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As someone who has strolled Porto’s cobbled lanes and delighted in its culture and cuisine, I offer you this 3-day Porto itinerary. In just 72 hours, unveil Porto’s rich history, its iconic bridges and its delectable food scene. This itinerary, packed with my personal recommendations, will ensure you savour every bit of this enchanting city. Let’s make your Porto in 3 days experience truly memorable.
Porto is a vibrant city that it sure to get under the skin of most visitors. From its cobbled streets and bridges to its burgeoning hipster scene and historic sites, it’s no wonder why this port city has become a popular destination for travellers from around the world in recent years.
The River Douro is a spectacular sight that cuts through the city of Porto. It stretches along the port city for miles, snaking between beautiful bridges that link the banks on either side of the river. The Douro is one of the most iconic sights in Porto, with its glistening waters reflecting light from the sun and the city’s monuments at various stages throughout the day.
Porto is a great place to indulge in fantastic cuisine; port wine, cured meats and seafood dishes are just some of the local delicacies that you can sample while exploring this wonderful city. Porto is also a millennial’s paradise, with plenty of modish eateries and speciality coffee shops to be found amongst its colourful buildings.
If you are lucky enough to spend three days in Porto, then you have the perfect opportunity to experience all that this incredible city has to offer.
Get ready to unearth the enchanting layers of Porto with this curated itinerary that I’ve meticulously crafted from my own unique experience and extensive research. Whether it’s unearthing hidden gems in narrow alleyways, savouring lip-smacking local cuisine, marvelling at iconic monuments, or embracing the hustle and bustle of shopping on Rua de Santa Catarina, there’s something captivating at every turn.
And, fear not about the perfect retreat to recharge after a day of adventure—I’ve handpicked a selection of prime accommodations to enhance your Porto experience.
Here’s how to spend 3 days in Porto.
Essential links for booking your Porto trip
Transport: book your train tickets here and search for and book car rentals here.
Top rated tours & experiences in Porto:
☆ Porto walking tour (great for a general overview)
☆ Six Bridges Boat Tour (a must do in Porto)
☆ Food and wine tasting tour (perfect for foodies)
☆ Douro Valley Small-Group tour (great for wine lovers)
Cultured Voyages accommodation picks:
Torel Avantgarde (5* hotel with pool & city views // Rio & Sol (incredible riverside apartment where I stayed) // Vincci Ponte de Ferro (stylsh & affordable luxury // Rosário Luxury Suites (affordable boutique guesthouse)
Don’t leave home without!
Compression packing cubes (my #1 packing essential // Pocket Porto Travel Guide // Rick Steves Portugal
Getting organised before your visit to Porto
Read up before visiting
Before you get started on this 3-day itinerary for Porto, I’d recommend that you read our related Porto travel guide, which features a range of top tips and things that you should know before visiting Porto. With sections on how to get around Porto and overviews of Porto’s history, architecture, cuisine and culture amongst others, it will equip you with all you need to know before you head to Portugal’s vibrant second city.
Figure out what you need to book in advance
As with any popular destination, it’s important to plan ahead when visiting Porto and book certain things in advance so that you can make the most out of your 3-day trip. The following are a few things I’d recommend that you book before your visit:
Accommodation | Finding a place to stay in Porto is relatively easy, but with the city’s popularity, it’s best to book in advance to ensure that you get the accommodation that you want for your stay. Check out our comprehensive “Where to stay in Porto” guide for an overview of our recommended neighbourhoods, as well as some hand-selected accommodation picks for each that include hotels, guesthouses and apartments.
Tickets to certain attractions | Booking tickets in advance can help you avoid long lines and disappointment if popular sites become fully booked on the day. If you plan on visiting Livrario Lello, I would definitely book that in advance. Any guided tours or river cruises should also be booked in advance too if you’re travelling during the high season. I’d also recommend booking your ticket for Clerigos Tower too.
Restaurants | There are some superb restaurants in Porto and many will require a booking in advance. For any popular eatery, you will likely not be able to walk up on the day of and get a table, so if you’re a foodie who has picked out some restaurants to try, do yourself a favour and make sure to book these in advance. We got into a couple of restaurants as walk-ins by the skin of our teeth (in January, which is one of the quietest times to visit) – it’s highly unlikely we would have been able to do this at any other time.
Is the Porto Card worth it?
If you’re planning on taking full advantage of everything that Porto has to offer, and plan on doing lots of sightseeing to attractions that involve an entrance fee, then investing in a Porto Card could be an excellent decision.
Depending on what you purchase, not only can it provide you with unlimited access to public transportation, including buses, trams, and metro lines, but it also grants discounts or even free entry to a variety of museums, monuments, and attractions. It can also be customised to fit your specific travel itinerary to give you the flexibility to see and do what you want, when you want.
It may also, however, be overkill. Unlike many other cities I go to, I felt less inclined to rush around to museums and the like in Porto, as the city itself is so incredibly beautiful and the atmosphere alone is enough to pass the time basking in. If you plan on visiting a couple of things like the Bolsa Palace and Clérigos Tower (which I recommend) and getting around primarily on foot, then you may not require it – we didn’t.
PORTO CARD | See all options and prices for the Porto Card here.
Where to stay for your 3 days in Porto
In our comprehensive guide to Where to Stay in Porto, we provide an overview of the city’s key neighbourhoods, each with its own unique character and atmosphere. Whether you’re looking for a vibrant and lively area full of bars and restaurants or a quieter neighbourhood where you can relax and unwind, we are sure that there’s something to suit all tastes.
We also provide a selection of hand-picked accommodations for each neighbourhood, from luxury hotels to cosy guesthouses and self-catering apartments.
If you’re in a hurry, however, here are some more specific recommendations below.
Should you stay in an apartment or a hotel in Porto?
