Porto remains one of the best destinations to visit in Europe and we have got the perfect 3 day itinerary for you with just the right amount of culture, port wine and local food.
Where to stay: we can recommend the Porto A. S. 1829 Hotel. This hotel is located in the historical center of Porto with all important sights in walking distance. Some rooms include scenic Porto views. The stay here is a bit pricier but the historical feel of the hotel and the great service are definitely worth it.
Why visit Porto? In 2020 the World Travel Awards, which are considered to be the Oscars of the Tourism sector, named Portugal the Best European Destination for the 4th year in a row and Porto the World’s Leading City Break Destination 2020.
When to visit? You should come in May/June or September to avoid the heat and the crowds. On Sunday morning the entrance to museums is free, so if you plan to visit a museum, you might want to include a Sunday in your holiday planning.
For how long should I stay? Although you can certainly always add on days to explore the city more in depth or visit the surrounding areas, 3 days are enough to get a good glimpse of Porto.
How’s the Weather? Being a harbor city (Porto means harbor in Portuguese), Porto enjoys a moderate climate with breezes. Precipitation is highest in October and lowest in July.
Arriving in Porto & Using the Metro
Francisca Sa Carneiro Airport comprises of a single terminal building and is located north of Porto close to the town of Moreira. To the city center of Porto it is merely 10km.
By Metro (recommended): Porto has two metro lines that go through the city center. Line E (violet) connects the airport with the center and runs every 20-30 min from 6am until midnight. Outside these hours you have the option to use the night bus, Uber (well established in Porto) or a taxi. Since there are variations in the schedule according to season and day, please check www.metrodoporto.pt. In order to reach São Bento (central Porto), it will take you 40 min. and a switch to line D at Trindade.
Metro Ticket: You will pass through four fare zones when going from the airport to the center, so a Z4 ticket is required (2,00€). We recommend you buy a reusable Andante card (0,60€) on which all of your journeys will be charged. You can get it at a ticket office or at a ticket machine. The Andante card must be validated prior to your journey and when changing metro lines.
This video will show you how to operate the ticket machine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpjldyz6LbA
Alternative Public Transport from the Airport
By Bus: Get Bus is the direct bus line from the airport to the center. There are only eight daily departures, the ticket is more expensive (2,80€) than the metro ticket and the journey takes 25 minutes until the bus arrives at Campo 24 de Agosto bus station (Bonfirm district), which is 1,4km away from the historic center. All reasons not to opt for the bus. The regular public bus service takes even more time and is even less convenient than the Get Bus.
By taxi: it will take 20-30 minutes and cost you around 25€. There are additional fees for luggage (1,60€) and all rates are 20% more expensive at night, during the weekend and on public holidays. If you decide for the taxi, make sure the taximeter is on, when you enter.
By Uber: there is actually not much of a price difference between Uber (Uber x price per km 0,65€) and taxis (0,47€ per km + surcharges + 20% on weekends/nights) in Porto
Wifi and Lockers
Free Wi-Fi: Porto Airport has free Wi-Fi (“VINCI Airports Wi-Fi”) if you need to hail a ride: https://www.aeroportoporto.pt/en/opo/services-shopping/essential-services/free-wifi
The night bus and travelling to Porto in the early morning: Porto airport is connected to the city by the 3M night bus. It departs every 30 minutes after the full hour from 0:30am to 5:30am and terminates in the Avenida dos Aliados (central Porto). From there it returns to the airport on the full hour from midnight until 5:00am. The ticket is 2€ and the night bus is the only option next to Uber or taxi if you have an early morning flight to catch.
Lockers: You will find lockers on the metro stations listed below. You can leave your luggage locked for up to 7 days and even longer (in this case you have to contact city lockers). For up to 12 hours you pay according to the size of your bag: small (3,50€), medium (4,50€), large (6,50€). For more information, visit: https://www.citylockers.pt/porto-trindade/
- Trindade metro station
- Bolhão Metro station
- Aliados Metro station
- 24 de Agosto Metro station
- Hard Club (Mercado Ferreira Borges) New!
- Porto airport: 2,50€ per bag per 4 hours
We arrived in Porto around lunch time, so decided to first head out to eat at Bufete Fase . Because this post turned out to be very long, we decided to create two separate posts on breakfast and food places in Porto that we will be referring to when relevant.
Walking Tour + Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Carmo das Carmelitas
We highly recommend the walking tour with Virginia which is both informative and fun. There’s one morning tour at 10:45am and one afternoon tour at 4:30pm, offered in English and Spanish. The tour takes 2,5 hours with a snack/coffee/bathroom break midway. Meeting point: Praça da Batalha.
One of the first stops was the Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Carmo das Carmelitas, which lies opposite the University and is completely covered in Azulejos. It is also called the “chapel of souls”.
Sé do Porto/Porto Cathedral
The 800 year old Roman Catholic church is one of the city’s oldest monuments. The entrance to the church is free. If you want to visit the cloister, you have to buy a ticket for 3€. Opening times: 9am – 6:30pm
Igreja de Santa Clara/Church of Santa Clara
Igreja de Santa Clara/Church of Santa Clara (Rua Saraiva de Carvalho) is a churchboat made out of gold and covered in what else? Azulejos! The entrance is free. When you‘re outside the church turn to the right, walk over a parking, then alongside the wall passage until you arrive at the tower. From there you will have a great view on bridge Ponte Luís I, wine barrels and the old town.
When the country was completed, the 75.6-metre-high Clérigos Church was the tallest building in the county. You can walk up the 240 steps and enjoy the great skyline of Porto.
Praça da Liberdade
Praça da Liberdade feels more urban than the rest of Porto with posh streets, designer boutiques and the Belle Époque Majestic Café. You will find the statue of Pedro I of Brazil, a democratic reformer, on the Praça da Liberdade.
