3-day Porto itinerary: when to go, where to stay, and the best things to do in Porto

by | Oct 31, 2021 | City Getaways, Europe, Itineraries, Portugal | 0 comments

2-week Namibia itinerary
3-day Porto itinerary

This 3-day Porto itinerary contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here.

Nestled on the shore of the Douro river, Portugal’s second-biggest city, Porto, is home to world-famous port wine cellars, iconic bridges, colorfully tiled houses, and a UNESCO-designated historic center. And, according to Condé Nast, one of the 10 best European cities to visit in 2021.

I’ve had Portugal on my list for a while, and after 3 failed attempts in the last 1.5 years, I finally made it to Porto for a long weekend in October 2021. And after three days of sipping port wine, exploring cobbled streets, and soaking up the unique vibe, I agree 100% with Condé Nast!

Porto is the perfect destination for a relaxing, yet exciting European city getaway!

If you’re thinking about visiting Portugal or looking for a perfect city getaway destination, this 3-day Porto itinerary is just for you. Read all about where to go for great coffee and delicious brunches in Porto, some of the best viewpoints and hidden gems to discover in the city, and much more.

3-day Porto itinerary_Igreja de Santo António dos Congregados
2-week Namibia itinerary

The best time to visit Porto

The climate in Porto is generally mild but be prepared for frequent rain during the winter months. The summer months, especially July and August, are the prime tourist season. Book hotels and flights early, if you plan to visit during these months.

The best time to visit Porto are spring (March to May) and autumn (September to October). During these months, the temperatures are still pleasantly warm, but the crowds are much smaller than during summer.

How to get to Porto

If you’re coming from outside of Portugal, the easiest way to get to Porto is by plane. Porto’s Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport is located around 11 km from the city center.

The quickest and easiest way to travel from the airport to the city center is by taking an Uber. Depending on where you’re going, the Uber will take approximately 20 to 30 minutes and cost around 13 to 15 euros. Alternatively, you can also catch a taxi, which will cost around 20 to 25 euros.

Traveling by public transport is the cheapest way to get from the airport to the city center. One-way tickets cost around 2 to 3 euros. If you know your stop, you can check metro timetables here, and bus timetables here.

Where to stay in Porto

The Tiles Apartments are a great accommodation option for your trip to Porto. All studios come with a bathroom, dining/work table, and a fully equipped kitchenette with a fridge and dishwasher.

Tiles Apartments are located within walking distance of the beautifully tiled Sao Bento Station, the famous Ponte Dom Luis I, Porto’s Ribeira neighborhood, and many other must-see places, as well as a variety of bars, restaurants, and cafes.

Alternatively, you can browse Booking.com for more places to stay in Porto.
2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Day 1 | explore Porto

Ideally, you’ll arrive in Porto the night before, and start your 3-day Porto itinerary by waking up in Porto. If you do, start your day with a coffee and breakfast and My Coffee Porto.

The tiny, 5-table coffee shop is located at Escadas do Codeçal, with beautiful views of the Ponte Dom Luis I and the Douro River. And don’t miss out on their delicious Pastel de Nata, typically Portuguese egg-custard pastry.

Ps. you can find the exact locations of all places mentionned in my 3-day Porto itinerary in the map at the end of this post!

Discover the Ribeira neighborhood

Spend some time wandering around the Ribeira neighborhood today. The riverside quarter in the heart of the city is one of Porto’s oldest and most picturesque neighborhoods. I could have spent hours exploring Ribeira, getting lost in the cobbled streets and narrow alleys, lined by beautifully tiled houses.

  • Miradouro da Vitória: head to this viewpoint for some stunning views across the roofs of Ribeira, the cathedral, Dom Luis I bridge, and Vila Nova de Gaia across the Douro river.
  • Escadas da Vitoria: the staircase below the Vitoria viewpoint leads back down into the city. They’re another spot with a great city view, but from a different perspective – and a cool spot for photos!
  • Escada Guindais: the steps east of the Dom Luis I bridge are a bit of a hidden gem. From the top, you have a unique view of the bridge, peeking out between the houses, and the remaining city wall. Photography tip: head there in the morning, when the sun is still east of the bridge.
  • Largo de Pena Ventosa: tucked away in the Ribeira neighborhood, this picturesque square, surrounded by colorful houses, is one of the best hidden gems I came across whilst exploring Porto.

Cruise the Douro River

Back in the day, Rabelo boats were used to transport barrels of port wine from the Douro vineyards to the wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. Nowadays, transporting port wine is done by trucks, and the Rabelo boats are used to transport tourists on the Douro river.

For a different perspective, hop on a traditional Rabelo-boat for a 1-hour river cruise.

The 50-minute 6 Bridges Cruises depart hourly from the wharf in Ribeira, Cais da Ribeira. The cruise will take you along the riverbanks of Ribeira and Vila Nova de Gaia, past the 6 bridges connecting the two cities, and all the way to the Foz do Douro, where the river meets the Atlantic ocean.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Ponte Dom Luis I and stunning city views

An icon of the city, the Dom Luis bridge is one of Porto’s 6 bridges crossing the Douro river. The double-decked bridge connects the Ribeira neighborhood and Vila Nova de Gaia. You can cross the bridge on both levels, but it’s definitely worth making your way up to the upper level for some stunning views.

