Porto is a beautiful coastal city known for its historical buildings, colourful architecture, and numerous port wineries. The city is very charming, and the area’s rich history is evident on virtually every street corner. Cobblestone roads and walkways wind through buildings that house cafes, shops, museums, and local residences. Several 19th-century churches and palaces add a historic allure, along with the multiple bridges Porto is famous for, giving it its nickname as the city of bridges, all of which you will want to add to your Porto itinerary. Situated on a hill on the Atlantic coast along the Douro River, Porto offers scenic views of the water with virtually every step you take.
One of the most unique cities in Portugal, this lesser-discovered gem is becoming more popular due to its friendly locals, beautiful scenery, and delicious food. Even if you’re only able to spend one day in Porto, that is plenty of time to see some of the best attractions and get acquainted with this picturesque area. This 1 or 2-day Porto itinerary will highlight the top sights and experiences to help you plan how to spend up to 48 hours in this memorable riverside city.
How Many Days in Porto Do You Need?
When planning your Portugal itinerary and how many days you need in Porto, aim to spend a minimum of 2 days in Porto, or at least 3-4 days in the city and surrounding Douro Valley if your vacation timeframe allows. While it would’ve been nice to have more than two days in Porto, I found two days to be an adequate amount of time to see the highlights of Porto without being too rushed.
Most of the highlights of Porto are close to the city centre, so it is easy to explore more of this enchanting city in less time. You can even visit Porto as a weekend getaway from elsewhere in Europe such as Paris, Brussels, or Berlin.
If you only have one day in Porto, you can still see quite a bit of this beautiful riverfront city, so don’t skip Porto if you only have one day available.
How to Spend 48 hours in Porto: A 2 Day Porto Itinerary
Need to know how to spend 48 hours in Porto? This Porto itinerary focuses on the main attractions in the city and neighbouring Vila Nova de Gaia. Get ready for an unforgettable 2 days in Porto, Portugal.
Day 1: Porto & Vila Nova de Gaia
Today you will explore Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.
Aim to arrive in Porto the night before, but if you are arriving on day 1, do as much as you can and do the rest tomorrow after finishing day two’s activities. I arrived from Albufeira the night before and was ready to see this beautiful city by daylight. If you only have one day in Porto, use day 1 of this Porto itinerary.
Iglesia de Los Clerigos
To kick off your 48 hours in Porto, I suggest paying a visit to Iglesia de Los Clerigos, also known as Clerigos Church. Iglesia de Los Clerigos is one of the most recognizable structures in Porto due to its impressive 75m tall bell tower. The church was built in 1750, though construction of the bell tower was not complete until 1763. Since then, the building has become a beloved addition to the city of Porto and one of its most iconic landmarks. The bell tower can be seen from various points across the city and is a distinctive part of Porto’s skyline.
Iglesia de Los Clerigos features intricate architecture and detailing inside and out. You can trek to the top of the bell tower by taking on the challenge of conquering 240 steps. The view from the top of the bell tower offers panoramic views over the city of Porto and is a great lookout point.
Line up at the ticket counter to buy a same-day ticket to enter at a designated time. During my visit, I bought my ticket and had to return in an hour for entry, so I wandered around the area while I waited. I climbed the bell tower and toured the inside of the church.
Iglesia de los Clérigos
Hours of Operation: Daily 9 am – 11 pm
Address: R. de São Filipe de Nery, 4050-546 Porto, Portugal
After exploring Iglesia de Los Clerigos, make your way over to Livraria Lello.
Livraria Lello, also known as Lello Bookstore, is famous for being one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world and is one of the oldest bookshops in Porto. The bookstore has a rich history; founded in 1869, and the store that stands today opened in the early 1900s. The interior of Livraria Lello is unforgettable, with a regal staircase, colourful stained glass, and endless shelves of books immediately commanding the eye once you enter.
Rated as one of the top bookstores in the world by Lonely Planet and The Guardian, Livraria Lello is a popular spot for photos and book lovers. Another part of its popularity comes from how Lello Bookstore is said to be part of the inspiration for the famous novel series Harry Potter. Looking like a movie set, and you could spend hours browsing through its impressive collection of books. Be prepared to wait in line to enter this famous bookstore.
