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The Best Long Weekend in Porto and The Douro Valley (2024)

In October of 2023, my friend and I decided to take a break from the colorful mosaics of Lisbon (where we had been living for two months) and exchange them with the colorful mosaics of Porto for a fun-filled girl’s trip. We packed our bags, headed to the Lisbon train station on Friday morning, and started our research on the train – filling up our long weekend in Porto itinerary with the best things to do in Porto and the Douro Valley.

Porto, often referred to as the hidden gem of Portugal, presents a captivating blend of historical charm and modern innovation. Its picturesque cobblestone streets, adorned with vividly colored houses and intricate azulejo tiles, attract visitors from all over the world. From the colorful Ribeira district to the world-renowned Port wine cellars, Porto offers a wide variety of experiences for every type of traveler and every budget.

On our trip, we spent two full days exploring the best of Porto and another day on a wine tour to the Douro Valley. Keep reading for the best way to structure your long weekend in Porto!

A beautiful cat on the streets of Porto.

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to a Long Weekend in Porto

You’re busy planning your trip to Portugal, I get it. If you’re short on time, skip the long version and catch the highlights in this lazy girl’s guide to a long weekend in Porto outlined below. 

  • Visit (or skip) the Harry Potter Bookstore – Livraria Lello 📚
  • Explore the famous Igreja do Carmo ⛪️
  • Feast on Porto’s famous sandwich – The Francesinha 🥪
  • Seek exceptional views from the top of the Clérigos Tower 👀
  • Have drinks on the bustling Cais da Ribeira ⛵️
  • Cross the Dom Luis I Bridge on your way to sunset views at Jardim do Morro 🌅
  • Feast on petiscos at Sagardi 🍤
  • Enjoy brunch at Eleven Lab 🥯
  • Explore the historic Praça da Liberdade 🚩
  • Admire the azulejo tiles at Igreja de Santo Ildefonso ⛪️
  • Sample local delicacies at the Mercado do Bolhão 🧀
  • Explore the beautiful Sé do Porto ⛪️
  • Watch the sunset at Miradoiro do Passeio das Virtudes 🌅
  • Have dinner at The Lucky Duck Restaurant 🦆

A Map of the Best Things to Do in Porto

Trip map created with Wanderlog, an itinerary planner on iOS and Android

Day 1: Churches, Francesinhas, Ribeira, Torre dos Clérigos

Let’s dive into my 3-day, whirlwind tour of Porto – where every corner is like stepping into a beautiful postcard. Day 1 is all about churches, Francesinhas, the Ribeira district, and the Torre dos Clérigos. Kick off your morning with a traditional Portuguese breakfast, then get ready to marvel at some of the city’s most impressive churches and climb the iconic Clérigos Tower.

Stay hungry for lunch because we’re trying the Francesinha – a tasty dish from Porto that’s made its mark on the worldwide culinary scene. We’ll meander through the bustling streets of Ribeira, cross the Dom Luis I Bridge, and land at Jardim do Morro for a fabulous sunset and panoramic city views. Cap off your day with a variety of petiscos at Sagardi and a taste of Porto’s legendary nightlife scene.

If you’d rather get the inside scoop from a local guide, consider booking a walking tour for your first day. It’s a great option to experience the best of Porto in a nutshell.

👉🏼 See the best of Porto on this top-rated 3-hour walking tour!

Have Breakfast at Mercador Cafe

Kickstart the first morning of your long weekend in Porto with a delightful breakfast at the Mercador Cafe. This charming establishment seamlessly blends U.S. brunch vibes (which we all know and love) with traditional Portuguese flavors. Feast on eggs benny, sweet dulce de leche pancakes, or savory toasts topped with mushrooms, goat cheese, and avocado. Paired with a steaming cup of coffee, this gastronomic experience is sure to get you excited to start your first day exploring Porto!

Visit the Famous Livraria Lello…or Don’t

Livraria Lello or “The Harry Potter Bookstore” is one of the city’s top attractions. Actually, it’s well-known worldwide. Being a huge Harry Potter fan myself, I couldn’t wait to soak up the Hogwarts vibes, take a couple of iconic photos on the grand staircase, and shop for souvenirs at the bookstore that inspired J.K. Rowling.

For a location deemed “the most beautiful bookstore in the world,” I really expected more. 

