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The Ideal One Day in Porto Itinerary: Your Complete Guide to The City

The Ideal One Day in Porto Itinerary: Your Complete Guide to The City


Having visited Porto three times, we clearly love this beautiful city in Portugal. It truly is one of our favorite places in Europe. A lot of people pop into Porto for just a day, be it before their Douro Valley River Cruise or on a day trip on their Portuguese adventure. Because this city is so compact, Porto is a very walkable city, and it is easy to see many of its top attractions in just one day.

While we recommend at least a few days in Porto, it is possible to see a lot, as all the main attractions are located close to the city center. So, we have created the perfect one-day in Porto Itinerary to make the most of your short stay.

One Day in Porto Itinerary

Porto is Portugal’s second largest city but it still feels small. The historic center is walkable and with easy and affordable public transport, Ubers and an organized walking route, you can see a lot in a short time.

If you only have one day in Porto, we suggest using Uber to get around. We found them to be very reliable and affordable. Also, if you plan on going into a lot of Porto attractions and using public transport you may consider the Porto Card. We didn’t use the Porto Card for one day, but you can check out what is included here.

A lot of our suggestions are easily walkable once you get to the area that we suggest. We have a map at the bottom of this post that you can follow. And we will suggest where and when to take an Uber and when to walk.

Morning

Livraria Lello

one day in porto itinerary livraria lello
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Harry Potter fans will want to head straight to Livrario Lellow to start your one-day itinerary. Call an Uber from your hotel and make your way to R. das Carmelitas for the first entry into this world’s most beautiful bookstore. It is rumored that Hogwarts’ winding staircases were modeled after Livraria Lello’s beautiful baroque staircases, but JK Rowling denies that. Either way, there is an entire section dedicated to the beloved series, and you will feel as if you have entered a magical bookshop.

one day in porto itinerary harry potter
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Many people have the most beautiful bookstore in the world on their list during their Porto itinerary, but many people also miss out due to a lack of planning. Make sure to book your timed entry in advance. The bookstore opens at 9:00 am, and you will want to book a golden ticket that lets you skip the line and gives you a free book of your choice. Even if you booked the golden ticket and can skip the line, show up at 8:00 to be at the front. We tell you exactly what to do here.

one day in porto itinerary dave and deb harry potter bookstore
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You need to book well in advance on the LIvrario Lello Website, and we have an entire blog post telling you exactly how to book that golden ticket and how to make sure you are the first one to enter the bookstore right here. Ultimate Guide for Visiting Livraria Lello

Igrega do Carmo

Porto itinerary for one day Igrega do Carmo
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Once you’ve finished at Livraria Lello, walk toward the nearby square to see the iconic tiles of Igrega do Carmo. It is one of the most popular walls of tiles in Portugal, and you can get an iconic photograph in the doorway. Yes, we are guilty of taking that exact shot. The square itself is beautiful but busy. Tours stop here to talk about the church, which has a gorgeous fountain standing at its center.

When you visit Porto, you will be in awe. The historic center was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, and for good reason. Its winding streets, historic churches adorned with Azuelos (Portuguese tiles), and beautiful buildings are something you will never forget.

Cafe Majestic

one day in porto itinerary dave and deb cafe majestic
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If you didn’t have breakfast at your hotel, which we highly recommend doing because booking a hotel that includes breakfast saves you a ton of money and time, make your way to the Majestic Cafe for Breakfast. Start your walk uphill, and if you don’t want to eat at Cafe Majestic, there are some great breakfast places just up from Igrega do Carmo. We enjoyed a fantastic breakfast, Zenith Brunch and Cocktails, and Restaurant Carlos Alberto, both located on Praça de Carlos Alberto, at a more reasonable price.

one day in porto itinerary majestic cafe
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However, you are only going to be in Porto for one day, so we think you’ll want to eat at one of its most popular cafes. Cafe Majestic was once touted as the most beautiful cafe in the world. It, too, has Harry Potter connections, as JK Rowling frequented his cafe during her time in Porto, and it is said that she wrote the first Harry Potter book there. 

