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Best things to do in Porto Alegre, Brazil: local tips and recommendations

In English | 06/03/24 | Atualizado em 02/04/24 | Deixe um comentário

The capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul is the second most populous city in southern Brazil and is the gateway to the beautiful mountain region known as Serra Gaúcha. There are many cool things to do in Porto Alegre, from the enchanting sunset on the Guaíba riverfront to its many parks and squares, museums and cultural centers. Not to mention the attractions of the historic center, where you’ll find pretty churches and ancient buildings.

I’m Brazilian, I love this city and in this article I’ll talk about the best things to do in Porto Alegre (also known as POA) from my experience. To make your life easier, I’ll also suggest a 3-day itinerary in the city .

mercado público de porto alegre

Things to do in Porto Alegre in the Historic Center

Museums, churches, and buildings

Most Porto Alegre’s attractions are in the historic center. You need at least two days to discover all the interesting places in this area without a rush.

There are more than 10 museums in the historic center of Porto Alegre, but the most visited ones are: Museu de Artes do Rio Grande do Sul (MARGS), Museu de Arte de Porto Alegre, Museu Júlio de Castilhos and Espaço Força e Luz. Farol Santander is also great for anyone who wants to learn the city’s history.

In the historic center it is also worth walking around Praça da Matriz square, where you’ll see beautiful old buildings such as the Palace of Justice and the Piratini Palace.

Also notice the Monument to Júlio de Castilhos, the Nossa Senhora Madre de Deus Parish and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Towards the Guaíba river, it is also worth checking out the Basilica Nossa Senhora das Dores church.

catedral de porto alegre

Porto Alegre Public Market

Visiting the Public Market (Mercado Público) is one of the best things to do in Porto Alegre. You can start the day by having breakfast at Banca 40, one of the most famous stalls in the market, or have lunch at the oldest restaurant in the city, Gambrinus. Or just walk through the market aisles and watch the movement of visitors and workers.

I recommend trying the typical fruits of the region, typical sweets and artisanal cachaças (a distilled drink which is very common in Brazil) or buying some souvenirs.

mercado público de porto alegre

cenas do mercado público - barbeiro e cliente

mercado público de porto alegre

Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana

The Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana was previously a hotel, known as the Majestic. The building served as the residence of the poet Mario Quintana, in addition to hosting several important people in Brazilian politics.

Today, there are exhibitions, a beautiful open-air garden with remnants from the old hotel, a cinema, workshops and events related to music, visual arts, dance, theater and literature.

On the terrace of Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana there is a little bar with good music, food, and craft beer from the region. At the bottom there is a very charming cafe with tables on the street.

centro cultural mário quintana

centro cultural mário quintana

Theatro São Pedro

The São Pedro Theater is a national historical heritage site. It is a reference in theater not only nationally, but also internationally, due to the fact that it offers an excellent structure for both spectators and artists, and also because of its artistic programming. It is truly amazing!

Things to do in Porto Alegre by the Guaíba

Cais Embarcadero

By the Guaíba (which some say is a lake and others, a river) there are several attractions.

Starting at the right corner of the waterfront there is the Embarcadero Pier (Cais Embarcadero), a gastronomic and bohemian space that is open all day. There you will find diverse types of food, from the famous Xis Gaúcho (a huge sandwich with lots of fillings) to typical Brazilian barbecue.

It’s a great place to have lunch. The late afternoon and evening are also beautiful there.

Usina do Gasômetro

Next to the Embarcadero Pier is the Usina do Gasômetro (Gasometer Plant), an old coal thermoelectric plant that underwent renovation in the late 1980s and became a cultural center.

It is divided into several spaces dedicated to artistic and cultural events. In the square in front of the Gasômetro there is a statue of the singer Elis Regina, who was born there and became famous worldwide, and the empty bench next to her is an invitation to take a photo.

usina gasômetro porto alegre

estátua de elis regina

360 POA Gastrobar

In the right corner of the Guaíba waterfront you will also find a 360-degree glass restaurant. The sunset view is stunning and there is live music almost every day. Prices are in line with the style of the place (meaning: high).

Waterfront kiosks

The Guaíba waterfront is a very democratic place, which makes it very special. All kinds of people gather there to drink mate, beer, or sugarcane juice.

Unlike the Gastrobar, the kiosks concentrated on the Guaíba waterfront are very informal. There you’ll find pastries, hot dogs, snacks and in some stalls, they even have live music. Not to mention the beautiful view of the Guaíba and the sunset, of course.

orla do guaíba em porto alegre

Skate rink and sports courts

A skate park was recently built on the edge of the Guaíba and it’s considered the best biggest one in Latin America. The space, which used to be abandoned, is now the stage for many maneuvers and makes athletes happy. Along with it, volleyball, football, and other sports courts were also inaugurated.

