We want to encourage you to visit Porto, this was one of the most enchanting cities we have discovered while on a road trip in Portugal. This city is unique, and with our guide, you will discover Porto in one day.
Ok, let’s start from the beginning. We were on a trip to Portugal having a base in Lisbon and going for a few daily road trips. Our route up northern Portugal with the final destination Porto was amazing. We discovered gorgeous little towns and other well-known locations such as Fatima, Motril, Sintra, Cabo da Roca, Aveiro and Coimbra.
Well, we arrived in Porto in the late afternoon, and the sunset was amazing. After strolling around for a few hours we were so amazed by the city that we decided to stay overnight and enjoy a bit more of one of the major cities in Portugal.
We decided to put together a proper guide on how to spend 24 hours in Porto and enjoy the city. A list of things to do in Porto for everybody. The city is very affordable, ideal for backpackers, but also for couples, as it is very romantic. Follow us through our Porto in one day itinerary and you will love this city as we do.
Things to do in one day in Porto
Our day trip to Porto wasn’t planned at all. We drove from Lisbon, passing by Fatima, Aveiro and finally arriving in this magical city. We don’t want you to be like us, and at least be a bit more prepared than we were. So follow us along the One Day in Porto Itinerary for more tips.
The city of Porto has got a lot to offer and with a planned itinerary you will be able to see almost everything.
All you need to know about Porto in One Day
Why you should visit Porto?
The city is world-famous among wine connoisseurs for its Port wine. Which was delicious (Actually Alessia didn’t like it a lot). However, what impresses us more about Porto it’s the architecture, the style and the charm. The Baroque Churches, the azulejos at the façade of the major buildings, the incredible interiors, beautiful sunset and the Ribeira District which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, make us always wonder about Porto.
The most famous city in Portugal is indeed the Capital, Lisbon. However, Porto is not like the southern city and is less crowded and easier to visit. Especially visiting Portugal in Summer you will recognize how Lisbon and coastal towns like Faro or Algarve are busier than Porto.
Looking for a Romantic City in Europe, Porto is the ideal to spend a few days with your other half. The lower prices compared to Lisbon or other most attractive European cities, make Porto the ideal romantic Getaway for Couples in Europe.
Spending one day in Porto in Spring will give you fresh vibes enjoying gentle weather. This is maybe the best selling point of Porto, cheap and sunny all year round.
How to get around during your one day in Porto?
We mainly discovered Porto walking around the city centre. However, the city has got an extremely efficient public transport service. You can take a mix of Metro, Tram and Bus, or the private taxis. With just £5 you are covered.
The city is quite hilly, if you are not trained for long walks uphill, it might be ideal to get a Porto 24 hours Transport Card. Most of the city centre and the touristy spots have irregular footpaths, often covered by cobblestones. This is what makes Porto more charming, so don’t complain and enjoy it. A tip might be to get a good pair of shoes and avoid completely the hills, which can get stuck in the irregular and damaged basalt cobblestones.
If you are exploring Porto in 24 hours, you can cover it easily by walking. However, one of the most incredible experiences to do in Porto is to get on a traditional Tram. It’s not easy to find it around Europe, so we love to explore it. Even in Lisbon, we did with the Tram 28.
Porto Travellers Card
One day in Porto Map
As usual in our guides, we have made a useful free map that you can download and explore offline. The free map of One day in Porto includes all the points of interest within the city.
Visiting Porto for one day is handy to have the correct directions, avoiding losing time getting lost in the maze of small alleys and narrow spots.
Your one day in Porto Itinerary
One Day Porto Itinerary
Cais da Ribeira
This is one of the oldest districts of Porto, with very traditional architecture. A chaotic and great fun to explore, Porto’s riverside area is a very picturesque location. This is the ideal spot to start your one day in Porto.
This is a walkable area full of cool spots to unwind, enjoying a fresh drink or eating a bite in the many restaurants and bars along the way.
From here you’ll have a perfect shot of the iconic Luís I Bridge. We suggest you consider visiting Cais da Ribeira also at night. This place is beautiful at any time of the day. We took some incredible shots of the Bridge that are still vivid in our mind. You can easily get lost in the Ribeira, it is a confusing maze of steep streets and stairways between pastel-painted houses in varying states of repair.
The Cais da Ribeira has been spruced up a little in the last few years and information boards have been installed to tell you about this district’s characters and businesses when it was Porto’s hive of commerce. Cais de Ribeira is Porto’s touristy river strip, so check it out early in the morning and don’t plan a lunch here, you will find everything reserved and so many people around.
