During the first 50 years of existence, the University of Porto occupied already existing buildings, the oldest of which is the one in Praça de Gomes Teixeira. Despite the limitations of space, several offices and departments coexisted here for some years, for example the Rectory, the Faculty of Sciences and its museums and laboratories, a school of engineering, the forerunner of the future Technical Faculty created in 1915 and later (in 1926) called Faculty of Engineering and, from 1953, the Faculty of Economics.
The Faculty of Medicine inherited its facilities from its predecessor, the Medical-Surgical School of Porto, located in Largo da Escola Médica, close to the extinct Convent of Our Lady of Carmo remaining there for several decades until it was transferred to São João Hospital, in 1960. Since 1975, this building has been occupied by the Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar.
During the first months of operation, classes of the Faculty of Arts (1919-1928) were also held in the main building of the University, in the Physics and Mathematics halls of the Faculty of Sciences, and in very precarious conditions. In 1920, Leonardo Coimbra, Head of the Faculty, was allowed to rent the house at no. 833 in Rua de Oliveira Monteiro, where classes then took place. This property is still known as "Quinta Amarela".
From 1924 on, the U.Porto had to find new facilities for the Faculty of Arts, which was eventually transferred to the building at no. 102 to 106 in Rua do Breyner. The choice was first due to the geographical proximity to the Rectory and also to the Faculty, since part of the Art students had to attend the subjects of the Faculty of Sciences. On the other hand, the characteristics of the building’s façade and its capacity to adapt to the purpose intended contributed to this choice. On 7 March 1927, in its one hundredth session, the School Board of the Faculty of Arts decided to buy the building for 560 contos [one conto = one thousand escudos].
From mid-twentieth century, the multiplication of courses taught and student population growth led the U.Porto to use buildings that were designed for other purposes. This was the case of the Department of Philosophy of the Faculty of Arts (1961-), which was first located at the Burmester House, or Small Palace, in Quinta do Campo Alegre. Both the property and the surrounding land, purchased by the State from the Porto City Council in 1957, had belonged to the merchant Gustavo Adolfo Burmester and his family since 1896.
This was also the case of Quinta Andresen – name by which the Botanical Garden and its buildings are still known today, which was purchased by the University of Porto from the State to expand the facilities of the Faculty of Sciences.
Other offices dependent on the Faculty of Sciences still occupy their original facilities, for example, the Geophysical Institute of the University of Porto, also known as the Meteorological Observatory of Serra do Pilar, founded in 1833 and built in the late nineteenth century on a hill west of D. Maria Bridge, in Serra do Pilar, Vila Nova de Gaia.
Another example is the Marine Zoology Station, established in 1914 at the initiative of Augusto Nobre and built in Avenida de Montevideu, Foz do Douro, and the Astronomy Observatory Professor Manuel de Barros, founded in 1948 and located in Alameda Monte da Virgem, in Vila Nova de Gaia, at a place chosen by Ruy Luís Gomes when he was the Director of the Bureau of Astronomy.
The education schools leading up to the Faculty of Fine Arts, for example, the Porto Higher Institute of Fine Arts, its most recent ancestor, occupied the Palacete Braguinha, in Avenida Rodrigues de Freitas.
Palacete Braguinha also housed the Faculty of Architecture, established in 1979, as it had done before regarding the Architecture Course of the First Department of the Porto Higher Institute of Fine Arts, a predecessor of that Faculty. In Campus 3, in 1984, the Faculty of Architecture occupied the former house of Quinta do Gólgota, in Via Panorâmica, on the right bank of the Douro River.
To house the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Pharmacy, the U.Porto had to invest in buildings from scratch.
After working in the first few years in a building in Praça de Gomes Teixeira, the Faculty of Engineering had its own facilities in Rua dos Bragas. The launch of the first stone took place on 9 March 1927 and the inaugural event was held 10 years later, on 13 April 1937.
During the first few years of operation, the Faculty of Pharmacy occupied a building in Rua do Rosário. However, the inadequate facilities led to the construction of its own building, in Rua da Carvalhosa, nowadays Rua de Aníbal Cunha, where the Faculty remains while awaiting the conclusion of the new facilities in Rua de D. Manuel II.