Staying in an apartment in Porto is a great way to make the most of your 3-day trip. Not only will you have more space, but you can also experience the city like a local and enjoy all the amenities that come with it. Plus, many come with access to outdoor terraces where you can soak up some sunshine while taking in stunning views of Porto’s iconic skyline.
For our time in Porto, we decided to ditch the confines of a hotel room and embrace the local way of life in Miragaia, a hilly, authentic neighbourhood full of colourful buildings that are set just to the west of Porto’s touristic Ribeira district, yet within walking distance of Porto’s main attractions.
I stayed at this gorgeous Plum Guide apartment (read my full Plum Guide review here), which was a tranquil refuge in a buzz-filled city and offered front-row tickets to the meandering Douro River directly from our own balcony.
Cultured Voyages recommended hotels in Porto
There are, however, some fantastic hotels and guesthouses in Porto. Here are some of our favourites.
Where to stay in Porto
5* hotel with pool & city views
The award-winning 5-star Torel Avantgarde is a beautiful luxury hotel,where luxurious interiors are complimented by its picturesque outdoors, featuring an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and a garden with panoramic views over the city.
stylish & affordable luxury
Vincci Ponte de Ferro is a beautiful 4-star hotel located near the riverside area of Porto. It offers luxurious accommodation, private parking, a fitness centre and a seasonal outdoor pool. Some bedrooms offer stunning city views.
AFFORDABLE BOUTIQUE GUESTHOUSE
Situated in Porto’s thriving arts district, this bed and breakfast provides guests with spacious suites, some complete with balconies offering either a garden or street view. It has a delightful garden at the back of the house for guests to enjoy.
3 day Porto itinerary in full
The first two days of this 3 days in Porto itinerary will focus on all of Porto’s best offerings – from admiring its stunning architecture to taking in the views of its iconic bridges, as well as exploring its vibrant neighbourhoods and tasting some of its delicious dishes.
The third day will take you beyond city limits to the jaw-dropping Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a world-famous wine region, where you can explore its picturesque villages, take a boat ride along the river, and sample some of its acclaimed port and red wines.
If that’s not your thing, I’ve also included plenty alternative ways to pass your third day in Porto.
Day 1: Sightseeing and a tour
The first of your three days in Porto will focus on some city centre historical highlights to get a feel for Porto’s downtown area and a sense of its culture and history. After lunch, I recommend that you take a tour of your choice, to better understand Porto’s culture through the particular lens of your own personal interests, before concluding the day by revelling in the vibrant ambience and mesmerising scenery of the riverside Ribeira area.
Tour the Bolsa Palace
Bolsa Palace, also known as the Porto Stock Exchange Palace, was built in the mid-19th century by the Porto Commercial Association. The Association were gifted the site, comprising a ruined convent, by Queen Mary II. Its architecture is heavily influenced by the French and Italian styles of the time, with ornate detailing and opulent finishes. Inside, you’ll find an array of breathtaking rooms, each with its own unique story and character.
The highlight of the palace is undoubtedly the Arabian Hall, a jaw-dropping space inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. The hall is adorned with intricate stucco work, colourful stained glass windows, and a massive chandelier that weighs over 1,000 kilograms.
I’d highly recommend a visit to the Bolsa Palace if you’re a fan of architecture – it’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer scale, beauty and grandeur of this iconic building. You’ll be able to see some of the best examples of neoclassical architecture and decoration in Portugal, too, as well as learn about the history of the city and its commercial past.
It’s only possible to visit the palace by guided tour, which lasts for approximately 30 minutes and which are run in Spanish, English and French. There is one tour carried out in each language every hour, with a tour departing every 20 minutes – which means you may have to wait up to 40 minutes or so for a tour in your language of choice.
While a beautiful spot to take photos in, take note that you’ll have very little time to do this and you will also be chaperoned – so for anyone who does wish to bring along their camera you will have to be quick and will not have much time to set up shots.
PLAN YOUR VISIT | Open daily from 9:00AM – 18:30PM. Visits are only available via a guided tour, which lasts for approx. 30 minutes. Buy tickets here.
Stop by Miradouro da Vitória
The Miradouro da Vitória is a breathtaking lookout point that offers panoramic views of the city and its historic landmarks. When you’re finished at the Bolsa Palace, take the walk uphill via the staircase that leads to this spectacular viewpoint.
The Miradouro da Vitória is located in the heart of the old city and was named after the Church of Our Lady of Victory, which stands nearby. From this slightly rough-around-the-edges viewing point, you’ll be able to enjoy views of several of Porto’s most famous landmarks, including the Ribeira district, the Douro River, Sé Cathedral and the iconic Dom Luis I Bridge. The lookout point is also surrounded by charming, traditional Portuguese houses and narrow streets, adding to the unique atmosphere of the area.
To make the most of your visit to the Miradouro da Vitória, it’s best to arrive outside the middle of the day, when the sun is at its highest – ideally early in the morning or in the late afternoon, when the light is at its best. Either way, however, you’re still in for a mighty view. It’s also a good idea to wear comfortable shoes, as there are quite a few uneven steps to climb to reach the lookout point.
Climb Clerigos Tower
Clérigos Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks of Porto and is a must for anyone interested in history, architecture, or photography – or even if you simply appreciate a good view. This Baroque bell tower, designed by Italian Nicolau Nasoni, was completed in 1763, stands at an impressive 76 meters tall and offers a stunning panoramic view of the city from its observation deck.
There are 240 steps to the top and it is the highest point in the city, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the historic centre and the Douro River. The tower’s intricate details, including its ornate carvings and statues, make it a true architectural masterpiece.
But the tower is just one part of the attraction.
The adjoining church of the Brotherhood of the Clerics is also worth exploring. The church boasts a collection of cultural assets of considerable artistic value, including sculptures, paintings, furniture, and gold smithery collections dating back to the 13th century. The church was the first in Portugal to have an ellipse-shaped plan, which can be best appreciated from above when making your way through the museum to climb the tower.