First of all, Livraria Lello is not a traditional bookstore. It’s a tourist attraction that requires an €8 ticket and waiting in a very long line. If you purchase something at the store, your ticket price is taken off the purchase. However, the Livraria Lello is clearly only interested in making as much money per hour as possible, because they sold about 30-40 more tickets each hour than should have been allowed. Let’s just say, if there was a fire, no one would have made it out. 

The insane amount of people jam-packed into this tiny bookstore turned what could have been a cool experience into a horrible one. I would not recommend adding Livraria Lello to your long weekend in Porto itinerary, but if you’re dead set on seeing it, you can purchase tickets online here

Lines wrapped around the block to get into Livraria Lello.
Way too many tourists crowding the interior of the Livraria Lello bookstore.

Visit Igreja do Carmo

While waiting for our entry time to Livraria Lello (we bought our tickets last minute), we popped into Igreja do Carmo to explore this world-famous Portuguese church. 

Igreja do Carmo, located in the heart of Porto, bears witness to centuries of Portuguese history and architectural evolution. Built in 17th-century Baroque style, the church’s ornate façade and intricate detailing will impress even experienced architecture enthusiasts. Today, Igreja do Carmo not only serves as a place of worship but also stands as a symbol of Porto’s rich cultural heritage and national pride.

At first glance, the church appears to be one building, but on closer inspection, it’s actually two separate churches: Igreja dos Carmelitas and Igreja do Carmo. Separating these churches, at only 1-meter wide, is Casa Escondida (the Hidden House). Igreja do Carmo is also a great spot to take iconic Instagram photos with the beautiful blue tiles, so charge up your camera!

An aerial view of the Igreja do Carmo.

Try Porto’s Famous Sandwich: the Francesinha

What’s a trip to Porto without sinking your teeth into a world-famous Francesinha? From experience, let me tell you – it’s a must-do during your long weekend in Porto. This hearty sandwich was born and bred in the heart of Porto back in the 1950’s with a little French inspiration from the croque monsieur. Mouthwatering layers of cured meats, like ham and smoked sausage, are sandwiched between fluffy slices of bread and topped with an avalanche of melted cheese and a tomato and beer-infused sauce. I’m still missing that irresistible kick!

There are plenty of places to try this authentic sandwich. On the first day of our trip, we headed over to O Afonso to feast on Francesinhas and french fries (and soak up the alcohol from the night before). O Afonso is Anthony Bourdain certified…need I say more? I had originally planned to visit the world-famous Café Santiago, but after doing a bit of research on the topic, I realized the general consensus was that it’s overhyped and there are better places to try a Portuguese Francesinha. 

Other places to try this traditional Portuguese dish include Bufete Fase in Baixa and Lado B. These eateries offer not only a taste of the Francesinha but also a glimpse into the city’s culinary history, making them must-visit stops on your long weekend in Porto.

Don't forget to try Francesinha during your long weekend in Porto! Two Francesinhas from O Afonso.
Two massive Francesinhas and fries from O Afonso.

Climb the Clérigos Tower

While the Clérigos Tower beckoned us with promises of breathtaking views over the city, our tired feet and general “hungover-ness” prevented us from making the climb ourselves. Regardless of our self-inflicted misfortune, the Clérigos Tower, standing tall and majestic in the heart of Porto, remains an unmissable landmark on this Porto weekend guide. 

The tower, designed by the renowned architect Nicolau Nasoni in the 18th century, is not only an architectural marvel but also a symbol of the city’s cultural heritage. For those with a bit more flexibility in their schedule, I highly recommend allocating time to climb the Clérigos Tower and take in the stunning views of the city below. A day pass to the Clérigos Museum with tower access will only set you back €8, and the attraction is open daily from 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM (although you can still access the tower until 11:00 PM). 

The Torre dos Clérigos also offers their Spiritus Light Show to visitors daily. You can purchase tickets on their website for only €10. 

An aerial view of the Clérigos Tower in Porto. Taking in the views from the top should absolutely be on your long weekend in Porto itinerary.

Have a Snack at Empanadas Malvón

Chances are, after a large breakfast and a Francesinha for lunch, you’re probably not hungry. We weren’t either, but that didn’t stop us from chowing down on delicious empanadas from Malvón on our way to drinks in Ribeira. 

This adorable little empanada shop is located on Rua de Mouzinho da Silveira and sells traditional empanadas stuffed with tasty fillings like spicy beef, chicken, bechamel, gouda, and roasted onion. Careful – they’re piping hot!

