One Day in Porto: The Best Itinerary, Map, Tips & Guide

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Our guide to spending an amazing day in Porto

Rising from the banks of the Douro River in northern Portugal, Porto is an intimate city that packs a real punch. 

Charismatic, cool and with a lively cafe and bar scene, enjoy the laid-back vibe as you wander, discover and taste all the delights the second largest city in Portugal has to offer with our one day Porto itinerary.

In this Porto travel guide, you’ll find a complete itinerary of all the most important must see Porto attractions, with an interactive map, organised to make the best use of your time. We also share recommendations for central places to stay, ideas about where to eat local food, and tips about how to make the most of your perfect day in Porto.

Porto in one day

Are you planning your trip to Porto last minute?

Be sure to book your accommodation and tours in Porto ahead of time to ensure availability! Here are our top picks!

  • Top Hotels in Porto:
  1. Luxury: Torel Palace Porto (right in the centre and very lux!)
  2. Mid-Range: Oca Flores Boutique Hotel (on the lively Rua das Flores & our fave)
  3. Budget: Porta Nobre (aparthotel with a rooftop pool)
  4. Hostel: The Passenger Hostel (centrally located at a great price)
  • Top Activities & Tours in Porto:
  1. For all the best things to see, grab this guided tour of historical Porto 
  2. Get your Clerigos Tower skip the line tickets to see one of Porto’s top attractions
  3. Explore Porto’s famous wine with the Graham’s Port lodge tour
  4. Listen to live fado music at Casa de Guitarra
  5. End your day with a river cruise along the Douro for a whole new perspective!

Things to See & Do in Porto

Interactive Map

ROUTE: Arrabida Bridge – Cathedral of Porto – Clerigos Tower – Livraria Lello – Sao Bento Station – Old Town – Pont Luis I Bridge – Vila Nova de Gaia – Cais de Ribeira

How to use this map – Use your fingers (or computer mouse) to zoom in and out. Click or touch the icons to get more info about a place, and click the arrow in the box top left to open the index. To add to your own Google Maps account, click the star next to the title of the map.

Porto Itinerary Notes

  • Is one day in Porto enough? We think so! Follow our Porto itinerary around this very walkable city and you’ll find all of the main attractions are within a short walk of the city centre. Be prepared for aching calves if you’re not used to hills!
  • If you want to have your Porto one day itinerary organized for you this highly rated guided tour of historical Porto will take you to all the important places!
  • If you want to see Porto in a day but are staying in Lisbon, then get the train or take a Lisbon day trip to Porto. You can take a high speed train from Lisbon to Porto, arriving in around three hours. Trains from Lisbon to Porto start around 8am and the last Porto to Lisbon train leaves at around 8pm, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful city and visit all the Porto must see attractions.  
  • Is this your first time visiting Portugal? Get all the information you need in our Portugal Travel Guide, including what to pack, the best time of year to go, getting there and practical tips to help you have the best trip!

Morning

Climb the Arrabida Bridge

In 1963, the Arrábida Bridge was the largest concrete arch bridge in the world. Since 2016, the concrete arch bridge is the only one in Europe open to visitors.

Start your day early and take a unique opportunity to climb a national monument and building that has been closed to the public for 53 years. With a guide and all the safety equipment provided, climbing this iconic bridge is actually pretty easy – we think it’s one of the best things to do in Porto. 

You will need to arrange a taxi, public transport or even a tuk-tuk to get to the bridge from the city center, unless you’re up for a good 50 minute walk to start your day. Book your Porto Bridge Climb here and make sure to take a camera, the views are incredible!

TOP TIP: If you’re planning on these types of activities, you will need travel insurance which covers you for high risk sports. We recommend True Traveller, who offer this type of cover as standard.

people climbing an arched bridge over a river with the sun rising behind them

Visit the Cathedral of Porto

At the highest point of the city and in the historic center is Porto Cathedral, or Sé do Porto. Predominantly Baroque in style, with a Romanesque facade and nave and the cloister and one of the chapels being Gothic, it is the most important religious edifice in the city and has been declared a National Monument.

The construction of the Cathedral began during the twelfth century, but it was rebuilt and renovated numerous times throughout the centuries. This explains why the Cathedral is a mix of architectural styles. The cathedral is free to enter.

colourful city rooftops with a twin towerd cathedral in the distance

Stroll the Rua das Flores

A 16th century street, Rua das Flores is today lined with souvenir shops, cute cafés, and independent boutiques and is a popular spot for a stroll. The street extends all the way from Sao Bento Station to the Igreja da Misericórdia.

