3 Days in Porto – Porto is one of the oldest tourist destinations in Europe with a wealth of artistic and monumental heritage. It is considered as the capital of the north being the second largest city in Portugal.
Portugal has constantly featured in the top 10 countries to visit as per the World Tourism Rankings and Porto being one of the most visited city.
The old town centre was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1966 and attracts millions of travellers from around the world every year.
The city unfolds along the river Douro with the iconic Dom Luis I Bridge which forming an integral part of Porto. Not to forget Porto is home to the famous Port wine which has been synonymous with Porto for centuries.
So let’s find out how you can spend 3 days in Porto.
The Best Time to visit Porto
The best time to visit Porto and perhaps Portugal would be from April to June or September to early November. During these months the weather is relatively warm and you can get much more for your money.
The peak summer months bring in crowds and hotels and flights can get expensive. Porto is relatively cooler than Lisbon and Algarve which can get scorching in the summer.
Porto is slowly but steadily making its mark as a top tourist destination and the increase in the number of tourists every year reflects this.
How to get to Porto
Porto is well connected by Air to most European cities and a direct flight from London gets you there in under 3 hours. It has a good rail and road network between Lisbon and one which is not very expensive.
We took an evening flight out of London and were in Porto just in time for dinner. Thanks to the national carrier TAP Portugal which was efficient and on time. The city centre is a short ride from the airport and can be done in under £15 via UBER.
Getting around Porto
UBER in Porto – I must admit that Porto is the cheapest UBER destination I have experienced and you can get around pretty much anywhere within the city for under £10.
Porto Tram Ride – Porto like Lisbon has the historic tram. It is one of the most enjoyable tourist activities and a great way to get around the city. The trams take you back in time with their polished wooden interiors and brass dials and controls.
FAMOUS TRAM RIDE IN PORTO – The 2 most popular routes are the Line 1 and 22. The Line 1 takes you through the more scenic route along the banks of the river Douro to Foz whilst the Line 22 departs from Batalha and goes around the City Centre in a one-directional loop.
You can buy the tickets on board or from shops in advance. Riding the historic tram has to be a part of your 3 days in Porto itinerary.
The main town centre is quite walkable and you can enjoy the narrow lanes and historical buildings walking the cobbled streets at your own pace. We did spend a lot of time walking the streets of Porto and there is something at every corner.
Where to stay in Porto
Porto is very affordable in general and when it comes to accommodation there is a something for every budget. From hostels to lavish 5 star hotels Porto has something that will suit your taste and budget. It is a relatively small city and you can get very affordable accommodation in the heart of the city.
To give you a feel you can get a room at one of the most famous hotels the Infante Sagres which has hosted guests such as Bob Dylan for under £250 if you book in advance. The most popular areas would be around the Torre de los Clérigos and Praça da Liberdade, in central Porto.
The other good location would be Praça Batalha and Mercado do Bolhão both of which are near the city centre. If you fancy living by the Riverside then Ribeira it is, this stretch is filled with restaurants, cafés and a walkway along the Douro River.
Casa Portuguesa – Perfect accommodation for our 3 days in Porto
For our accommodation in Porto we decided to go with an apartment called Casa Portuguesa. Located in central Porto, Casa Portuguesa in set in a renovated historical building and is 300 yards from Bolhão Metro Station and 900 yards from Aliados Avenue. So the perfect central Location and at a very affordable price.
The quality of the apartment and service was next to none and I would recommend it to anyone planning a visit to Porto.
Things to Do and See in Porto
There is a lot to do and see in Porto and with the city being relatively small and walkable one of the best way to discover Porto is by walking.
Porto is built on the northern bank of the River Douro and majority of the attractions are within a fairly small area between the central Avenida dos Aliados and the riverside Ribeira district. This is the area where you will see the real Porto with its cobbled streets, medieval alleys and the baroque architecture covered with Azulejo which define the city.