Visitors should take advantage of the opportunity to explore the museum, which delves into the spaces once used by the Brotherhood of the Clerics. It showcases a range of artefacts from different eras, providing a window into the rich history of the region.
Bear in mind that the tower can get busy (as can other attractions on this itinerary), so it’s best to visit during the weekdays if you can.
PLAN YOUR VISIT | Open every day from 9:00AM to 7:00PM, except on 24/12, 25/12, 31/12 and 01/01. Purchase skip the line tickets in advance.
Admire the azulejos at Igreja do Carmo
Close to Clérigos Tower and fairly hard to miss, the Igreja do Carmo is a fascinating example of late Baroque/rococo style religious architecture.
Constructed between 1756 and 1768, this church boasts a stunning exterior covered in blue and white azulejos, which were locally produced in Vila Nova de Gaia. These tiles illustrate important moments in the founding of the Carmelite Order and Mount Carmel. While the church’s exterior draws Instagrammers from near and far, the church’s interior is equally impressive with seven lavish gilt altars, which were crafted by sculptor Francisco Pereira Campanha, and numerous fine oil paintings.
Located next door to the Igreja do Carmo is the Igreja dos Carmelitas.
Completed in 1628, this church was part of a convent that no longer exists. What’s interesting about these two churches is that they are separated by a very narrow (1 metre wide) house called the “Hidden House,” which served as a residence for chaplains, artists, and doctors in years past. The house was also the site of secret meetings during the French invasion of Portugal by Napoleon and the Siege of Porto in 1832-1833.
When visiting the Igreja do Carmo, be sure to take the time to appreciate the beautiful exterior, including the religious sculptures of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, which were carved in Italy and flank the rectangular portal of the church’s façade.
PLAN YOUR VISIT | entry is typically free for both churches, however there was an exhibition on at Igreja do Carmo while we were there (which we didn’t have time to visit) that required an entrance fee. We were, however, able to pop into Ingreja dos Carmelitas.
Lunch: zenith brunch & cocktail bar
Zenith is a trendy spot that offers an all-day brunch menu, along with cocktails, coffee, and juices. The restaurant is housed in a cool, industrial-style space, with upbeat tunes pumping and a very trendy vibe. We had a very tasty brunch here.
Porto University and Jardim da Cordoaria
Walk off your lunch a little by taking in the nearby Porto University and by strolling through Jardim da Cordoaria.
Porto University has a number of museums that are open to the public and showcase centuries-old objects that offer fascinating insights into the history of medicine, science, and pharmacy over time, should these topics be of particular interest to you.
Jardim da Cordoaria, on the other hand, is one of the first green spaces in Porto.This romantic-style park is home to ancient trees as well as a small lake and striking sculptures by Juan Muñoz. The garden was transformed into a public park in the 19th century and was completely renovated between 1999 and 2000 as part of urban remodelling works.
It’s a nice spot to enjoy a moment of peace and tranquillity in the heart of the city.
Explore some of Porto’s downtown area
As you make your way from Porto University towards the river, now is a good opportunity to see some of the heart of downtown Porto.
One of the best ways to soak up some of Porto’s lively atmosphere it is by strolling along Rua das Flores, a picturesque street lined with beautiful buildings and trendy cafes. The area closeby is also home to some of the city’s most iconic squares, such as Praça da Liberdade, a grand plaza that boasts a stunning statue of King Peter IV atop a towering column.
Other notable streets and squares to visit in Porto’s downtown include Avenida dos Aliados, a bustling boulevard that leads to City Hall, and Praça do Infante Dom Henrique, a lively square filled with outdoor cafes and street performers.
These streets and squares all pretty much link up with each other – if you start your exploration at City Hall and work your way down, you’ll easily be able to saunter through these in 30-40 minutes.
Do a Six Bridges boat tour…
The meandering waters of the Douro River, fringed by historic buildings and spanned by great bridges, is a key component to the city of Porto and its charming visual appeal – and what better way to experience this beauty than by taking to the water?
“Six Bridges Boat Tours” depart from either Ribeira or Vila Nova de Gaia (make sure to check details upon booking), taking you on a journey under six iconic bridges, offering stunning views of the city’s landmarks and architecture. Expect to see the Dom Luis I Bridge, the Arrabida Bridge, the Freixo Bridge, and more.
The tours typically last around 50 minutes to an hour, which means it’s not too taxing in terms of time when it comes to any itinerary, leaving you plenty of time to explore on land before or afterward.
…or take a guided tour based on your interests
Depending on your interests, a guided tour can be the perfect way to immerse yourself in the soul of Porto and allow you to explore it through a particular lens of your own personal interest.
From discovering the city’s rich history to tasting its renowned wines, there are tours that cater to every area of interest. A knowledgeable guide can offer a deeper insight into the city’s hidden gems and offer a unique perspective on its culture.
Here are some of our suggested picks below:
A Classic Walking Tour of Porto – Discover all that makes Porto captivating: its architecture, traditions, and stories – on this 3-hour guided walking tour. Delve into centuries of history while winding your way down its narrow streets, explore rustic neighbourhoods, and take in breathtaking views of both the cityscape and Douro River.
Walking & Wine Tasting Tour (with snacks) – Indulge in the finest wines that Porto has to offer with this walking tour and wine-tasting experience. Taste exquisite Ports, Douro, and Green wine complemented by a delightful selection of Portuguese cheeses and smoked meats.
Pastel de Nata Cooking Class – Immerse yourself in the traditional taste of Portugal while learning to make pasteis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts) during this delightful cooking class at a local home in Porto. Follow an age-old recipe and savour your delicious masterpieces together around the table.