Climb the Clerigos Tower

Across town and downhill from the cathedral, the Clérigos Tower, or Torre dos Clérigos, is the tallest campanile, or bell tower, in Portugal and one of Porto’s major attractions. Standing 76m tall over the Clerigos Church, this iconic Porto tower has a fantastic view of the city and river.

Climb the 200 or so steps to the top of the tower for a really breathtaking (and breathless) view over Porto from the observation deck.

This is also a great place to take photos of the cityscape. Book your skip the line tickets in advance, queues on the day are often long.

teracotta rooftops with a tall stone tower in the background

Buy a Book at Livraria Lello (or not!)

Livraria Lello is one of the oldest and most beautiful bookshops in the world and reportedly inspired JK Rowling when she was writing the Harry Potter books. 

This magnificent building and bookshop on Rua das Carmelitas has been spoiled by the 4,000 visitors a day eager to get that instagram shot, huge queues and a fee to enter. What if you just want to buy a book?  

red staircase in a book shop with ornate painting on the underneath

Admire the Tiles at the Sao Bento Station

Pass Praça da Liberdade en route, a lively square that’s become a huge roundabout! In the centre is an equestrian statue of King Pedro IV , a ten meter high monument made of bronze in 1862. It’s a good place to stop for a coffee and what the world go by… literally!

The azulejos (tiles) at the Sao Bento train station are are a must see in Porto and really beautiful. 

Just south of Porto’s most grandiose thoroughfare, Avenida dos Aliados, São Bento train station is a stunning French Beaux-Arts structure which was built in 1900. It’s easy to pop in on your way past and marvel at this beautiful railway station.

The walls of the ticket hall are lined with 20,000 magnificent antique blue and white hand-painted ceramic azulejo tiles depicting Portugal’s history, from royalty to wars and everything in between. The tiles were laid over a period of 11 years, between 1905 and 1916, by artist Jorge Colaço.

blue and white tiles in a public building with a clock

Eat Pastéis de Nata in the Old Town

These delicious custard tarts are a staple of cafe life in Porto, in fact anywhere in Portugal. If you don’t think you’re a custard tart sort of person, try one in Porto and be converted. 

These little beauties will cost you around €1 each. Have one with a coffee at the Majestic Cafe, one of the most beautiful and romantic spots in Porto, which you will no doubt come across when wandering the narrow streets in the historic heart of the old town.

TOP TIP: Pasteis de Nata are best eaten warm, straight from the oven with the pastry crispy and the rich custard filling bubbling and caramelised on top.

custard tarts on a silver tray

Admire Capela das Almas

Dating back to the 18th century, the Almas Chapel, also known as Capela Santa Catarina (because of its location on Rua de Santa Catarina), and the Chapel of Souls, is renowned for its beautifual facade of blue and white ceramic tiles. Added in 1929, these panels depict scenes from the lives of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catherine, utilizing a total of 16,000 tiles.

blue and white tiles on a religious building

Afternoon

Cross the Pont Luis I Bridge & Take the Cable Car

As you wander south to the famous bridge, stop to admire the Church of Saint Ildefonso, an 18th century Baroque church near Batalha Square and covered in 11,000 distinctive blue and white azulejo tiles.

Completed in 1739, the church was built in a proto-Baroque style and features a retable by the Italian artist Nicolau Nasoni and a façade of 1932 azulejo tilework.

The iconic Pont Luis I Bridge is a top tourist attraction in Porto and a crazy busy pedestrian thoroughfare on both its levels, the lower of which carries vehicles across the river. 

The double-decked metal arch Dom Luís bridge is a real feat of engineering and spans 172m. When constructed in 1880 it was the longest of its type in the world and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The bridge takes you from the Porto side of the Douro river into Vila Nova de Gaia, where you will find port lodges and bars and restaurants cheek by jowl along the river front. This is one of the best places to visit in Porto, it’s lively, vibrant and fun.   

Head up the steps from the Ribeira (or take the lift) to cross the upper deck of the bridge, then take the Teleferico de Gaia (cable car) down to the port lodges on the other side…..or cross at the bottom of the bridge and do the reverse coming back. 

Either way, it’s a great experience, the views over Porto are stunning, and the bridge is a real hub of activity.

double layered iron bridge over a river with a cityscape in the background

Take a Port Wine Tour

A highlight and one of the top things to do in Porto is a tour of a port wine lodge with a port wine tasting included. These historic port cellars, found on the banks of the River Douro in Vila Nova de Gaia, were storage and despatch warehouses for port wine, produced in the gorgeous Douro valley to the east of Porto. 