Azulejo in Porto
Is the famous colourful tile work synonymous with this part of Portugal. It dates back to the 13th century with Arabic roots. The word Azulejo is from Arabic roots and means ‘small polished stone’, It made it’s way into Portugal when the Moors invaded Portugal and has been part of the architecture ever since.
You can start your walk around Santo Ildefonso which is the perfect example of the architecture decorated with Azulejo tiles.
The heart of Porto and the main shopping area is Rua Santa Catarina, a pedestrian street stretching from Marques de Pombal to Praca da Batalha. On this high street you can find the famous Majestic Café.
This is one of the most beautiful cafes in Porto and perhaps the world dating back to 1921 under the name of Elite. The facade of the café is absolutely stunning and only gets better when you see the rich interiors.
It has been the home to many politicians, poets and thinkers. The glamour of this cafe was reinstated when the Majestic re-opened in 1994 after two years of reconstruction work.
I must admit that it is a bit expensive but you don’t visit a café like this on a daily basis so a must visit whilst in Porto. There is a small terrace at the end of the café where you can enjoy a book and a coffee. It continues to live up to its name with a wonderful Belle Epoque atmosphere.
Sao Bento station
Continue your walk downhill and towards Sao Bento, Porto’s main train station. Sao Bento station itself is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Porto for its fine azulejos covered walls.
The transportation hub is home to 20,000 magnificent tiles depicting Portugal’s history. The tiles were placed over 11 years by the famous artist Jorge Colaco.
Churches of Porto
Porto has a handful of churches with some of the most beautiful azulejos you can imagine. I have listed some of the most beautiful ones to visit.
Best churches in Porto
- Clérigos Church and Tower.
- São Francisco Church.
- Cathedral of Porto.
- Church of Santa Clara.
- Church of Carmelitas and Church of Carmo which are unique and side by side.
- Capela das Almas – Also known as The Chapel of Souls is my favourite. Built in the eighteenth century its exterior is covered with tiles representing moments in the life of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Catherine.
Capela das Almas is one of the most Instagramable places in Porto.
Livraria Lello – The most beautiful bookstore in the World.
The bookstore has ranked in the top 10 book stores of the world constantly. Livraria Lello reached it’s pinnacle in 2010 when the Lonely Planet crowned it as the Third best bookstore in the World.
Apart from being one of the most beautiful bookstores I have ever visited it has a connection with the Harry Potter series.
Read all about Livraria Lello – Porto’s famous bookstore.
Discover Barredo in Porto
One of the most fascinating neighbourhoods in Porto between Se Cathedral and Ribeira. Barredo, gives you a feel of what old Porto would have been like to live in. Walk down the stairs and it’s medieval alleyways to the riverside and you reach Ribeira.
This was originally the heart of the city and the centre for commerce. It was the bustling port where large ships docked and unloaded their goods from around the world. This is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most popular areas in Porto.
You can walk along the river and find numerous bars, cafes and restaurants. A great place to spend an afternoon or evening and experience the nightlife of Porto.
Dom Luis Bridge –
The Dom Luis Bridge has 2 levels and spans 72 meters. It can be walked across on both levels and provides some great views of Porto. Ribeira is where I caught my first glimpse of the Dom Luis I Bridge, one of Porto’s most iconic symbols. The bridge was competed in 1886 and spans across the river Douro connecting Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia.
Douro River Boat Tour
You can take a boat tour from Ribeira and cruise under Porto’s six bridges. With some of the most phenomenal views of its heritage architecture a river boat cruise along the Douro is a must when visiting Porto.
Both banks of the river are filled with old houses with flowering balconies, church towers decorated with azulejos tiles and old wine lodges on the Gaia side, where the Port Wine was at its best.
Walking Tour in Porto –
A great way to discover Porto is by taking a walking tour around the city. There are a number of these available but we met a charming young lady who was very knowledgeable and showed us some of the most stunning sites in Porto.
The walking tours generally lasts for 3 hours. Contact Katerina Shelmanava @ true_porto on Instagram.
Wine Tours in Porto
One of the world’s oldest wine-producing region and a trip to Porto would be incomplete without sampling some Port or perhaps vising the Douro Valley.
