It’s safe to I fell head over heels during my two days in Porto. The city is so much more than just Lisbon’s little sister and offers to so much to do and see – and [perhaps most importantly] EAT.
As a relatively new player to the tourism scene, the vibes of the city are organic and raw. In fact, many of the popular tourist areas were quite unsafe a mere two decades ago. The architecture isn’t perfect, but that’s what makes it so beautiful. It is easily one of the most charming cities I have ever visited, and I already can’t wait to go back.
I’m dishing all the deets that are guaranteed to make you have the best two days in Porto. Are you ready? Let’s go!
GETTING TO PORTO
By Air: Porto has a small airport, with direct inbound flights from select European cities, and is located roughly 20 minutes outside of the city centre. We flew direct from Copenhagen to Porto and found the process to be very seamless. If you’re headed to Porto and there isn’t a direct flight from your hub, you can book a flight through Lisbon. There are several flights from Lisbon to Porto daily.
By Train/Bus: If you’re heading to Porto from another city in Portugal, it is well connected by train and bus to other popular cities, like Lisbon. We didn’t use this method, but I know many people who have who have said that the experience was very positive.
By Car: If you’re openminded to driving, the best way to get to Porto – and travel around Portugal – is by car. We opted to rent a car in Porto, and drive it down the coast to Lisbon. We made stops along the way, and saw things that we never would have been able to if we were not driving. Driving in Portugal was very easy. The roads were well maintained and paved, and there were very few drivers on the road. The only downside is that there are several tollbooths along the way. However, the cost of these tolls are marginal.
GETTING AROUND PORTO
Walk: Porto is a fairly small city, and is easy to navigate by foot. If you’re capable, I suggest this option because you can see so much more by just wandering around.
Uber: Uber in Portugal is cheap. We used Uber to get to/from our hotel when we had luggage, and the couple times that our destination was not within walking distance
WHERE TO STAY IN PORTO
THINGS TO DO IN PORTO
Cais da Ribeira
This waterfront district of Porto is so incredibly charming. Filled with waterfront patios and the most perfectly imperfect buildings – you’ll feel like you’re sitting in a postcard.
Take some time to explore the narrow surrounding alleyways and stairwells. Here, you’ll find so many unique shops, architecture – and of course, TILES. I loved this region because it felt so authentic. It wasn’t perfectly maintained like many other European cities, and you could often spot the locals wandering around amongst the tourists, picking up groceries at the local shops, and hanging their laundry out to dry.
Luís I Bridge
This industrial structure stands tall along the Porto waterfront, and features two layers that you can walk across. I would highly recommend heading up to the top layer for the best experience.
Tip: For the best views of the picturesque Casa da Ribeira, walk across the Luís I Bridge and snap a few pictures.
Once you arrive on the other side of the bridge, you’ll be greeted by winery after winery… after winery. This is the best place to spend an afternoon indulging in Porto’s namesake beverage: port wine.
There are dozens of wineries to choose from. We opted for a tasting at Ramos Pinto, where we were educated on the different types of port wines offered by the winery. If you have time, I would suggest doing a tour of the facilities to learn about how the wine is made. We didn’t do one in Porto, because we had tours planned on the next stage of our trip in the Douro Valley. But, if you’re not able to make it out to the Douro Valley, you should definitely do a winery tour in Porto.
After a port tasting, sit along one of the many patios along the waterfront, sit on a glass of wine, and enjoy the views of Cais da Ribeira.
Eat Your Heart Out
One of the best things about Portugal is the food. Pastel de nata, francesinha, and SO much seafood – need I say more?
We wanted to make sure we had the best foodie experience during our time in Porto, and so we took a tour with Secret Food Tours Porto. If you want to know more about this amazing experience, I wrote all about it here.
Visit the Douro Valley
On our trip, we opted to spend two days in the Douro Valley [you can read more about that here].
If your itinerary doesn’t allow for an overnight visit, you MUST take a river cruise day trip to the Douro Valley from Porto. There are a variety of tour operators along the Porto waterfront to choose from. Book a trip and I can guarantee that you’ll see some of the most beautiful views you’ve ever seen.
Clérigos Church and Tower
For the best views from the top of Porto, visit Clérigos Tower. Here, you can walk through the most beautiful church and climb up the (very narrow) winding staircase to the top of the church tower. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most beautiful views of the city.
São Bento Railway Station
You’ll find beautiful tiles everywhere in Porto, but some of the prettiest hand painted can be found inside the São Bento Railway Station. This spot is absolutely worth a stop when you’re wandering around the city.
Tip: If blue tiles are your thing, my absolute FAVOURITE are located at All Souls Church. Here, you can take an iconic Portuguese picture – just like this one.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK IN PORTO
Porto Food Tour
O Carniceiro / Big Bad Bank Bar
This restaurant-bar combo was located inside of our hotel, ZERO Box Lodge and it was EPIC. O Carniceiro was hands down our best meal in Porto, and the cocktails at Big Bad Bank Bar we so well done. Not to mention, the ambiance was just so cool. You can read more about it here.
Mercado do Bolhão Market
A favourite sopt for locals, you could wander around this market for hours, tasting all the best local foods. And don’t be afraid to try the sardines – they were actually very tasty!
Capa na Baixa
For the prettiest terrace in Porto, check out this place. I would highly recommend this stop if you’re looking to indulge in the classic Portugese favourite: francesinha.
BEST TIME TO VISIT PORTO
I loved visiting Porto – and Portugal in general – in April. The weather was warm, but not too hot. And it wasn’t swarming with tourists yet. The only downside of visiting Porto in April is the potential rain. Although we were (mostly) lucky, we did experience a couple wet days, which is pretty typical for this time of year.
For the optimal weather, Porto is best visited during the shoulder season of May and September.
Okay, seriously. How beautiful is this city? If you’re headed to Portugal, you CANNOT MISS this place. I mean it – add it to your itinerary, right now.
HEADED TO PORTUGAL? PIN THIS FOR LATER!
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