Majestic Cafe is a historic restaurant located on the pedestrian-only shopping street Rua de Santa Catarina. Once you have overpaid for your Pasteis de Nata and coffee, take a short stroll along the street to browse its unique shops and expensive boutiques. There are chocolate shops, bookstores and of course the regular Gucci and Rolex stores.

Igreja de Santo Ildefonso

one day in porto itinerary Igreja de Santo Ildefonso
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Igreja de Santo Ildefonso Church is the most photographed church in Porto, thanks to its location and the 11,000 Azulejos (traditional Portuguese ceramic tiles) covering the açade and sides of the church.

We never went inside because we think churches get enough money and aren’t fans of paying to see inside, but we did enjoy the view from the steps. If you do go inside, you’ll see a 19th-century pipe organ, oil paintings, and, of course, the usual religious statues.

São Bento Train Station

one day in porto itinerary sao bento trian station
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There’s a lot of beauty in Porto, and the Sao Bento train station is no exception. If you haven’t seen enough of those blue tiles, or even if you have, you don’t want to miss The São Bento Train Station. It is touted as one of Europe’s most beautiful train stations thanks to its 20,000 azulejos. Each tile tells a story of Portuguese history. 

This train station was opened in 1916 on the site of a former Benedictine monastery of Saint Benedict (São Bento). Tours stop at this busy station all day long to marvel at the ceramic tiles that were painted by Jorge Colaço, one of the most renowned azulejos artists of his time. The panels depict various historical scenes from Portugal’s history, including battles, royal events, and traditional life.

Mid-Day

Snack and Sprits at Mercado Do Bolhão

one day in porto portugal bolhao market
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When visiting Porto, you will definitely want to visit one of its markets. For lunch, you have a few options: you can turn around and walk back the hill a little bit to visit Mercado do Bolhão, which we highly recommend, or start making your way to the waterfront. But let’s talk about the Bolhao Market. This is one of our favorite markets in Europe, and Bolhão Market is one of the most authentic and traditional markets in Porto.

Although the original structure has undergone renovations, the neoclassical facade remains. The covered market is cool and a great escape from the heat. Inside, you can sample fresh seafood, cheese, sausages, and pastries. The shop owners are friendly and passionate about their local specialties.

one day in porto portugal dave and deb bolhao market
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Wander through stalls offering a variety of cheeses, meats, and fresh produce, and savor some authentic Portuguese delicacies that pair perfectly with wine! You can order a glass of wine, Gin and Tonic, or a Porto and Tonic that you can take with you to sip on it as you wander through the aisles. 

Pastel de Nata

Pastel de nata confeitaria do Bolhao Porto
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If you want to try some Pasteis de Nata, go across the street to the Confeteria de Balhao. It is one of the oldest bakeries in Porto, and many say it has the best Pasteis de Nata in the city. The line is huge in the morning, but later in the morning, it slows down a bit.

Porto City Hall

Porto city hall with Porto Sign
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If you love getting those photographs of city signs, Porto City Hall is just a short walk from the Bolhaor

Cais da Ribeira

one day in porto portugal cais de ribeira
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If you want to make your way to the river instead of going to the market, you can have lunch in the Ribeira district. Several restaurants and outdoor cafes line the waterfront with street performers entertaining guests as they sample Portuguese food. Cais da Ribeira is Porto’s most picturesque district, with colorful buildings lining the Douro River, and you will definitely want to spend some time exploring this neighborhood. 

Enjoy winding your walk down through the narrow streets of Porto (it’s all downhill from the Bolhao Market and São Bento Station if you take the main road), or you can take an Uber to get there faster.

one day in porto itinerary waterfront of Porto
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Once you get to the waterfront, you will want to enjoy the energy of this lively part of the city. There are outdoor markets, restaurants, boat tours, and beautiful views of colorful buildings lining the Douro River. This is a great place to pull up a chair and enjoy some lunch (if you skipped the castle and market) or to enjoy an Aperol Spritz. 

