You’ve got two days to spend in Porto. What should you do? Where should you go? Read along, we’ve got a great itinerary for you.
Porto is best known for azulejos and its namesake, port wine. However, it is often overshadowed by the larger city of Lisbon. When planning our ten day road trip through Portugal, we knew we didn’t want to spend all our time in the cities. Thus, we had to make a choice. Obviously, we opted for Porto, and don’t regret it at all.
Things to Know About Porto
- Many places in Porto do not take cards, which we found slightly odd for a large city. Just make sure you keep some cash on you.
- Porto is compact and easily walkable. Ditch the rental car and explore on foot.
Where to Stay in Porto
There are plenty of great hotel options in Porto. However, we opted to stay in an AirBnB at the northern end of the Baixa area. The location was close to everything, without being in the middle of a huge tourist street. The beautiful apartment was perfectly priced too!
Day 1 in Porto
If you’re planning on following our road trip itinerary, then you’ll be arriving in Porto mid-morning. Return your rental car then take a train to the station nearest your accommodations, which for us was Trinidade Station. From here you can start enjoying your two days in Porto.
By the time we arrived here, it was just nearing the lunch hours.
Luckily, a place we’d already found based on several recommendations was right around the corner. If you are in the area, I would highly suggest Antunes for lunch.
While they offer a full menu full of delicious options, we were only interested in one thing: the pernil assado, a pork knee slow cooked with potatoes, onions, and a variety of spices and herbs. Go here, order this; you will not be disappointed.
Explore the architecture and history of Porto
After fueling up, make your way through the streets toward the river area, taking in the scenery along the way. Be sure to stop at the notable churches and buildings along the way, including walking down the Praca da Liberdade toward the São Bento Train Station.
Stop at the Church of Saõ Francisco, which is worth the small entry fee. Next door, get a ticket for a tour of the Palácio da Bolsa, whose name makes it sound like a palace, when, in fact, it serves more as a government building for notable visitors. The Moorish Room is over the top with its intricate carvings and bright colors, reminiscent of the country’s Islamic heritage.
Walk through the Ribeira Area
Spend an hour or so wandering the river front area, stopping at one of the many spots to grab a cocktail for your walk. As the afternoon settles in, walk across the famous Luís Bridge, to Vila Nova de Gaia. Here you will find all of the port houses, all with tasting rooms and/or rooftop bars or outdoor seating.
Even if port wine isn’t your favorite, you can hardly come to Porto without at least a taste. Pick a spot and enjoy a glass (or two). We ended up at Espaco Porto Cruz. It has a trendy rooftop with awesome views over the city of Porto.
Sunset in Vila Nova de Gaia
As sunset draws near, walk over to Parque Jardim do Morro. This is where all the locals gather to watch the sunset, and it was a pretty lively Friday when we were there. From here you’ll be facing the sun, but you will get a view back over to the Porto side of the river.
After sunset, walk back across the bridge and into the city for a casual dinner. I would suggest finding somewhere to try the infamous Francesinha. There are so many places with “the best”, but seeing as how it is the city’s specialty you probably can’t go wrong with most spots.
When you’re ready for a change from wine, walk over to A Fabrica Craft Brewery, where they have some tasty food options along with a good beer selection. We opted to split a few appetizers here, all of which were great. Go downstairs and toward the back, where you can sit in the courtyard.
That wraps up a fairly full first day in Porto.
Day 2 in Porto
Cafes and caffeine
With only two days in Porto, you’ll want to hit the ground running somewhat early today. Even though Porto is small and extremely walkable, there are so many great places to explore.
If you need caffeine, you will find plenty of small cafes to get your fix. We stumbled upon Cristo Rei, a no frills spot that was slammed with locals. They have tons of pastries in the window that will lure you in.
Once inside, you’ll be completely overwhelmed by everything going on. If you can, grab a seat. If not, stand at the counter wherever you can fit, and order. Another option near our AirBnb was Confeitaria do Bolhão, which is quite popular.
Take a Food Tour
Try to skip the pastries because we suggest starting your day with a food tour with Taste Porto. These guys are locals with a passion for Portuguese food and culture.
Your guide will lead you through the city to local shops and restaurants, teaching you not only about the food culture in Portugal, but also about a few historical highlights. We did the Vintage Food Tour and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again!
After you’re finished with your food tour, you’ll probably just want to take a nap. Resist the urge! Instead, spend the afternoon visiting all the places in the city you still haven’t seen.
Walk over to the Clérigos Church and take the stairs up into the bell tower for some amazing views over the city. Make sure to walk the Rua Santa Catarina , which is a large shopping district. If the wait isn’t too bad, queue up for the Majestic Cafe. While it may seem overrun with tourists, it is still quite impressive to see in person.
Drinks and dinner
From here, you can continue to explore the side streets and alleys of Porto.
When you’re ready for pre-dinner drinks, walk over to Champs de Braixa for some tasty sangria options. Try to grab a table outside if you can. For dinner, I would highly suggest Flor dos Congregados if you can get a reservation. We were able to snag one the day of thanks to Andre, our food tour guide.
If you are interested, there are a ton of nightlife options in Porto, with some areas going until 3 or 4am. We had to fly out the next day, so I was not interested in flying with a hangover, but know the option is there if you are interested.
You will absolutely love Porto! Two days is enough time to see everything the city has to offer, but it’ll leave you wanting to go back for sure. Also, be sure to check out our 10 day road trip from Lisbon.