The Douro valley is again a UNESCO World Heritage Site with hills covered with vines, olive trees, and poppies. You can either get there by boat of a 2 hour drive. This is where the wine is produced but if you don’t have enough time you can visit the wine lodges and get a tour of the wine cellars and the history of Port.
Gaia Cable Car –
You can get some of the most beautiful views of Porto from Gaia and enjoy a ride on the cable car. The cable car is another touristic attraction and connecting the riverside promenade to the upper deck of Dom Luis Bridge.
Avenida dos Aliados
Avenida dos Aliados which translates to Avenue of the Allies is regarded Porto’s city centre and has some of the grandest buildings around the square. This is home to some of the most prestigious hotels in the city. At the head of Avenida is the stately town hall with its clock tower.
This is also home to the most beautiful McDonalds’s branch in the world based in the old Imperial Café. Adorned with stained glass and chandeliers and the art deco interior you could hardly believe you are in a McDonald.
At the foot of the street is the busy square of Praça da Liberdade.
Nightlife in Porto –
Porto’s rapidly evolving nightlife can be experienced in either the Ribeira or Foz area. Downtown Poto is filled with bars and clubs and most of them play music as well. For a more relaxed evening visit one of the many wine bars or order a gin cocktail at The Gin House. 3 days in Porto is enough soak in all the nightlife the city has to offer.
If you want something more scenic then take a seat on the banks of the River Douro and enjoy a beer in the Ribeira. Another great place to spend your evening is Guindalense, a rooftop pub near the Dom Luis I Bridge.
What to eat in Porto –
The Francesinha – the most famous dish and not for the faint hearted. A sandwich made with ham, sausages, and steak covered with melted cheese with an egg on top and if this was not enough it is accompanied with French fries and pairs up perfectly with a local Super Bock beer. The name literally means “little French girl”.
Pesteis de Chaves – the half-moon shaped pastries, traditionally stuffed with minced veal.
Bacalhau – a dried and salted codfish, is Portugal’s national treasure
Confeitaria do Bolhão is one of the oldest and most popular pastry shops in Porto. This is where you can sample the best custard tarts and pastries, it is very popular with locals and a great place for breakfast. A must visit when in Porto.
Must Do and See – 3 days in Porto
- Stroll through Parque da Cidade, down to the sea front.
- Ride the No 22 tram and go back in time.
- Visit Casa do Infante, by Ribeira
- Take a walking tour through the alleys and cobbled streets of Porto.
- Admire the old houses of Miragaia.
- Treat yourself to the finest at the Cafe Majestic.
- Cruise the river Douro and marvel at the bridges.
- Visit Rua Miguel Bombarda for a taste of contemporary art.
- Sip a wine at the café terraces overlooking the river Douro.
- Try a francesinha, bet you wont be able to finish it.
- Take a day trip to the Douro Valley wineyard.
- Try some fresh seafood and the traditional cod fishcakes.
- Party the night away @ Foz.
- Take home a piece of Porto with you in a azulejo tile souvenir.
- Go wine tasting in one of the wine lodges in Gaia.
- Walk the length of the Dom Luiz bridge.
- Grab a bite at the world’s most beautiful McDonalds @Imperical Cafe
- Pose in front of the Capela das Almas
- Take a ride on the Gaia Cable car.
- Buy a copy of Harry Potter from the Livraria Lello.
- Walk around Ribeira and visit one of the cafes.
Whether you visit Porto for a few days or just pass by, there is something special about this city which will leave you memories of a life time.
After spending 3 days in Porto it was time to move to the Capital Lisbon. Find out how to spend 2 Days in Lisbon
Find out more about the most popular day trips you can make from Lisbon. Day Trip to Sintra from Lisbon
Have visited Lisbon but did not get a chance to visit Porto and would love to visit it after reading this post. Thanks for sharing a great holiday destination in Portugal
I must say you need to visit for sure on your next visit to Portugal
Must visit Porto
We had a great time in Porto. Love your pics, they bring me back!
