When you visit Porto, soon you’ll realize this is a cosmopolitan city where the ancient meets the contemporary. Porto is source of inspiration, where people visiting it will eventually want to return!
The city of Porto gave the name to Portugal (Portucale) and to the world famous wine that goes by the same name. However, the city is not just names, it was also awarded with the prize of European Best Destination in the years of 2012, 2014 and 2017.
To help you plan your next trip to Porto, I’ve prepared this guide where you’ll find 2 itineraries that will show you the wonders of this city in two days.
Visit Porto: Itinerary Day 1
São Bento Train Station
São Bento train station is the perfect place for you to start exploring the historic centre when you visit Porto. Whether you come from the airport or from another Portuguese city by train, this station is a great starting point, a place that will dazzle you even before you set foot in the city.
When you get to the train station, go to the main hall and admire the walls decorated with hundreds of glazed tiles depicting the daily life and Portuguese history.
When you visit Porto, you can’t miss the opportunity to get to know the most beautiful Portuguese café, founded in 1921.
This café is on the top 10 of the most beautiful cafés in the world. In Majestic Café you can have breakfast, lunch or dinner but beware of the prices! Prices here are higher than average, but you can relax and just have a cup of coffee.
- Site: www.cafemajestic.com
Bolhão Market (Mercado do Bolhão)
Continue your stroll through the pedestrian street Rua de Santa Catarina and then to Rua Formosa until you get to Mercado do Bolhão.
In this market, built in 1914, you’ll feel like you were in a small village. Here, you can admire the wooden newsstands, fountains, glazed tiles and, of course, you can also buy all sorts of fresh food and even eat at a small restaurant.
- Information: this market is closed until 2020 for renovations.
Aliados Avenue (Avenida dos Aliados)
Begin your visit to this place at the end of the avenue, where you can admire the wonderful city hall building. Then, go downwards to Praça da Liberdade and turn right to Rua dos Clérigos.
This is perhaps the most popular avenue and one of the main passage points for those visiting Porto and its historic centre.
Instead of visiting Porto and the places mentioned above all by yourself, you can choose to go on a gastronomic tour to savour the Portuguese culinary specialities, in general, and those from Porto, in particular, while discovering the history behind each dish.
Apart from getting to know the local gastronomy, you’ll also have the opportunity to explore the old Porto.
While preparing this travel guide, I’ve tested this gastronomic tour since I need to be sure of the quality of the activities I talk about and suggest.
This tour started with us going to one of the best places in Porto to try a Portuguese delicacy, the pastel de nata (an egg tart pastry) and a cup of coffee.
Next, we went to a local grocery shop that has many Portuguese products such as honey, olive oil, traditional sausages, cheeses, Port wine and others of exceptional quality!
When we entered this grocery shop, we had the impression of being in Ali Baba’s cavern due to its unique atmosphere and all the riches we could find there.
When I visited this place, I had the opportunity of savouring several cheeses, traditional sausages, olives and bread from this region – all of this accompanied by a wonderful glass of Port wine.
Apart from the quality of the products, what I liked the most was the presentation of each product (its origin, its region and its history).
The gastronomic tour continued through the streets of Porto, where we passed by some touristy places like Majestic Café.
Next, we stopped at a typical Porto café to savour some tasteful pastéis de bacalhau (cod fish cakes), drink a glass of verde wine – a type of wine produced in Northern Portugal. To know more about the history of verde wine, click here.
Afterwards, we went to a well-known Porto restaurant where we could savour a bifana, a spicy pork sandwich, famous all over Portugal, especially during Portuguese festivals and football matches.
To conclude the gastronomic tour, we went to a specialised Port wine shop, close to Avenida dos Aliados, where we savoured three different brands of Port wine from small producers.
This shop is perfect for those who want to savour Port wine in a most welcoming and intimate place than those from the cellars, facing Douro river, which are always crowded.
Small advice: avoid having breakfast or lunch (depending on the hours of the tour) before going on this gastronomic tour so that you can better enjoy all the delicacies from all the different places you’re going to visit.
Personal opinion: I loved this gastronomic tour. I thought I was going to get bored since I already knew all these Portuguese delicacies but I was surprised with all the places I’ve discovered, the kindness of Porto people and the history of each product we savoured.
Do you also want to go on this tour and discover the Portuguese gastronomy while visiting some of Porto’s wonders? Click here to book your gastronomic tour! (affiliate link).
Lello Bookshop (Livraria Lello)
Whether you choose option 1 or 2, when you visit Porto, climb up the street Rua dos Clérigos and discover the amazing Lello Bookshop, considered as one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world. Inside, you’ll have the opportunity to feel a unique atmosphere where an impressing stairway leading to the first floor stands out.
Information: you’ll have to pay to visit this bookshop, however, if you buy a book, the value you payed will be deducted.
- Site: www.livrarialello.pt/en
Carmo Church – Carmelitas Church and Casa Escondida
After having visited Lello Bookshop, your next stop is one you can’t miss when you visit Porto – the beautiful Carmo Church, built between 1756 and 1768.