There are many names you will recognise such as Taylors and Sandemans, all of whom have bars along the river front as you come down from the bridge.  

The port wine cellars are fascinating buildings in themselves and smell wonderful. Many of them have not been renovated since being built in the 17th century – you can admire their architecture and unique style, whilst dodging the holes in the roof!

There are lots of tours on offer, from a whole day to just an hour. The best tours will take you to a number of different houses with tastings included, alongside guidance from local port experts.

We highly recommend this Graham’s Port lodge tour with a premium wine tasting where you get to learn about the 1890 Graham’s Port Lodge, the production process of Port wine, and then enjoy a wine tasting with chocolate, cheese, and Pastel de Nata pairings.

glasses of port on a wooden table

Stroll Along the Cais da Ribeira

On the opposite bank of the Douro to the port lodges, the Ribeira is the place to promenade in Porto. Here you will find restaurants and bars to suit every taste and budget, with a a focus on seafood.

The national dish of salt cod is loved by the Portuguese and has to be tried, although it is an acquired taste. You can easily while away an afternoon or evening here, people watching and soaking up the happy and lively atmosphere.

colorful buildings lining a river with people and a boat

Evening

Take a Douro River Cruise

Cruise under all of Porto’s iconic bridges and enjoy unique views of Porto and Villa Nova de Gaia from the tranquil waters of the Douro River. 

This highly rated river cruise along the Douro follows in the footsteps of port merchants on a classic six bridges cruise of Porto, along the route of the old Rabello boats that served Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.

people on a boat looking towards buildings on the riverside

Listen to Fado

Fado is the expressive melancholic music of Portugal which is played in pubs and cafes across the country and has World Heritage status.

Usually played on one or two string guitars or violas and accompanied by singing full of heartfelt emotion, the music is slow and invokes feelings of longing and sadness.

Fado is not truly a part of Porto’s heritage though, and you’ll have a better experience in Lisbon or Coimbra. If you can only visit Porto and really want to hear fado, book a ticket for Casa de Guitarra, a shop which specialises in stringed instruments for traditional Portuguese music, to listen to the music with a glass of local port. 

TOP TIP: You can hear fado played live (and free) by street bands, especially along the Ribeira and along the river front in Vila Nova de Gaia – you may find a ten minute stint is enough to satisfy your curiosity.

men in suits with guitars and other instruments on a cobbled street

Where to Eat in Porto

Cervejaria Gazela

Head to Cerevejaria Gazela on your way to the Pont Luis bridge to sample cachorrinho, Portugal’s take on a hot-dog crossed with a toasted sandwich. Thin crusty bread is filled with fresh sausage, grilled, brushed with a spicy piri piri sauce then cut into bite-sized pieces.

At the Gazela Brewery, they are famed for their version, which you can enjoy with a fino (tap beer) and fries.  

They also serve the famous francesinha, a meat-fest of a sandwich covered in melted cheese and spicy sauce. Touted as a national dish, and with Porto restaurants all stating with conviction that they make the best francesinha in town, there is a reason this one hasn’t taken off outside of Portugal!

Taberna dos Mercadores

You’ll find Taberna dos Mercadores down a narrow alley just off the busy streets of the Ribeira district. Serving traditional Portuguese and classic regional dishes alongside wines from the Douro and Alentejo regions in a contemporary and cool space,

 Their speciality is the açorda de marisco, a stew of stale bread, garlic, vinegar, coriander, eggs and seafood, which is absolutely delicious. Make sure to book in advance as the restaurant only seats 20.

Portuguese Travel Ideas

Top Five Porto Travel Tips

  • The hop on hop off Porto bus has limited options in this compact and pedestrian city. Much of what you will want to see is not accessible to the bus and there are huge lengths of the journey without commentary, but it may be a good way to get around if you’re staying a little longer.
  • Consider a Porto Card which will give you discounts on public transportation, free museum entry and 50% of a port wine tour. Work out exactly what you want to see before buying though – follow our one day itinerary and this card won’t save you much.
  • If you’re planning on visiting Porto over the Festival of São João (the city’s patron saint), held on the 23rd June every year, it will be expensive and accommodation will get booked up quickly, so make sure you plan well in advance.
  • You may see Porto being referred to Oporto online. This is actually incorrect and comes from a mispronunciation started by the British eons ago. Just so you know…
  • If you do decide to get a taxi in Porto, drivers in the city are notorious for negotiating a price and not using their meter. This inevitably means you’ll be ripped off. Find a driver whose happy to use the meter as intended.

