3 Days in Porto – the Ultimate Portugal City Break
Planning your next city break to Portugal? Let this be your guide to the ideal 3 days in Porto.
Porto is undeniably scenic, especially as you look across the Douro River to the historic centre built on a hillside. It’s the kind of city that grows on you. Little by little as you explore on foot through the alley-woven streets.
So, will you want to stay longer? Absolutely, you will. But you can see a lot of Porto in 3 days. That’s what makes this city an ideal city break. This 3 day Porto itinerary is completely flexible. Depending on how many days in Porto you might have, pick any combination that suits you – (Day 1-2, 2-2, or 1-3) which easily adjusts this itinerary for spending 2 days in Porto.
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How Many Days do You Need in Porto
Porto is Portugal’s second city – the second largest behind Lisbon. And those second cities are often under the radar for most travellers. For the past several years Lisbon has been considered one of the hottest destinations in Europe, and now Porto is emerging to that top spot too.
Being a small, compact city means it’s possible to pack a lot of its main attractions into a couple of days, leaving time for a must-see day trip from Porto to Douro Valley.
3 Days in Porto – Your At-A-Glance Itinerary
Day 1: Sightseeing in Ribeira and Baixa
When you visit Porto in 3 days you’re going to be spending most of your time in three key neighbourhoods – Ribeira, Baixa and Vila Nova de Gaia.
The heart of Porto’s sightseeing is the Ribeira and Baixa neighbourhoods. This is the historic centre of Porto and the area designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. There is a lot to see in these two neighbourhoods.
Depending on your interests – you may gravitate to some sites more than others. For example, if you love to visit churches (and there are a lot of them), you may have to skip some of the other sites in order to squeeze them all in. If your three days in Porto happen to be in peak travel season you might need more time at these sites due to crowds.
Day 1 is completely flexible. Choose what interests you and have fun exploring these two neighbourhoods.
Historic City Centre Walking Tour
A good way to get a lay of the land, interact with a local, and hear about the history and stories of Porto is to join a walking tour. This will not only help you become familiar with the streets and location of the sites but will give you some ideas about what to return to after the tour. Start your first day by joining this top-rated 3-hour tour here.
Clerigos Tower and Church
Clérigos Tower is a must-see in Porto. It’s hard to miss it as it’s the highest tower in the city. The tower is attached to the 1763 Clérigos Church.
Climb the 225 steps through a few narrow passages, past the bells to the outdoor viewing area where you’ll have a 360-degree view of the city below.
- Address: rua de Sao Filipe de Nery
- Opening hours: open daily from 9am to 7pm
- Cost: €9.50
- Tip: as one of the most popular sites to visit in Porto, you’ll want to book your tickets in advance to avoid waiting in long lines. Click here for your exclusive skip-the-line using a separate entrance
- Sites nearby: combine this with Livraria Lello bookstore, rua da Galeria de Paris a notable street full of Art Nouveau architecture, and side-by-side churches of Carmo and Carmelitas Descalços
Known as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world – they are right!
The Livraria Lello building, from 1906, is designed in a neo-Gothic style and is rumoured to play a role in the inspiration for J.K. Rowling to write Harry Potter.
Take your time here, as the details are incredible. From the curved staircase to the intricate wood-carved bookshelves to the stained glass ceiling, this bookstore is jaw-dropping!
Then there are the books! Rare books, manuscripts, the classics, children’s books – there’s a book for everyone.
- Address: 144 Rua das Carmelitas
- Opening hours: open daily 9:30am-7pm
- Cost: €5 online entry fee or €6 walk-in (which goes toward a book purchase)
- Tip: expect long lines (for both options online booking and walk-in during peak travel season)
- Sites nearby: combine this with Clerigos Tower and Church, rua da Galeria de Paris a notable street full of Art Nouveau architecture, and side-by-side churches of Carmo and Carmelitas Descalços
Sao Bento Train Station
I know what you’re thinking – is a train station really a recommended site to visit? Well, it is! Large panels of blue azulejos tiles cover the entire walls of the station’s wall.
There are approximately 20,000 tiles, dating from 1905-1916, all telling the story of Portugal’s history.