Hours of Operation: Daily 9 am – 7 pm
Address: R. das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161 Porto, Portugal
The next destination on this Porto itinerary is Igreja do Carmo.
Igreja do Carmo
Igreja do Carmo is a beautiful historic church covered in blue and white decorative tiles. Similar to Iglesia de Los Clérigos, Igreja do Carmo’s architecture is Baroque-style, characterized by dramatic and intricate details. Built in 1768, it’s interesting to note that Igreja do Carmo is connected to another chapel, Igreja dos Carmelitas, by a very narrow house. One of the most defining features of Igreja do Carmo is the tiled wall on one of the church’s exterior facades. Although the blue and white tiles were added later, in 1912, they have become an alluring draw to visit.
Iglesia do Carmo
Hours of Operation: Daily 9 am – 6 pm
Address: R. do Carmo, 4050-164 Porto, Portugal
Jardim das Oliveiras
Just a short walk from Igreja do Carmo, Jardim das Oliveiras is a unique spot you will encounter during your time in Porto. Jardim das Oliveiras is an urban rooftop park atop a shopping and dining area. This rooftop park is picturesque, with olive trees and grass offering a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of the city below.
Jardim das Oliveiras is a relatively new addition to the city of Porto, having opened in 2013. Since then, the park has become a popular destination, enjoyed by locals and tourists who want to experience Porto from a new perspective and enjoy this urban oasis. During my visit to Jardim das Oliveiras, I relaxed in the shade and listened to the hourly bells ring at the nearby Iglesia de Los Clerigos.
Jardim das Oliveiras
Hours of Operation: Daily 24 hours
Address: Cordoaria, 4050-367 Porto, Portugal
Miradouro da Vitoria
The next place I recommend visiting is Miradouro da Vitoria, a must-visit even if you only have one day in Porto. Miradouro is Portuguese for viewpoint, so Miradouro da Vitoria offers some of the best views of Porto. From this viewpoint, you will see panoramic, one-of-a-kind views of most of the city.
Amongst the sea of clay rooftops, you’ll be able to spot some of the city’s most well-known landmarks, like various churches and bridges, including some of the attractions that are in this Porto itinerary, so you can see them from a different perspective. Miradouro da Vitoria is a popular photo spot in Porto, and you will be amazed once you see it for yourself.
In the heart of Porto is the Porto Cathedral, one of the oldest and most significant landmarks in the city. It is estimated that construction of Porto Cathedral first began in 1110, though the church was renovated until its completion in 1737. The interior and exterior of Porto Cathedral are equally impressive, with beautiful murals, stained glass windows, pillars, and many other unique architectural elements. Porto Cathedral is one of the best remaining examples of the city’s extensive history. During my visit, I did not have time to go inside the Porto Cathedral, but I did admire it’s exterior and viewpoints of the river.
Hours of Operation: Daily 9 am – 6:30 pm
Address: Terreiro da Sé, 4050-573 Porto, Portugal
Next up is Cais da Ribeira, one of the most picturesque destinations on this 2-day Porto itinerary.
Cais da Ribeira
Cais da Ribeira is a riverfront street, considered one of Porto’s most lively and vibrant areas. The road is lined with restaurants, bars, and music venues, making Cais da Ribeira a popular nighttime destination. Between the waterfront views and the colourful buildings, Cais da Ribeira is a stunning slice of Porto loved by locals and tourists. Walk along Cais da Ribeira and watch the boats come and go from the docks as they journey down the river. If you don’t already have your Douro River day cruise tickets, you can also buy them here, as this is where the boats launch.
Cais da Riberia
Hours of Operation: Daily 24 hours
Address: Cais da Riberia, Porto, Portugal
Douro River Day Cruise
One of the best ways to experience Porto is by taking a Douro River Day Cruise. The cruise will take you along the Douro River, which runs through Porto, to give you a unique perspective of the city from the water. Along the way, you’ll also see the city’s six bridges, which were built over many years in unique styles of architecture. The Douro River Day Cruise stands out as one of the highlights of my time in this beautiful riverside city, and you can read more about my experience by reading my Porto River Day Cruise post. Several companies in Porto offer variations of this day cruise, and some also provide the option of booking a combined tour of a wine cellar and tasting.