Something rare you’ll notice is the fact that Carmo Church is side-by-side with another church, Carmelitas Church, built between 1616 and 1628.
Carmelitas Church belonged to Carmelitas Descalços monastery, today property of GNR (Portuguese police), and Carmo Church belonged and still belongs to the Third Order of Carmo.
Watching the photograph below, one has the impression that these churches are joint together, however the truth is that they are separated by the narrowest building in Porto, called Casa Escondida (literally Hidden House).
Don’t hesitate to visit this amazing building. The ticket includes a visit to Carmo Church and to the Catacombs.
Clérigos Tower (Torre dos Clérigos)
Resume your itinerary and, facing Lello Bookshop, you’ll find the majestic Clérigos Tower, a place where you can enjoy one of the most beautiful views over the city of Porto, but first you have to climb the 240 steps to get to the top of the tower.
When you visit Porto, make sure you make a stop at this monument, definitely a landmark of this city.
Church of Nossa Senhora da Vitória Viewpoint
After Clérigos Tower, go down to Rua de São Bento da Vitória and admire the Church of Nossa Senhora da Vitória. Before you head down to Palácio da Bolsa, take a minute to enjoy the beautiful view over Douro river, Luis I bridge and the Cathedral.
Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa)
When you visit Porto you must go to Palácio da Bolsa, otherwise it would be like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower.
Its construction began in 1842, in a Neoclassical style and inspired in a Neo-Moorish style, and a visit to this monument will be worth your while! During your visit, you must go to the amazing Pátio das Nações and the magnificent Arab Room.
St. Francis Church (Igreja de São Francisco)
Next to Palácio da Bolsa’s building you’ll find St. Francis Church. It is probably the most beautiful church in Porto, in part because of its gilded wood interior. After visiting the church you can visit the museum and the crypt where many people are buried.
Before going to dinner, I suggest you explore Praça da Ribeira and the alleys in the surroundings. This quarter is the most emblematic and is the heart and soul of Porto’s historic centre.
At Cais da Ribeira you can admire Luis I bridge, built by the engineer Théophile Seyrig (Gustave Eiffel’s disciple), and boats used in other times for carrying the barrels from the wineries located 100 km upriver. These boats are now used for tourist purposes – river Douro cruises.
Above all, don’t settle with visiting the riverfront; lose yourself in the alleys leading to Escadas do Barredo to discover the authenticity of this quarter.
To end your day, I invite you to have dinner at a typical restaurant where you can also enjoy a fado show.
I wanted to suggest to you a restaurant or a place to enjoy fado and, because of that, I chose an experience that will take you on a night tour in Porto – you can discover some of the city’s monuments, the best sunset in Porto (depending on weather conditions), this wonderful restaurant and, in the end, they’ll even take you to your hotel.
The experience starts at 20h15 with a minibus that will pick you up at the hotel/apartment and then take you to watch the best sunset. You don’t believe me? See below the photograph I took!
Apart from this amazing colour spectacle, I enjoyed all the stories that our guide told us, giving us some more information on Porto’s history.
At 21h we arrived to a small and typical restaurant of Porto where a table was already waiting for us. Right after we seated down, a waiter took our request.
The experience included an appetiser (apart from bread, butter and pâté, common in every Portuguese restaurant), a meat or fish dish, dessert and a cup of coffee.
To be honest, when the waiter told me that the fado show would occur during dinner, I thought that we wouldn’t enjoy it. To listen to fado, one needs silence and I thought it wouldn’t happen that way.
For appetiser, we ordered a delicious Caldo Verde (a traditional soup from Northern Portugal); later on, I noticed the musicians were preparing for the show and, 15 minutes later, when everyone had finished their appetisers, the lights dimmed and the first fadista (fado singer) started the show.
I, that first thought the show wouldn’t be enjoyable (because of the noise), was surprised by the silence felt at the restaurant. In fact, before each song, the owner of the restaurant would introduce the fadista and then ask the audience for silence so that people could enjoy fado.
A quarter of an hour later, the first part of the show was over and then we could eat the main course.
On the second part of the show, a new fadista (this time a man) was introduced and he sang for the next 15 minutes.
Throughout the evening, both fadistas would sing fado and that would give us the opportunity to get to know many fado songs through their beautiful and completely different voices.
At the end of the night (23h – 23h30), our guide waited for us and took our small group of five people to the hotel.
Personal opinion: before doing this experience and on the way to the restaurant, I was a little worried that this experience would be another “tourist trap” but I was positively surprised with our guide (he knew Porto’s history very well), amazed by the delicious food that I had the chance to savour and by the passion the fadistas felt when singing. Definitely an experience that is worth your while!
Information: you can enjoy this experience on your first or second day of your stay in Porto!
Visit Porto: Itinerary Day 2
Serra do Pilar Monastery
If you want to visit Serra do Pilar monastery, take the metro, yellow line (D), in São Bento metro station, Santo Ovídio direction, and get off at Jardim do Morro station, right after Luis I bridge.
