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If you’re planning a trip to Portugal you’re probably asking yourself “How many days in Porto is enough?”. Well, I’m here to help answer that question for you!
Having spent 6 weeks travelling Portugal solo and spending some time volunteering in a hostel while I was here, I know plenty about this stunning European country.
Tucked right by the winding Douro River, this Portuguese beauty calls you over with its rich history, yummy eats, and infectious vibe. So, whether you’re a history buff, totally into wine, or just want those picture-perfect views that could make a zillion postcards jealous, Porto’s got loads of awesome things waiting for you.
How many days in Porto is enough?
You’ll be able to get a pretty good sense of Porto and tick off the main sights with 2 full days in the city, however, if you really want to immerse yourself in Porto’s charm I would recommend extending this to 3 or even 4 days.
Having that extra day or two allows you to spend one of these days taking a day trip to Aveiro, which I would HIGHLY recommend you do!
If you’re particularly short on time, it is also possible to pack most of Porto’s main sights into 1 day thanks to the city’s compact size but prepare for it to be a long day – it is an excellent way to clock up those steps however!
So what does the perfect Porto itinerary look like and how should you spend your time in Porto?
The Quick Getaway (1-2 Days)
Porto isn’t shy when it comes to offering up its finest treasures. If you’re on a whirlwind weekend adventure, fear not. Even in a mere 1-2 days, you can experience the heart of Porto.
Stroll through the historic Ribeira District, where colourful buildings stand as a testament to centuries gone by. This lively area is very popular and filled with an array of restaurants and bars.
For panoramic vistas that’ll make your heart flutter, muster up the courage to cross the heights of the Dom Luís I Bridge (the lower deck level can be crossed on foot if you want to explore both sides of the river).
To get your history fix, don’t miss the main sights such as Sao Bento Railway Station and Porto Cathedral.
And of course, a trip to Porto would be incomplete without delving into the world of port wine. Embark on a cellar tour and let the velvety notes of history and tradition dance on your palate but if you’re really short on time, simply pop into one of the famous cellars and enjoy a glass of Port and skip the tour.
Don’t forget to indulge in some traditional Portuguese food either! From the traditional Francesinha, a delicious sandwich oozing with flavour, to the succulent Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá, Porto’s culinary repertoire is a delightful array of taste sensations.
Main attractions to tick off
- Ribeira District
- Dom Luís I Bridge
- Vila Nova de Gaia for Port wine cellars
- 3-Hour of Porto Highlights on an Electric Bike (a great way to tick off the main sights when you’ve got limited time!)
- The Best of Porto: 3-Hour Guided Walking Tour
- Private Electric Tuk Tuk Sightseeing Tour of Historic Porto (just an hour and 30 minutes, perfect if you’re only in Porto for one day)
The Weekend Escapade (3 Days)
But if you’re blessed with a bit more time – say, 3 days – a richer tapestry of Porto’s offerings will unfold before you. Book lovers, prepare to step into a fairytale at Livraria Lello, a bookshop that has inspired many literary dreams.
Dive into the depths of history at the Church of São Francisco, where the Gothic and Baroque blend in a mesmerizing embrace. And don’t forget to marvel at the opulence of Palácio da Bolsa, a living testament to Porto’s commercial legacy.
Porto’s surroundings are a nature lover’s paradise; this was one of my favourite things about this city! Ascend to the Miradouro da Vitória, high vantage points offer panoramic vistas of the city’s terracotta rooftops and the glistening river below.
Go here at sunset for the perfect end to your trip to Porto.
Main attractions to tick off
- Livraria Lello
- São Francisco church
- Palácio da Bolsa
- Miradouro da Vitória
- 3-Hour Food and Wine Tasting Tour
- Port Wine Lodges Tour Including 7 Wine Tastings
- Douro Sunset Sailboat Experience in Porto
Immersion Mode (4+ Days)
Ready to steep yourself in Porto’s essence for 4+ days? Get ready for an adventure that’ll leave you feeling like a local. Beyond the touristic haunts, sample traditional Portuguese dishes by participating in a food tour.
Let the mournful melodies of Fado music tug at your heartstrings as you delve into the city’s soul. And for a taste of everyday life, make your way to Mercado do Bolhão, a bustling market where flavours, colours, and conversations intermingle.
But Porto isn’t an isolated paradise; it’s a gateway to Portugal’s wonders. Venture beyond its borders for day trips that will enhance your experience. Embark on a Douro Valley wine tour, where the terraced vineyards create a mesmerizing landscape.
Dive into history at Guimarães, often called the Birthplace of Portugal, where medieval castles and charming streets paint a vivid picture of the past. And if you’re drawn to the water, Aveiro – the Venice of Portugal – will enchant you with its canals, moliceiros, and sweet treats.
Visiting Aveiro was one of my favourite parts of my trip to Porto so if you have the time, make sure you don’t miss it! If you need further convincing, Costa Nova is just a 10 min drive from Aveiro which is a stunning coastal area known for its striped coloured houses.
Along the beach, you’ll find a variety of beach clubs that provide the perfect location to relax for the afternoon and sip on a few cocktails.
Main attractions to tick off
- Mercado do Bolhão
- Day trip to Aveiro
- Costa Nova
- Douro Valley Small-Group Tour with Wine Tasting, Lunch and Optional Cruise
- Porto to Lisbon Private Full Day Trip with stops in Aveiro, Fatima, and Obidos (a good option if you need to travel back to Lisbon and want to see Aveiro on the way)
- The Award-Winning Private Food Tour of Porto: 6 or 10 Tastings
- Pastel de Nata Cooking Class
Porto travel tips
As you piece together the puzzle of your Porto adventure, remember that a well-crafted itinerary strikes a balance between planned activities and spontaneous wanderings. The essence of Porto often lies in the moments between attractions, so don’t be afraid to let your curiosity guide you!