Porto Cathedral

one day in porto itinerary porto cathedral
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If you choose to go to the market, you can also have your driver drop you off at the Porto Cathedral for breathtaking views of the Douro River. It is an uphill walk to the cathedral, so you may want to hire a car to save time. It is worth visiting for the views of the city and river. The Porto Cathedral is one of the city’s oldest monuments, and it has been a religious site since the 12th century.

This is one cathedral you may want to visit. Its cloisters are beautiful, and inside, the cathedral is adorned with azulejos (blue and white ceramic tiles) that narrate religious stories.

 Afternoon

Walk Across the Ponte Luis I Bridge

one day in porto porto ponte luis I bridge
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It’s time to head to the city of Novo de Gaia across the river. We loved this district, and it is the perfect place to spend the rest of the afternoon. To get to Novo de Gaia from Porto, you can walk across the famous Ponte Luis I Bridge. You can walk on the lower or upper portion of the bridge. Note that you’ll be sharing the road with cars.

If you had lunch down by the water, you could walk across the lower portion to get to Gaia, or if you went to the Porto Cathedral (which we highly recommend because you can eat dinner at the Ribeira), you could walk along the upper portion. We loved the views from the upper portion. The Ponte Luis I Bridge is 45 meters high, and the views of both cities are beautiful from up here. There are no cars driving on the upper bridge, but there are trams going back and forth, so keep an eye out.

River Cruise on the Douro River

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Once you get to Gaia, you can embark on a river cruise on the Douro River to see Porto’s stunning riverside scenery. We took the 6 Bridges Cruise, which takes you from one end of the city to the other. The 50-minute cruise will give you a unique perspective of Porto’s iconic bridges and landmarks, from the vibrant streets of Cais da Ribeira to the port wine cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia.

You can book river cruises on the Ribeira side as well, but they are quite busy. We booked on Gaia instead. You can book your cruise in advance as well which will guarantee your time slot. It is worth seeing the entire side from a bot.

Port Wine Tasting at Vila Nova De Gaia

one day in porto portugal Vila Nova De Gaia port wine tasting
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The waterfront of Gaia is famous for its port wine cellars, and now is the time to visit them and do a port tasting. A trip to Porto isn’t a trip without tasting its famous port wine! You don’t need to take a tour, but it is fun to visit one of the cellars. We have toured and bought wines from Taylor’s, Calem, and Foncesco, and the port wines are divine.

One day in Porto Itinerary tasting Port in the afternoon
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Calem is the easiest to visit as it is located directly on the waterfront, and they offer port-tasting flights. If you want to see the WoW District (World of Wine) Fonseco and Taylor’s are located just a short walk up. They are both less busy, but the wines are finer. We loved our port tasting experience Taylor’s is the official supplier of the Royal Family, and it was the first port of wine in space! Try out a tasting session to discover the depth and richness of these world-class wines.

Going into a port wine lodge is a wonderful experience; you feel as if you have stepped back in time and enjoyed a wine tour through these historic cellars.

Portuguese wine is as delicious as it is unique, with varieties such as Vino Verde and Port Wine. The Douro Valley is Portugal’s famous wine region, and you can book a tour of Porto in the Douro Valley if you have a few days.

Stroll the Gaia Waterfront

porto portugal one day itinerary Vila Nova De Gaia
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We enjoyed the Gaia waterfront more than the Ribeira because, for one, it has the best views of Porto (including the beautiful Riviera). You can see the colorful terraced houses rising up from the Douro River, with the cathedral and fort standing proudly overhead.

Port houses line the waterfront, showcasing the famous Portuguese wine. Gaia is much less busy than Porto and two of our favorite stores are located on the waterfront of Gaia.

Wonderful World of Portuguese Sardines

porto portugal one day itinerary portuguese sardines
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You must stop by to see the wonderful world of Portuguese Sardines. This circus-like store is a destination unto itself. Similar in style to Livraria Lello, this store has baroque staircases and walls full of thousands of colorful cans of sardines. There is a multimedia display showcasing the history of Portuguese Sardines, and it is simply a spectacle. Plus, you can buy a sardine from a year that is special to you. Why not bring home a Portuguese can with your birthdate or anniversary on it?

