3 Days in Porto: Everything You Should Know
Traveling to Portugal? While Lisbon is a must-see on your trip to Portugal, the beautiful charming city of Porto is also worth the visit any time of the year. Whether you are planning a weekend getaway or a business trip, 3 days in Porto will be enough to get to know the city via exploring the museums or meandering the city streets. Be sure to get a taste of the local culture and traditional Porto dishes, too, by trying Porto street food!
The "Invicta" or invincible city that was never conquered by the Moors or other invaders was once a major commercial trading port. Today, Porto is known for its beautiful old building facades with “azulejos” or colorful ceramic tiles on them, covering facades even on churches and monuments.
The compact city is easy to explore on foot, especially the Old Town, but you can also get around with a cable car, hop-on-hop-off buses, trains, and of course bicycles. Here is your 3 days in Porto itinerary to help you make the most of your visit.
The best part of your journey to explore this vibrant city is that you don't have to carry around heavy items, shopping purchases, or even large purses. Find Bounce luggage storage locations in Porto where you can store your bags while you see the sights.
Porto Itinerary - Day 1
Morning: Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour
One of the best ways to start your journey in the beautiful coastal village of Porto is to jump on a hop-on-hop-off bus and see most of the highlights in one morning. These bus tours give you the chance to get a taste of Porto and see what you like the most and maybe come back to it later to enjoy it more.
There are three hop-on-hop-off tour operators in Porto and they offer similar services. Tours normally start at 9.15 am and end at 5.15 pm, making stops every 30 minutes. This gives you enough time to have your hearty breakfast and coffee before you jump on one of the buses.
Head down to Padaria Ribeiro near the University of Porto for some delicious pastries. They are famous for their mini version of regular-sized pastries, so you can eat a variety without getting too full. They open at 8 am, so you've got an hour or so before the buses start running.
Highlights you will get to see on the hop-on-hop-off bus tour include Clerigos Tower, Porto Cathedral, Port Wine Museum, Matosinhos, Vila Nova da Gaia, Palacio de Cristal, El Corte Ingles, Casa da Música, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art and more!
The onboard commentary is available in over 6 languages. Some tours even offer an upgrade with discounts for booking a cruise on the river Douro and wine tasting. Admission with the hop-on-hop-off bus tours also gives you a free visit to either the Quinta da Boeira, Quevedo or Porto Cruz wine cellars.
Afternoon: Free walking tour
Porto is easy to get around on your own. This self-guided Porto walking tour includes many of Porto's attractions which are within walking distance. If you are into architecture, you are in for a treat.
Start your tour at the Chapel of Souls on Rua de Fernandes Tomas and Rua de Santa Catarina, near Bolhao Market. The beautiful chapel will have you in awe with its stunning blue facade made with 16,000 blue and white glazed ceramic tiles portraying the death of St Francis of Assisi and the martyrdom of Santa Catarina.
Just a short walk from the Chapel is the Mercado do Bolhao, a vibrant market packed with fresh fish, butchers, and farmers selling fresh fruit and vegetables. This is the market where Porto locals shop for fresh produce. Once you get a taste of the local food and wine, head over to the 18th century Church of Saint Ildefonso, another church with a beautiful facade made with nearly 11, 000 blue and white tiles.
Night: An evening with fado and tapas
After all that sightseeing, it's time to sit back and relax with the sounds of fado music, a symbol of Portugal. There are many places in Porto where you can enjoy a fado performance. A more popular place is O Fado restaurant on Largo São João Novo, 16, near Sao Bento subway station.
Enjoy a two-hour-long mellow performance with a vocalist (the fadista), accompanied by a Portuguese guitar, while savoring Portuguese tapas or petiscos. Fado music is melancholic and sings about love, pain and nostalgia. In 2011, Fado was granted World Heritage status by UNESCO.
There is no doubt this music along with delicious meals and local wine will help you relax after a long day of walking and exploring the city.
Porto Itinerary - Day 2
Morning: Trip to Douro Valley
The famous port and wine region Douro Valley in Porto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is about a 2 hour drive from Porto but it is one of the best day trips to take when you visit Porto. The Douro Valley day trip can be organized with a train, a boat, or guided tours with locals. They usually leave at 8 in the morning and go back to Porto around 6 pm.
On a sunny day, this scenic journey will take your breath away, especially the way Douro River finds its way through the Valley. The guided tour includes a visit to a few Quintas (farms) like the Fonseca Port. Here, you get to walk around the vineyards and learn a lot about the winemakers and the different grades of farms.
The tours include complimentary Port wine tasting, a boat cruise down the Douro river, and traditional Porto lunch. Whether you are traveling solo or with the family, you have to make time for day trips like these.
