Headed to Portugal and looking to spend 3 days in Porto? Keep on reading – this Porto itinerary is exactly what you’re looking for. Full of all my favorite viewpoints, tons of famous blue tiles, local foods to try (Port wine, anyone?!), and of course all the fun things to include on a perfect 3 day Porto itinerary!
It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with Porto. All of 10 minutes to be exact. Didn’t hurt that I was staying in the cutest apartment, stumbled upon the prettiest viewpoint (hardly mentioned anywhere!), and spent my first afternoon eating Portuguese hot dogs with the locals and stuffing my face with the best pasteis de nata in town. More on all that later.
Porto is a coastal city in northwestern Portugal, known for its stately bridges over the Douro River, sweet port wine (tawny’s my fave), and narrow, cobblestoned streets. I think I may have loved it even more than Lisbon, shh! It was actually the original capital of Portugal (notice the similarities in the name?).
I visited Lisbon a few years ago after a much longer Spain and Morocco trip. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to make it up to Porto, so I was thrilled to have a full 3 days in Porto this time!
And it was the biggest surprise on my entire 10 day Portugal trip – the best surprise. I hadn’t expected to love it oh so much! Sure, I had heard good things, but after my first few hours in the city, I was completely enamored.
Porto felt way more authentic to me, and while it’s still pretty touristy, the city had more of a local vibe to it. And ohh, the sunsets were just oh so glorious!
There’s less tourist attractions and museums here, but that just gives you more time to stroll the streets, take in the spectacular views, and taste all the Port wine! The historical city center of Porto has even been classified as a UNESCO world heritage site since 1996! It’s that impressive (so yes, well worth your time during your 10 days in Portugal).
Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal after Lisbon (I mean, more than 1.3 million people live here!), yet it’s quaint and charming all at the same time. It has a distinctly older feeling than Lisbon (probably due the Great Lisbon earthquake that shattered Lisbon back in 1755), but still feels young, hip, and fresh all at once.
And Porto is an absolute beauty. It remains authentic and affordable, full of green spaces, Port wine, lavish baroque and beaux arts architecture, and SO much good food. Plus magnificent cathedrals, the most beautiful train station and bookstore in the world, historical neighborhoods with mazes of narrow streets, 19th-century gardens, and unforgettable views of the lovely Douro River.
If you’re wondering if you should include Porto on your Portugal itinerary, it’s a resounding yes from me! You can accomplish a lot in Porto in 3 days – and my (crazy) comprehensive guide will show you how!
3 Days in Porto At-A-Glance
- Day 1: Old Town
- Day 2: Ribeira and Vila Nova de Gaia
- Day 3: Day trip from Porto (most popular being the Douro Valley and/or Aveiro/Costa Nova)
So let’s get to it – the most perfect 3 day Porto itinerary coming right up! But first, some important logistics!
3 Days in Porto Itinerary Logistics
Where is Porto?
Let’s start with the basics! Porto is located in northern Portugal on the Iberian Peninsula, along the Douro River estuary (where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean). It’s actually considered the capital of the North!
The city is about 315 km north of Lisbon (only 2 ½ hours away on the high-speed train!), although much further from The Algarve region, about 550 km away (6 hours on the train).
Porto is also close to the Douro Valley, an entire region full of gorgeous vineyards, incredible landscapes, and lush grapes. It’s a great place for a day trip if you love wine and spectacular scenery!
While the main city center of Porto isn’t located right on the coastline, it’s not terribly far from some stunning beaches either!
Read Next: The Best 10 Day Portugal Itinerary (including all my favorite stops and beaches!)
How to Get to Porto
Can’t wait for your 3 days in Porto?! Thankfully, the city is relatively easy to get to! You’ll find options by plane, train, and car!
Flying to Porto
While Porto’s got its very own airport, unfortunately, there’s no nonstop flights to Porto from the United States. Most international flights arrive in Portugal at Lisbon International Airport, also known as Humberto Delgado Airport or Portela Airport (airport code LIS).
If this is your first time in Portugal, you’ll definitely wanna explore Lisbon for a few days, so this works out quite perfectly! Once you’re ready to head to Porto from Lisbon, there’s a few ways, listed down below. Already explored Lisbon on a previous trip? Book a connecting flight straight to Porto.
If you’re already within Europe, look for a direct flight to Porto to Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (airport code OPO), often known simply as Porto Airport! It’s the second largest airport in Portugal, and is well connected to other European destinations. There’s many nonstop flights to Porto from Europe, even including those on low-cost carriers (like EasyJet and RyanAir).
The Porto Airport is located really close to Porto itself (just 11km north of the city), so it’s not hard to get into the city center. I recommend taking the Porto Metro (Line E – purple), which runs between the airport and the city center every 20-30 minutes or so from 6:00am to midnight. It only takes about 25 minutes and costs €2 per ticket (plus a refundable card fee of €0.60).
If you don’t feel like navigating the metro system as soon as you land (and/or have a lot of heavy luggage), there’s also the bus and a taxi/rideshare.
Driving to Porto
It’s also possible to arrive in Porto by car. Porto is surrounded by plenty of highways, and the roads between major Portuguese cities are in great condition and super easy to navigate.
However, unless you’re road tripping around as part of a much longer Portugal itinerary, I wouldn’t recommend bringing a car to Porto. The roads are tiny, there’s lots of confusing one-way streets, and you risk getting stuck in heavy traffic. Plus, parking in town can be an absolute nightmare, there’s plenty of narrow roads, and all the main attractions are honestly super walkable. Doesn’t sound like a great start to any 3 day Porto itinerary. No thanks!