Yummy rows of empanadas.
A piping-hot empanada from Empanadas Malvón in Porto.

Take the Barredo Stairs to Cais da Ribeira

The day’s not over yet! Now it’s time to sit down and relax with a leisurely drink in the scenic Ribeira neighborhood, where the ambiance is as intoxicating as the vinho verde. If you’re already nearby, take the scenic Barredo Stairs down to Cais da Ribeira. 

When you arrive, choose from one of the charming riverside cafes or traditional wine bars that dot the cobblestone streets and position yourself at the perfect vantage point to admire the Douro River and the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge. If you can’t wait till day 3 to immerse yourself in the local wine scene (trust me – I get it!), consider adding a local wine or port-tasting experience to your 3 days in Porto itinerary. Ribeira and Gaia are home to many of the city’s Port Houses, so it’s the perfect spot to embark on a Port House tour and tasting. 

👉🏼 Click here to book your top-rated Port Tasting Experience for only $21!

The colorful Ribeira district near the Douro River in Porto.

Cross the Dom Luis I Bridge

Gazing at the Dom Luís I Bridge, ask yourself – does it look familiar? 

It should! The bridge was designed by the renowned Gustave Eiffel in 1886, the architect behind Paris’ Eiffel Tower. As an iconic symbol of Porto, the Dom Luís I Bridge spans the Douro River and connects Ribeira with Villa Nova de Gaia. 

Over the years, the Dom Luís I Bridge has not only become a crucial transportation link but also a beloved landmark offering panoramic views of Porto and the winding river below. Its rich history and striking design make it an integral part of both the city’s identity and skyline. 

Make your way across the bridge to the best place to watch the sunset – Jardim do Morro. 

Include a visit to the Dom Luis I Bridge during your long weekend in Porto.

Watch the Sunset at Jardim do Morro

Are you ready for your first spectacular sunset in Porto? Get excited, because they’re always extraordinary. 

After a delicious glass of vinho verde or local port in Ribeira, head across the Dom Luís I to Jardim do Morro – one of the best viewpoints in the city. The gardens, along with the nearby Serra do Pillar viewpoint, boast incredible views of Ribeira, the Douro River, and Villa Nova de Gaia. It’s a popular spot for both locals and tourists, and you’ll often find bands playing in the garden and street vendors walking around selling croquettes, popcorn, and various drinks. 

Marvel at the purples, pinks, and oranges of the sunset from this iconic Portuguese miradouro

Sunset views from the Jardim do Morro. A visit here during sunset needs to be on your long weekend in Porto itinerary.

Feast on Petiscos at Sagardi

On our way to Ribeira earlier on day 1 of our long weekend in Porto, we passed by Sagardi and admired the tasty-looking petiscos enticing us from the front window. 

Hiring a Bolt (similar to Uber and one of the best apps for Portugal) and enjoying the sunset from Jardim do Morro worked up quite the appetite, so we headed back to Ribeira for a local bite to eat. 

Petiscos are a diverse array of Portuguese small plates, similar to Spanish tapas or Italian antipasti. The bite-sized dishes from Sagardi showcase the rich flavors of Portugal by featuring a variety of cheeses, cured meats, seafood, and other regional specialties. In other terms – they’re both cute and delicious! I recommend having a few cocktails during dinner to prepare for your first night out.

A variety of petiscos from Sagardi Porto in Ribeira.

Experience the Nightlife Scene

If you’re not too tired after a full day enjoying the best things to do in Porto, then head to Rua das Galerias de Paris to party with the best of them. This lively street in the Baixa district is filled with a myriad of bars and clubs that come alive as the sun sets. 

Nearby Galerias de Paris Street and known for its affordable drink menu, Adega Leonor is a favorite for Erasmus students and tourists to start the night. You may also enjoy Aduela – a popular spot among both tourists and locals for its wines, sangria, and handmade cocktails. Across the street on Rua de Cândido dos Reis, you’ll find Bar Baixa. This bar is well-known for its eclectic decor (it used to be a carpentry shop!) and awesome vibes. It’s a great place to dance the night away in Porto.

If you’re staying at Selina Hostel – perfect for Portugal travelers on a budget – the lively hostel bar and restaurant is its own nightlife scene. With a wide variety of cocktails, wines, and local beers, you don’t even need to leave home for this party. 