Visit what is known as the most beautiful McDonalds in the world with art-deco stained glass and crystal chandeliers. The ‘Imperial’ stems from the Eagle still proudly decorating the entrance façade
Porto São Bento
Porto’s central station is a former cloister covered with traditional azulejos. The English translation of São Bento is Saint Benedict and the station is located in the historic center of Porto, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tile-covered walls of the station depict scenes of former battles and the history of transportation and you really could spend hours looking at them.
From Porto São Bento you should head towards Liberty Square, which is an entire street covered with azulejos. The street will lead you to the next monument, the famous Porto Cathedral.
Escada dos Guindais
Escada dos Guindais are the old historic stairs located under the Ponte Luís I. Climbing the stairs you will see Portuguese houses with colorful laundry drying in front of windows on your left and hear the sounds of the metro running above you, crossing the bridge in a 10-minute tact.
The walking tour will end on the riverside of Ribeira around 7pm. You will probably be hungry by now and can grab dinner at Bacalhau.
You can end your evening by strolling Porto’s historic riverside Ribeira entangled with bars and restaurants on one side and the Douro river with a nice view on Villa de Gaia on the other. If you duck through the arcades, you will discover a labyrinth of small streets and stairways between colorful houses. You will also have a great view on Ponte Luís I bridge from here.
For breakfast we headed to Confeitaria de Bolhao.
Ponte Luís I
Then we headed to Ponte Luís I, from where you can enjoy a nice view of Porto, especially in the evenings. The bridge will remind you of the Eiffel tower since it was designed by one of the students of Gustave Eiffel. It is the longest two steered steel bridge in the world. When you are here, you should walk the upper deck at Dom Luís I bridge. You can also take a cable cart or a fernicular. For 12€ you can take also take a 1 hour river cruise on the Douro. Opening times: 9:30am – 6pm.
Vila Nova de Gaia
What Palo Alto is for the tech industry, Vila Nova de Gaia is to the Port wine industry. Alongside the riverside you have seafood restaurants and ice-cream places where you can stroll in the evening overlooking Ribeira from the other riverside. For a nice sunset view, we recommend you head to Jardim de Morro in time.
Lunch at Espaco Porto Cruz
Espaco Porto Cruz is where we had lunch that day enjoying an amazing view over the Douro river on their rooftop bar.
Port Wine Tour at Taylor’s Port
In Porto you will have lots of vineyards offering wine tours. We chose to take our port wine tour at Taylor’s Port, because it was one of the few places to offer a self-guided tour. In sum the tour lasted 3 hours and costed 15€ per person including the audio guide (available in multiple languages). The tour taught us about the process of port wine making and finished with two port wine tastings to be enjoyed in the beautiful terrace garden. Opening times: Mo-Sun: 10am – 6pm
Enjoy the sunset at Jardim de Morro
A cable cart leads to the hilltop green space of Jardim de Morro, where you will find a very young and hip crowd sitting together, playing music and enjoying a beautiful sunset after work. Close-by, is also a small white church that is nicely lit in the evening hours. Definitely a must-see when you are in Porto.
First we headed to Manteigaria for breakfast.
Igreja de São Francisco
Afterwards, we visited Igreja de São Francisco that received the Certificate of Excellence in 2014. It is a baroque style church with cherubs and monks covered in 100kg of gold leaves. Tickets are 6€ per person and it allows you to access to the catacombs and the museum. It is important to note that you are not allowed to take any pictures inside the catacombs.
Lello & Irmao (Livraria Lello) is the famous library that inspired J.K. Rowling for the famous bookshop from Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling taught English in Porto in the early 90s and wrote the first chapters of Harry Potter here. If you want to visit the bookshop (which we think you should), then you better come early or right before closing. We did the latter and had to wait around 10 min. in the queue. Tickets are 19,90€ per person and you get 5€ as a discount if you buy a book. Although highly motivated, the books were really expensive, so we could not find a book that was worth the deal. Check-in: 9am, Opening times: 9:30am – 7pm.
For dinner at our last night in Porto we went to Maus Habitos and we could not have made a better choice.
If you have extra time:
- Mercado de Bolhao: this is the most popular and biggest market in Porto. It offers typical products from the region, baked goods and traditional, authentic products over several floors around a large central courtyard. It‘s a great place to discover the “real Porto” and buy some nice souvenirs
- Make your own Azulejo- Workshop: participate in a tile painting workshop at Gazete Azulejos. Learn the traditional tile painting technique that was used to paint the old tiles of the buildings in Porto. The workshop costs 25€, lasts 1,5 hours and you’ll paint 2 tiles that would also make for nice souvenirs or gifts to give to your friends. And don’t worry: artistic skills are not required!
- Serralves: This is a cultural institution, that combines museum (Museu de Arte Contemporânea: art from 60s to now), mansion (Casa de Serralves: art-deco) and gardens (Parque de Serralves: ponds, fountains). It is ranked as one of the most visited art museums in the world. Opening times: 10am-7pm (8pm on weekends). Price: 16€ for a combi ticket (mansion+museum), garden 12€, free on SUN (10am – 7pm). Since it’s 6km from the centre, you will need Bus 203 to get you there or bus 201 from Praça Doma Joao 1.
- Port Wine Tour: When in Porto…This 4 hour (!) port wine drinking tour starts at 3pm and takes you to three wine lodges (historical wine cellar, small producer, professional tasting room) and have you try 7 different port wines with a knowledgeable guide on the side. It also includes a visit to a museum and a workshop learning how to taste wine. 30€ per person.
- Jardins de Crystal: Gardens of the Crystal palace offer fountains and nice walking paths with amazing Douro river and Vila Nova de Gaia views. Chances are that you will also make acquaintance with some peacocks here.