If you are in fact arriving in Porto by car, don’t fret – I promise you’re not doomed. Plan to park your car in a lot for the duration of your stay or, even better, find a hotel with private parking! Just don’t plan to use your car during your 3 days in Porto at all (and if you follow my Porto itinerary, you won’t need it anyways!).
Taking the Train to Porto
Coming from elsewhere in Portugal? Consider taking the high-speed train (the Alfa Pendular). Porto is well connected to plenty of other cities in Portugal, like Lisbon, Braga, Coimbra, and Lagos. The Alfa Pendular trains are easily the fastest way to get around Portugal (I mean, they’ve got speeds up to 135 mph (220 km/h)! Whoa!
There’s also Intercidades express trains that run between major cities in Portugal. While these trains take a bit longer than the Alfa Pendular, they’re great options for traveling to Porto from elsewhere in Portugal.
I took the trains all around the country during my 10 days in Portugal, and found them super comfortable and modern. There were even power sockets and complimentary Wi-Fi! Not too bad!
Psst – you’ll always wanna book a high speed Alfa Pendular (AP) Train or InterCity (IC) Train between major cities instead of the slower trains (which make more stops and take significantly longer).
Regardless of the train you choose (high-speed Alfa Pendular or InterCity), most arrive into Porto’s Campanhã station (a bit east of the city). But wait – don’t get out of the station just yet!
You’ll need to hop on a local train to São Bento station in the historic city center (which is most likely much closer to your accommodation). Most tickets to Porto include a transfer to São Bento, so you won’t have to buy another ticket. Instead of dealing with yet another train, I simply took a cheap Uber to my hotel from Campanha.
How to Get to Porto from Lisbon
Many people visit Porto after spending a few days in Lisbon, and that’s exactly what I did! Thankfully, getting between the two largest cities in Portugal isn’t all that hard! Here’s your options:
- Driving to Porto from Lisbon: Driving from Lisbon to Porto takes about 3 hours, and is super easy. The roads are all great quality, and there’s lots of signs! Just remember, you’ll wanna park your car in a parking lot once you arrive in Porto.
- High Speed Train to Porto: CP – Comboios de Portugal Trains from Lisbon (the Lisboa – Santa Apolonia station) arrive into Porto’s Campanha station. Tickets include a transfer to Sao Bento Station, which is most likely much closer to where your accommodation is in Porto. Trains take about 3 – 3 ½ hours and they’re super affordable.
- Flying to Porto from Lisbon: From Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS), you’ll wanna book a flight to Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO). Check TAP Air Portugal; they’ve got a few nonstops from Lisbon to Porto every day. Direct flights only take about an hour! If you book early enough, you can typically get a ticket for less than $50.
Coming from Spain? Combining Spain and Portugal trips are super common. That’s what I did on my first visit to the country a few years ago (and I even tacked on both Fez and Chefchaouen in Morocco for a few days)! Unfortunately there’s no high-speed train running from Madrid to Porto (or Lisbon for that matter).
However, Renfe (Spain’s national railway company) offers a modern Trenhotel overnight train to Lisbon from Madrid. Honestly, it’s probably just easier (and more effective) to book a low-cost flight if you’re looking to head from Spain to Porto.
How to Get Around During Your 3 Days in Porto
Porto is a walking city; you’ll 100% wanna wear comfy shoes! Plus, there’s plenty of cobblestone and uneven ground. And stairs. And hills.
The city is pretty small and compact, meaning you can get just about everywhere on foot. Most of the main attractions are close to each other (at most 15-20 minutes away by walking), meaning you can see a whole lot in a short period of time.
A word of warning: Porto is essentially one big hill. If you’re down by the waterfront (Ribeira District) and want to get just about anywhere else… well, you’ll be walking up and up and up. Great for those thighs and butt though! Day 2 of this 3 day Porto itinerary has you exploring Ribeira, so be mindful to explore before heading all the way down to the river.
During the day, I walked EVERYWHERE. I took an Uber/Bolt back to my room after the sun went down since I hung out by the river every night and my feet were tired (and I didn’t wanna make the walk back up in the dark).
For transparency sake, I didn’t use public transit even once during my 3 days in Porto. I just didn’t need it (I got by with walking and calling the occasional Uber).
However, Porto does have a pretty good public transit system, operated by the Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos do Porto (STCP). There’s the metro, buses, and even old wooden trams (kinda like those you see in Lisbon).
With more than 75 STCP bus routes, six metro lines, and 3 historic tram lines (Line 1, Line 18, and Line 22), you certainly have lots of options! I recommend using the metro as it’s by far the easiest for first time visitors to the city. The bus lines can be kinda confusing and the trams are more expensive.
You can buy a Porto Card that gives you access to unlimited transportation on the metro, buses, and funiculars, in addition to discounts on popular attractions. If you’re planning to use public transport a lot as well as check out Porto’s best paid sites, you may save a few euros. Note that Porto Cards are not accepted on the historic tram lines.
If you don’t purchase a Porto Card, you’ll need to buy a rechargeable blue Andante card to use the metro. Thankfully, one-way fares start at only 1.20euros; they vary in price depending on how many zones you travel through.
Remember – you must validate your card whenever you enter a station or when transferring lines! Find more info on the Porto metro here.
