Day 1: Riverside Strolls and Sunset Views
Start your first morning in Porto on the riverbanks of the Douro, in the lower district of Ribeira. Have a big breakfast to give you energy for your hillside strolls and bridge climbs throughout the day.
1. Cais da Ribeira
The stunning riverside area of Cais da Ribeira is the scene that most people think of when they imagine Porto. Colored townhouses line the banks of the River Douro, with bustling restaurant terraces, and street musicians.
There’s no doubt that this is the heart of the city, lively at any time of the day or night. Enjoy a port while you overlook the river and the majestic Dom Luis I bridge, before exploring the charming hillside streets.
2. Escada Guindais
Porto’s hilly scenery means there are plenty of steep climbs and amazing views to be found. Street stairs are a common find, and the Escada Guindais is the main stairway leading away from the Ribeira neighborhood. Walk up the stairs and admire all the old-fashioned houses, watching the locals as they hang out their washing.
On your climb to the top, you can also see the old medieval walls. The climb will be rewarded with spectacular views over the Douro River and the Dom Luis I bridge.
Alternatively, take the funicular from the Dom Luís I Bridge’s foot, which takes you to the top of the hill.
3. Porto Cathedral
Set in the middle of a huge open square, the Porto Cathedral symbolizes the city. Although its stone facade is impressive, its beauty really happens on the inside!
Here, you can discover impressive hallways, arches, and the token blue and white detailed Porto tiling. It is also built at the city’s highest point, so afterward, make sure to wander around the Batalha district and discover the best views in the whole of Porto.
4. Largo da Pena Ventosa
A short 5-minute walk from the cathedral is the most charming square in Porto. The square is surrounded by rainbow-colored houses, with cute narrow lanes, flagstone flooring, and stone stairways. Enjoy a coffee at one of the sweet cafes, a great place to soak up the atmosphere. This thing to do in Porto can be a bit hard to find, so be sure to use your map.
5. Dom Luis I Bridge
For the best views of Porto, walk over the iconic Dom Luis I bridge. This huge steel structure was once the largest bridge in the world and is unique for its two levels: the top for pedestrians and the metro, and the lower for cars. Wander down the hill to the bridge around sunset to see the sky burst into color but note to visit the top level.
Day 2: Azulejos Tiles and Magical Buildings
It is all about the details of beautiful Porto on day 2! Use the funicular railway to get up to the center of the city, where you can discover many beautiful buildings filled with the iconic blue and white tiles.
6. Porto Funicular Railway
Start your day with a trip on the Porto Funicular railway. The railway climbs the steep hill between the Ribeira and the Batalha neighborhood, saving your legs from another steep hike after all the walking on day 1. Take the railway uphill and enjoy beautiful views of the city.
7. Sao Bento Station
Sao Bento Station is located in the historic center of Porto, now a UNESCO world heritage site. The building is not only a functioning station, but it celebrates the history of Porto and the stunning ‘Azulejos’ blue tiles that the city is famous for.
There are around 20,000 of these unique tiles within the train station, all of which have murals painted on them that represent the stories of Porto. The stunning interior means that the station has become a favorite place for tourists to come from all over the world and take pictures.
8. Livraria Lello – Top Thing To Do in Porto
Immerse yourself in the magical world of the Livraria Lello: a stunning bookstore made famous from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter stories. The story goes that when JK Rowling used to live in Porto, the bookstore became the inspiration for her novels.
It’s easy to see why when you see the grand shelves filled with books and the sweeping wooden staircases with deep ruby red carpet. As such, it’s no surprise that the Livraria Lello is known as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world! No wonder it is one of the most popular things to do in Porto.
Livraria Lello Bookstore is incredibly popular; there will always be a line outside as they only allow a limited amount of people. Please get your tickets in advance via their website or skip the line by booking a tour.
9. Igreja do Carmo
Just around the corner is the Igreja do Carmo, a beautiful church that provides another opportunity to see the azulejos tiles of Porto. The amazing building is actually two churches, separated by a narrow house. This house was sandwiched in the middle to separate the monks and the nuns.
The facade and the church’s interior have beautiful details, but the main draw of this building is its huge exterior wall of azulejos tiles that tell the story of the Carmelite order.
10. Palacio da Bolsa
This stock exchange is an absolute thing to do in Porto. Build-in 1842, it has a fascinating history and is a beautiful example of Portuguese architecture at the time. Enjoy an hour or two wandering through the luxurious rooms at the end of your second day in Porto.
Tip: on your way, stop off at the Igreja dos Clerigos: an impressive baroque church with a huge bell tower, which can be seen from all over the city. Climb the bell tower for awesome views across Porto! Ticket prices and opening times can be found here.
Day 3: Douro Valley Day Trip
If you have a day to spare, it’s worth making a trip to the stunning Douro Valley. Here you’ll discover the country’s wine region, and the enormous Douro River sandwiched between green rolling hills and vineyards. It’s only a 1.5-hour drive from Porto, so it can be visited by driving or via public transport.
How to visit Porto
Porto has its own airport, with international flights arriving from many destinations. However, more flights go into the capital city of Lisbon. From Lisbon, it’s a direct train to Porto that takes around 3 hours.
Once you’re in Porto, the city is small and all the sights can be walked to. The city is very hilly, so wear good shoes, and buy a pass for the trams and funicular railway if you get tired. Alternatively, you can use Uber to get around quickly and easily.
Where to Stay in Porto
Stay in Ribeira if you want to be by the riverside and enjoy the night-time buzz of the city. For hillside views, and a younger influx of restaurants and shops stay near Igreja do Carmo. (See all hotels in the city)
We stayed at Noshi Studios, wonderfully decorated apartments right across the popular Igreja do Carmo with its blue tiling. It has a rooftop terrace, your own kitchen and it’s located above Noshi Cafe who has the best breakfast in Porto!
Best Time to Visit Porto
Porto is beautiful all year round, however, it is known for very rainy winters. Because of this, it’s best to visit in the late spring or early autumn. At this time it’s still sunny but the temperatures are cooler and there are fewer tourists. This way you’ll be sure that you can still do all the things to do in Porto.
Best Cafes and Restaurants in Porto
Porto has an amazing dining scene. Travelers can enjoy traditional foods like fish and cheese, as well as the drink that gives Porto its name: Port! It’s also a colorful metropolitan city, which has attracted many new and exciting restaurants. Some of our favorites were:
- Kind Kitchen (Vegan Burger Heaven!)
- Mercador cafe (Stunning old-style cafe)
- Noshi Cafe (Breakfast heaven!)
- Nola Kitchen (Sushi, Burgers and more)
- Manna (Healthy food, vegetarian)
- TASCO (Portuguese)
- Zenith (Brunch & Cocktails)
- Hungry biker (Quick & Easy breakfast)
How much does Porto cost?
When going on city trip to Porto expect a budget of around 120 USD a day and that includes accommodation. Average prices in the city are;
- Hotel: 50-100 USD / night
- Food: 20-60 USD / day
- Entrances: 5-30 USD
- Transport: 10 USD / day