Day 2: Praça da Liberdade, Sé do Porto, Mercado do Bolhão

Ready to kick off Day 2 of my incredible long weekend guide to Porto? Start the day with a laid-back brunch to shake off your inevitable hangover from last night’s bar-hopping adventures. After sufficiently soaking up the alcohol in your stomach, head to Praça da Liberdade to immerse yourself in history. This central square, hugged by neoclassical buildings and graced by a statue of King Pedro IV on a grand column, is an integral piece of Porto’s history.

Next up, don’t miss the awe-inspiring Igreja de Santo Ildefonso. After a quick visit here, it’s time to roam around the famous Mercado do Bolhão and pay a visit to the Porto Cathedral, who’s history spans all the way back to the 12th century. As the sun sets, you’ll wrap up your second day with another beautiful sunset and a quirky dinner at the Lucky Duck.

Ready? Bring on day two!

Brunch at Eleven Lab

In an effort to nurse our hungover bodies after last night’s festivities, we started our second day with a visit to Eleven Lab – a delightful brunch spot nestled in downtown Porto. 

We ordered the “Benedict” and “LABenedict” – multigrain toasts topped with a variety of ingredients like avocado, mushrooms, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce. Both dishes expertly combined textures and tastes to create a satisfying morning feast for two hungover girlies. To sweeten the experience, we indulged in a brunch dessert of green pancakes and fresh fruit. 

LA Benedict toast from Eleven Lab brunch in Porto.
The most beautiful pancake order I've ever seen from Eleven Lab in Porto.

Check out Praça da Liberdade

After you’re sufficiently stuffed with a delicious and affordable brunch, it’s time to explore the city’s most famous square – Praça da Liberdade. 

Near the Clérigos Tower and Sao Bento Station, Praça da Liberdade stands as a significant historical and cultural landmark in the heart of Porto. Dating back to the 18th century, the square has undergone various transformations that reflect the evolving narrative of Portugal’s past. It’s the site of the city’s Town Hall and in the center of the square stands a monument dedicated to Dom Pedro IV, a pivotal figure in Portugal’s constitutional history.

Praça da Liberdade in Porto.

Visit Igreja de Santo Ildefonso

After immersing yourself in history at Praça da Liberdade, get ready to admire even more beautiful azulejo tiles at the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso. 

Situated in the heart of Porto, the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso stands as a testament to the city’s architectural and religious heritage. Constructed in the 18th century, this church is a striking example of Baroque design, characterized by its ornate facade adorned with intricate azulejo tiles.

Although the church was closed when we visited, you should absolutely take a peek inside if time allows. The inside is supposed to be splendid, with beautiful altars, gilded decorations, and a sense of serene grandeur. 

An aerial view of the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso in Porto.

Stroll Through the Mercado do Bolhão

Next on your long weekend in Porto, embark on a sensory journey of the city’s culinary scene with a stroll through the Mercado do Bolhão. This historic market, dating back to the 19th century, showcases the wide variety and vibrance of Portuguese flavors. Meandering through its bustling aisles, you’ll discover fresh produce, aromatic spices, and local specialties like sardines, Portuguese cheeses, and homemade bread. 

I recommend taking a lap around the market before deciding on any foods to try or souvenirs to bring home. It can be a bit of sensory overload, so take your time exploring.

Canned sardines from the Mercado do Bolhão in Porto.
Trying the local cheeses at the Mercado do Bolhão is a must-do during your long weekend in Porto.

Explore the Beautiful Se do Porto

No long weekend in Porto would be complete without a visit to the Sé do Porto – an ancient and beautiful Roman Catholic church located in the historical center. 

Stepping into the Sé do Porto felt like stepping into a time machine. The tiled hallways, the intricate architecture, the grandeur of the altar, and the light streaming through the stained-glass windows are simply awe-inspiring. Whether you’re there to appreciate the religious significance or just to soak up a piece of history, Sé do Porto offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, making it a must-visit spot for anyone spending 3 days in Porto. 

Be sure to bring your camera, the blue tiles covering the Porto Cathedral are the definition of Insta-worthy and the views of the city are unbelievable.

The Se do Porto facade – a must-add to your long weekend in Porto itinerary.
The beautiful interior of the Porto Cathedral.
Me posing in front of the blue tiles of the Se do Porto.

Sunset at Miradouro do Passeio das Virtudes

Similar to visiting the exotic Island of Madeira, Porto has no shortage of beautiful viewpoints to enjoy a spectacular sunset. We watched the second day of our vacation draw to a close from the Miradouro do Passeio das Virtudes as the sun set over the Duoro River. 