Yes, there are plenty of ride-sharing apps available in Porto! These include Uber, Bolt, and FREENOW (Portugal’s cheaper version of Uber). If you’re planning to use any, I recommend downloading them to your phone in advance.
Honestly, I kinda just walked everywhere in Porto. The streets are not designed for heavy vehicle traffic, and the roads are tiny and windy. I wouldn’t plan to use many taxis/Ubers during your 3 days in Porto. It’s probably easier (and maybe even faster) to just walk.
But just know Uber, Bolt, and FREENOW are readily available in case you find yourself needing one.
When to Plan Your 3 Day Porto Itinerary (Weather and Crowds)
Overall, unlike other parts of Portugal, Porto experiences a super moderate and mild climate. Meaning it’s never crazy, crazy cold, and never scorching hot (thankfully). If you’re looking for some sunshine, plan a visit anytime between May and September, as you can bet on some rain the other months of the year.
If you’ve got max flexibility, try and visit Porto on a weekday. Weekends are always way busier, no matter if it’s summer or winter.
Summer (High Season – June to September)
Everyone wants to visit Porto in the summer months, and it’s easy to see why. The temps are high (yet bearable with highs around 75°F/25°C) and there seems to be a constant breeze from the river.
The weather is beautiful, there’s a bunch of fun open-air festivals (like Nos Primavera Sound, Regata dos Barcos Rabelos, and the Porto Wine Fest), and it’s hot enough to sunbathe at the nearby beaches. Plus the sun doesn’t set until around 9:30pm, so you’ve got plenty of time to explore during the day.
Note that accommodation and flights will surely be more expensive (so book early!), and know that it’ll be way more crowded this time of year. You may need to make reservations at top restaurants as well.
For reference, I visited Porto in the beginning of August, and had gloriously sunny and warm weather. I was surprised that I had to wear a light jacket once the sun went down though! Sure beats the intense heat in Lisbon and the Algarve.
Spring/Fall (Shoulder Seasons – March to May and October)
While the temps will be super pleasant this time of year, expect some rain showers during both spring and fall (although way less so than in the winter).
In my opinion, the best season to visit Porto is during one of the shoulder seasons – late spring (May to early June) or early autumn (late September to early October). There’s less tourists visiting the city, the weather is still mild (temps in the mid to high 60s°F), and flights/hotels are a bit less expensive than summer.
Two benefits to fall: 1. The fall colors along the Douro River are absolutely spectacular, and 2. It’s grape-harvest season at wineries in the Douro Valley (meaning you can see the wine-making and grape-stomping in action).
Winter (Low Season – November to February)
If you don’t mind cold, rainy days and wanna score some cheap accommodations/flights, winter is your best bet. Just don’t visit in December, the city’s wettest month (it rains more than it doesn’t)! January is the coldest month in Porto, although temps hardly fall below 40°F (5°C), even at night.
Weather in winter is super tricky – you may get a misty morning, a sunny afternoon, and a dreadfully cold night. Plan to dress in layers that you can easily remove/add as the day goes on.
Honestly, I wouldn’t plan to spend my 3 days in Porto during the rainy winter season. I feel like you’d miss out on so much of the city’s charm by running inside all the time. And the views, ugh you’d miss those gorgeous sunny views!
How Long to Spend in Porto
Is 3 days in Porto enough? I totally think so! The city is pretty compact, and you can easily see all the main highlights in just two. Including exploring all the main sites, seeing a Fado show, tasting some port wine over in Vila Nova de Gaia, and checking out plenty of amazing viewpoints.
But I highly recommend adding a third day to your Porto itinerary so you can tack on a day trip!
If you only have one full day in Porto, you can probably squeeze in a whole bunch of attractions. BUT it’ll feel extremely rushed. Porto, like Port wine, is meant to be savored, so I recommend at least 2 full days to see this historic little city.
Where to Stay in Porto
If this is your first time to Porto, you’ll wanna base yourself somewhere pretty central.
Most tourists prefer to stay in Ribeira (the gorgeous riverside district), Baixa/Se (super central and near lots of public transit), or Bolhão/Santo Ildefonso (along the shopping street of Rua de Santa Catarina).
Thankfully, Porto is pretty small and you can walk from neighborhood to neighborhood quite easily.
When doing my research on Porto accommodations, I found way more apartments than typical hotels in the city center. Because of this, I opted for a managed apartment that felt like a hotel – someone at check-in, daily cleaning service (if I wanted it), and a swanky common space.
Ribeira is easily Porto’s prettiest waterfront neighborhood with fantastic views of Dom Luís I Bridge and Vila Nova de Gaia. It’s known for its colorful, historic houses and tiny, windy alleyways all leading to the Douro River.
Expect tons of charm and interesting corners, and plan to get lost a bit – there’s no escaping it! There’s a reason it’s the most popular neighborhood to stay in Porto.
Do note that Ribeira is located at the bottom of a hill near the river, meaning you’ll need to work those glutes to reach most of the other attractions during your 3 days in Porto. Not the worst thing, but you’ll probably get a bit tired from all that uphill walking, especially in the height of summer.
Recommended hotels in Ribeira:
- Pestana Vintage Porto Hotel: a luxury 5 star hotel with comfy and spacious rooms (decked out in great decor) and views of the Douro River!
- Manor House Porto: set in a historic old stone building with the best garden (complete with fruit trees!) overlooking the bridge and river. The perfect place to relax after a busy morning!