At this monastery you can admire the church and cloister built in 1538. Its round shape construction is a replicate of Santa Maria de la Redonda in Rome, and one of a kind in Portugal; it is also the most beautiful viewpoint where you can best gaze at the historic centre of Porto.
- Site: www.culturanorte.pt/en
Port Wine Cellars
Return to Jardim do Morro metro station and explore the small garden of the same name while enjoying the wonderful view over the historic centre of Porto.
Next, go down Calçada da Serra until you get to the lower deck of Luis I bridge and from there go discover one of the Port wine cellars – one of the things you can’t miss when you visit Porto.
Information: instead of going on foot, you’ll have the possibility to take the cable car in Jardim do Morro that will take you to Cais de Gaia, right beside the rabelo boats (more information on these boats below).
Along the (avenue) Avenida de Diogo Leite and Avenida de Ramos Pinto you’ll find several Port wine cellars that can be visited on guided tours. The most famous cellars are Burmester, Cálem, Sandeman, Ramos Pinto, Ferreira, Taylor’s Port and Graham’s Port Lodge.
Since 2013 I’ve visited several Port wine cellars, but the one I enjoyed the most was Graham’s Port Lodge, located on the slopes of Cais de Gaia, 1.5 km on foot from Luis bridge.
The guided tours at Graham’s Port Lodge are more expensive (starting at 15 €) than the average of those of the cellars located at the avenues mentioned above but I guarantee that the experience will be worth your while!
Throughout the guided tour to this property, you’ll have the opportunity to discover the history behind these cellars and Douro Valley where Graham’s wineries and vineyards are located (you can visit them on a tour to Douro) and then visit the cellars where the wine ages.
The tour ends with a tasting of 3 different types of wine while enjoying the amazing view over Douro and Porto.
As in most Port wine cellars, you’ll have to leave the property through the shop so that you can purchase wines produced by Graham’s.
Apart from the guided tour to their cellars, Graham’s has one of the best restaurants in Porto region (VINUM Restaurant) and a wine bar where you can admire the view over Porto while enjoying some appetisers and a fine Port.
Information: if you went on the gastronomic tour the day before, then you should settle with a simple walk along the riverfront to admire Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.
6 Bridges Cruise
Cross Luis I bridge on foot and head to Praça da Ribeira to go on a 50-minute cruise – this cruise will give you the opportunity to admire the six bridges over Douro river. This tour is made on a rabelo boat, once used to transport the barrels of wine from the wineries to the cellars.
Information: this boat activity is too touristy so I suggest you only do this if you want to recharge your batteries when you visit Porto.
Ferdinand Wall (Muralha Fernandina)
From Cais da Ribeira go to Guindais funicular which is facing the lower deck of Luis I bridge. Here, climb up the stairs that will take you to the Ferdinand Wall, built in the 14th century. This wall protected the city of Porto that had expanded by that time.
My suggestion is that you climb up this part of the historic centre on foot so that you can explore the alleys and admire the typical houses of Porto. If you’re too tired to do this, you can take Guindais funicular that will take you to the same place.
Santa Clara Church
Just next to the Ferdinand Wall you’ll find the amazing Santa Clara church, built in the 15th century. It truly is a real Baroque master piece that will astonish you with its decorative exuberance. Surely it isn’t one of the most famous places to go to but it’s worth seeing when you visit Porto.
Cathedral of Porto (Sé do Porto)
Just 200 metres away from Santa Clara church you’ll find the magnificent cathedral of Porto, built between the 12th and 13th centuries. One of the characteristics of this cathedral is that it was fortified to protect the inhabitants of the city during raids.
While you’re in the cathedral, take the opportunity to go to the treasure room, to the dispensary and to the cloister where you can admire biblical scenes depicted on the glazed tiles. In front of the cathedral you can enjoy the magnificent views over the downtown and Douro river. Make sure you go to this monument when you visit Porto!
- Site: www.rotadascatedrais.com
Next, I invite you to enter the most historic part of Sé quarter. This is one of the oldest quarters in the historic centre and here you’ll find some of the most photogenic places you’ll see when you visit Porto.
Before leaving this quarter, visit São Lourenço Church, also known as Grilos Church. From the viewpoint close to this church you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy some of the best views over the city.
Porto Tram City Tours – Line 1
If you’re not going to Lisbon, then you should go on a tram city tour when you visit Porto. Try the historic tram that will take you from the historic centre to Foz do Douro, where Douro river meets the Atlantic Ocean.
The line 1 of the tram goes from St. Francis church to Passeio Alegre in 25 minutes, beside Douro river.
If you stay in Porto for another day, know that you can enjoy Luz beach in the warmest days – it’s just 750 metres from the tram station in Passeio Alegre.
- Site: www.portotramcitytour.pt
To end your wonderful stay in Porto, discover, after dinner, the bar Jazz Story, one of the few places in the city where you can enjoy a pleasant moment while watching a jazz live concert.
Are you going to visit Porto? Then don’t hesitate to book your hotel room and your car by clicking the links below. This way you are helping me in the development of my blog and I’ll be able to offer you free tips and travel guides so that you can better prepare your visit to Portugal. Thank you!
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