Porto Street Art Tour – Unravel the complex relationship between City Hall and local street art, while finding the best and new pieces at secret locations. See how far the scene has come since its inception, as you explore a side of Porto that not many typically see.
Enjoy the sunset in the Ribeira district
As the sun sets over Porto, the city takes on a dreamlike quality; the buildings and bridges bathed in a warm golden light.
For a perfect end to your day of sightseeing, head to Ribeira, Porto’s quintessentially charming neighbourhood on the banks of the Douro river. Pull up a chair at any of the outdoor cafes along the waterfront, grab a drink and become mesmerised by the gentle bobbing of boats on the water. Enjoy an evening spectacle as vivid colours ranging from pink to orange are slowly consumed into darkness.
Afterwards, indulge in the local cuisine and savour the flavours of Portugal as the night falls around you.
Dinner: Restaurant casario
High on my list before going, I (rather negligently) forgot to book this superb food spot before going to Porto and through a stroke of divine luck, we managed to get the last table in the restaurant going that night when we turned up at the door.
Named for (and seated among) the traditional casario townhouses that characterise the riverside area of the city, this refined restaurant starkly contrasts the neighbourhood’s many tourist traps. Affiliated with the illustrious Quinta de Ventozelo in the Douro Valley, many of the vineyard’s excellent wines are on the winelist. The food menu is a joy – make sure to have the fish bonbons and ask for a table outside for dreamy Douro and Ribeira views.
Day 2: More iconic sights and Port wine tasting
The Livraria Lello is a neo-Gothic style bookshop that should be on the list for any book lover or architecture enthusiast. It also (incorrectly), finds its way onto Potter fans’ radars, due to the incorrect assumption that J.K. Rowling was inspired by this very book shop for the Harry Potter series.
This building, built in 1906 by the engineer Francisco Xavier Esteves, is packed with unique architectural details, from elaborately carved arches and imposing ceilings to walls and columns with Art Deco touches. Busts of Portuguese writers inside, as well as stained glass windows, only add to the unique charm of this place.
However, due to its status as one of the oldest bookshops in Portugal and regularly rated as one of the most beautiful in the world, Livraria Lello is now often crowded with tourists. It can be quite difficult to take it all in with so many people bustling around and to be awfully honest with you, I was quite happy to leave after around 20 minutes of jostling against other visitors to try and take some photos.
One silver cloud, however, is that buying tickets in advance can help alleviate some of the wait times – which are lengthy if you don’t buy a ticket with an allocated time in advance. It’s important to note that this means you’ll have to stick to your specific time slot, but it’s worth it for the time it shaves off. It also entitles you to a book of your choice, from a small range of pocket-size classics.
Although it’s not quite as magical as it may have been before the crowds, it’s still a rather lovely destination for book lovers and architecture enthusiasts alike – just remember that you’ll be sharing it with quite a few others.
PLAN YOUR VISIT | Standard entry is €5, but get skip-the-line tickets instead here for €16 Otherwise, it’s not worth the wait. Open every day 09:30AM to 07:00PM, except for December 25th, January 1st, Easter Sunday, May 1st and June 24th
Mercado do Bolhão
The Mercado do Bolhão, occupying an entire block in the heart of Porto’s downtown, is a must-visit destination for any foodie seeking an authentic taste of the city. I loved the market – in fact it’s one of my favourite things I experienced in Porto. This vibrant fresh produce market boasts 79 stalls located on the ground floor, 10 restaurants on the top floor, and 38 shops facing outside, offering a diverse range of culinary experiences.
The market has undergone several transformations over the years, including a major restoration in 2018, which has resulted in a modern and functional space while retaining its historic charm.
The Bolhão Market dates back to the mid-19th Century, and a municipal decree in 1839 marked its official opening, consolidating all of the city’s existing markets into one central location. The current building was constructed during WWI and has since become an iconic structure of the city. Throughout the years, the market has undergone several interventions to improve its facilities, including the construction of a central staircase and a more definitive structure to replace the original stalls.
At the Bolhão Market, you can expect to immerse yourself in the vibrant colours, sounds, and smells of the bustling market while also appreciating its rich history and architecture. The restoration project completed in 2022 has elevated the market’s modern appeal while still preserving its authentic character. Grab a glass of wine from one of the wine sellers, and sit on the steps to watch the activity of the market unfold below – I can assure you that it’s extremely pleasant!
If you’re visiting Porto at the weekend, make sure to visit the market on Saturday instead (you may need to rejig this itinerary a bit), as the market is closed on Sundays.
PLAN YOUR VISIT | Open Monday-Friday 08:00AM – 20:00PM. Open Saturday 08:00 – 18:00PM. Closed Sundays.
Indulge in some shopping, if you’re inclined
The vibrant Rua de Santa Catarina is one of the most popular shopping destinations in Porto. The bustling street is filled with a mix of local and international stores, cafes, and restaurants.
But Rua de Santa Catarina is not only about shopping, it is also home to the Majestic Cafe, a historical and iconic cafe where J.K. Rowling reportedly spent time writing parts of the Harry Potter series.
The Majestic Cafe and Rua de Santa Catarina are adjacent to the Mercado do Bolhão, making it a very easy next thing to do on this 3-day Porto itinerary.
Walking along Rua de Santa Catarina, you can take as long as you feel inclined to in order to soak in the lively atmosphere, enjoy some shopping, or stop for a coffee at the Majestic Cafe.
Do some tile spotting
After a morning spent exploring the busy Livrario Lello and the bustling Mercado do Bolhao, it’s time to take in some more of Porto’s beautiful blue-tiled churches.
The first stop is Capela das Almas (Chapel of Souls), a building from the 18th century known for its tile-covered façade. The panels, added in 1929, represent episodes from the lives of S. Francis of Assisi and Saint Catherine, and an impressive 16,000 tiles were needed to create this magnificent work of art. The chapel is conveniently located near the Mercado do Bolhao, making it an easy addition to your itinerary.