- Mo House: a classic design with large French doors and wrought-iron balconies overlooking the Douro River of course. One of the favorites in Ribeira.
Baixa is Porto’s downtown area and it’ll undoubtedly be crowded, but you’ll be close to all the action! It’s super central and close to many of the attractions you’ll be visiting on this 3 day Porto itinerary, including Avenida dos Aliados, São Bento railway station, Rua das Flores, Clerigos Church and Tower, and the crazy popular Lello bookshop.
If you’re into nightlife, you’ll be pleased to know that this area has the city’s liveliest nightlife.
Recommended hotels in Baixa and Sé (Downtown Porto)
- Torel 1884 Suites and Apartments: With eclectic old world furnishings and apartments overlooking Rua de Flores, you can’t beat this hotel! Plus, it’s super close to the Sao Bento Train Station.
- M Maison Particulière: Located in a 16th-century building in Old Town Porto, I swear a stay here has the classic feel of a Paris hotel! The decor is just timeless!
- Maison Albar Hotels Le Monumental Palace: Located in a renovated historic building from 1923, with beautiful design elements. Plus an unbelievable indoor swimming pool – just take a look at the photos, whoa!
Bolhao is another neighborhood in Porto that I recommend staying in. This is where you’ll find the shopping street of Rua Santa Catarina, the famous Chapel of Souls, and the Mercado do Bolhão.
It’s where I stayed after all, and I loved this location! The hotels and apartments are a bit cheaper than in nearby Ribeira and Baixa, and you can still walk everywhere.
I chose to stay at this cute apartment in Bolhao, and I honestly never wanted to leave! It was just so cute!
Recommended hotels in Bolhao:
- Grande Hotel do Porto: A romantic atmosphere and a rooftop terrace with panoramic Porto views – what else could you want? Quite a gem and not noisy at all despite being on the main shopping street.
- Bloom House by Sweet Porto: This is where I stayed, and I was obsessed. The space was just so cute and cozy, and the staff was so helpful (plus the apartment wasn’t expensive at all)! It’s located right on Rua Santa Catarina, down the block from the Chapel of Souls.
Vila Nova de Gaia
If this is the first time you’re spending 3 days in Porto, I honestly don’t recommend staying in Vila Nova de Gaia. While this neighborhood has some gorgeous views, it’s on the opposite side of the Douro River and is actually considered a different city! Getting to the main attractions and using public transport will be a bit tougher from here.
However, if you want a more local feel and have a feeling you’ll be taking full advantage of the Port Houses, consider a stay here. And OMG The Yeatman looks all kinds of amazing…
Recommended hotels in Gaia:
- The Yeatman: The wine hotel’s luxury spa has a large pool with the most amazing panoramic views of Porto. The whole space is super chic and elegant (where I’d choose to stay with my husband!)
- Caléway Hotel: Old stone architecture meets modern clean lines. Not far from both the Gaia Cable Car and D. Luis I Bridge.
Additional Porto Itinerary FAQs
Currency: Like in most other European countries, the currency of Portugal (including Porto) is the euro. Don’t expect to use dollars or pounds (or any other currency) here.
Porto is one of the cheapest cities in Western Europe, although it’s definitely increasing in price as the city gets more popular— so go now! Coming from an expensive city like San Francisco, hardly anything felt overpriced.
Language: The official language in Portugal is Portuguese, which has some similarities to Spanish but is also very different. They’re two different languages afterall!
Don’t expect locals to completely understand you if you’re speaking Spanish. Although having some knowledge of Spanish will definitely help in Portugal as some words are quite similar.
With that being said, I was surprised at just how many locals knew an impressive amount of English. Because of that, I was able to communicate quite easily during my 3 days in Porto.
Hotel and restaurant staff would always begin communicating in Portuguese, and then switch to English once I stated “Eu não falo português, inglês, por favor”. I found that in general, no one was upset that I didn’t understand/speak Portuguese, and they were more than happy to switch to English. They’re very friendly people!
A few locals I ran into didn’t speak much if any English at all – mainly drivers, old-school restaurants, and the older generation.
However, I always love learning a few important words in the local language (plus, it’s the respectful thing to do as well):
- hello/hi: Olá/oi
- bye: Tchau (pronounced like Ciao!)
- thank you: Obrigada
- please: Por favor
- you’re welcome: De Nada
- good morning: Bom dia
- good afternoon: Boa tarde
- good evening: Boa noite
- bathroom: banheiro
- yes: sim
- no: não
- I don’t speak Portugese: eu não falo português
- More wine, please!: mais vinho, por favor
Port Wine: Be careful with Port! It’s got a high alcohol content (20%!) yet so super easy to drink. And it’s loaded with sugar…. all components for a nasty hangover. Know your limit and stick to your boundaries (I never have more than 2 drinks, no matter what – especially when I’m traveling solo).
Visiting Portugal soon? You’ll probably love these other articles about the country:
- 10 Days in Portugal: The All-Time Best Itinerary Out There
- The Magical Fairytale Land of Sintra
- 3 Days in Lisbon, Portugal (All My Favorite Spots)
Best 3 Days in Porto Itinerary
Day 1: Downtown (Baixa) and Bolhao
On the first day of your 3 day Porto itinerary, you’ll be exploring the main downtown areas of Porto – Baixa and Bolhao. If you wanna see everything on the list, prepare for an early morning start, grab an egg tart or two, and hit the ground running.