Not only is this viewpoint one of Porto’s best, but there’s a wide variety of cute little restaurants and bars nearby where you can order a vinho verde or a couple of Super Bocks to sip on as the sun sets. We also ordered a cup of Lupini Beans – a salty and crunchy Portuguese snack that goes perfectly with sparkling wine. 

A sunset from Miradouro do Passeio das Virtudes is a must-do during your long weekend in Porto.
A cup of Lupini Beans enjoyed at sunset during our long weekend in Porto.

Dinner at Restaurante The Lucky Duck

As you can imagine, we worked up quite the appetite on our second day of exploring Porto. Chatting with two local guys at the wine bar, we inquired about the best restaurants in Porto. They informed us there was a quirky little restaurant around the corner called The Lucky Duck – and we knew we needed to try it out. 

Seated amongst a room full of rubber duck decor, we ordered two heaping bowls of arroz lucky duck and a bottle of chilled vinho verde. We toasted to another beautiful day in Portugal and got ready for day number three – our first visit to the Douro Valley. 

Two bowls of arroz lucky duck at The Lucky Duck Restaurant in Porto.

Day 3: Wine Tasting in the Douro Valley

Don’t get nostalgic yet, there’s still one more fun-filled day left on your long weekend in Porto itinerary! Day number 3 is all about exploring the world-famous wine region and UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Douro Valley. 

Are you ready to admire green rolling hills, sip on sweet port wine, and channel your inner sommelier? If the answer is yes…then you’re ready for a day trip to the Douro Valley. Keep reading for our experience with one of Viator’s top-rated wine tours. 

👉🏼 Learn more about our Douro Valley day trip on Viator!

Beautiful views of the river and the Igreja de São Gonçalo in Amarante.

First Stop at Amarante

After joining your tour group at the meeting point on Rue de Mouzinho da Silveira, your local guide will direct you to board one of their comfortable vans. Don’t worry – there’s plenty of strong A/C. 

You’ll make your way out of the city (amid some interesting tidbits from your guide) and head to your first stop, Amarante. Amarante is a quaint town in Northern Portugal known for its impressive bridge and gothic church – the Igreja de São Gonçalo. During this stop, you’ll have time to explore the church, use the restroom, and grab something quick for breakfast. 

Your guide will also tell you all about the Bolos de São Gonçalo – a local pastry known for its phallic shape (pictured below, right). I’m not sure what these pastries normally taste like, besides the fact that they’re hilarious to eat, but I do know not to take your guide’s recommendation and buy one from the woman in the red tent outside the church. We bought a pastry to try and it was so hard (pun not intended) that we could not take a bite or even break pieces off with our hands. We ended up throwing the whole thing away. 

The Igreja de São Gonçalo in Amarante, Portugal.
A fluffy croissant and a cappuccino enjoyed in Amarante, Portugal.
Bolos de São Gonçalo – a regional, phallic-shaped pastry.

Winery #1 and Lunch: Adega Cooperative de Favaios

After a quick ham and cheese croissant and some much-needed caffeine, we boarded the bus again and headed to our first winery: Adega Cooperative de Favaios. 

A colorful mural at Adega Cooperative de Favaios in the Douro Valley.

We embarked on a quick winery tour and learned more about the bottling process from start to finish. Then, we headed indoors for a family-style lunch of hearty soup, creamy Bacalhau à Brás, roasted potatoes, savory pork, and – of course – plenty of local wine. We got to know the other travelers in our tour group while we enjoyed our Portuguese feast! 

When I learned that the specialty of Adega Cooperative de Favaios was Moscato, I was more than a little skeptical. I love wine, but I loath sweet wine. Thankfully, the wine served with lunch (unlimited table wine) was delicious, so I definitely drank my fill. 

Homemade soup from Adega Cooperative de Favaios in the Douro Valley.
Bacalhau à Brás – a traditional Portuguese dish featuring cod and potatoes.
Roasted potatoes and Portuguese pork.

Pinhão River Cruise

After lunch at the Cooperative, your group will re-board the tour bus and head towards Pinhão for a river cruise onboard a traditional Rebelo boat. The boat was large and comfortable and the scenery rolling past our windows was breathtaking. 