It’s a beautiful city
Porto is such an eclectic city. I love the mix of modern colors integrated with the historic, European style architecture, especially those churches. I’m a wine enthusiast so I would definitely take the time to sample and tour wineries in Porto. Since it’s cheaper to visit is during the fall (Sept to Nov) when the weather is cooler and it’s the off season, I think that would be ideal.
You would live the wine region and would recommend the wine tour. Hope you can visit soon.
I love the Azulejo all over the city – it is absolutely stunning. The blue color really makes it stand out and pop, too. Do you know if there’s a reason that all the Azulejo is blue? Or are there other colors too?
There are other colours but mainly the blue and white Hope you can experience it yourself one day.
I love seaside towns an Porto looks like one I would really enjoy. I love good street art and that rabbit definitely is up there with being amazing! Good to know that Uber is so cheap but with the tram being so cute, I think I would end up using it most of the time! The artwork on the Chapel of Souls is just beautiful, I can see why it’s one of the most Instagrammable places in Porto. And I totally agree with taking a walking tour, I try to find them in every city and it’s always a local doing them, making them super informative. What a fun holiday!
Overall it is a great city and one which has a lot to offer. Hope you can visit soon.
Porto is stunning. It is one of our favourite cities in Europe. It is also very walkable. Your article brought back many lovely memories of our visit 2 years ago. Unfortunately the Livraria Lello was closed for renovations for 2 days whilst we visited. That was going to be a highlight for us. We love the stunning blue tiles especially at the Sao Bento.
It’s a great city and sad you could not visit Livraria Lello.
I’m just so amazed by the city of Porto. I really want to try to ride Tram Porto and take a selfie on it. As a foodie, I really want to try The Francesinha. It looks so yummy and tasty! I’ll surely put it in my list.
Must try the francesinha when in Porto if you are a foodie.
I’m planning to go on a trip to Lisbon later this year. Thinking much between Porto and Lisbon, I finalized on Lisbon, but yeah, Porto too has so much to see and do. May I should plan one more trip to Porto, but till then thanks for this virtual tour.
As a wine lover, Portugal Rose Wine is something I totally love! Historic trams are so totally adorable! I’ve traveled in one, in Prague! The blue tiles of Portugal is something that has fascinated me since long. I should really plan a trip to Porto as well!
You could visit Porto for a day or so from Lisbon as well connected and takes under 3 hrs by train. Hope you have a good trip to Lisbon. We travelled from Porto to Lisbon / look out for my next post on Lisbon.
I wonder if the azulejos on Chapel of Souls are still originally from the eighteen century. If yes, it’s pretty impressive! And I just found out about the Arab influence in the country after reading your article. I thought it’s only in Spain. By the way, The Little French Girl doesn’t look little at all. 😉
I guess the tile work is still original and yes the French girl is not that little.
Every time I see a post on Porto that mentions Livreria Lello I CANNOT believe I missed it when I was in Porto! I literally just spent 3 days there wandering but didn’t make a list of certain things to see. Kicking myself! Loved the azulejos though and also YES this is such an affordable city. MUCH cheaper than Lisbon who’s prices have raised due to such an international presence
Ouch. That is a bit sad that you missed this gem. Well gives you something new to see if you ever visit again.
I have not been to any of these cities, but your article inspires some serious wanderlust. Porto in particular looks amazing in terms of the history, food, architecture, and wine. The wine tour and walking tours both intrigue me as does the Livraria Lello. Porto seems to be truly magical place.
Porto is indeed a great city to visit with a lot to offer. Hope you can visit it someday.
Porto is a beautiful city. We are planning a trip there pretty soon. We are planning to do a cruise along the Douro valley as well. And I hope to see lots and lots of Azulejo tiles there. The Sao Bento station is so photogenic. I have bookmarked your post for all the Azulejo locations.
I hope you can visit Porto soon and if you need any for information plz contact me.
