- 1 The Best Time to go to Porto
- 2 How to get to Porto
- 3 Getting around Porto
- 4 Where to stay in Porto
- 5 Things to Do and See in Porto
- 6 Azulejo in Porto
- 7 Majestic Café
- 8 Livraria Lello – The most beautiful bookstore in the World.
- 9 Ribeira
- 10 Dom Luis Bridge –
- 11 Douro River Boat Tour
- 12 Walking Tour in Porto –
- 13 Wine Tours in Porto
- 14 Nightlife in Porto –
- 15 What to eat in Porto –
- 16 Must Do and See – 3 days in Porto
- 17 Share this
- 18 Like this:
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 go to 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.
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.
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.
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.
You can find out more about this bookstore on my recent post Livraria Lello – The world’s most beautiful bookstore.
Discover Barredo – One of the most fascinating neighborhoods 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 rip 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 – 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 more about the most popular day trips you can make from Lisbon. Day Trip to Sintra from Lisbon