To fully embrace the Porto way of life, a few insider tips can make all the difference. Greet locals with a warm “Olá” and a smile, and don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations – you might uncover hidden gems that won’t make it into guidebooks.
Public transportation is a breeze, so hop onto trams and buses to navigate the city like a true Portuense. And, of course, always keep an eye on the weather; Porto’s beauty shifts with the seasons.
Make sure you bring your camera with you too and seek out Porto’s best photo spots, from the miradouros that offer sweeping views of the city to the enchanting nooks that beckon with their charm.
Where to stay in Porto
For a taste of Porto’s rich heritage, Ribeira is your go-to and it is where I’d recommend you stay to make the most of your time in Porto. Nestled on the Douro River’s edge, this district boasts an authentic blend of history, culture, and sheer vibrancy.
Ribeira’s proximity to Porto’s major attractions means you’re just a stone’s throw away from wonders like the São Bento Station and Palácio da Bolsa.
BEST BUDGET ACCOMMODATION IN RIBEIRA
BEST LUXURY ACCOMMODATION IN RIBEIRA
When is the best time to visit Porto?
Porto warmly welcomes visitors throughout the year, thanks to Portugal’s inviting climate. Even in winter, when many places turn chilly, Porto remains pleasantly mild, offering a wonderful escape from harsher weather elsewhere. The city’s holiday spirit adds to the charm, with delightful Christmas markets and festive cheer enhancing your experience.
When summer arrives (I had the pleasure of visiting in July), Porto takes on an entirely new energy. Festivals, outdoor events, and al fresco dining opportunities abound, creating a lively, infectious atmosphere. Embrace the sunny days by heading to Porto’s beaches, where you can bask in the warmth and revel in the relaxed coastal vibe.
Among these beaches, Praia de Matosinhos steals the show as the largest and most popular, a mere 8km away from the city centre. While the water might be a tad chilly even during the summer months, the inviting surroundings make up for it.
If the idea of visiting during the peak of summer doesn’t quite tickle your fancy, consider planning your trip for spring or autumn. In spring, Porto blossoms with life, offering mild temperatures and vibrant landscapes that are just perfect for leisurely strolls along the Douro River.
The city exudes picturesque beauty, and it’s a time when everything seems to come alive.
As autumn graces Porto with its presence, a mesmerizing palette of colours paints the city in breathtaking hues. The surrounding wine regions become a hub of activity with grape harvests, creating an ideal backdrop for wine enthusiasts to indulge their passion.
Ultimately, the optimal time for your Porto adventure depends on your preferences. Whether you’re drawn to the summer festivities, the blooming charm of spring, the captivating colours of autumn, or the quieter delights of winter, Porto has something wonderful to offer year-round.
Planning a trip to Portugal?
How many days in Porto is enough – FAQ
Is Porto worth visiting?
100%! In fact, I wrote a whole blog post on why Porto is worth visiting!
If you’re wondering whether Porto is worth visiting, let me assure you: this city is a gem waiting to be uncovered. With its captivating blend of history, culture, and stunning landscapes, experiencing what Porto has to offer is a must-do.
Nestled along the meandering Douro River, Porto boasts an authentic aura that sets it apart. Whether you’re a history buff, a food lover eager to sample traditional Portuguese flavours, or an architecture enthusiast marvelling at structures like the São Bento Station, Porto has something for everyone.
So, is Porto worth visiting? Without a doubt. The blend of old-world charm and vibrant modernity, the warmth of its people, and the sheer beauty of its surroundings make it a destination that will leave you with priceless travel memories.
Which is better, Lisbon or Porto?
Oh, the age-old Lisbon vs. Porto debate! Honestly, if you asked me which city I lean towards, I probably wouldn’t be able to choose, they each offer their own unique charm and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in both cities.
Lisbon, being the capital and all, brings that cosmopolitan pizzazz to the table. Picture this: a tapestry of neighbourhoods, each with its own unique flavour, trendy cafes and historical landmarks like the majestic Jerónimos Monastery and the iconic Belém Tower.
But hey, let’s not forget about Porto – a city that oozes charm! Wander its cobbled streets, gaze upon the architectural wonder that is the Dom Luís I Bridge, and make a pilgrimage to the famous Port wine cellars in the enchanting Vila Nova de Gaia.
Plus, Porto’s compact size makes it easy to explore when you’re short on time.
Whether you’re drawn to the vibrant buzz of Lisbon or the cozy appeal of Porto, both cities serve up a delightful platter of history, food that dances on your taste buds, and hospitality that’s as warm as a Portuguese sunset.
In the grand scheme of things, it boils down to the kind of adventure you’re after. And here’s the secret: you really can’t go wrong with either. It’s a win-win!
Conclusion: How many days in Porto is enough?
Well, you’ve probably figured out by now there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Your ideal duration hinges on your travel style and the pace at which you wish to explore Porto. Generally speaking however, 2 full days in Porto is enough to tick off all the main sights.
Whether you’ve spent a weekend, a week, or somewhere in between, Porto will leave you wanting to come back for more! It really is a delightful city with so much to offer, so pack your bags and start planning your trip to Portugal asap!