The next stop is the Igreja Paroquial de Santo Ildefonso.
Completed in 1739, the church was built in a proto-Baroque style and features a stunning retable by the Italian artist Nicolau Nasoni. However, it’s the façade of the church that truly sets it apart, featuring an impressive 11,000 azulejo tiles created by artist Jorge Colaço and placed in November 1932. The tiles depict scenes from the life of Saint Ildefonso and figurative imagery from the Gospels.
Don’t miss the chance to take in the beauty of these blue-tiled churches, which are very easy to visit from Rua de Santa Catarina and the market – both are steeped in history and adorned with magnificent artwork.
Sao Bento Station
Next on the itinerary is a stop at the stunning São Bento Station. While a train station won’t usually make it onto an itinerary – except, in the case of logistics – this train station is one of Porto’s most iconic landmarks.
Constructed over a number of years, starting in 1904, this impressive station was built on the site of a Benedictine convent. The station’s grand entrance hall is adorned with approximately 20,000 azulejo tiles, dating from 1905-1916, that were designed and painted by the renowned artist Jorge Colaço.
The murals depict moments in Portugal’s history and the multicoloured panels showcase rural scenes and the people of various regions. The azulejo panels are a true masterpiece, and their intricate details and vibrant colours leave are worthy of some ogling.
At the highest part of Porto’s old centre, you’ll find the city’s most important religious building – the Sé Cathedral, also known as the Porto Cathedral. The Cathedral’s construction began in the twelfth century and throughout its lifetime it’s been rebuilt and renovated many times.
Despite its many renovations, the Cathedral’s predominantly Baroque style still retains elements of its Romanesque and Gothic roots. Inside the Cathedral’s fourteenth-century cloister (my favourite part of the visit, and likely many others, too), you’ll find decorative tiles featuring scenes from the Bible, including the life of the Virgin Mary and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The terrace is decorated with tile panels by António Vidal, and the chapter house’s coffered ceiling is painted with allegories of moral values by Pachini.
After exploring the cloister, visit the Casa do Cabildo, where you’ll find the Cathedral Treasure – a collection of the Cathedral’s most precious possessions.
The square on which the cathedral sits has a column in the middle that was once the site where criminals of Porto were hanged. During the Middle Ages, the square was also the epicentre of major commerce and trades in the city.
In 1147, the crusaders from northern Europe, the Normans, agreed to join the Portuguese Army in the conquest of Lisbon, which was held by the Moors at the time. The agreement was made in this square, adding further to its historical significance. The eighteenth-century palace, inhabited by Porto’s bishops, is also located in this square.
Today, the square provides visitors with stunning views of Porto, the Douro River, and the wine cellars on the waterfront.
PLAN YOUR VISIT | April – October, open 9:00AM– 18:30PM. November – March, open 9:00AM – 17:30PM. Closed Christmas and Easter. Entry costs €3 and is available at the door.
Luis I Bridge
Having visited the cathedral, it’s time to make your way to the other side of the river. This you will do by crossing Porto’s most famous bridge.
The Dom Luis I Bridge is a double-deck metal arch bridge that spans the River Douro between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal. Its 172-meter span was the longest of its type in the world when constructed. The bridge was initially designed as a single-deck bridge by Gustav Eiffel, but plans were rejected due to dramatic growth in urban population.
A competition was initiated in 1880, and the Belgian Société de Willebroek was awarded the public work. Théophile Seyrig, a disciple of Eiffel, authored the project and administered its construction.
The bridge carried road traffic on both decks for over a century, including electric trams and trolleybuses, until the upper deck was closed to motor traffic in 2003 to adapt the structure for the metro system.
Crossing the Dom Luis I Bridge on foot is a unique experience that offers stunning views of the River Douro and the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. The walkway on the upper deck provides a thrilling perspective of the bustling riverfront, the colourful facades of the buildings, and the imposing steel structure of the bridge itself. The bridge also serves as a vantage point for admiring the sunset over the city or watching the boats sail up and down the river.
late lunch: 7g roasters
7g Coffee Roasters is a hidden gem tucked away in the charming neighbourhood of Vila Nova da Gaia. Appended to an apartment building, we found this specialty coffee shop and eatery to be a buzzy, inviting space to relax in, with a broad menu catering towards brunch and more substantial meal options, as well as anything that a speciality coffee lover should so desire.
Visit one (or more) of the Port lodges
First – a little about Port wine
The experience of visiting one (or more of) the Port wine cellars in Vila Nova da Gaia stretches further than merely tasting this distinctive, fortified wine, but also draws you into a key aspect of the city’s cultural heritage that has been built upon the production of this drink for a number of centuries. You don’t have to be a Port wine drinker to enjoy this experience – I, for one, wasn’t before I visited!
Port wine is a true symbol of Porto, with its roots stretching back to the 17th century when British merchants began adding brandy to wine to preserve it during shipping. The demand for this fortified wine grew, and by the 18th century, Port wine had become a popular drink in Britain and other European countries.
Today, the production of Port wine remains steeped in tradition, with every bottle embodying centuries of expertise and craftsmanship – although many producers are deploying and developing new methods and varieties today.
The wine itself is produced exclusively in the Douro Valley region of Portugal, which is the world’s oldest demarcated wine region, established in 1756. There are several types of Port wine, including Ruby, Tawny, Vintage, Late Bottled Vintage (LBV), and White Port.
During the production process, a neutral grape spirit, called aguardente, is added to the wine to stop fermentation, leaving residual sugar and creating a wine with a higher alcohol content and a unique sweetness. Port wine is typically aged in oak barrels, adding flavours such as vanilla, caramel, and nuttiness. The longer the wine is aged, the more complex and nuanced its flavour becomes.