- Address: Praça de Almeida Garrett
- Opening hours: open daily 24/7
- Cost: FREE
- Tip: hidden gem alert! Very close by walk up the steep street called rua do Corpo da Guarda leading you to the ancient street of rua dos Pelames – it’s a scenic street for a photo op
- Sites nearby: combine this with Clerigos Tower and Church, Church Saint Ildefonso, Majestic Cafe – Porto’s oldest and most beautiful cafe, a notable street called Avenida dos Aliados and a large public square in front of City Hall (Câmara Municipal do Porto)
Dual Churches – Carmelitas and Carmo
Side-by-side churches called Igreja dos Carmelitas Descalços (17th century) and Igreja do Carmo (18th century) are among the most beautiful in Porto.
Even if you don’t want to tour the interior, it’s worth adding them to your walking route. The side of the Carmo church is well-known, or well-photographed for the entire side is covered completely in tile.
- Address: rua do Carmo
- Opening hours: open daily 9am – 6pm
- Cost: FREE for the church only | fee for m
- Tips: look for the 3 storey “hidden house” that is only 1 m wide between the two churches, and a 19th-century Roman-style fountain called Fonte dos Leões which makes for a great viewing spot of the two churches
- Sites nearby: combine this with Clerigos Tower and Church
Church of Saint Ildefonso
An impressive 18th-century church with its pretty blue and white tiles on its exterior facade and two bell towers on the sides of the church is definitely eye-catching.
- Address: rua de Santo Ildefonso
- Opening hours: Monday: 3pm-6:30pm, Tuesday to Saturday 9am-12:30pm + 3pm-6pm, Sunday 9am-1pm + 6pm-8pm
- Cost: FREE
- Sites nearby: combine this with Clerigos Tower and Church, Majestic Cafe – Porto’s oldest and most beautiful cafe, a notable street called Avenida dos Aliados and a large public square in front of City Hall (Câmara Municipal do Porto), and the 1839 Mercado do Bolhão market
Chapel of Souls
Chapel of Souls or Capela das Almas also called Saint Catherine Chapel is one of the most photographed churches in Porto due to its facade covered in blue and white tiles. Over 16,000 tiles in fact!
- Address: rua de Santa Catarina
- Opening hours: Monday to Friday 7:30am-6pm, Saturday to Sunday 7:30am-12:30pm and 6pm-7:30pm
- Cost: FREE
- Sites nearby: combine this with Majestic Cafe – Porto’s oldest and most beautiful cafe, a notable street called Avenida dos Aliados and a large public square in front of City Hall (Câmara Municipal do Porto), walk down Santa Catarina street, and the 1839 Mercado do Bolhão market
Saint Francis Church
Ask any local and they will tell you, that their favourite church is Igreja de São Francisco.
Saint Francis church combines two architectural styles Gothic and Baroque and the interior is decorated with golden gilt work of over 300 kg of gold dust used, making this one of the most beautiful churches to see in Porto.
- Address: rua do Infante D Henrique
- Opening hours: November to February open daily 9am-5:30pm, March to October 9am-7pm, July to September 9am-8pm
- Cost: €7.50
- Sites nearby: combine this Bolsa Palace, Mercado Ferreira Borges a historic market from 1880 is now filled with restaurants
The Stock Exchange Palace or Palacio da Bolsa is a 19th-century New-Classical building with impressive interior rooms to tour.
Each of the showcase rooms like the Hall of Nations, Court Room, Jury Room, and General Assembly feature unique and lavish details and architectural styles. The most incredible is the Arab Room with its Moorish Revival style.
- Address: rua Ferreira Borges
- Opening hours: open daily 9:30am-1pm + 2pm-5:30pm
- Cost: €12
- Tip: guided tours are 30 minutes long and booked in order of arrival, OR save your spot by pre-booking here
- Sites nearby: Mercado Ferreira Borges a historic market from 1880 is now filled with restaurants, Saint Francis church, a viewpoint Miradouro da Vitória
Miradouro da Vitória
No matter the time of day, but especially magical at sunrise and sunset, is this viewpoint. Go here to see the city of Porto, especially the Ribeira neighbourhood, the Se Cathedral and Dom Luis I bridge. The location of this viewpoint is in the old Jewish Quarter.
