3 days in Porto itinerary – What to see and do
3 days is the perfect amount of time to visit the charming northern-Portugal city of Porto. With rows of colourful old buildings staggered on the mountainside and a river full of impressive bridges, the city really impressed us with its sheer beauty. It really is one of the most beautiful European cities we’ve visited!
If you’re planning on exploring Porto for 2 – 4 days, which is an ideal amount of time to see the top attractions, follow our 3 days in Porto itinerary for inspiration. After spending 5 days in the city, we stopped by all of top attractions, plus a few hidden gems.
Almost everything is within walking distance in Porto, so you can easily jam pack your itinerary and see the best of what’s on offer in just a few days. Without further delay, read on for our full Porto itinerary…
A city of rich history, known for its iconic bridges and world renowned wine
Liberdade Square – We’re starting our 3 days in Porto itinerary with some of the most central city centre sites and streets. Liberdade Square is one of them. This historic, 18th century square is a popular meeting point for locals and tourists, known for its grand central monument and many old buildings that overlook the square on either side.
Aliados Avenue and Porto City Hall – Adjoining Liberdade Square is Aliados Avenue, a famous road in Porto that’s occupied by rows of designer shops and luxury boutique hotels on either side. It’s Porto’s answer to the Champs-Elysee in Paris, or Las Ramblas in Barcelona. Walk down Aliados Avenue at your leisure, all the way to Porto City Hall at the top of the street. This iconic photo-spot hosts a large ‘Porto’ sign for a selfie. It also has a nice view down Aliados Avenue to Liberdade Square.
Clerigos Tower – The Baroque-style church known as Clerigos dominates the Porto skyline. So much so, you can almost see if from all corners of the city! Climb to the top of the tower for a 75m view of Porto, or simply marvel at it from down below. It’s a must-see attraction for the first day of your 3 days in Porto itinerary.
Livraria Lello book shop – A short walk away from Clerigos Tower you’ll find the famous Livraria Lello book shop. Known for its old interior, with a grand wooden staircase, red carpets and stained-glass windows, it’s really not to be missed. We recommend booking an arrival time-slot on their official website to reduce your queuing time. It can get very busy!
Carmo Church – Also in the area is one of Porto’s most beautiful churches, Carmo. The outside of the building is covered in ornate blue and white tiles, creating a pattern of artwork that tells a story. You can visit the inside of the church when mass isn’t on, climb to the top of Carmo roof, or simply admire its façade from afar.
Cordoaria Garden – Located near both Livraria Lello book shop and Clerigos Tower, Cordoaria Garden is a perfect stop to give your legs a break after a morning of sightseeing. It’s a small but picturesque park with a walking trail, fountains, park benches and a long promenade with a line of towering trees. We recommend grabbing a takeaway coffee and taking a break on a park bench.
Virtudes viewpoint – Venturing to the south-west, Virtudes Park viewpoint is the next stop on our Porto itinerary. It’s a viewpoint that’s known to have some of the best views in the city, with a distant view of the River Douro and the many colourful buildings that occupy the river banks. There’s a small grassy area where you can sit down and admire the view.
Vitória viewpoint – Walk down to the road and you’ll then find the next must-see viewpoint in our itinerary, Vitória. This vantage point provides panoramic views of the many buildings of Porto’s city centre. Hundreds of terracotta rooves surround you, and if you look close enough, you’ll spot some of Porto’s most famous churches.
Pasteis De Nata – Start your afternoon with a post-lunch treat; one of the most famous treats in Portugal. Porto’s famous Pasteis de Nata are in bakeries all over the city! To experience one of the best Pasteis, stop by Manteigaria, Castro – Atelier de Pastéis de Nata or Nata Lisboa.
Porto Cathedral – The next attraction on day one of our Porto itinerary is the 12th century cathedral in the Sé area of town. It’s only a short walk from the centre of Porto where you spent your morning and boasts some of the best views of Porto from one of the highest points along the river. Take time exploring the inside and outside of the cathedral.
Bolhao district – For the rest of your afternoon, we recommend walking up from Porto Cathedral to the Bolhao district. As a popular place to stay and the number one spot in Porto for shopping, there’s a lot to see and do here. Be sure to check out the following:
- Bolhao market – a local weekend market with food stalls, craft items, clothing and more.
- Rua de Santa Catarina shopping street – the go-to Porto area for high street shopping, with international and local fashion brands. It also has some great cafes and restaurants, including the famous Majestic Café.
