Top 10 Things to do in Porto + 2 Days Itinerary
Cozily placed on the two banks of the Douro River, the city of Porto is one of the top European destinations having a perfect combination of great historical sights and natural beauty.
The city with a magnificent river, high hills and an ocean nearby is just condemned to be beautiful.
Find out about the best things to do and places to visit in Porto, get some insider tips and a map with a 2-day itinerary around the second largest city of Portugal in this Porto travel guide.
Travel Tips & Info about Porto
This city on the north of Portugal has a relatively small population within the city borders, while the whole urban population of the metropolitan area is almost 2,5 million people.
Good news for tourists: most of the attractions of Porto are located in the old town, within the walking distance from each other. So, if you find a hotel/hostel in the old town, you might not even need to spend money on transportation.
Disclaimer: This is an independent travel blog, where I publish stories of my trips and help you to plan yours. I might get small commission if you book your trip using some of the links in this article at no cost for you. All opinions and recommendations are unbiased and only reflect my opinion (or opinion of a guest writer).
To find accommodation with central location enter one of the following addresses in the form below: ‘Santo Ildefonso, Porto’ (one of the central districts) or ‘Torre dos Clérigos, Porto’ (to find accommodation near this popular attraction of Porto).
If you’re tired of walking, you can also take a tram of Line 1, 18 or 21 running around the main attractions of Porto. Find out more information about trams in Porto here.
Another great way to explore Porto and not to get tired is by booking a city tour:
Don’t forget to order a travel insurance before your visit in Porto.
How to Get to Porto
It is relatively easy to get to Porto by plane. Porto airport receives many flights from all over the world. You can also check flights to Lisbon and then go to Porto by bus (check bus schedule here). You can also rent a car and visit nice places on the Western coast of Portugal.
Best way to find most convenient flight is using Skyscanner.
Porto airport is located on the outskirts of the city, but it is the terminal station of several metro lines. Metro costs differently depending on the distance, but it is mostly about 2 euro. You can find schedules of Porto city transportation here.
You can also check trips around Portugal and neighboring countries to explore more.
Some food tips for Porto
You definitely need to try several local dishes. The best ones are francesihna, calorie bomb made of cheese, ham and meat, covered with hot tomato and beer sauce; codfish potato fritters (bolinhos de bacalhau); aletria that is a little similar to rice pudding, pastel de nata, the famous Portuguese egg tart pastry and some other delicacies which names I don’t remember.
However, I can share with you the name of the place having a huge choice of great dishes for low prices. This place is called Confeitaria dos Clérigos, and it is located right next to the Torre dos Clérigos that should definitely get to your 2-day Porto itinerary.
So, if you already have a reserved hotel room in the old town, know, where and what you should eat, and how to get around by tram, it is time to move to the best things to do in Porto, whether you have a day, 2 days or more.
Top 10 Things to do in Porto
Get up to Torre dos Clérigos
If I already mentioned this popular attraction, why not to tell more about it?!
Torre dos Clérigos is a Baroque church and tower in the old town of Porto. The 75-meter high tower was finished in 1750, and now is one of the characteristic symbols of the city. It is not only high, but also stands on a hill, so for many years it served as a reference point for sailors on the Douro River.
Today, you can buy a ticket for just 5 euros to visit the Clérigos museum and get up to the top of the tower during the day, or even at night (7-11pm). If you prefer the second version, take into account that the museum doesn’t work at night. I highly recommend doing that, as the views are incredible!
Get an old book in the Lello Bookstore
Picture from Flickr
The unusual narrow house located on the other side of the Lisbon Square from the tower is one of the most popular attractions of Porto, where you will often see lines of tourists looking forward to enter this beautiful bookstore.
What is special about it?
It is beautiful… and old… and it is the place that inspired J.K. Rowling to write her series of books about Harry Potter. Moreover, Lonely Planet and the Guardian rated it among the most beautiful bookstores in the world. So, Harry Potter fans and just regular tourists feel a must to visit it during their trip to Porto.
The entrance costs 3 Euros (on March 2018), and you can use this amount as a part of the book’s price you want to buy.
Dom Luís I Bridge
The city on the river should have some beautiful bridges. And, Porto has some. The famous architect Gustav Eiffel, whose Eiffel Tower in Paris is known all over the world, designed the primary version of the Dom Luis I Bridge. It was rejected because it couldn’t fill the needs of the growing city.
His disciple later created a very similar version of the bridge, but having two decks, which allowed two times more traffic. Later, Gustav Eiffel founded an architecture company in Belgium, which finally created the plan of Eiffel Tower. So, we could say that the bridge in Porto helped Gustav Eiffel to create his famous tower.
Also read about my adventurous trip to Portugal
Visit the Double Church
There is another unique place in Porto that you definitely need to visit. It is the double church, or precisely two beautiful catholic churches in one building, Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas Descalços, built in different times and different styles.
As I said, most of the attractions in Porto are located close from each other. Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas are located just 1 minute away from the Lello Bookstore, and 2 minutes away from the Torre dos Clérigos surrounded by some other attractions and points of interest.
If you are here in the evening, I recommend visiting some of the nearby bars; here you will find plenty of them (I will help you to plan your trip in my 2-day itinerary in the end of the guide).