You can either check out the two neighborhoods yourself, or on a walking tour. While I love wandering around a new city myself, sometimes it’s nice to follow a local around and actually learn something (instead of just admiring all the pretty architecture).
This 3-hour walking tour takes you to all the main monuments (like Sao Bento train station, Livraria Lello, Aliados Avenue, etc), while delving out SO MUCH interesting info about Porto and its history.
Harry Potter fans rejoice – this is thought to be THE place and major inspiration for JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. And what a beautiful bookstore it is – with its Gothic style interior, dramatic red staircase leading to the second floor, and large stained glass windows.
Although Rowling later actually crushed her bright-eyed fans and said she has never even been to the bookstore before, haha…
Regardless, there’s a reason it’s often called the most beautiful library in the world. And yes, this means the crowds follow. Aim to arrive before opening, and you might still even encounter a line!
You decide if you wanna spend a few hours waiting to go inside … or not. I chose to skip it, because I heard it was just crazy crowded inside and the line was literally down the block. Trust me, the place is tiny and you’ll feel claustrophobic from the crowds no matter when you go.
With only 3 days in Porto, I decided to admire the exterior, said goodbye to the literal thousands of people waiting, and moved on to the other attractions nearby.
Die-hard Harry Potter fans: If you have your heart set on marveling at the interior (hey, I get it, I really do), there’s another way!!!
Skip-the-line tickets to Livraria Lello! BOOK THIS TOUR, and you’ll get access to the bookstore without waiting in line! If I knew about this ahead of time I think I would have signed up for the tour for this reason alone!
Don’t believe me? Read the reviews – guests state they completely passed the massive line and went right in! No reason to waste precious time if you’ve only got 3 days in Porto. If you don’t get skip-the-line-tickets ahead of time you’ll need to stand in not one, but two different lines. First line is to purchase a ticket, then the second is to show your ticket to actually get inside.
Igreja dos Clérigos and climb up the Clérigos Bell Tower
Igreja dos Clérigos is a gorgeous Baroque church that’s a true icon of the city, built way back in 1732. While the church’s facade is full of interesting Baroque symbols, its main draw is the panoramic views of Porto at the top of Clerigos Tower.
Prepare to climb about 200 steps or so – a good way to work off that Francesinha you’ll be eating for lunch! I don’t always go inside churches, but this is one you definitely don’t wanna miss.
From up here, expect a phenomenal bird’s eye view of both Old Town and the Douro River. Simply stunning, and a great way to orient yourself to Porto on your first day in the city.
Definitely book your skip-the-line ticket to the tower ahead of time (only $6), as I walked past tons of people waiting in line. And with only 3 days in Porto, you don’t wanna waste any precious time.
The Twin Churches: Igreja Carmo & Igreja Carmelitas
Your first official sighting of those famous blue and white tiles Porto is so well known for! This 18th century baroque-rococo twin-church is one of the oldest buildings in the historic part of Porto, and I just loved it – the exterior at least.
I was short on time so didn’t make it inside, but I heard it’s got an amazing Portuguese “stairway to heaven” altar.
Psst — I wrote an entire post on where to see the gorgeous blue azulejos in Porto! Check that out if you’re looking for all the best spots!
Sao Bento Railway Station
You may have already been here (it’s where most trains into Porto arrive), but if you haven’t, don’t miss Sao Bento Station!
The station is decorated with traditional Portuguese azulejo tiles – easily the most beautiful train station in the world! Because of this, it’s typically pretty crowded (especially when large tour groups arrive). Wait around a few minutes and they’ll clear out.
Indulge in a Francesinha
Finally, time for lunch! And I hope you’re hungry, because a francesinha (a famous Portuguese sandwich) is on the menu. Now, I know what you’re thinking. A sandwich? C’mon, there’s gotta be better food.
But a francesinha (pronounced fran·se·si·nhuh) isn’t your regular ol’ sandwich. Imagine thick bread with ham, sausage, steak, and cheese – all smothered in a creamy tomato beer sauce and topped with an over-easy egg. It’s kinda like Portugal’s version of the French croque monsieur, but way heavier.
Yes, it very well may induce a heart attack, but that’s why you’re walking everywhere in Porto (right…?). I highly recommend Brasao Restaurant, but try to make a reservation in advance as they get pretty busy! Was it worth all the calories? Heck yes, but I couldn’t even finish half of it – I was so full (great to split with a friend though).
After a busy, busy morning/early afternoon, the second half of the day will be a bit more relaxing. Walk over to the Bolhao neighborhood, and stroll down Rua Santa Catarina – Porto’s main shopping street. There’s lots of main sites right on this street, so you can see a lot in a short period of time.
Fabrica de Nata and/or Manteigaria
Fuel up for the afternoon with some of the best pasteis de nata in Porto, Portugal’s famous egg tart. Both Fabrica de Nata and Manteigaria are super popular with some of the best custard egg tarts in town.
You’ve probably already had a few in Lisbon, but you’ll see – no amount of pasteis de nata is ever enough. I typically get fresh squeezed orange juice as well – so sweet and only a few euros (way cheaper than any fresh juice in the states).
Read Next: All My Favorite Pastel de Nata in Porto (yes, I did some research… haha)
Rua Santa Catarina
Take a walk down Rua de Santa Catarina – Porto’s main shopping street! There’s lots to see here, from local boutiques and international shops (like Zara!), to the Chapel of Souls and Majestic Cafe.
It’s super stylish and romantic and there’s always tons going on. As my hotel was right on Santa Catarina, I spent a lot of time on this street!
