24-48 Hours in Porto: Itinerary for One or Two Days in Portugal’s City of the Bridges

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Only have one or two days in Porto? Use this Porto itinerary to plan the perfect one or two-day Porto visit! 

To make things simple, here’s what you need to know to check out the most iconic places in Porto in one day, plus ideas for seeing Porto in two days.

My Favorite Travel Booking Sites for 2022

These are my favorite companies that I use on my own travels.

Find cheap flights with CheapOair.

Find the best deals on hotels & vacation rentals on Booking.com.

For road trips and ground transportation, rent a car through Discover Cars.

Find the best city tours, day tours, bus tours, & skip-the-line tickets on GetYourGuide and Viator.

Find information and cruise reviews on Cruise Critic.

For packing and travel essentials order via Amazon.

For travel guidebooks to have with you during your trip, I always pick one or two from Rick Steves and Lonely Planet.

Get reliable travel insurance through World Nomads.

Store your luggage safely with Radical Storage.

Book an affordable family or romantic photography session on your trip through Flytographer (Use the code HISTORYFANGIRL for 10% off your first photoshoot).

Good to Know: This guide to the perfect 1 or 2 days in Porto comes to us from Sara, a Portuguese blogger at Portoalities, a native blog about Porto.

She shelved her degree in Engineering and quit her job at a consulting firm to follow her passion for writing and telling stories. 

Contrary to just about everyone else’s expectations, this turned out to be a great idea!

Nowadays Sara is a professional in the most Portuguese of all hobbies: being a good host.

When she is not sharing her love for Portugal on private tours in Porto or in Douro Valleyyou can find her playing with her crazy cat, learning more about wines, or happily arguing about history and politics.

This Porto travel guide has been edited by Stephanie Craig (me, the girl in the sidebar). I’ve added in extra Porto travel tips and information from my own trips to Portugal.

Essential Porto Travel Tips for a Short Porto Getaway

To make the most of your short Porto city break or stop on a longer trip through Europe, here are essential Porto tips you need to know.

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Where to stay in Porto

Porto is so popular (after all, it has been elected the Best European Destination three times!) that there are loads of nice hotels, apartments, B&Bs, hostels… the list goes on and on! Therefore, I decided to give you a few recommendations based on their price range:

  • Budget: a room in a hostel, usually €25-40 per night for a dorm bed.
  • Mid-range: a nice hotel, for around €75-100 per night.
  • Luxury: the best option (for those who can afford it), for around €150 per night, or more.

Budget: from my experience, you can find nice private rooms in hostels, and Porto is no different. I like the Passenger Hostel, which is located inside the iconic São Bento train station. You couldn’t ask for a better location, as it is close to major city attractions and transport options. You can stay in mixed or female dorms, but it also has private rooms.

Mid-range: a cute option for a mid-range hotel is Porto A.S. 1829 HotelIt is a gorgeous place, with tiles decorating the floors and standalone bathtubs. I also like its location, in a little square at the end of Rua das Flores, a pedestrian street with fancy restaurants and street musicians.

Luxury: one luxury hotel that usually people love in Porto is the Intercontinental. Located in the most important avenue of Porto, Avenida dos Aliados, it has a central location and a gorgeous view from the rooms. If you prefer to stay in a quieter location, I recommend Vila Foz Hotel & Spa. It looks like a French chateau (or a Disney castle, really), with a large garden, a fantastic spa and luxurious rooms that take you back in time.

Should You Spend One or Two Days in Porto?

Porto is quite a small city, but it has so many interesting museums to see and activities to do that it really deserves two days, if not more. You can even spend two days in the city and on the third day do a day trip to the nearby cities, like Aveiro or Coimbra.

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What Travelers Love about Porto

Usually people love three things about Porto: the medieval vibe, the food and the people.

Porto was founded over a thousand years ago and it has never been destroyed (unlike Lisbon, that was consumed by a catastrophic earthquake in 1755). Therefore, it feels like an authentic city, especially when you wander around the medieval streets of Ribeira.

The food is also to die for: from the famous Francesinha sandwich to exquisite grilled fish, earthy stews and yummy smoked sausages, Portuguese cheeses and the custard pie pastel de nata… it is hard to choose from so many food options!

Last but not the least: people from Porto are famous for being very authentic, honest and kind. I don’t want to brag, but you’ll surely miss us back home J

Getting to Porto

I honestly think that the best way to get from the airport of Porto to the city centre is to take the subway – it takes 30 minutes and the ticket costs 2€. It is convenient and by far the most environmentally friendly option. However, if you prefer you can also hire a private transfer from 20€ (group of 4 people).

How to Get Around Porto

Porto is a very small city so you can easily walk from place to place or use the subway or the bus system (both of them work very well). I definitely do not recommend to rent a car if you are staying in the city, because there is a lot of traffic and it is nearly impossible to park.

One thing I must tell you though is that Porto is very hilly – so make sure to wear comfortable shoes!

One Day in Porto: Itinerary + Tips

How to Spend One Day in Porto

Go for a food tour (10am)
 

I wrote before that Porto is the perfect place for foodie, and I mean it! Therefore, instead of starting the day with museums and sightseeing, why don’t you go for a food tour in Porto? This way you will get a proper introduction to the Portuguese culinary scene while, at the same time, have a glimpse of the most important monuments (that you get to explore in the afternoon, don’t worry!).

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Moreover, a food tour is always a great way to meet like-minded travellers, so it is a good option if you are traveling solo.

The food tour costs 59€ / adult and 29,50€ / child (from 4 to 14 years old – kids up to 3 don’t pay anything!), and it runs every day of the week.