We only had two complaints about the river cruise portion of our Douro Valley day trip. 1. The outdoor seating area was tiny, so it was completely full by the time we boarded the boat. 2. They only sold beer and port onboard. We thought it was strange that a wine tour didn’t sell any glasses of wine onboard. 

Boats on the Douro Valley in Porto's Pinhão region.
Disclaimer: The boat we boarded for our cruise is not shown here.

Winery #2: Quinta de São Luiz

After the river cruise, you’ll be driven to the second winery of the day – Quinta de São Luiz for a tour and a chance to try some of their delicious creations. To start, we were herded into the cellar to learn about the wine-making process from start to finish. We saw where the grapes are crushed, fermented, and aged in barrels before being bottled and labeled.

Finally, it was time for the best part – the wine tasting!

We were treated to a tasting of three different wines produced at Quinta de São Luiz – a white, a red, and a port. I found the red and the port absolutely delicious, but to be honest, I really did not enjoy the white. It tasted almost chemical…and for me to not finish a glass of included wine, that’s saying something. I’m by no means a sommelier, but living in Italy taught me the difference between a good wine and a bad wine. Who knows, maybe I got a bad bottle? 🤷🏽‍♀️

After the tasting, we had a chance to admire the stunning views from the Quinta de São Luiz winery. The property was surrounded by lush, rolling hills framing the sparkling Douro River. It was truly a view to remember.

Aerial shot of S. Luiz winery taken during our day trip to the Douro Valley on our long weekend in Porto.

Overall, I thought this Douro Valley day trip was a great value for the money and an awesome option for travelers who only have one day to spend in wine country. We got to drink lots of delicious wine and were surrounded by beautiful views throughout the entire day. Our guide was knowledgeable and provided us with tons of interesting facts about the region. The transportation was comfortable and, at around 8-10 people, the tour was not overly crowded.

The only complaints I had about this day trip had to do with the actual wineries. The first winery did not actually include a wine tasting. They offered us unlimited (and delicious) white and red table wine during lunch and a glass of port for dessert, but there was no guided tasting of their famous Moscato that we had heard about during the tour.

The second winery included a more traditional tasting, but the sommelier simply poured the wine and left the room, leaving us to taste the wine ourselves. Unlike the wine tastings I’ve embarked on in places like Tuscany and Sonoma, there were no explanations of the flavor profiles or interesting facts about the wines in front of us.

This tour is not a bad choice for the cost and convenience, but you may want to search other top-rated Douro Valley Wine Tours on Viator before making a final decision.

👉🏼 Search the top-rated Douro Valley Tours on Viator here!

Dinner at República dos Cachorros 2

After our day trip to the Douro Valley, we were exhausted, but didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to try more of Porto’s famous cuisine. We stumbled off the tour bus, a little tipsy of course, and headed to República dos Cachorros 2, a cozy restaurant known for their Portuguese hot dogs or “cachorrinhos”. Thin, crusty bread is filled with plump sausages and brushed with spicy sauce to create a Portuguese delicacy that you can’t miss during your long weekend in Porto.

There are plenty of great spots to try this traditional Portuguese dish, including Cervejaria Gazela – home of the “O Original Cachorrinho.”

A crispy and delicious cachorrinho or Portuguese hot dog from República dos Cacharros 2 in Porto.

Other Things to Add to Your Porto Itinerary

Not everyone has the same interests when visiting Porto. You may want to see 12+ churches in 3 days, or you may not want to step foot in a single one. Alternatively, you might want to focus your efforts on the city’s culinary scene, while others want to immerse themselves in Portugal’s history on a walking tour.

The activities below might make a good addition to your long weekend in Porto. Happy browsing!