Chapel of Souls (Chapel of Santa Catarina)
You’re in Porto – you’re gonna see lots and lots of beautiful tilework! But the Chapel of Souls is by far superior – there’s a reason it’s famous for its magnificent exterior of 16,000(!!!) blue & white tiles. It’s just so, so pretty!
The tiles depict the death of St Francis of Assisi and the martyrdom of Santa Catarina. You can look inside if you want, but in my opinion, the real beauty is on the outside. My apartment was literally down the block, so I came here to admire the tiles all 3 days I was in Porto!
Mercado do Bolhão
Being only one block away from the famed Chapel of Souls, make a quick stop here at the market (open since 1839). The market has five floors full of fishmongers, butchers, farmers, and fruit sellers offering all the seasonal specialities.
During my visit to Porto, the market was undergoing much-needed renovations, so was unfortunately closed. It’s set to open again in September 2022. Fingers crossed its back open for you!
This is where J.K. Rowling supposedly worked on her Harry Potter books, with chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and a gorgeous Belle Epoque atmosphere. Easily one of the most beautiful cafes in the world – meaning, yes, prices will be inflated.
BUT it’s where J.K. Rowling hung out!!! The Harry Potter premiums are more than worth it (in my opinion). Grab a coffee and hang out for a bit. If you don’t feel like sitting and just wanna check out the architecture, you can quickly take a sneak peek.
Church of Saint Ildefonso
Another church – yes I understand it’s the third one of the day, haha. If you’re on the hunt for classic blue and white azulejos (like I was!), don’t miss this 18th century church – there’s over 11,000 tiles! It’s not hard to find; just down the street from the Majestic Cafe (told you most things are super close together over here).
I mean, just look at the front of that church – those tiles are absolutely striking! You can take a peek inside but you’ll need to pay a few euros to properly explore the interior.
Gazela for famous Portuguese hot dogs
Time for a snack! Try a cachorrinhos, a famous Portuguese hot dog, covered with cheese and spices. Nope, not your typical hot dog! Get the fries, too – they were delicious. If it’s good enough for Anthony Bourdain, it’s good enough for me! They’ve even got a photo of him on the wall!
Plus, there’s always tons of locals here. I had such a fun time with the staff, sitting on the bar stools sipping some vinho verde and munching on my sausage.
Miradouro das Fontainhas
I swear this is the secret viewpoint no one tells you about! I kinda stumbled upon it on my first day, and lemme tell you, it was one of the most breathtaking sites I’ve ever seen. You’ll be going across the river on Day 2 of this 3 day Porto itinerary, so feel free to take it easy tonight. Bring a few beers or a bottle of wine, and just soak up those Porto views.
I found even more viewpoints while walking from Miradouro das Fontainhas to Luis I Bridge. You can cross over if you’d like but you’ll be doing that tomorrow!
Note: I visited Miradouro das Fontainhas during the day. I’m not so sure I’d head over there as a solo female traveler once the sun sets – I saw a bunch of local drunk men and felt a little uneasy at times, and that was in pure daylight. Best to go with a friend or your significant other come nightfall!
Dinner at Casa Guedes Tradicional
Time to try another Porto speciality – the Sande de Pernil. It’s got slow-roasted pork with sheep cheese and savory sauce. Casa Guedes Tradicional is no-thrills, no-nonsense, traditional, local food. And the prices can’t be beat. Great for a quick bite after a long day of exploring!
Day 2: Ribeira and Vila Nova de Gaia
Day 2 of this 3 day Porto itinerary includes the picturesque neighborhood of Ribeira, a cruise on the Douro River, as well as some port tasting over in Gaia. FYI – you’ll wanna book your port tasting in advance as most are by-reservation only.
Ribeira is an old picturesque neighborhood in the heart of Old Town Porto, even designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996.
It’s one of the most authentic and liveliest areas of Porto, with colorful 18th-century townhouses lining the cobblestoned streets, tons of waterfront restaurants serving grilled sardines, and tiny wine bars with great views of the bridge and river.
I loved wandering around Ribeira, finding secret corners and hidden gems down the tiny alleyways. It’s a great place to get lost – kinda like in the Alfama District in Lisbon!
Walk down Rua das Flores
No visit to Porto would be complete without a walk down Rua das Flores. This 500 year old street is lined with chic cafes, souvenir shops, hip boutiques, and tasty restaurants.
Stop at Chocolataria das Flores for some chocolate cake if you’re hungry – I had a delicious iced coffee and some cake here! Be sure to notice the wrought-iron balconies and tile work on the buildings – absolutely stunning!
Looking for another nice street to wander down? Check out Rua da Bainharia, another very pretty street in the Ribeira area of Porto.
Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto)
Next up on this Porto itinerary – the Se do Porto! This romanesque cathedral sits high up on a hill and you get such a gorgeous view of Porto from here! And it totally looks like a fort or castle from the outside. Inside, don’t miss the famous cloisters with their beautiful blue tiles.
Miradouro da Vitória
Get one of the best views in town here at Miradouro da Vitória. Unlike Lisbon, Porto doesn’t have many miradouros, but this viewpoint is just perfect. Gives you a great perspective of Porto and the entire region. This’ll likely just be a quick stop to take some photos.
It’s a bit tricky to find (and honestly in kinda a dilapidated area), but wander down the narrow streets of Old Porto and you’ll find it! Or use a map – that’ll make it that much easier!