It’s a short, but rather steep walk from the lower to the upper level. If you don’t want to walk, you can catch the Funicular dos Guindais, which will take you from the riverside up to the Batalha neighborhood and the top level of the Dom Luis bridge for 2.50 euros in just two minutes.

Pro tip: for a meal or drink with a view, check out Esplanada do Teleférico. The little bar/restaurant is located on the Gaia-side of the Dom Luis Bridge, near Jardim Do Morro, overlooking the Douro river, Ribeira, and the riverbanks of Vila Nove de Gaia.

3 Porto viewpoints you can’t miss

There are many great views and viewpoints in Porto. Here are three viewpoints you shouldn’t miss while you’re in Vila Nova de Gaia on the other side of Ponte Dom Luis:

  • Miradouro do Teleférico: visit the Teleférico de Gaia cablecar station for stunning views of Ribeira and the Douro river. If the view at the station isn’t enough, hop on the cable car, taking you across the roofs of Gaia and down to the riverbanks. A one-way ticket costs 9 euros and you can pre-book it here.
  • Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar: the former monastery thrones on a rocky outcrop above the Douro river. Head up to the square in front of the monastery to catch a view of Ponte Dom Luis I from above, and Porto’s old town in the back.
  • Kittie Rock Point: offering breathtaking views of the Dom Luis I bridge, Kittie Rock Point is the perfect sunset spot in Porto. It’s located below the monastery. To get there, follow the small path between the monastery and the hotel Vincci Ponte de Ferro.
2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Day 2 | visit the Douro Wine Region

On day 2 of your 3-day Porto itinerary, I would recommend venturing out of the city. There’s a lot waiting to be discovered around Porto, from picturesque cities, wild coastlines, and sleepy coastal towns, to national parks and, of course, the Douro wine region.

Visiting the Douro wine valley and learning about port wine is a must when visiting Porto!

The Douro valley is home to the Douro river and the birthplace of Port wine. The shores of the Douro river are lined by green hills and vineyard terraces, small villages, and Quintas, traditional port wineries.

On a day trip, you can venture deep into the Douro valley, visit different Quintas to learn about their port wine production and taste different types of Port, and explore the Douro river on a traditional Rabelo boat.

We booked this small-group tour with GetYourGuide and had an absolute blast of a day, chatting about Portugal with our lovely guide, Vladimir, tasting wine, olive oil, and honey, and enjoying a typical Portuguese lunch at a local restaurant.

If wine is not your thing, you could also catch a bus or train to the beach town Matosinhos, well-known for its beaches and fish restaurants. Our host in Porto especially recommended the many restaurants at Matosinhos port for fresh fish and seafood.

Day 3 | Vila Nova de Gaia and blue tiles

The last day of your 3-day Porto itinerary is all about brunch, the typically blue-tiled buildings, and more beautiful city views.

Before you head off for some more city explorations, start your day right with brunch at one of Porto’s many cool brunch spots. Our delicious brunch at 7G Roaster in Gaia ticked all the boxes. If you’d rather stay in Porto, or just want some other recommendations, check out these two:

Pro tipbook your table in advance! Porto’s restaurants can get quite busy, and by booking in advance, you’ll avoid the disappointment of not getting a table at a place you want to try.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Portugal is famous for its Azulejos, glazed blue ceramic tiles. They are everywhere, covering the facades of churches, train stations, restaurants, murals… And this 3-day Porto itinerary wouldn’t be complete without exploring some of the best Azulejos in Porto!

Where to find the prettiest Azulejos in Porto

  • Sao Bento station: one of Portugal’s most picturesque train stations, the Sao Bento railway station in the heart of the city is decorated with over 20.000 Azulejos. You can find them inside the station hall, depicting different scenes of Portugal’s history.
  • Igreja de Santo Ildefonso: the baroque-style church is located a short, uphill walk from Sao Bento station near Batalha square. More than 11.000 Azulejos adorn the front facade and two clock towers of the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso. Definitely a must-see!
  • Igrejas do Carmo e dos Carmelitas: what looks like Porto’s biggest church, are in fact two churches, separated by a very narrow building. Its purpose was to prevent contact between the monks in one church and the nuns in the other. The facade of Igreja do Carmo is decorated with one of the most beautiful displays of Azulejos in Porto.

Pro tip: the famous Livraria Lello, said to have inspired J. K. Rowling for her Harry Potter books, is located just a 2 minutes’ walk from Igreja do Carmo. If you’re planning to visit the bookshop, make sure you get your tickets in advance. I didn’t and sadly had to skip it, because the queue outside was just massive.

Head over to Vila Nova de Gaia

The last recommendation I have for this 3-day Porto itinerary is to head across the Dom Luis I bridge to Vila Nova the Gaia. Wander along the riverbank, Cais de Gaia, to get a different perspective of the Ribeira neighborhood and the iconic bridge. Or check out the numerous restaurants, bars, and cafes, including 7G roasters (they have an epic brunch menu!).

All places mentioned in this 3-day Porto itinerary

I hope you enjoyed reading my 3-day Porto itinerary and found it helpful for planning your own trip. If you have any questions, or if you have visited Porto before, and have some recommendations to add to my post, I would love to hear about it in the comments!

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3-day Porto itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

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Hi, I’m Sara, a twenty-something Swiss on a mission to become a full-time travel writer and digital nomad.