Douro River Day Cruise
Hours of Operation: April-October 10 am – 6 pm, November-March 10 am – 4 pm
Address: Cais da Riberia, Porto, Portugal
Indulge in Port Wine
If you enjoy wine, you gotta try port wine when embarking on a 2 day trip to Porto. Porto is known around the world for being a top producer of port wine, a type of fortified wine with relatively high alcohol content and distinctly sweet taste.
There are countless wineries and wine cellars throughout the city of Porto neighbouring Vila Nova de Gaia that offer tours and tastings so you can sample the city’s signature drink for yourself. Many of the restaurants and bars in Porto also serve locally-made port wine, so it’s easy to try at least once during your trip. While I don’t drink, my partner tried port wine and loved its sweetness, and I just held his glass for a photo.
Grab a Snack at Casa Portuguesa
As you near the end of day one in Porto, you’ve probably worked up quite an appetite with all the adventuring and exploring you’ve done. Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau in the area of Gaia offers one of the most unique food-centric experiences in Porto and gives visitors the chance to sample an iconic Portuguese dish in a stunning setting.
Casa Portuguesa serves up codfish cakes, also known as pastels or bolinhos depending on where you are in Portugal. The cake consists of a codfish and potato fritter filled with cheese from the mountains of Portugal, often served with – you guessed it! – port wine. The dish is a must-try during your time in Porto, and the Gaia location of Casa Portuguesa is set in a historic riverfront wine cellar. While I don’t typically eat a lot of cod, I gave it a try and was very happy. These cod cakes were delicious, especially with the cheese inside, and I would eat one again.
Teleferico de Gaia
One of the top sights I recommend making time for during your 48 hours in Porto is Teleferico de Gaia. Teleferico de Gaia is a cable car that runs along the Gaia waterfront to the upper portion of Gaia. You can take the gondola in either direction, whichever direction you choose, you are sure to be amazed by the scenic views of Porto and the Douro River you will see along the way.
During my visit to Porto, I couldn’t get enough different perspectives of this adorable waterfront city, and tried to see it from as many different angles as possible. Teleférico de Gaia gives you a direct view across the river from the sky.
Teleférico de Gaia
Hours of Operation: Daily 10 am – 8 pm
Address: Av. de Ramos Pinto 331, 4430-233 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
Dom Luis I Bridge
If you only have time to experience one of the city’s iconic bridges during your 2 days in Porto, Dom Luis I Bridge should be your top choice. Dom Luis I Bridge is a massive, two-story metal bridge that connects central Porto with neighbouring Vila Nova de Gaia. Upon its completion in 1886, Dom Luis I was considered the longest arch bridge of its kind in the world, spanning 172m in length. The bridge is an impressive piece of architecture and a defining Porto landmark that all visitors should make the time to visit.
Dom Luis I Bridge
Hours of Operation: Daily 24 hours
Address: Pte. Luiz I, Porto, Portugal
See One of Porto’s Stunning Sunsets
A perfect way to end one day in Porto is to watch a famous Porto sunset. Porto is known for its striking sunsets, with the vibrant colours complementing the city’s charming architecture. Sunsets in Porto are especially beautiful considering the city’s location right on the water. There are many scenic places to stop and watch the sunset throughout Porto, but even just walking through the streets will provide you with excellent views of the colourful skies.
During my visit to Porto, I watched the sunset at the exit platform of the Cais da Ribeira de Gaia beside Dom Luis I Bridge. It was one of the most vibrant and colourful sunsets I’ve experienced thus far. Other recommendations for where to watch the sunset in Porto are Jardim do Morro, on Dom Luis I Bridge, and Ribeira de Gaia. Watching the sunset in Porto is the perfect way to end the first day of your Porto itinerary. Plan to go for dinner after and enjoy Porto by night.