→ Looking for another viewpoint in Ribeira? Check out Miradouro da Rua das Aldas – this was one of my favorite viewpoints in Porto (despite needing to walk up oh so many steps to reach it)! It’s a great stop before/after visiting the Porto Cathedral.
Stroll along Cais da Ribeira
Once you make your way down the hill, take a stroll along Cais da Ribeira, Porto’s own riverside promenade. From here you’ll be able to take a cruise on the Douro River and have some lunch! If you’re visiting later on in the day, note that it’s exceptionally busy at night (I visited at night, hence the pastel sky and hordes of people).
Definitely stop here if you need a relaxing hour or two – great for people watching and drinking wine!
Tip: If you’re super into Portuguese history and ornate buildings, check out the Monument Church of St. Francis (the most prominent Gothic monument in Porto) and Bolsa Palace (the interior rooms are absolutely outstanding)! Both are not far from the waterfront.
Lunch at Escondidinho do Barredo
Get that authentic Portuguese foodie experience here! The place is cozy and traditional, and the food is made by the cutest Portuguese grandmas right at the entrance to the dining room (if you even wanna call it that). It’s been in the same family for 3 generations, and is definitely more of a locals place.
Here you’ll find delicious freshly cooked tapas-style food, and always a long wait (with lines usually out the door). But I promise it’s worth it for those fantastic traditional dishes. Try some sardines, octopus (prato de polvo), tronchas, meat croquetas (my favorite!!!!!), cod croquetas, and bolinhos de bacalhau. All so delicious!
You’ll need to pull it up on Google Maps as the restaurant is kinda hidden – I don’t even think there’s a sign for it at all! They don’t accept credit cards, so make sure you bring cash.
Six Bridges Cruise
Get ready – a sail down the sparkling Douro river is next up on this Porto itinerary. It’s one of those super touristy things to do during your 3 days in Porto that’s actually cool.
And it’s one of the most classic things to do in Porto, meaning you can’t miss it! There’s a reason the Six Bridges Cruise has almost 1500 positive reviews!
You’ll see the beautiful landscapes and red-roofed buildings of both Ribeira and Vila Nova de Gaia from the water – a different perspective than on land. The guide will give loads of info about the historic bridges that connect Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. And yes, the boat will glide under them!
When you buy your ticket, you’ll need to decide what day you wanna go. But the tickets are not timed – meaning you can head down to the waterfront and hop on a boat whatever time you like between 11am and 4pm.
The Six Bridges Cruises last for about 50 minutes. Remember to exchange your mobile ticket confirmation for a paper ticket (which you’ll need).
Psst – you can actually board the boat from either Cais da Ribeira or Cais de Estiva (both in Ribeira) or across the bridge in Vila Nova de Gaia. So pick whichever pick up spot fits your schedule best!
Vila Nova de Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia (or simply Gaia), isn’t even in Porto itself. But it simply shouldn’t be missed on any 3 days in Porto! It’s located across the river from Porto, and you actually need to cross the bridge to reach it.
Walk across Luis I Bridge
A true icon of the city! If there’s a reason you’re thinking it resembles the Eiffel Tower you’re not wrong – the same architect designed the two structures! The Luis I Bridge connects Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia, the next area we’ll be exploring!
Walk on over (it only takes about 10 minutes or so), on either the lower or upper level. And make sure to admire the views – absolutely amazing.
Gaia is known for one thing and one thing only – port wine! This is where ALL the port wine in the WORLD originates – how wild! Naturally, there’s plenty of cellars and historic port houses offering tours and tastings of the sweet stuff. A must on any Porto itinerary!
All the popular Port wine cellars are located across the river in Gaia, which is why you just crossed the bridge! There’s a whole bunch, including Graham’s Port Lodge, Sandemans, Calem, Taylor’s Port, Burmester, etc. So many to pick from.
If you’re following this 3 day Porto itinerary to a T, you’ll wanna make reservations for the latest possible time slot, typically around 4pm or so. I got on a 4:30pm cave and winery tour at Sandemans, and it was perfect because I then stayed in Vila Nova de Gaia for the rest of the evening.
Note: Visiting outside of summer? Be sure to check sunset times and make sure your Port tour is at least an hour and a half beforehand. You don’t wanna be inside the cellar while the sun is setting on the river!
There’s quite a few Port houses – pick one that sounds the most interesting to you (or that has availability… the tours do fill up fast in the busy summer season). Most tours are only 45 minutes to an hour or so, which is perfect if you’ve got lots of other must-do’s on your Porto itinerary. Here’s a few options to choose from:
- Graham’s Port Lodge Tour + Tasting
- Cálem Cellar with Chocolate, Cheese, and Wine Tasting
- Cálem Tour + Tasting, plus interactive museum
- Burmester Cellar Tour
If you’d rather head out on a walking and wine tour instead (or in addition to), these sound right up my alley:
- Port Wine Walking Tour with 11 Tastings: Yes, you read that right. ELEVEN tastings! The perfect tour for the die-hard port lover.
- Cálem Cellar Tour, Fado Show & Wine Tasting: This tour not only gives you a complete tour of the Calem Cellar (plus wine tasting of course), but also includes a Fado Show!
I’m not a huge wine drinker, although I found myself fascinated with the process of making Port wine. Those barrels were huge, and we even saw a few that are over a few hundred years old. I even fell in love with Tawny, one of the three types of Port wine I tasted on my tour. Whenever I see a glass of tawny being offered in restaurants in the states, it brings me right back to my time in Porto!