Visiting the cellars at Vila Nova da Gaia
Visiting the port lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia is a relatively short and inexpensive experience, with many offering basic tasting packages that allow you to sample a variety of ports at an affordable price. However, if you want to upgrade your experience, there are various flights of Port available, ranging up to the premium and more expensive older vintages.
If you’re visiting at a quiet time of the year that’s outside of season, then you should be able to wander up without a booking, as we did (but note that some cellars may be closed – we had wanted to visit Graham’s but they were closed in January when we visited). Otherwise, I’d advise doing a little research in advance and booking your port cellar experience in advance.
Some popular cellars to consider include:
- Graham’s: Offers guided tours of the ageing cellars and tastings with panoramic views of the city and the Douro River. Take the Giaia Cable Car from the bridge for unique city views.
- Burmester: Founded in 1730, Burmester offers guided tours of the historic cellars and tastings of their Port wines in a convenient location next to Dom Luiz I Bridge.
- Cockburn’s: The largest of the Port wine lodges, Cockburn’s offers guided tours of the cellars and tastings of their wines, as well as the unique experience of being able to watch coopers work on barrels – which you won’t see anywhere else.
- Poças: Poças is a family-owned Port wine producer, offering guided tours of the cellars and tastings of their wines, including their Vintage Port.
- Calem: Calem offers guided tours of the cellars and tastings of their Port wines, as well as an interactive museum showcasing the history and culture of Port wine.
- Taylor’s: Differs from the others in that this is a self-guided experience. It’s really informative, and we spent a couple of hours there. It might be too information heavy for some, however.
BOOK A COMPREHENSIVE PORT EXPERIENCE | If you’ve decided that you want to deep-dive into the port production and tasting aspect of Porto while visiting the city, then you may be better off taking a longer tour with a local expert. This half-day tour has 700+ 5 star reviews, is well priced and provides 7 tastings during a multi-cellar experience during a 4-hour tour.
Hang out in Jardim de Morro for sunset
Jardim de Morro, is located just across the Douro River from Porto’s historic centre on the Vila Nova da Gaia side of the river Douro. It’s an idyllic public space that provides the ideal spot to enjoy the beauty of the sunset.
From here, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the city while admiring the grandeur of Dom Luis I Bridge, which stands majestically against an orange-tinted sky as dusk approaches. As the day draws to a close, the park becomes a hub of chilled-out activity, with people flocking to this hilly outlook for its lively atmosphere and captivating views.
Along the front wall of the park is a bar with a terrace that offers breathtaking views of the city, should you wish to set up camp here, but equally, you can grab a drink from a small vendor, find a perch on the grassy hill and enjoy the live music performers who set up for the sunset.
Dinner: Cantina 32
Head back over the bridge to the centre of Porto to drop into Cantina 32 – just make sure that you’ve booked in advance. This restaurant is a modern, popular and aesthetically pleasing spot that serves an array of Portuguese dishes, including the iconic Bacalhau à Bráz (salted cod with fried potatoes and egg), as well as imaginative creations. I really enjoyed our meal here – there was a really lively atmosphere, the food was great and the service friendly.
Porto Itinerary Day 3: Take a day trip to the Douro Valley
On your third day in Porto, take a journey out of the city into the breathtaking Douro Valley, a place that is so intrinsically linked to the city via the centuries old wine trade.
Visiting the Douro Valley from Porto is relatively straightforward thanks to its close proximity to the city. It’s just a one-and-a-half to two-hour drive from Porto (depending on where you’re heading), and there are also train, bus and private tour options available for those who don’t have a car.
Why you should visit the Douro Valley
The Douro Valley is one of Portugal’s most beautiful and iconic regions, famous for its terraced vineyards, picturesque villages, stunning landscapes and delicious wine. There are numerous activities to experience here that guarantee a memorable day out – from visiting traditional wineries to taking boat rides down the river.
The Douro Valley really is a sight to behold. Here is a land where rolling hills are blanketed in lush vineyards, with vibrant shades of green creating a patchwork across the landscape. Interspersed amongst these verdant slopes are small villages, their whitewashed houses nestled among the trees like sleeping giants.
We experienced quite a bit of rain, as we travelled in January – when you’re typically advised not to visit! – but when the sun shone its rays lit up a glistening Douro river as it wound its way through this rather majestic valley.
In the rolling hills of Douro Valley, you don’t have to solely indulge in the fruit of the vine to fall under its spell. One of the most rewarding things to do is to partake in a leisurely boat ride along the meandering waters of the river, taking in the valley’s verdant slopes from the deck of your vessel.
If you travel by car, you’ll land upon charming towns and villages nestled within the valley, where you can discover quaint architecture and local handicrafts that speak to the region’s unique cultural heritage.
For those with a taste for adventure, a scenic hike through the valley will unveil awe-inspiring vistas of the vineyards and waterway. And, should your appetite be whetted by these wonders, the region’s culinary offerings will prove a feast for any foodie – ranging from traditional eateries to modern, award-winning restaurants.
How to get to the Douro Valley from Porto
Option 1: Take a boat tour
If you’re looking for a leisurely and picturesque way to get to the Douro Valley, a boat tour is an excellent option. You’ll get to enjoy stunning views of the river and surrounding hills as you wind your way towards your destination. The tour also includes stops at local wineries and villages, giving you the opportunity to sample some of the region’s famous port wines and explore its charming culture.
However, keep in mind that boat tours can be weather-dependent and may not be available during certain seasons. Also, they can be more expensive than other transportation options and may not provide as much flexibility in terms of timing and itinerary. They are, however, a stress-free option for visiting the Douro Valley.
BOOK A BOAT TOUR | Check availability/price or book your boat tour from Porto here
Option 2: Join a guided tour
If you want to fully immerse yourself in the Douro Valley experience and have a knowledgeable guide show you the best spots, then a guided tour may be the best option for you. You can find various tour companies that offer different packages, at a variety of price points.
