Porto Alegre is in the state of Rio Grande do Sul and is the state’s capital city. It has a population of about 1,509,939 and is the largest city by population in the state. The city lies on the Coast of Guaiba Lake, where Lagoa dos Patos is formed by five rivers that meet here.
The city was discovered in 1769, but it was made official when immigrants of Portugal signed the act in 1772. Porto Alegre is of mostly European descent. The city is considered one of the wealthiest and most diverse cities in Latin America. It is very accessible for even the larger boats, and so it has become a significant port.
The economy of Porto Alegre has become very important. Due to the fact that many ships pass through its port, and the diverse agriculture that the city provides, it has become one of the most important cities in Brazil. There is a vibrant arts and music scene, and Porto Alegre has traditionally had more progressive politics than the rest of Brazil – the gay and lesbian community had the right to partnership here before it was officially legalized in the country. Below is our Porto Alegre travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
MUSEU DE ARTE DO RIO GRANDE DO SUL – This museum is centred in the Praca da Alfandega, a beautiful square in the city. This building contains a beautiful collection of art and paintings. It is a great place to find work from regional artists.
CATEDRAL METROPOLITANA – This is one of the finer landmarks in the city. The building itself is of beautiful design, and it sits atop the city’s hill, offering a great view of the city centre, well as the Farroupilha park.
MUSEU HISTORICO JULIO DE CASTILHOS – This is a beautiful 19th century home that contains some items showing what a home would have looked like during the time period. It is a very beautiful house to enter and see.
PARQUE FARROUPILHA – This is a beautiful park where you can walk and appreciate the area. On Sunday mornings, this park transforms into a busy, large market. This is a great chance to experience the local culture and food.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
This city provides a few beautiful sights to see, but the better experiences are enjoying the Sunday market in the Parque Farroupilha, as well as taking the beautiful 20-minute ferry ride across the lake.
There are plenty of restaurants and many different styles of food to find in Porto Alegre, due to the international influence from being a port city. You can find the famous Churrascaria, which offers a wide variety of steaks and meats, sometimes in a buffet style. You can also enjoy some barbecue style restaurants in the city.
Fancy a light bite? Go to Lancheria do Parque (Av. Osvaldo Aranha, 1086) for a great selection of tasty sandwiches, pastries and natural juices. This place isn’t fancy, but it’s well-known among locals for a reason - good food on a budget!
For your traditional Brazilian steakhouse, check out Tudo Pelo Social (Rua Joao Alfredo 448) – here they serve generous portions for reasonable prices, and the service is fast. Top tips: you can normally share one dish between two people, and if you visit on the weekend for lunch, make sure you get there early, as the place soon fills up!
If you’re a big foodie, go to Panorama Gastronomico (Avenida Ipiranga 41) - a university buffet restaurant with an expansive array of options, from sushi to BBQ to pasta to pancakes… where else can you sample Japanese, Brazilian, and Italian food, all under one roof?
For afternoon tea, check out Agridoce Café (Sarmento Leite, 1024). This charming place has a cosy atmosphere and delightful décor. Come here with friends for coffee and cake, or by yourself to relax with a good book.
Nightlife can be found in several different places throughout the city, but there are two places that tend to attract the most crowds: Cidade Baixa and Moinhos de Vento are two of the main areas of the city where you are can find a good place to drink, and enjoy music during the night. A more bohemian neighbourhood to check out is Bom Fim.
For your classic Irish Pub, check out Dublin Irish Pub (Rua Padre Chagas, 342), where you can enjoy good food, drinks, and music. Get here at 6pm for happy hour. For another great watering hole, go to Dirty Old Man (Rua General Lima E Silva 956) – you’ll find everything from exotic cocktails to craft beer. Enjoy the vintage décor of this stylish pub – be aware, this place gets busy!
If you want somewhere to party, try Opiniao (Rua Jose do Patrocinio 834). This places hosts concerts, and there’s a live DJ. Come here with friends and dance the night away!
The average temperature from November to March is above 20 degrees Celsius, and is around 20 – 24 degrees. In the colder months from April to September, the temperature average is below 20, and averages about 16 – 18 degrees Celsius. There is rain all year-round, with little difference in mm of rainfall.
Porto Alegre has an international airport - 7km out of the city centre - that provides service to all the major cities in Brazil. It also provides flights to Chile, Peru, Panama, and the United States. The downtown bus stations serve the main cities in Brazil, as well as offering trips to Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay. From Sao Paulo to Porto Alegre by bus, it’s 20 hours (via Curitiba).
There is also the option of getting in by boat. There is a ferry that operates between the main port of the city and Guiaba, which is located on the other side of the lake. This crossing takes 20 minutes (CatSul company).
There are many options for where to stay in Porto Alegre. In Cidade Baixa a few different places can be found that are close to bars, pubs and restaurants. There are also the larger more expensive chain hotels in the city.
Porto Alegre Eco Hostel (Rua Luiz Afonso, 276) has a great reputation for its warm and welcoming staff, its facilities, and its location - being close to the historic centre, the bus station, and within walking distance of many bars, shops, and restaurants. There is a great atmosphere, as out back you’ll find a nice garden where you can chill in the hammocks or use the pool.
Be careful when walking around town, and always take precautions: be aware of pickpockets, especially at night-time. Try to avoid the poorer areas of the city and try not to wander alone.