  • Explore the Miragaia neighborhood: This charming and colorful neighborhood is a must-see for its picturesque streets, local markets, and stunning views of the Douro River.
  • Visit the Palacio da Bolsa: This 19th-century neoclassical building was originally built as Porto’s stock exchange and features stunning architecture and intricate details.
  • Take a Cooking Class: Learn how to make world-famous Portuguese specialties like pork, codfish, seafood rice, or sweet pasteis de nata in a local cooking class. I love taking cooking classes when I’m exploring a new city. I’ve learned how to make authentic pierogis in Krakow, Honduran chicken in handmade coconut milk in Roatan, and a variety of Vietnamese dishes in Hanoi.
  • Look around Igreja de São Francisco: This gothic church is one of the most beautiful in the city and features stunning gold-plated interiors.
  • See the World’s Prettiest McDonalds: Yes, you read that right – the McDonalds located on Aliados Avenue is often referred to as the world’s prettiest location after it took over the location of Cafe Imperial (a coffee shop open in Porto since 1930). And, let’s be honest, sometimes you just need some chicky nuggies.
  • Admire the azulejos at São Bento Train Station: Porto’s train station at the end of Rua das Flores is known for its beautiful blue and white tile panels that depict historic scenes from Portugal’s past.
  • Book a Food & Wine Tasting Tour: Experience the best of the city’s culinary scene on this 3-hour food & wine tour of Porto.
  • Take a tour of a Port House: Most of Porto’s famous port cellars are located across the Douro River in Vila Nova de Gaia. Book a tasting at Taylor’s Port House or Graham’s Port Lodge to try traditional port wine.
  • Book a Pub Crawl: If you’re backpacking or simply want to enjoy the best nightlife, consider adding a pub crawl with a local guide to your long weekend in Porto itinerary.
  • Relax on a River Cruise: Enjoy a leisurely boat ride along the Douro River while taking in the stunning views of the colorful buildings and historical landmarks.
  • Visit Capela das Almas or Chapel of the Souls: This small chapel is covered in beautiful blue and white tiles that depict scenes from the lives of saints and religious figures.
  • Take the train to Foz: Escape the city and head to Foz do Douro, a charming seaside area just a 20-minute drive from the city center.

Protect Your Trip to Portugal

Whenever I plan a trip, I always make sure to protect myself and my wallet with travel insurance. I’ve always booked travel insurance before trips, but I had to learn the hard way that not all travel insurance programs are created equal. During the two months I lived in Thailand in 2022, I injured my foot on a weekend trip to Khao Sok National Park, which led to four months of limping around Southeast Asia and an eventual surgery in Canggu. Since I was buying travel insurance month-to-month through AXA, none of my surgery was covered and I was out $3,500—even though I had active travel insurance at the time.

Since then, I started traveling with SafetyWing Travel Medical Insurance. It’s perfect for both short-term travelers and digital nomads since you can tailor it exactly to your dates and needs. You can use it as a monthly subscription (what I usually do), or pay in full for a set date range. You can also take advantage of their useful add ons like U.S. coverage (not for U.S. citizens unfortunately), adventure sports, and electronics theft.

Stay Connected in Portugal

Don’t wander aimlessly around Porto with no data. Trust me – it’s a waste of time. Instead, download Airalo‘s easy app to purchase and install an affordable Portuguese eSIM in minutes. Below are the best options for data in Portugal, but be sure to make sure your phone is unlocked before you buy!

Where to Stay in Porto

When it comes to accommodation in Porto, there are many excellent options to choose from. Whether you’re balling on a budget or traveling in the lap of luxury, there are historic hotels, well-stocked Airbnbs, and awesome hostel atmospheres around every corner.

For budget-conscious travelers, backpackers, or solo travelers, I always recommend staying in a hostel during your trip. Selina Hostel, located in Porto’s city center, is a great option for budget travelers and social butterflies alike.

They offer reasonably-priced and clean hostel dorms with privacy curtains (which are the BEST) on each bed. In addition to their dorms, they also offer private rooms, an on-site restaurant and bar, and plenty of exciting activities around the city.

Our only complaint with Selina during our stay in October 2023 was the poor wifi. There was an issue with the router that weekend and the wifi did not work in our room. It was a problem since we also had zero reception.

PortoBay Flores is a beautifully renovated 16th-century palace located in the heart of Porto’s historic district. With its luxurious rooms, indoor swimming pool, and top-notch service, this hotel is a great option for those looking to splurge a bit on their stay.

But don’t worry, you won’t have to break the bank to stay here. PortoBay Flores offers competitive rates and often has special offers and packages available on their website.

For those looking for the ultimate luxury experience in Porto, look no further than Torel Avantgarde. This five-star boutique hotel boasts stunning views of the city from its rooftop infinity pool, a gourmet restaurant, spa services, and luxurious rooms with unique decor inspired by avant-garde art.

Located just a few minutes from the city center, this hotel is the perfect place to relax and indulge after a day of exploring. And if you’re feeling extra fancy, you can even book the exclusive rooftop suite with its own private plunge pool!