With a guide, you can learn about the history and culture of the region while seeing the most beautiful and unique sights.
BOOK A GUIDED TOUR | This small-group Douro Valley tour packs a punch, including lunch, two vineyard visits for wine tasting and an optional river cruise at Pinhão, as well as a stop off at scenic points along the drive.
Option 3: Hire a private driver
If you’re looking for the most comfortable and completely personalised way to get to the Douro Valley, hiring a private driver is the way to go. You’ll have the flexibility to create your own itinerary, stop at wineries and villages at your leisure, and enjoy the comfort of a private vehicle.
As can be expected, hiring a private driver is the most expensive option, especially if you’re travelling solo or with a small group, but would be worth it if you’re looking for a completely individual programme.
FIND A PRIVATE DRIVER | This 10-hour private Douro Valley tour receives exceptional reviews from previous guests.
Option 4: Take the train
For a more cost-effective option, taking the train to the Douro Valley is a solid choice. You can catch the train from Porto’s São Bento station, which takes you on a scenic journey through the valley, passing vineyards, quintas, and charming towns along the way. Plus, train travel allows for more flexibility in terms of timing and scheduling, as there are multiple trains departing throughout the day.
However, keep in mind that train travel can be crowded during peak tourist season, and you may need to book your tickets in advance to secure your spot. Also, while the train journey is scenic, it may not allow for as many stops or opportunities for exploration as other transportation options.
BOOK DOURO VALLEY TRAIN | Search timetables and book your Douro Valley train tickets here.
Option 5: Self-drive
If you are a more adventurous and independent traveller, consider self-driving to the Douro Valley. You’ll have complete control over your itinerary, can stop at any point, and have the freedom to explore the valley at your own pace. I’d also particularly recommend this if you’re planning on visiting the Douro Valley for more than a day trip.
We based ourselves in the Douro Valley for three nights, and I drove from downtown Porto and around the Douro Valley, booking our car through RentalCars. While the majority of the routes are relatively easy to deal with, do be aware that some roads in the region can be quite windy and narrow, so make sure you’re comfortable driving on these kinds of roads if you choose to rent a car.
This is particularly true if you want to visit some of the Douro Valley’s iconic viewpoints, as many require you to take to the tiny, often steep single-lane roads in order to reach them. If you’re a confident driver, you shouldn’t have a problem, but I would consider alternative transport options if you consider yourself to be a nervous one.
Dinner: muro do bacalhau
You’ll likely be rather peckish when you get back to Porto, and right along the river’s edge in Ribeira you’ll find this cosy but modern Portuguese restaurant. It has a succinct but delicious sharing menu which is perfect for those with a mix of appetites, or for a smaller bite if you’ve already eaten lots during the day. Plates are beautifully presented and there is outdoor seating too, if you’re lucky enough to nab it.
What to do if you don’t want to visit the Douro Valley
While the Douro Valley makes for an exceptionally good day 3 of any Porto itinerary, there are also plenty of alternatives – you may wish to spend a third day in the city, or visit another area outside of it instead.
In and around Porto city
You could easily draw out days 1 and 2 from this itinerary across a third day, but you do also have plenty of room to explore some additional sites, or perhaps visit a beach if you’d like some downtime.
Serralves Museum and Gardens | A cultural complex with a contemporary art museum, beautiful gardens, and a modernist villa designed by architect Álvaro Siza Vieira.
Casa da Música | Porto’s modern concert hall, designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, is likely to interest music lovers. Its striking design and excellent acoustics make it a unique and exciting venue for live performances.
Palácio de Cristal Gardens | These lush gardens offer a peaceful escape from the bustling city. They feature several walking paths, fountains, and stunning views of the Douro River.
Museu Romântico | This charming museum offers a glimpse into the romantic era of the 19th century. It features antique furnishings, art, and personal items of the Romantic period.
Matosinhos | A fishing town famous for its seafood restaurants and beautiful beaches, Matosinhos is a great place to enjoy fresh seafood and relax by the sea.
Foz do Douro | A neighbourhood in Porto located at the mouth of the Douro River, Foz do Douro offers stunning ocean views, a beautiful promenade, and several excellent restaurants and bars.
Day trips outside of Porto
Guimarães | Known as the “birthplace of Portugal,” Guimarães is a charming medieval city with a UNESCO-listed historic centre and a castle that offers panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Braga | A lively city with a rich history and several beautiful religious monuments, including the 12th-century Braga Cathedral and the absolutely glorious Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary. Book a combined tour of Guimarães and Braga here.
Aveiro | Often called the “Venice of Portugal,” Aveiro is a picturesque town with canals, colourful boats, and art nouveau architecture. Book a half-day tour from Porto here.
Coimbra | A university city with an impressive library and a World Heritage-listed old town. Book a guided tour of Coimbra and its university here.
Viana do Castelo | A coastal city known for its beautiful beaches, historic landmarks, and the famous Santa Luzia Sanctuary, which offers breathtaking views of the city and the sea. For something different, discover the area on horseback.
Peneda-Gerês National Park | The only national park in Portugal, Peneda-Gerês offers stunning landscapes, waterfalls, and opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife spotting. Book a tour from Porto here.
Map with all spots included on this 3 days in Porto itinerary
How to use the map: Use the toggle on the left on the header bar to open/close map contents. You can also zoom in and out and interact with the saved items on this map. To save the map to your own Google account, click on the star sign beside the map title on the header.
Logistics for this 3 day Porto itinerary
How to get to Porto
Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO) is the closest airport to the city, located 8 miles (13 km) to the north. There are numerous flights available from major cities in Europe and other parts of the world.
Porto is well-connected to other major cities in Portugal by train. Estacao de Sao Bento (Sao Bento Train Station) and Estacao de Campanha (Campanha Train Station) are the two main railway hubs in Porto.