- Address: rua da Vitoria
- Opening hours: open daily 24/7
- Cost: FREE
- Tip: it’s a popular spot for sunrise and sunset watching
- Sites nearby: Bolsa Palace, Mercado Ferreira Borges a historic market from 1880 is now filled with restaurants, Saint Francis church
Rua das Flores
A popular street, and one of the oldest, is lined with cafes, restaurants and shops. It starts close to the Sao Bento train station and ends rua do Infante D Henrique street by Bolsa Palace and Saint Francis Church.
This is a great street to find a restaurant for both lunch and dinner on your first day. And, don’t forget to get your fill of pastel de nata, the creamy custard tarts that you won’t have any trouble finding on this street.
Recommended Restaurants in the Ribeira neighbourhood
- Casario – offers a chef-tasting menu with local wine pairing located in the Grand Cruz hotel which has one of the best restaurant views in Porto (rua de Cima do Moro 61)
- O Buraco – serves traditional Portuguese cuisine eaten in a cozy setting (rua do Bolhão 95)
- Tia Tia – is a vegetarian’s delight with almost all of the menu being plant-based is only open Monday to Friday for breakfast and lunch and Friday and Saturday nights for a dinner (rua do Almada 105)
- Restaurants on rua das Flores include Traça or Catina 32
Day 2 – Exploring Vila Nova de Gaia
The second day in Porto will be spent exploring the Vila Nova de Gaia neighbourhood known for its scenic views of Porto from across the Douro River and some of the best restaurants and of course Port wine.
So, technically this isn’t part of Porto, but it’s so close and has such a villagey feel that most think it’s part of the city. Anyway, ready for another fun-filled day? Let’s go!
Start your day at the city’s oldest and most famous attraction – Porto Cathedral or Sé do Porto. The 12th-century church sits up high giving you stunning views of Porto’s colourful houses and the Douro River.
What makes Porto Cathedral so unique from the other Porto churches is its mixture of Baroque, Romanesque, and Gothic architectural styles. The highlight of visiting the church is the 14th-century cloister which is decorated with tiles.
- Address: Terreiro da Se
- Opening hours: open daily April to October 9m-6:30pm, November to March 9am-5:30pm
- Cost: FREE inside the Porto Cathedral Cloister: €3
Stroll along Cais da Ribeira, the lively promenade, past the riverfront colourful houses of Ribeira. This scenic walk gives you an up-close view of the pastel-coloured houses that are often compared to lego as they are stacked so closely together. Floating on the Douro River you will see the flat-bottomed boats called barcos ravelos that were once used to transport port from Douro Valley.
This is an energetic area filled with traditional taverns serving Porto classics like Francesinha – a sandwich filled with a mixture of meats including ham, steak, and pork, topped with a fried egg, and melted cheese.
Sure, it’s a bit touristy. But don’t let that deter you from exploring it.
Dom Luis I Bridge
Now it’s time to cross the famous Ponte de Dom Luis I bridge to the Gaia neighbourhood. Of Porto’s 6 bridges, the most notable is Dom Luis I Bridge or Ponte de Dom Luís I.
This famous bridge from 1886, is an incredible double-deck metal arch where you can walk along the upper deck for one of the most incredible views of Porto.
Does it remind you of another famous landmark? You’re not wrong, Gustave Eiffel was responsible for creating this bridge before the Eiffel Tower. Was this the inspiration? I think so! The ironwork details of both the Eiffel Tower and the bridge are very similar.
World of Wine (WOW)
WOW, The New Cultural District, known as the World of Wine is a 500,000-sq/ft space that has 7 interactive museums ranging from chocolate to wine to historical artifacts, there’s something for everyone to learn more about.
Then there are the restaurants, bars and cafes – there are 12 in fact! Each one is housed in restored port wine cellars. It’s a foodie’s delight.