How to Get to Porto

By Air

Flying into Porto is a convenient option for many international travelers, with Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO) serving as the city’s main airport. Located less than 10 miles from the city center, the airport connects Porto with many major cities around the world. Upon arrival, you can take the Metro Line E or B directly to the city center, which takes about 30 minutes. Taxis and Bolt are also readily available, Bolt being the more affordable option in Portugal.

By Train

If you’re already in Portugal or a nearby country, reaching Porto by train is a practical alternative to flying. The city’s main train station, São Bento Station, is conveniently located in the city center and is well-connected with other major Portuguese cities, like Lisbon, as well as with international destinations. Once disembarking your São Bento train, you can easily find taxi services and public transportation options to reach your accommodation.

By Bus

Traveling to Porto by bus is a cost-effective and feasible option, especially for those coming from other parts of Portugal or from Spain. Several bus companies operate regular services to Porto, including Rede Expressos and Flixbus, with the main bus terminal being at Oporto Campanhã. Upon arrival, local bus lines, taxis, and Bolt/Uber services can assist you in reaching your final destination in the city.

Getting Around Porto

Porto’s public transportation system is well-developed and efficient, making it easy to move around the city. The Metro do Porto network covers most of the city and its outskirts, with frequent trains connecting various neighborhoods and tourist attractions. Bus services are also available for shorter distances or less popular destinations. For both options, you can purchase tickets at stations or directly onboard.

For those who prefer to explore on foot, Porto is a delightfully walkable city. Its urban layout is much less hilly than Lisbon, making it an excellent choice for leisurely strolls or energetic walks between attractions. However, if you’d rather save your energy or need to cover larger distances more swiftly, Uber and Bolt services are a great option. Both of these rideshare apps tend to be shockingly cheap in Portugal, so we used both daily during our long weekend in Porto.

Which is better Porto or Lisbon?

This is a tricky question, as both cities have their unique charms and attractions. Porto is smaller, more compact, and has a different atmosphere than Lisbon, which makes it easier to explore on foot and see most of the highlights in a shorter time frame. However, Lisbon offers more diversity regarding cultural activities, nightlife options, and overall liveliness. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.
As a whole, I actually liked Porto more than Lisbon. However, I visited Lisbon for two whole months, so this could have been attributed to the fact that Porto was more novel to me. If I had lived in Porto instead, perhaps my preference would have been reversed. Don’t get me wrong though, Lisbon is definitely worth a visit! Additionally, if you have the time, I highly recommend making it down to the Algarve for a visit to Lagos.

Is 3 days in Porto too much?

It depends on your travel style and what you want to see and do in the city. If you are a slow traveler who enjoys immersing yourself in the local culture, 3 days may not be enough time to fully experience Porto. However, if you are a fast-paced tourist who wants to see all the main attractions and move on to the next destination, a long weekend may be the perfect amount of time in Porto.

How many days do you need for Porto?

To get a good taste of Porto, I would recommend spending at least 3 full days in the city. This will give you enough time to explore the main sights and attractions, try some delicious Portuguese food, and fit in a day trip to the gorgeous Douro Valley. If you have more time to spare, you can easily extend your stay and use Porto as a base for exploring other nearby cities in Portugal.

Is Porto worth visiting?

I would say absolutely—Porto is worth visiting! Porto has a rich history, beautiful architecture, delicious food and wine, and friendly locals. It’s also less crowded and expensive when compared to Lisbon, making it a more authentic Portuguese cultural experience. With its compact size, it’s also easier to see most of the city in just a few days.

When is the best time to visit Porto?

The best time to visit Porto is during the shoulder seasons of spring (March-May) and fall (September-November). This is when the weather is mild, crowds are thinner, and hotel prices are more affordable. However, if you don’t mind the heat and bigger crowds, summer can also be a great time to visit as there are many festivals and events happening.

Final Thoughts

In summary, my journey to Porto was an enriching and memorable experience. We spent a wonderful 3 days exploring the city’s historical landmarks, stuffing our faces with delicious Portuguese cuisine, and soaking up the charming local culture. Despite the city’s popularity, Porto felt less crowded and more affordable compared to Lisbon, allowing us to get a more authentic feel for the Portuguese lifestyle. Visiting in the shoulder season added to our enjoyment as we experienced mild weather and fewer crowds. All in all, Porto has left an indelible imprint on our hearts and is a destination we would recommend without hesitation.

If you’re still pondering your next European destination, take my advice and add a long weekend in Porto to the shortlist! Trust me – you won’t be disappointed.

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