The train journey from Lisbon to Porto is an enjoyable and convenient way to travel between the two cities. Travellers can take one of the high-speed InterCity (IC) or Alfa Pendular trains, which depart from Lisbon’s Santa Apolonia station and arrive at Porto’s Campanha train station in approximately 3 hours.
Porto is surrounded by motorways, meaning the city enjoys excellent road connections. Either by bus or by car (private vehicle or rented car), Porto can be reached from virtually all corners of the country. There are plenty of buses to Porto – check Omio for various routes and schedules.
Getting from Porto Airport to city centre
The Metro is the quickest and most affordable option, with frequent service to the city centre and a travel time of 30-40 minutes, depending on your final destination. There’s a direct metro route from Porto Airport to Porto city centre (Trindade Station). You can reach the metro station by walking 5 min from the arrivals terminal and it runs every 20 minutes, starting at 6am and running through to a little after midnight.
Tickets are a very reasonable €2, but if you’re planning on using public transport more than once while in Porto then it’s a good idea to purchase an Andante card for an additional €0.60 at this point and to purchase some additional journeys (which are loaded onto your card) at this point.
Taxis are available outside the terminal building and can take around 20 minutes to reach the city centre. It cost us €25 to reach Miragaia. For more budget-friendly options, rideshare apps like Uber and Bolt are available. We found Bolt to offer great value while travelling in Portugal.
How to get around Porto
By foot | Porto is a compact city and it is easy to get around by foot, especially in the historical centre. However, should you require it at any stage, then the public transportation system is well-developed and affordable.
By metro | Porto’s metro system consists of four lines that cover most of the city and its suburbs. The metro is fast, efficient, and runs frequently, making it a convenient way to get around. Should you have the desire to leave Porto, it is linked to regional stations via Sao Bento station, and to Lisbon via Campanha Train Station.
By bus | There is a well-developed bus network that connects all the major attractions and neighbourhoods. The buses are air-conditioned and run frequently, making them a convenient option if that’s how you prefer to make your way around a city.
By tram | The tram is a historic and charming mode of transportation in Porto, and there are several lines that run through the city, including the famous electric tram line 1 which runs along a very scenic line along the Douro riverfront.
By bike | Bicycles are also a popular way to explore the city, with bike rental services available throughout the city.
By rideshare or taxi | Taxis and ride-sharing services are also widely available and I found these to be affordable, particularly ride-sharing apps like Bolt.
Common questions to have prior to spending 3 days in Porto
Are 3 days in Porto enough?
Yes, 3 days in Porto can give you a great introduction to the city’s rich culture, history, and vibrant atmosphere. You can visit iconic landmarks such as the Dom Luís I Bridge, the historic Ribeira district, and the impressive Clerigos Tower. You can also explore the city’s museums, indulge in its delicious cuisine, and experience the lively nightlife. However, if you have more time to spare, you can immerse yourself even more in the city’s charm and discover some of its hidden gems, as well as explore further afield.
Is Porto a walkable city?
Yes, Porto is a very walkable city. With its charming cobblestone streets, historic architecture, and scenic riverfront, walking is the best way to explore Porto’s rich history and culture. The city’s compact size makes it easy to navigate on foot, and there are plenty of pedestrian-friendly areas to explore, such as the Ribeira district and the lively Santa Catarina Street. Walking is also a great way to discover (and access) the city’s many viewpoints and hidden alleys. Just make sure to pack comfortable walking shoes that can handle uneven cobbled terrains and plenty of hills!
What is the best month to visit Porto?
When it comes to choosing the ideal time to visit Porto, you’ll need to consider several factors such as weather, crowds, and seasonal events. Although the summer months of May to September are the peak tourist season in Porto, the best time to visit is arguably during the shoulder months of April, October, and November.
During these months, the weather is still warm and pleasant, the crowds are lighter, and visitors can savour a true taste of Porto without the sweltering heat and congested crowds. During the shoulder months, Porto offers a chance to stroll the narrow streets of Ribeira, savor the fresh seafood in the local taverns, and take in the breathtaking beauty of the Douro River without the throngs of tourists.
So, whether you prefer to enjoy Porto’s charming historic centre, its picturesque beaches, or its trendy and hipster cafes, try time your visit with the shoulder months, when the city’s beauty and character can be best experienced.
Where are the best viewpoints in Porto
Some of the best viewpoints in Porto that are easy to get to include:
- Miradouro da Vitória: Located in the Ribeira district, this viewpoint offers a panoramic view of the Douro River, the Luís I Bridge, and the city’s colourful buildings.
- Torre dos Clérigos: This iconic tower, located in the city centre, offers panoramic views of the city from its top.
- Miradouro da Serra do Pilar: This viewpoint, located across the Douro River, offers a stunning view of the Ribeira district and the city’s historic centre.
- Jardim do Morro: This garden, located in Vila Nova de Gaia, offers a beautiful view of the city and the Douro River.
Do you have more time to spend in Porto?
If you have more than 3 days to spend in Porto, consider spending an extended period of time in the Douro Valley, by staying a couple of nights at a quinta. Otherwise, you could consider adding some beach time to your itinerary (there are several within easy reach of city centre), or take more day trips into the surrounding area, as detailed above in the Day trips outside of Porto section of this post.
Related posts for Porto & Douro Valley
- Porto city guide | Visiting Porto: 23+ Essential Porto Tips & Things to Know
- Where to stay in Porto | Where to Stay in Porto: Unveiling the Best Areas and Accommodations
- 1 day in Porto | Discovering the Best of Porto in One Day
- Douro Valley quintas | 23 Fabulous Douro Valley Winery Hotels & Quintas to Stay at
- Douro Valley guide | A First-time Visitor’s Guide to the Douro Valley