The space also has a children’s playground and is well lit, making it possible to exercise at night too. It’s worth walking to this area; the structure is truly great.

Iberê Camargo Foundation

The Iberê Camargo Foundation is a cultural center that aims to preserve and disseminate the artist’s works. Iberê Camargo was a Brazilian painter, engraver, and teacher. Over the course of his career, he produced more than seven thousand works of art.

The building where the Foundation operates was designed by Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza. In addition to the works of the artist Iberê Camargo, the museum houses exhibition rooms for other artists, an auditorium, shops, and a cafeteria. It’s another good place to watch the sunset in Porto Alegre.

In front of the Foundation there is a small strip of sand on the edge of Guaíba, known as Prainha do Iberê (Iberê’s little beach), where groups meet to drink mate, have a picnic and enjoy the late afternoon.

Things to do in Porto Alegre in Cidade Baixa neighborhood

Farroupilha Park (Redenção)

Farroupilha Park, also known as Redenção, is a park located in the Cidade Baixa neighborhood. It’s a huge green area in the middle of the city. A wonderful place to walk, cycle or just sit under the shade of a tree and relax. On Sundays there is a famous craft and antique fair, and the park gets packed.

Casa Baka Art and Culture

Casa Baka is a cultural center located in Cidade Baixa. Despite being a small space, its programming is very diverse. The house hosts everything from language, dance, and music classes to art exhibitions. Check out their schedule on social media.

MEME Cultural Station

Also in Cidade Baixa neighborhood, MEME Estação Cultural is a democratic space powered by dance. Dance classes, workshops, courses, and presentations take place there. On some weekends there are music and gastronomy events.

Joaquim José Felizardo Museum

Joaquim José Felizardo was a teacher, author of history books and municipal secretary of culture in Porto Alegre. The Museum in his honor displays the city’s cultural heritage in a beautiful house with a huge garden.

When you pass by the museum you can’t imagine how big the garden is at the back. If you’re lucky, you can even participate in some of the events taking place outdoors, involving music, art, culture and history.

Travessa dos Venezianos

Travessa dos Venezianos (Venetians’ Lane) is an alley located in Cidade Baixa where there are several small houses listed as historical heritage. Colorful houses and people from all tribes bring life to this small street in the middle of the neighborhood.

Residents have transformed their homes into small businesses that open in the late afternoon. At the end of the street, there is a pizzeria with attractive prices and quality beer.

Porto Alegre attractions in other neighborhoods

Moinhos de Vento Park (Parcão)

Parque Moinhos de Vento, better known as Parcão, is one of the best parks in Porto Alegre. This large green space includes an athletics area, a children’s library, a lagoon, and a replica of an Azorean mill. There are places to rent bicycles and vendors selling food and drinks.

PUC Science and Technology Museum

The PUC Museum is about 7 kilometers from the center of Porto Alegre. It is an interactive museum, making it a great tour for those with children. Many schools take students to visit the museum, because it encourages understanding of science concepts and theories.

Boat trip around the Guaíba

There are different types of boat tours around the Guaíba. The most common is the one that lasts an hour and passes through the main islands. It is a tourist tour, and a guide tells the history of Porto Alegre along the way. Another tour takes place on weekends, lasting an hour and a half and featuring live music.

passeios de barco em porto alegre

Things to do in Porto Alegre at night

Cidade Baixa has the most bohemian and traditional nightlife in Porto Alegre. The bars there have a more cool and eclectic style, some with tables on the sidewalks, graffiti on the walls and peculiar decor.

At the top of the overpass Viaduto da Borges, still in the city center, there are more bars in the same style. I love having a beer and seeing all the action in the city from up there.

Rua Padre Chagas, in the Moinhos de Vento neighborhood, is another reference point for Porto Alegre’s nightlife. But unlike Cidade Baixa, this street has a more sophisticated style. In most places there is parking and even valet parking.

In the bars and restaurants on Rua Padre Chagas, there will be no shortage of tasty food, great drinks, wines, and all types of beer.

Another area that is popular at night in Porto Alegre is the Quarto Distrito neighborhood. It used to be an industrial neighborhood and over time it was transformed into a bohemian one.

The bars in Quarto Distrito have a very modern décor, taking advantage of the industrial pavilions. Each bar has a unique style, so it’s worth visiting several of them.

viaduto da borges

3-day itinerary in Porto Alegre

So, you liked this list of things to do in Porto Alegre, but want a ready-made itinerary to make your trip even easier? Here it is!