More Than One Day in Porto?

If you want to visit Porto in two days or have an extra half a day in Porto, there are lots of other attractions you can add to your itinerary.

Igreja de Sao Fransisco

Visit the Igreja de São Francisco (or Monument Church of St Francis) located in the historic centre and the most prominent Gothic monument in Porto, noted for its stunning Baroque inner decoration. 

Nearby is the Palácio da Bolsa, Portugal’s historic stock exchange. A large and dominating building in a mix of architectural styles including Neoclassical, Tuscan, English and neo-Palladian!

Hang out in Foz do Douro

Hire a tuk-tuk or e-bike and head along the north bank of the river to the Foz do Douro district and Felgueiras Lighthouse. Promenade along Avenida do Brasil, past the sandy beaches and rocky shoreline to the 17th century Fort of Saint Francis Xavier, built as a deterrent to French, Dutch and British corsairs who pillaged the lands and stole Portuguese boats.

stone lighthouse witha red top on a stone pier surrounded by sea

Take a Douro Valley Tour

Take a Douro Valley tour. The Douro Valley is known for its breathtaking landscapes that produce some of the best port wines and olive oil in Portugal. You can tour the Douro valley by boat, by bike or by car. Check out these top Douro valley tours from Porto for ideas and inspiration.

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Fátima and Coimbra Full Day Tour from Porto

If you take one day trip from Porto, take this highly rated and well organized day trip from Porto to Coimbra and Fatima.

Explore the Shrine of Fatima to experience one of Portugal’s most important pilgrimage sites, with the option to attend a mass at the sanctuary. This then hour tour also goes to the beautiful historic city of Coimbra, home to one of Europe’s oldest universities.

With a professional guide to offer insights, an organized tour is the perfect opportunity to see more of Spain in less time!

large white religious building with many people in front of it

Porto Practicalities

When to Visit Porto

Porto is a coastal city in the north of Portugal and enjoys hot summer months, pleasantly warm spring and autumn months and mild, wet winters.

The best time to visit Porto is late spring or early autumn. There will be fewer visitors and better deals on travel and accommodation, but the weather will still be lovely with warm sunshine and little rain.

Getting to Porto

When flying to Porto you will arrive at Francisco Sá Carneiro International Airport, which is located around 13km north of the city.

The best way to get to the city from the airport is by metro. You will need to take the purple E metro line which will take you to Trindade the main metro station in Porto. The trains leave every 20-30 minutes, dependent on the day and time. The journey takes about 27 minutes.

You will need to buy an Andante Card from one of the ticket machines at the airport for 50c and then add your journey to this card. You can use this card for your entire stay and top it up at the ticket machines at any metro station.

Once tickets have been loaded to your Andante card you must validate them before you get on the train. Your ticket will last for one hour once validated and if you change lines at any point in your journey you will need to validate your ticket again. Do not validate on your way out.

You can also take a bus to the city. The Get Bus leaves every hour on the hour and takes 25 minutes to Campanha Bus Station, which is a little bit out of the centre, so you will then need to take another bus or metro to your required destination.

For a great way to start your Porto trip book a private transfer from the airport with Intui directly to your accommodation in the city center – it’s more cost-effective than you think! Intui works with a large range of local operators to bring the best options and prices for your transfer.

Are you visiting Porto as part of a longer trip? A Portuguese road trip is the best way see this beautiful country, and our guide to road tripping in Portugal has all you need, including maps, routes, highlights and tips, to help you plan the perfect trip.

Where to Stay in Porto

Luxury: Torel Palace PortoBooking.com | Agoda

A beautiful hote, the charming Torel Palace is in an excellent location and boasts a pool, sumptuous rooms and elegant decor. It’s the perfect place for a celebratory stay in Porto.

Mid-Range: Oca Flores Boutique HotelBooking.com | Agoda

Our choice in Porto, the Flores Hotel is like a Tardis, with a traditional tiled townhouse frontage and beautiful gardens at the back. There is also a spa and wellness centre to make your stay that bit more special.

Budget: Porta Nobre – Exclusive Living Hotel Booking.com | Agoda

This aparthotel offers everything you need for a stay in Porto, including your own kitchenette. There is also a rooftop pool, perfect for cooling off after a busy day.

Hostel: The Passenger Hostel Booking.com | Agoda

Right in the centre of the city, this very cool hostel offers a variety of private suites and rooms plus mixed, male and female dormitaries, perfect for visiting Porto on a budget.

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