerted effort to be more sustainable by using renewable energy. When booking accommodation, look for places that have adopted energy-efficient practices, such as solar panels and water-saving devices, contributing to the reduction of the city’s overall carbon footprint.
Reduce Food Waste at Markets: When indulging in the various treats at Porto’s Christmas markets, being mindful of portion sizes can make a significant difference. By ordering what you can reasonably consume, you help reduce food waste. If possible, bring reusable containers for any leftovers.
Practice Ethical Consumption: During your Christmas shopping in Porto, consider the impact of your purchases. Focus on buying locally made products that you really need or can use, supporting local artisans and small businesses. Avoid unnecessary packaging and opt for gifts that don’t contribute to environmental harm.
Adopt a Sustainable Diet: Porto’s culinary scene provides plenty of opportunities to enjoy a sustainable diet. Seek out restaurants that serve locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, reducing transportation emissions. Many places also provide vegetarian and vegan options, catering to a lower carbon footprint diet.
Use Sustainable Transport Options: Porto has an excellent public transport system that includes buses, trams, and the metro. By making use of these services, you can explore the city while minimizing your environmental impact. Additionally, consider walking or renting a bicycle, as Porto has bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly areas that allow for comfortable and eco-conscious exploration.
The Porto Christmas Market dates are from 1st to 23rd December 2023.
You can find the Christmas market in Porto at Jardins do Palácio de Cristal, a central location easily accessible by public transport.
The Christmas Market in Porto opens its doors Monday to Thursday: 2pm to 7pm. Friday: 2pm to 9pm. Saturday: 10:30am to 9pm. Sunday: 10:30am to 7pm.
Winter in Porto is generally mild, with temperatures ranging from 8 to 14°C. Rain is possible, so bringing an umbrella or raincoat is advisable when visiting the Christmas market.
Besides the Christmas Market, Porto hosts various winter events such as concerts, art exhibitions, and local festivals, celebrating the season’s spirit and Portuguese culture. It’s worth checking local event calendars to include these in your itinerary.
If you would like to leave a review of Porto Xmas Market, comment below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Porto, Portugal. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.