- The beautiful blue-tiled churches – This area has two of Porto’s most stunning churches – The Chapel of the Souls, and Santo Ildefonso at Batalha Square.
Douro River Cruise – Start your day with a relaxing boat cruise up and down the River Douro. Although the river banks have some beautiful views of Porto, to really experience the most picturesque area of the city, you’ll need to board a boat. Tours operate throughout the day, taking you underneath the six bridges of Porto on a 50-minute cruise. It was one of the highlights of our trip! We recommend booking an early morning cruise (before 10am) for less crowds.
Cross the Douro River – Once you’ve disembarked your river cruise, we recommend crossing Luis I Bridge to the south side of the River. You can cross the upper or lower section of the bridge by foot, so we recommend crossing on the lower-side and then returning to Porto on top of the bridge.
Cais Da Ribeira – The area south of the bridge is known as Vila Nova de Gaia and is the host of the majority of Porto’s wineries. In past decades, wine has been made in the Douro wine valley and then transported up the river to this docking area.
A top thing to do in Vila Nova de Gaia include a long walk on the scenic river promenade. In our opinion, it has the best views of Porto, including some iconic viewpoints you’ll probably recognise from postcards. It also has a cable car, shops, bars, restaurants, and the next item on our itinerary, Port tasting tours.
Porto Wine Tasting – You can’t come to Porto without sampling its iconic alcoholic drink; Port wine. This stronger, or ‘fortified’ wine is known worldwide! Whilst in Vila Nova de Gaia, book a place on one of the local wine tours for an in-depth look into the creation of these wines, plus a fun wine tasting session. We personally recommend booking a tour with Calem or Sandeman. There’s two of the largest wineries and their cellars are cool to see.
Cable car & Luis I Bridge – You’ve seen the famous Luis I Bridge from the river cruise and have crossed the underside. Now it’s time to experience the magnificent view from the top of the bridge. To return to the Porto side of the river, we recommend boarding the cable car from the promenade area of Vila Nova de Gaia (outside the wineries) and ascending to the top of the bridge.
Cais Da Ribeira – For lunch, we recommend heading back down to the Porto riverside area, also known as Cais Da Ribeira. This bustling area is one of the busiest locations in Porto, but also the most scenic. Dine with a view underneath the bridge or eat in one of the small alleyway restaurants. We personally recommend Porto Escondido **insert link**. After lunch, wander around the riverside area at your leisure.
Bolsa Palace – Walking up from Porto riverside, the next stop on our 3 days in Porto itinerary is Bolsa Palace. This building a Portuguese architectural masterpiece that started construction in the mid-1800’s. Designed in the Neoclassical style, as displayed by other buildings in the city, Bolsa Palace is a top attraction to visit in Porto. Buy tickets online or at the front entrance and spend an hour or so touring its grand rooms and hallways.
Explore the local nightlife scene – For the rest of your afternoon and into the evening, we recommend relaxing for a couple of hours back at your hotel before heading out to explore the vibrant atmosphere of evenings in Porto. There are some amazing restaurants to choose from in both the city centre and riverside areas.
There’s also a great nightlife scene, whether you’re looking for quiet cocktails or a glass of wine in a traditional bar, or want to party until the early hours on a bar crawl. The vast majority of Porto’s big bars are all located on two streets, Galeria de Paris and Rua de Cândido dos Reis. We personally recommend checking out Bonaparte Downtown, Adega Sports Bar and The Gin Club.
Crystal Palace Gardens – We’re starting day 3 of our Porto itinerary with, in our opinion, a completely underrated attraction. Located a 25-minute walk from the centre of the city, or a quick bus or metro ride, Crystal Palace Gardens is a beautiful place to explore. The park is a sprawling collection of walking trails and gardens, featuring scenic viewpoints of the river, quiet relaxation areas and some beautiful plants and trees.
Bom Sucesso Food Market – From Crystal Palace Gardens, you can walk the short distance to Bom Sucesso Food Market, stopping at ‘Shopping Cidade do Porto’ on the way if you fancy browsing the shops of one of Porto’s biggest shopping malls. The walk gives you a good representation of Porto life away from the heart of the city, passing some traditional Portuguese buildings, parks and artwork murals along the way.
Once you arrive at Bom Sucesso you’ll be greeted with an abundance of food stalls, selling everything from Portuguese tapas, pasta, Poke bowls and burgers, to fresh seafood dishes. The market is generally quite affordable and a big hit with locals. It’s the perfect place to grab lunch!