Wow, I cant believe I missed the library in Porto, it looks absolutely stunning! And Majestic cafe is definitely my kind of cafe (minus the crowd), I visited some similar ones in Vienna, I like the feeling of traveling back in time! Thanks for the indepth guide, I plann to visit Porto in 2 or 3 years again, obivously I missed a lot of great things the first time!
I hope you can visit again and experience some of the things you missed out on. There is a resemblance with the marvellous cafes of Vienna for sure.
I’d love to visit Porto and the blog gives great advice on getting there and getting around the city. Casa Portuguesa looks like a great recommendation with it being so central and a gorgeous building. Azulejo is famous spot, seen so many times on Instagram but it does look pretty cool and they have similar tilework in Sao Bento station which I didn’t know. The churches are epic and so unique in style of architecture, Capela das Almas looks particularly stunning.
I hope you can visit Porto soon and enjoy all it has to offer. Thanks.
Porto is my favourite place in Portugal, so beautiful! Livraria Lello is a gem and the azulejos are just stunning! I’m thinking of going back this year and I’ll definitely look for a Francesinha 😀
Guess you can’t be in Porto and not try Francesinha.
This brings back great memories for me of Porto, I’ve been 3 times! I don’t remember the cable car, is it new, or maybe my memory’s going lol?! The Ribeira is one of my happy spots in Porto, especially when I’ve a glass of port wine to enjoy the view. There’s also a big fiesta in June called Sao Joao, but I forgot where it takes place in the city. I can’t wait to return again!!
It’s a great city and not sure how old the cable car is. Hope you can ride it on your next visit.
This is interesting. I had no idea that Porto is the second largest city in Portugal. I had a couple of friends who visited and they had they had a great experience. I am looking forward to seeing this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Hope you can visit Porto soon.
Hope you can visit Porto soon
My husband visits Porto for his conference and tells me all beautiful things about here but I always miss my trip to this beautiful city. I love such type of quirky place with red roofs under the perfect blue sky. The tram ride would be enchanting here and even the trams are very photogenic. This place is perfect for me to take thousands of photograph. Your stay at Casa Portuguesa looks worth with super clean interiors and cool furnishings. Good to know it is 300 years old building.
I hope you can visit Porto with your husband on his next trip . There is a lot to see and do her and you will really enjoy the history and architecture of this city .
Hope you can visit Porto with your husband on his next trip. A great destination and you will live it.
I would LOVE to visit Porto someday. I have always been intrigued by how colorful and vibrant it is. That library looks incredible. I love visiting libraries all over the world and this looks like one I would want to spend all day in.
Hope you can visit Porto soon and enjoy the books at Livraria Lello
THe Azulejo Tiles look absolutely amazing! I want to go see that building in person.
Portugal has been on my list for long. Porto is such a beautiful place. I love historical towns with churches and cathedrals. Would love to see the blue tiles of Azulejo.
Hope you can visit Porto soon
Porto is one of my favourite cities in Portugal. Been twice but the queues were always so long for the Majestic Cafe and the Livaria Lello, guess we were there at the wrong time. My one regret through is not making it to the Douro Valley. Will just have to go back 🙂
Must say that the queues are there both at Majestic and Livraria but a bit of planning and you can get through without waiting too long.
[…] 3 Days in Porto […]
Porto for me was always about wine. But you changed that perspective. Loved the blue and white Azulejo around. So much detail and so amazing. The chapels that you mentioned, especially the chapel of souls has got me really curious. Thanks for sharing these.
It’s a great city apart from the wine. But saying that the wine tours are a must as well. Hope you can visit soon.
[…] 3 Days in Porto […]
[…] 3 Days in Porto […]
We did love our visit to Porto. We found the trams and subways got us most places we wanted to go. When we had no energy left to walk back up a hill!! We saw much of what you did. But seem to have missed the Barredo. It must have been great to feel like you were such a local in those alleyways. We ate so much great food. But must admit we never got into the Francesinha sandwiches.
The trans are a great way to see the city and I loved it. I must admit I couldn’t into Francesinha. A small portion was enough for me.