Check out the São Bento Railway Station
All around the city, you can find the famous blue and white azulejo tiles: on the Igreja do Carmo and Torre dos Clérigos that I already mentioned before, on the Porto Cathedral that I will talk about later, and many other places.
Some of the most beautiful tiles you will find in the São Bento Railway Station. They represent some of the most important historical events in Porto. It is also located close to some other attractions, so you can pop in on the way.
Learn about best things to do in Madrid
Taste Porto Wine
On the other side of Douro River, you won’t find many attractions, but there are several great activities that this part of the city is famous for (actually, it is regarded a different city called Vila Nova de Gaia).
One of those activities is Porto wine tasting. I’ve been to the city several times, and I tried the local wine in three different places, but all of them were good, so it is hard to recommend you just one. If you cross the river, you will find a couple of them.
Before the degustation, the guide will tell you about the history, production process and the kinds of Porto wine.
You can find different wine tasting tours in Porto here
Explore the Douro River on a Cruise Ship
Another popular thing to do in Porto’s neighboring town is attending a river tour on one of the cruise ships departing from the long quay of Vila Nova de Gaia. This kind of activity is more for mass tourism, not independent travelers, but this is something everyone should do here.
Relaxing on the boat, you will hear many interesting stories of the attractions on two sides of the river.
Take a BigMac in the World’s Fanciest McDonalds
McDonalds on Avenida dos aliados is regarded as the world’s fanciest restaurant of the chain. Monumental building, imperial design and … BigMacs. This place will be a great and very unusual experience that you will remember for a long time.
Many locals are actually outraged that such a beautiful building is used for a fast food restaurant, but the tourists like it.
Find the Cathedral with a Viewpoint
Another place to visit in Porto is its cathedral (Sé do Porto). You don’t want to miss this attraction that is one of the oldest monuments of Porto, finished in 1737. The cathedral is located on the hill, so in addition to the beauty of the building, you can enjoy a great view on the colorful roofs of Porto and the Douro River with Dom Luis I Bridge.
Attend a concert in Casa da Musica
This modern building is located in the new part of Porto, relatively far from most of other attractions of the city, so you might need some kind of transportation to get there. Casa da Musica (translated as the House of Music) is a concert hall that was finished in 2005. Its construction was connected to the title of Cultural Capital of Europe that Porto obtained in 2001.
2 Days in Porto Itinerary
To help you plan your 2 days in Porto, I’ve created an itinerary around the abovementioned attractions, and some other interesting places to visit and to have a meal in.
Day 1 in Porto
For the first day, you can visit the northern part of the town that has most of the main attractions of Porto. You can see the map with the itinerary of the first day in Porto below:
You can visit these places in any order, it depends more on the location of your hotel, but I suggest starting with the cathedral and the viewpoint of Porto.
Here, spending about 20 minutes is enough to fully enjoy the place.
After that, I suggest passing by the palace called Antiga Casa dos Constantinos located on the Rua das Flores (street of Flowers), then visiting the Sao Bento Railway Station and spending about 15 minutes there. With no rush, you can get to the Praca de Liberdade in an hour from the beginning of your tour.
If you’re already hungry, or just want to have a coffee, you can pop in the Confeteria dos Clerigos that I mentioned in the beginning of the article. After some rest, I recommend you to climb up the Clerigos Church (and tower) to enjoy a view to the old town of Porto.
After spending about an hour here, you can move to the Lello Bookstore, where you should expect to stand in the line for at least half an hour. The bookstore itself deserves another 30 minutes of your time.
Then come to the nearby Praca do Gomes Teixeira square with the famous Lions Fountain, the building of the University of Porto and the Double Church that I mentioned among the top 10 attraction in Porto.
It might already be late, so you can go to one of the nearby bars. I recommend Piolho, but you can choose any other.
Day 2 in Porto
Here is an itinerary for the day 2 in Porto:
I suggest starting the second day with the medieval castle Muralha Fernandina that has some more great views of the Douro River. Then cross the Dom Luis I Bridge on the upper part (beware of the strong wind) to get an even better view of Porto.
After that you can come down to the quay, and walk along it, visit some winery to degustate the Porto wine, and some tavern to try the local fish freshly brought to the nearby port. If you didn’t have enough nice views, you can take a cable car on the embankment or make a boat tour on the Douro River.
Then I recommend coming back and just get lost in the narrow streets going up and down near the Casa do Infante marked on the map as the last point of the 2-day Porto itinerary.
Tip: if you have just one day in Porto, you can also try to visit all these places, but use the map for the first day in the opposite order, and then continue with the day 2 itinerary.
If you have enough time, there are three more places that I recommend visiting in Porto:
- Jardins do Palácio de Cristal – beautiful park with many bird species and a great view of the place, where the Douro River meets the Atlantic Ocean;
- Casa da Musica – I mentioned it among the top 10 places to visit in Porto, but because it is far from the other attractions, I didn’t include it into my 2-day itinerary. If you arrive to Porto by bus, it might stop not far from it, so you can visit Casa da Musica before the rest of attractions.
- Estadio do Dragao – stadium of the famous football team FC Porto. It is also far from the center, but you can easily get there by metro. For metro lines A, B, E and F, Estadio do Dragao is the terminal station.
It was my list of top things to do in Porto with a 2-day itinerary around the city. I hope it helped you to plan your trip and have an incredible time in Porto. Also, check my Madeira travel guide or nicest places to visit in Asturias. Have a great trip!