Afternoon: See the Old City Centre
After your wonderful walking tour yesterday afternoon, we suggest you extend your exploration by foot today. Continue your walking tour to Avenida Dos Aliados (Avenue of the Allies), a wide boulevard in the heart of the Old City Centre. From there, you can see the bell tower of the old city hall. At the other end is Praca da Liberdade, a popular square in Old Porto packed with cafes. Stop by the statue of King Pedro in the square or any of the cafes in the area to take a break.
Taskinha restaurant on Rua dos Mártires da Liberdade 146 is popular among locals. Try their churros and cafe con Leche or the signature Paella dish. The place opens every day from 2 pm, except for Sundays when it's closed.
Belly full, you are ready to continue walking and climb over 250 steps at the Torre dos Clérigos, or Clérigos Tower, the highest point of the old city. But don't worry! Once you see the stunning views from the tower, you will forget all about the climb.
Night: Evening in Vila Nova de Gaia
Since you spent the entire afternoon exploring Douro Valley, it's time to unwind and get a taste of Porto at night. Don't let the historic buildings fool you, Porto's nightlife is energetic and will keep you awake till the wee hours of the morning.
First, take a walk across Dom Luis I Bridge over to Vila Nova de Gaia. Dom Luis I Bridge provides stunning views of the city and the River Douro. This neighborhood is known for its impressive street art, and it will keep you entertained on your hike to Vila Nova de Gaia.
The area is also known for its port houses and cellars, and tourists often make their way there for food and wine tours. Head over to Taberninha do Manel, a good spot to eat and taste port wine. The place is open every day from 11 am until 11 pm, except for Monday when it's closed.
Whether you are after port tasting, a quiet night in a tavern, or looking for a night out dancing, you can find it all that in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Porto Itinerary - Day 3
Morning: Explore Ribeira
Don't be sad that this is your final day. There are still a lot of things to cover on your 3 days in Porto list, and we saved the best for last. If you haven't already explored the enchanting neighborhood of Ribeira, this is your chance.
The Old City Centre is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites and is exactly what you expect to see from a historic area. Cobbled streets, narrow medieval alleys, and colorful 18th-century townhouses are the main features of Ribeira. Tons of waterfront bars and eateries, buskers, and musicians on Cais de Ribeira street make this area lively day and night.
Its central location is another reason for the non-stop crowds. There is no better way to start your last day in Porto than to wander around the picturesque Ribeira. Stop by Esquires Coffee Porto for a cup of strong espresso and pastel de nata (Portuguese egg tart) for a good kickstart of the day. Take your food outside so you can watch the world go by.
Afternoon: See Crystal Palace Gardens
On the third day of your trip, you can take some time to explore one of the most famous tourist attractions in Porto, the Crystal Palace Gardens or Jardins do Palácio de Cristal. Built in the 19th century, these landscaped gardens boast numerous fountains, paths, and stunning views of the city, the River Duero and the Atlantic Ocean.
A few hours walking in the gardens in complete zen will make you miss the city even more. From ponds and peacocks to themed areas like the rose garden and the medicinal plant garden, there is so much to do and see in this vast tranquil space. There are even free wi-fi spots.
The gardens open from 8 am till 9 pm from April - September and 8 am until 7 pm from October - March. The best part about it is they are free to visit!
While in the area, stop by the Romantic Museum, an 18th-century mansion known as the Quinta do Sacramento or Quinta de Macieirinha dedicated to the ideas of Romanticism.
When your afternoon tour is complete, check for seats at the Digby Restaurant bar where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the city, along with some great Portuguese food and local craft beer.
Evening: Visit the beautiful Sao Bento train station
Sao Bento (Saint Benedict) railway station is one of the most beautiful train stations you'll ever see. Built in 1910, this train station is a famous tourist attraction and is often packed with hordes of people admiring the beautiful walls covered with thousands of tiles depicting scenes of Portuguese history.
Try going there early morning to avoid large crowds and especially the tours. If you'd like to know more about the history the tiles represent, you can also book a tour. Otherwise, it is free to enter.
You could easily spend a few hours in the train station and when you are done admiring the art and architecture of this stunning place, head down to Tasco on Rua do Almada 151 A for large portions of first-class food, great service, and an unforgettable dining experience. They are open every day from 7 am until midnight.
Visit Porto in 3 Days
Porto is a vibrant city that has a lot to offer visitors. Whether you want to meander the streets during the day or see the excitement of Porto at night, you will have a terrific time. Three days in Porto can only give you an idea of how much better it would be if you were to stay longer. But now that you are familiar with the city and know exactly what you want to do and see after you land at Porto airport or pull into Sao Bento Station, you can plan your next trip to Porto with ease.
Still planning your visit to Porto? Check out these guides for more ideas!