The Bacalau House

one day porto itinerary bacalau hose
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The Balacau House is another must-stop. This is where you can try the country’s famous Cod Cakes while enjoying another beautiful shop. The store is a part shop, museum arcade, and gallery. This shop has two winding staircases, and the Bacalau house even has live entertainment. Pull up a chair on the upper balcony, grab a serving of Bacalau accompanied by port wine, and you’ll have a true Portuguese experience.

Evening

Sunset Apperitivo

porto portugal one day itinerary sunset cocktails
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From the waterfront, you can hop on the Teleferico (cable car), which will take you back up to the top of Gaia for your sunset views. If you have the budget, we recommend having appetizers and a cocktail at the Esplanada do Teleferico. It’s a fantastic restaurant offering fantastic views of Porto from its outdoor terrace. 

Relax with a refreshing drink and take in the breathtaking skyline as the sun sets over the city.

Jardim Do Morro

one day porto itinerary sunset at Jardim Do Morro
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If you don’t want to pay €15 to €20 for a cocktail, you can have the same view just behind the restaurant at Jardim Do Morro. Pull up a blanket and enjoy the view as the sun goes down and the lights go on over Porto.

Fado

Fado show in Porto in a wine cellar
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Since you’ve had Bacalau, appetizers, and port wine, we suggest putting off dinner until later. Besides, why not embrace the Portuguese culture and eat late? So before dinner, book a Fado Show in a wine cellar. Fado is a beautiful live performance of singers accompanied by guitars. We booked this tour through Get Your Guide and loved it. The hour long performance also includes a glass of Port Wine.

Fado is a true cultural experience that is so important to Portugal that it is recognized by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

It is known for its expressive and profoundly melancholic character, typically conveying themes of longing, sadness, and nostalgia. The music is intensely emotional, aiming to evoke a feeling of ‘saudade’ a Portuguese term that describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one loves.

Night time

Dinner

Dinner on the Ribeira in Porto
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Depending on where your hotel is located (or if you are willing to take a taxi or uber which are very affordable) you will want to choose where to have dinner and evening drinks. The Ribeira, Gaia Waterfront, or Rua de Santa Catarina are all great dining choices.

There are so many delicious and authentic restaurants in Porto that it’s easy to be overwhelmed, but just relax, enjoy, and do what we do… look for restaurants that seem to be full of locals.

Francesinha – A Porto Staple

Eating Francesinha in 
porto portugal
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One food you will want to try at dinner is francesinha. This sandwich sounds disgusting, but it is delicious. Most restaurants serve it and after all that port wine and cocktails, it will help to soak up the alcohol. So what is it? This is a hearty sandwich made of sausage, cheese, ham, more meat, and bread served with a tomato beer sauce.

Nightlife at Galerias de Paris Street

For nightlife, make your way to Galleria Paris near the Livraria Lello Bookstore for bar hopping. You finish your day where you began. This is where the locals hang out into the wee hours of the morning.

How to Get to Porto

How to get to Porto Portugal
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By Air: The primary gateway by air is through Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (also known as Porto Airport), located approximately 11 kilometers from the city center. The airport hosts a variety of international and domestic flights, connecting Porto with major cities across Europe and beyond. From the airport, travelers can reach the city center via the metro (the Violet E line directly connects the airport to the Trindade metro station in the city center), bus, taxi, or ride-sharing services.

By Train: For travelers coming from other parts of Portugal or from Spain, trains are a convenient option. Porto’s main train station, Sao Bento Station, is located in the heart of the city and is well-connected to the Portuguese rail network. Another key station is Campanhã, which is on the east side of the city and serves as the main hub for trains arriving from Lisbon, the Algarve, and international destinations such as Spain. From Campanhã, passengers can take a local train or the metro to reach the central areas of Porto and Sao Bento Station.

our one day in porto itinerary
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And that’s our one-day in Porto itinerary. From the Ribeira district on the waterfront to the winding cobblestone streets, we’ve shown you how to make the most of your day in this beautiful city.

Plan Your Next Trip To Porto With Our Advice



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