Monument to the Heroes of the Peninsular War Square – A short walk north of the food market on the way to Casa da Musica, you’ll find a grand square with a war hero remembrance monument. The monument is surrounded by leafy-green trees and has a number of park benches where you can rest your legs after a long morning of walking.
Casa da Musica – Across the road from the monument, you’ll spot Porto’s premier music venue, Casa da Musica. Designed by architect Rem Koolhaas and having opened its doors in 2005, the building is an architectural masterpiece. It’s is a nine-floor-high asymmetrical polyhedron covered in plaques of white cement, with tall glass windows and a long staircase. You don’t have to see a show to experience its unique design, which is an attraction in itself!
We’ve kept day 3 of our Porto itinerary fairly open. You would have seen some of the top attractions in the city over the course of the past 2 and a half days, so your final afternoon could include some of the following:
Visit a local beach – If you’re all done with sightseeing or just fancy some relaxation before heading home, venture 30-minutes to the beach of Matosinhos or Foz do Douro. Both beaches are easy to get to from Porto city centre by bus, Metro or taxi. They’re long sandy beaches with lots of room to relax. You can rent a sun lounger, go for a walk along the beach promenade or dine with a view at a seaside restaurant. We personally loved Praia de Matosinhos. It’s longer and less crowded than the Foz do Douro area.
Spend time in your favourite area of the city – Many visitors want to spend as much time as possible by the river-side area of Porto. After all, it is the most beautiful place in the city!Enjoy the remainder of your afternoon exploring the riverside, checking out a museum or simply getting lost in the narrow alleyways that meander up Porto’s hillside location. Part of the charm of exploring Porto is simply wandering the streets, marvelling at its unique buildings, and stopping by a corner café for a drink.
Porto 2 day itinerary
If you’re visiting Porto for 2 days, simply remove the third day of our itinerary and stick with day’s 1 and 2. These days of our itinerary cover many of the top attractions and you’ll get a good feel of the city in a short amount of time.
Porto 4 day itinerary
For Porto 4 day visits, we recommend following the above 3 day itinerary for most of your trip. On the fourth day, you could then cover some of the following attractions in and around Porto. That extra day allows you to get out of the city to explore nearby towns, valleys and beaches. Alternatively, you can stay within the city centre and riverside area enjoying some of your favourite sites of the past 3 days.
Other excellent Porto attractions and day trips:
- FC Porto Stadium tour at Estadio do Dragao
- A Douro Valley wine tasting tour
- Take a day trip to the quaint town of Aveiro by train
- Explore Peneda-Gerês National Park on a full day 4×4 tour
- Tour one of Porto’s many specialist museums
Our top tips for planning your Porto itinerary
- We recommend booking a hotel in Porto city centre or along the riverside. The centre is quite compact so you’ll be able to walk to all of the main attractions without using public transport.
- Try to complete different sections of the city together to limit the time spent walking between attractions.
- Some attractions can be booked online. Booking in advance often allows you to skip the queues and save time when visiting.
- Wear supportive footwear! Flip flops are an absolute ‘no no’ in Porto as you’ll do so much walking.
- Save the attractions you’d like to visit to an offline version of Google Maps on your phone. Using your phone, you can then quickly navigate around Porto and won’t waste time getting lost.
- Planning is important for any city break, but be sure to leave some free time in your itinerary too. Wandering around, getting lost in Porto’s narrow alleyways and exploring at your own leisure is part of the charm. In our above itinerary, there’s plenty of space in between attractions, so although you’ll have busy days, there’s still time to take it slowly.
- Wake up early to experience attractions with less crowds.
- Be sure to plan a couple of rest hours in your hotel before heading out to dinner. Relaxing and re-charging ensures that you don’t get exhausted. You’ll have a much better trip when you’re not tired!
- Porto has some beautiful sunsets. Check sunset times when you’re visiting and make sure you’re out to see it. The riverside area is the perfect place for sunset drinks.
Now you’ve read our 3 days in Porto itinerary, all that’s left to do is plan your own itinerary and make the most of Porto. There’s plenty to do in this unique European city! If you have any questions about any of the places we’ve mentioned or need help planning your trip, be sure to post a comment below. 😊
Check out our other Porto travel guides:
bY rICKYAuthor bio:
An adventurer at heart that loves anything outdoors. Beaches, mountains and amazing scenery is everything I love about travel! I also enjoy home comforts and need a nice place to relax and re-charge after every trip.