Dinner in Gaia/Walk along the riverfront
There’s a whole bunch of restaurants over here, each with views of the Douro River and famous Luis I Bridge. A few that got super high reviews are: DeCastro Gaia (ask for a table near the window), Taberninha do Manel (authentic Portuguese food), and Tempero d’Maria (get the grilled octopus dish!).
Before/after your dinner, take a walk along the riverfront. You’ll find plenty of cafes and restaurants. I stopped for a drink (fresh lemonade with real sugar cubes… yum) and loved people watching and admiring the rabelo boats passing by under the bridge.
If you’re into eclectic artwork, check out the nearby “Half Rabbit” piece by Bordalo II. It’s essentially a giant rabbit sculpture made out of recycled materials on the corner of a building a few blocks from the waterfront.
Watch the sunset
You don’t wanna miss a Porto sunset. Golden hour over the city is legendary, especially from Vila Nova de Gaia (you get to see the Douro River and Riberia’s colorful waterfront). Nothing more spectacular in my book! Everyone says the best part of Gaia isn’t even in Gaia itself – it’s the view over to Porto! Here’s two spots I recommend:
- Jardim do Morro: Super touristy, but for a reason! Take the cable car up to this garden and you’ll find live performers and a really good time!
- Rooftop bar of Espaço Porto Cruz: Such a fun atmosphere and the drinks/wine are so good. And the views of the river and Porto are some of the best. Easily the best spot in Gaia to watch the sunset with a glass of port in hand. I had such a good time up here!
From either, you can watch vintage rabelo boats cruise under the giant Dom Luis I bridge, sip a few cocktails (highly recommend trying a porto tonico – a cocktail mixed with tonic water and port wine!), and just bathe in that beautiful evening light. Ohhh Porto, I miss you so.
Porto Itinerary Day 3: Day trip from Porto
It’s day 3 of your 3 days in Porto! And it’s time to get outta the city.
There’s quite a few trips from Porto you can take, but the most popular are Douro Valley and a combo of Aveiro and Costa Nova. If you really wanna do both day trips (hey, I get it, they’re super different and both wildly impressive), you’ll need to spend another day in Porto.
Option 1: Aveiro and Costa Nova
Striped fishermen houses, art nouveau buildings, ovos moles egg pastries, colorful moliceiro boats on the Ria de Aveiro, and long sandy shorelines. That’s what a day trip to Costa Nova and Aveiro will be!
Ever since I saw photos of the colorful wooden houses in Costa Nova I instantly wanted to go, so I was thrilled when I finally made it there this summer. And you bet I took way too many of my own photos of the colorful striped fisherman homes – how could I not, just look at them!
Aveiro is such a pretty Portuguese city and I wish I had longer to explore! Don’t miss a wander around town, admiring the art nouveau architecture, taking a ride on a painted traditional moliceiro boat, and stopping for a famous ovos moles at M1882 – Ovos Moles de Aveiro (easily the best spot in town).
How to Get to Aveiro and Costa Nova from Porto:
Train: There’s a direct train straight from Porto Campanha to Aveiro, taking roughly an hour or so. If you wanna get from Aveiro to Costa Nova, I’d call an Uber/Bolt as the ride is only about 15 minutes and it’ll be pretty cheap! You can also take the Transdev bus (L5951) which will take you to Costa Nova in about 40 minutes.
Guided Day Tour: Don’t wanna worry about the train and then an extra Uber ride? Consider joining a group tour! This half-day tour (here’s the exact one that I took!) spent the first part of the morning in Costa Nova, then drove us over to Aveiro for a boat ride and some free time.
While I wish the tour was longer and we had more time to explore, I appreciated getting back to Porto on the earlier side (so I could stuff my face with another Francesinha, haha).
Option 2: Douro Valley
A trip to the Douro Wine Valley is one of the most popular day trips from Porto! While I’m kicking myself I didn’t make it here myself, it’s already on my list for next time.
Imagine sipping some of the finest port wine from family-run vineyards, admiring views of the sweeping valleys and cliffside roads below, and soaking in the sunshine.
The Douro Valley is one of the world’s best known wine regions (kinda like Napa Valley near me in San Francisco!). It’s actually a protected UNESCO site and is even known as the birthplace of port wine!
How to Get to the Douro Valley:
Guided Group Tour: If this is your first time to the region, I HIGHLY recommend jumping on a guided tour. This is the most convenient option, and with only one day to explore the Douro Valley, you wanna make sure you do it right!
Most guided day tours include transport from Porto, lunch, tasting some of Douro’s finest Port wine, and even floating along the Douro River in a traditional Portuguese Rabelo boat. There’s lots (and lots) of tours to choose from, but I recommend this tour (you also get to taste olive oil!) and this tour (with over 900 positive reviews)!
Train: You can catch a train to one of the main towns of the region, then take a taxi/ride share to a few vineyards. Take the Douro Line train to Pinhao, Tua, or Pocinho (all in the Douro Valley). Most people visit Pinhao, the most popular Douro Valley stop and one of the most scenic.
Drive: If you’re planning to do a bit of wine tasting (which you totally should – that’s the main draw of the region), I don’t recommend driving. Or assign someone to be DD (please be safe!). Plus, if you’re not familiar with the area, it can be hard to know where to stop as the region is kinda spread out.
Hope this helps you plan the best Porto itinerary possible! When are you spending 3 days in Porto, Portugal?!