- Address: Rua do Choupelo 39
- Opening hours: open daily 10am-7pm
- Cost: FREE, however, the experiences are not free (see below)
- The Wine Experience Museum at WOW – learn the story behind Portugal’s wine industry while sipping on a glass of wine (60-90 minutes)
- Pink Palace at WOW – sip on rosé while touring this fun, instagrammable “pink” museum for the perfect photo op for lovers of all things pink (60-90 minutes)
- Porto Region Across The Ages at WOW – revisit some of the most memorable moments that helped to shape the city of Porto (60-90 minutes)
- The Bridge Collection Museum at WOW – learn about the 9000 years of drinking, the stories and customs told through the drinking vessels (60-90 minutes)
- Planet Cork Museum at WOW – create your own cork stopper as you learn about the world of cork and all its uses across the world (60-90 minutes)
- The Chocolate Story at WOW – see, smell and taste how chocolate is made from bean to bar in the fully operating chocolate factory (60-90 minutes)
- Fashion and Fabric Museum at WOW – learn about the origin of cotton and Portugal´s textile and fashion industry (60-90 minutes)
Port Wine Tasting
Now it’s time for port wine tasting! All of the historic wine cellars and caves can be found in the Vila Nova de Gaia neighbourhood within the WOW district. Cobbled stone streets lead you to these old wine houses to enjoy a Port wine tour, or two.
Here are the most popular and recommended wine-tasting tours in this area, and pre-booking is required.
- Cálem Cellar – tour includes a wine tasting of a white port and a Special Reserve Tawny port while listening to live Fado music show
- Burmester Cellar Tour – tour includes 2-3 wine tastings, plus chocolate pairing
- Fonseca Port Wine Cellars – tour includes a tasting of signature Bin 27 port wine
Dinner at WOW
Stay for dinner and dine at one of the 12 restaurants at WOW. Each restaurant promises a memorable experience from the food to the atmosphere and of course the wine selection. Sommeliers help you select the best wine to pair with your food. Many are local, but you still can find wine from other countries.
For an elevated dining experience with a view of the river, head to 1828. PIP caters to families and is known for having the best pizza in Porto. Root & Vine is my pick for its all-vegetarian menu and it didn’t disappoint.
Sunset Watching at Jardim do Morro
Join the locals in the beautiful park and gardens of Morro where everyone comes at dusk with a blanket to watch the sunset.
Day 3 – Douro Valley Wine Tour
You can’t visit Porto without exploring Douro Valley – the scenic, world-class Port wine-producing area of Portugal. Trust me when I say, this will be a major highlight of your entire trip. It’s a must!
So how does one get to the Douro Valley from Porto? Easy! Take a guided tour that leaves from Porto and enjoy the following activities:
- tour a small picturesque town in Douro Valley
- visit a multi-generational family vineyard that still practices the stomping of the grapes while sipping on their bested aged Port wines
- enjoy a delicious lunch at a restaurant
- learn about the 2,000-year-old Port wine production at a boutique wine-tasting bar
- cruise down the Douro River and enjoy the scenery
I’ve done a lot of guided tours while travelling, and this one is right near the top of my all-time favourites. This was the tour I did Douro Valley Tour with Wine Tasting, Cruise and Lunch, I just know you’ll enjoy it too!
Sunset Watching at Crystal Park
After a long, full, wonderful day in Douro Valley hopefully you still have enough energy to do one last activity. If you do, spend your last evening in the beautiful Jardins do Palacio de Cristal – Crystal gardens. This hilltop garden is a lovely place to stroll under the towering trees making your way to the edge giving you full views of the Douro River and sunset.
Travel Inspiration for Portugal
If you are looking for more travel resources and inspiration for Porto and Portugal, you might also enjoy these featured articles:
- Is Porto Worth Visiting – 17 Reasons Why It Is
- A Douro Valley Wine Tour from Porto
- The Best Neighbourhoods in Lisbon
- Visit the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon
- A day trip from Pena Palace in Sintra
- The historic city of Evora, a day trip from Lisbon
- Baixa House, the place to stay in Lisbon
- Visiting the Alentejo region in Portugal
- Tavira, the beautiful city in the Algarve
- Top beaches in the Algarve
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As a Holidaymaker
I hope you enjoyed this 3 day Porto itinerary. I hope you enjoy your three days in Porto as much as I did.