If you are going to spend a weekend in Porto Alegre, arriving on Friday and leaving on Sunday, I recommend you begin by sightseeing in the historic center. Starting around Praça da Matriz, where the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Nossa Senhora Madre de Deus Parish, the Piratini Palace and the Palace of Justice are located.

Want to visit a museum? Go to MARGS in the morning then have lunch at the oldest restaurant in the city, Gambrinus, at the Mercado Público.

In the afternoon, you can visit Farol Santander, pass through Alfândega square, then visit Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana and have a coffee on its ground floor.

Finally, end the day with sunset by the Guaíba, at Cais Embarcadero or at Bistrô 360º. If you still have some energy left, go to the Borges overpass for a beer.

pôr do sol no guaíba

Porto Alegre itinerary: 1st day

  • Main Square
  • Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Nossa Senhora Madre de Deus Parish
  • Piratini Palace
  • Palace of justice
  • Museum of Arts of Rio Grande do Sul (MARGS)
  • Lunch at Gambrinus – Public Market
  • Farol Santander
  • Praça da Alfândega
  • Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana
  • Sunset at Cais Embarcadero
  • Drinks at Viaduto da Borges

If your accommodation doesn’t include breakfast, you should start the second day in Porto Alegre trying the food at Banca 40 in the public market and then head to the Guaíba waterfront.

Afterwards, I recommend visiting the exhibitions at Usina do Gasômetro and walking or cycling to the sports courts and skate park, until you reach Prainha do Iberê. You can rent a city bicycle (there are some sponsored by the Itaú bank); there is a station right in front of Fundação Iberê.

It is definitely worth going to this cultural center. You can extend the tour to the Beira Rio stadium, which is just over 1 kilometer from Prainha do Iberê, or return to the beginning of the riverside. On ‘Rua da Praia’, as Rua das Andradas is called, in the historic center, there are several traditional restaurants for lunch.

In the afternoon, you can stroll through Parque Farroupilha (Redenção) and end the day in a bar or restaurant on Rua Padre Chagas.

o que fazer em porto alegre

Porto Alegre itinerary: 2nd day

  • Breakfast at Banca 40, in the Public Market
  • Usina do Gasômetro
  • Walking or cycling along the Guaíba
  • Iberê Camargo Foundation
  • Beira Rio Stadium
  • Lunch on Rua da Praia
  • Farroupilha Park (Redenção)
  • Bars and restaurants on Rua Padre Chagas

Sunday in Porto Alegre is wonderful because everyone is outside. The squares and parks are full, especially if the day is sunny.

My tip is to start the day eating at the traditional Lancheria do Parque. Then, head to the Feira da Redenção (Redenção Market), where you’ll find crafts, antiques, food and drinks, and theatrical, dance and music performances.

After spending a good amount of time enjoying the market, you can walk to Travessa dos Venezianos (Venetians’ Lane), which is less than 20 minutes away.

By lunchtime you will probably have already tried several delicacies from the market or the street and won’t even want to have lunch. But if you’re still hungry, Porto Alegre has countless traditional steakhouses open on Sundays.

In the afternoon, a fun choice is to embark on the boat trip, which leaves from Cais Mauá. And you can end the weekend by taking a tour of the bars in Quarto Distrito or Cidade Baixa neighborhoods.

Porto Alegre itinerary: 3rd day

  • Breakfast at Lancheria do Parque
  • Feira da Redenção
  • Travessa dos Venezianos
  • Lunch at a steakhouse
  • Boat ride
  • Bars in Quarto Distrito or Cidade Baixa

After visiting all these places in Porto Alegre, you can say that you know the capital of Rio Grande do Sul!

roteiro em porto alegre

Volunteering in Porto Alegre

If you want to have a more immersive experience in Porto Alegre and save a lot of money, consider volunteering with Worldpackers. Through this platform you can exchange a few hours of work per week for accommodation and other benefits, such as meals and tours.

In addition to not spending on accommodation, you have the chance to learn new things, enjoy the destination more calmly and meet interesting people from different parts of Brazil and the world.

There are volunteer vacancies in Porto Alegre and other cities in the state of Rio Grande do Sul with very varied tasks, from hostel reception to agroecology. When registering, use the coupon JANELASABERTAS and get a 20% discount. To find out more, read our full guide on work exchange programs.

Do you have any questions about the best things to do in Porto Alegre? Leave it here in the comments!

Article written by Bárbara Nicoli, experienced traveler and contributor to the blog Janelas Abertas

Credit for the photos that illustrate the article: Luísa Ferreira/Janelas Abertas, with the exception of the last image (Jonathan Armani, via Unsplash – Usage rights released) and the two images in which the author of the article, Bárbara Nicoli, appears (provided by her for publication in Janelas Abertas).

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