Day 2: Porto
Today is the second and last day on this Porto itinerary. You will continue to explore this riverfront town before heading to your next destination or back home.
Sao Bento Rail Station
If you have the opportunity to spend not just one but two days in Porto, I suggest starting your second day with a visit to Sao Bento Station. Sao Bento is an active railway station in operation since 1916. Though not as historic as other sites throughout Porto, Sao Bento Station is still a beautiful piece of history. The station is a National Monument of Portugal as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, signifying its historical importance in not just the city of Porto, but to the country as well. One of the most striking details of Sao Bento Station is the tile murals within the terminal that represent life scenes in various regions of Portugal.
São Bento Station
Hours of Operation: Daily 5 am – 1 am
Address: Praça de Almeida Garrett, 4000-069 Porto, Portugal
For the rest of your time in Porto, I recommend stopping by any sights you missed visiting during your first day in the city. While there is a lot to see and do in Porto, the city is thankfully very pedestrian-friendly and easy to navigate. You can easily walk from one spot to the next and visit many of Porto’s top sights in a relatively short amount of time.
One or two days is the perfect amount of time to experience the highlights that Porto has to offer, though you could spend a week or more in the Porto and Douro Valley area and experience something new every day.
Finished this two-day Porto itinerary early? Here are more ideas of things to do in Porto:
Other Things to Do in Porto
- Bolsa Palace – a 19th-century neoclassical building that was the former stock house
- Casa da Musica – music center and concert hall with distinctive architecture
- Monument Church of Saint Francis – a prominent Gothic-style monument in the historic city centre
- Jardins do Palacio de Cristal – a 19th-century landscaped garden with views of the Douro River
- Igreja de Santo Ildefonso – an 18th-century church with a decorative blue and white tile exterior
Is Porto Safe?
Porto is a safe city to visit, and crime rates are low. Locals in Portugal are friendly and kind people. As in other cities worldwide, be observant of your surroundings and watch for pickpockets in tourist areas.
During my visit to Porto, I walked around the city day and night and never felt unsafe. I felt very comfortable exploring at night or walking back to my accommodation after a day of sightseeing.
Is Porto Expensive?
Porto is considered one of the least expensive cities in Western Europe to visit. Food and accommodations tend to be less costly than in other cities, but there are options for both budget and luxury.
Where to Store Luggage in Porto?
In Porto, you can store your luggage at rail stations as well as at designated shops. Payment options include hourly and per day, and will vary based on the size of the luggage.
After checking out of my accommodation on day 2 in Porto, I stored my luggage at São Bento Railway Station before taking the train to Lisbon in the evening. Lockers were easy to operate and prices were based on locker size and duration.
Getting Around Porto
To get around Porto, you can walk, bus, taxi, tuk-tuk, drive, or take the metro. Porto is a very walkable city so you might find it easiest to walk between most attractions. The STCP is the city bus operator, and fares are 2€ euro per ride, with day passes available. The metro is run by the Metro do Porto. During my visit, I walked and took the bus to get around.
How to Get to Porto, Portugal
To get to Porto, Portugal, you can fly, cruise, bus, or ride a train. Within Europe, there is also the possibility to take a road trip from nearby. Porto has flights arriving daily from around the world. A direct flight to Porto, from Toronto or New York, takes approximately 7 hours, but most flights will have a single layover in nearby Lisbon or another European city.
How to Get to Downtown Porto from the Airport
Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO) is the airport of Porto and one of the top three entry cities into Portugal. The bus is the best way to get from the Porto airport to downtown. The bus takes approximately 45-55 minutes and costs €2 when purchased onboard. Day bus tickets are €7.
Another way to reach downtown Porto from the airport is by car or taxi. It will take about 25 minutes to get downtown by car or taxi.
Helpful Tips for Visiting Porto
- The best time of year to visit Porto is May – September. For good weather with fewer crowds, visit Porto during the shoulder seasons of May/June and September/October.
- The currency is the euro, like many European countries.
- Portugal’s drinking age is 18 years old.
- Porto tap water is safe to drink, but due to its chlorine taste, people often drink bottled water.
Hope this information helps you plan your 2-day Porto itinerary.
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