Visit the monuments in Ribeira (2pm)

After participating in a food tour you will certainly not be hungry, so I suggest you to skip lunch and head to the riverside. There you will find plenty of interesting monuments – most notably the Stock Exchange Palace, that used to be the building where the tradesmen of Porto conduct their businesses. It is absolutely gorgeous and a great place to take Instagram – worthy photos 😛 As it is a popular building in the city, I recommend you to book the online ticket to the Stock Exchange Palace.

Afterwards, just head to the building next door, the St Francis church. It is the only Gothic church left in the city, and it is particularly famous for its interior decoration, made of carved gold leaf. Moreover, you can visit its catacombs – in the past, people used to be buried in churches (cemeteries were non-existent), so visiting this church in Porto is like traveling back in time.

If you’re still not too tired of museums, then you can also check Casa do Infante, where Henry the Navigator was born. Not many tourists go there, but it is a great museum for those of you who are interested on the history of Portuguese Discoveries.

Explore the riverside (4pm)

After visiting the Stock Exchange Palace and the St Francis church, I recommend you to go down the street and simply enjoy the riverside, in an area that is called Ribeira – which, by the way, is a protected Unesco World heritage site.

The first place you will see is Praça da Ribeira, a colorful square where you will find a fountain topped by a sculpture of a famous artist from Porto, José Rodrigues. Afterwards, just turn left (by the riverside), and you will immediately see the Ponte Luiz I, the incredible iron bridge that was built almost 150 years ago by a former partner of Gustave Eiffel. It is truly a fantastic view of the iron bridge, the Douro river and the Port wine cellars.

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If the weather is nice, you can get a drink at Bar Ponte Pênsil. This bar has a unique location, as it was built inside the pillar of an ancient bridge, which has since been removed. The view from there is really, really stunning.

If it is windy or rainy (which is quite common in Porto) head to LADO, a tiny bar that serves great Port wines.

Go for a fado show (7pm)

After all this sightseeing it is time for the most famous Portuguese music: Fado! It is so important to our national identity that it has been declared ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO. True story.

You can go for a Fado show at Casa do Fado, a traditional Fado place located in a 19th-century building. It is quite a charming place, with its thick granite walls and chairs and tables made from old Port wine barrels. The ticket costs 15€ and the show starts at 7pm.

Have dinner in Ribeira (8.30pm)

You can end your first day in Porto with a dinner by the riverside J My favourite restaurants in this part of town are Taberna dos Mercadores and Adega de São Nicolau, as they both serve incredible Portuguese food paired with amazing wines.

Two Days in Porto: Itinerary + Tips

How to Spend Your Second Day in Porto

Enjoy a pastel de nata for breakfast (9.30am)

Portuguese people looooove their pastries and the most famous one is pastel de nata, a delicate egg custard pie. You can try them everywhere, but you can find the best ones in Manteigaria – Fábrica de Pastéis de Nata (Rua de Alexandre Braga). Order a pastel de nata and an Americano (we say it abatanado, in Porto) and you’re good to go!

Visit the monuments around Cordoaria (10.30am)

Now that your stomach is full head to Cordoaria. There you will find two of the most important monuments in the city:

  • Livraria Lello, the century old bookstore that became famous due to Harry Potter (rumour says that J. K. Rowling wrote the first book on the series there). It is a veeeery popular spot so I recommend you to get there early.
     The normal ticket costs 5€ but if you’re really not in the mood to wait in line, you can buy the skip the line ticket (it costs 15,90€). Head to Lello’s website to buy the tickets.
  • Clérigos tower – it is considered the ex-libris of Porto. To climb to the tower (and enjoy a great view of the city) you can buy the online ticket, but if you are short on cash you can visit just the church – it is free of charge and so, so beautiful.
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Try a Francesinha (1pm)

If you are feeling brave enough, it is time to try the most traditional dish of Porto: Francesinha. It is basically a HUGE sandwich made with steak, sausages and other cured meats covered with melted cheese and tomato sauce. It is huge but so good! To make it extra good, order some French fries and a cold beer.

There are many restaurants serving francesinha in the city, but my favourite one is probably O Brasão Aliados.

Visit the cathedral of Porto (2.30pm)

Now you need to walk your lunch off, so it is time to climb the hill to visit the cathedral of Porto. It is one of the oldest monuments in the city, and from there you have a great view towards São Bento station and the Clérigos tower. It is definitely worth it to visit not only the church but also the gothic cloisters with its lovely tiles.

The ticket costs 5€ and you can get there until 6.30pm (or 5.30, during the winter).

Taste wines at a Port wine cellar (4pm)

We are heading towards the end of your time in Porto, but you can’t leave the city without going for a visit at a Port wine cellar. There are many of them (all located in Cais de Gaia, across the Douro river) but my favourite one is Calém.

The visit includes a guided tour in Calém’s wine cellar, followed by a tasting of two different types of Port, a Tawny and a White one.

You can get the ticket to Calém’s wine cellar for 15€ – children aged 6 – 17 pay half the price. The visits start at 10am, 11.20am or 4pm, so make sure to be there on time!

Have dinner in Gaia

Your time in Porto is coming to an end but not before having one last supper! As you visited Calém you are currently in Cais de Gaia, where you can find plenty of cute little restaurants by the riverside.

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If you are not sure what you want to eat you can visit Mercado Beira Rio, a former traditional market where you can find many food options.

If you want to splurge and have some money to spend, go to 17.56 – it is a fancy restaurant where you can find many food options, from incredible Portuguese matured meats to the best sushi in town, paired with fantastic Portuguese (or international) wines. The terrace has one of the most beautiful views of the city, so it is a very romantic place as well.

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