Livraria Lello | The Harry Potter Bookstore
If you are passionate about books you are in the right place. Place it on top of the list on how to spend one day in Porto. Livraria Lello is the place where the author of Harry Potter took inspiration, where you can buy the ticket for only 4 euro, and you can have the same amount as a discount for buying a new book. Add this place to the top of your list of things to do in Porto.
Amazing no? I love to read and this was one of my favourite places. I spent more than one hour just looking around and of course, I ended up buying a book. The red stairs right in the middle of this authentic gorgeous library are the perfect spot for a few photos. It is always crowded so we suggest you check this out at the opening or closing time.
Livraria Lello, it’s not just a glorious Library, it is also an inspirational place for the books of Harry Potter. The Building is in pure Neo-Gothic Style, with precious Art Nouveau interiors. JK Rowling found inspiration to write his most famous books here, between 1991 to 1993 working as an English Teacher in Porto.
To get in it’s not free, due to the mass of tourists, today you have to spend 5 euro to get inside, however, this can be used as a voucher to buy goods in the shop. While exploring Porto in one day, enjoy the Lello Bookstore, which is open every day from 9.30 am until 7.00 pm.
LOCATION | Rua das Carmelitas
Carmo and Carmolitas Churches
Just a couple blocks away from Livraria Lello there are the Carmo and Carmelitas churches. Those actually look like one very large church, however are completely separated by typical tiny houses. The two have a different Religious function and once one was a convent, with the other serving as Monastery. As you might understand, the occupants couldn’t see each other, neither sharing a common wall.
The nuns in the Carmelitas couldn’t meet the occupants, the monks on the other side. The beautiful Carmo Church features one of the most instagrammable places in Porto. One of the most recognizable factors of Igreja do Carmo as it is called in Portuguese, is the beautiful Azulejos all over the facades.
However the Church was built between 1756 and 1768, but the blue azulejos were added only in late 1912. The Church is still active, so please mind that celebrations can go on and keep quiet.
LOCATION | Rua do Carmo
OPENING TIMES | Monday to Friday from 7.15 am to 7 pm – Saturday and Sunday opening at 9.45 am and closing at 6.00 pm.
ENTRANCE | Free
Main attractions to visit in Porto in One day
Admire the Azulejos
Talking about Azulejos we have to mention these beautiful pieces of art typical of Portugal in a full paragraph. Roaming around the streets of Porto you will be amazed by the Azulejos on the facades of the building.
But, what is an Azulejos?
Those ceramic tiles are handcrafted and hand-painted glazed. Numerous buildings in Porto are adorned with this. Typical of the 20th Century, the word Azulejo comes from the Arabic “al-zulayj”, which means “little stone”. It’s not just a typical Portuguese product but can be found also in Spain and Morocco and other North African countries with amazing mosaics. It’s easy to understand that they were introduced in Portugal by the Moorish, a very prominent culture also in nearby Andalusia, with cities like Malaga or Seville with a very similar style.
Sticking with our topic, today the Azulejos are part of the Portuguese heritage, and you can find them in Residential Houses (the richest ones), Political Buildings, Train Stations and also markets, Cathedral and other religious places. It’s not used only for external purposes but also to create beautiful mosaics internally.
The usual typical colours you can find in Porto are white and blue azulejos. Very famous are the Sao Bento Train Station, the Carmo Church, the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso and the Chapel of Souls.
Dom Luis I Bridge
The symbol of Porto, an iconic architectural masterpiece that links the two sides of the city divided by the Douro River. The steel bridge was conceived by Théophile Seyrig, which might say nothing to you, but it’s worth knowing that he was a co-founder of the Eiffel Company. The Bridge was built in 1886 by an assistant of Gustave Eiffel’s and that’s why you can find many similarities with one of the most famous landmarks in Europe.
The double-deck ironwork features a bottom road for vehicles and an upper deck with a metro line. The advantage point of the bridge offers a dramatic view over the Ribeira do Porto (the most vibrant area of the city) the Cais de Gaia, the Monastery of Serra do Pilar.
We were so impressed by this bridge, which offers a unique scenario at every time of the day. If you are a photography enthusiast like us, plan to spend a bit of your evening here, getting some of the best shots in Porto. At the Sunset the view from the upper deck, which is completely walkable from Nova Gaia to the South Bank, offers a breathtaking landscape.
LOCATION | Bridge Luiz I, Porto, Portugal
BEST TO VISIT | Sunset and Sunrise awesome for photography lovers
Palacio da Bolsa | One day in Porto
This is one of the most stunning buildings in Porto, however, often left behind in the Porto Travel Guides. Palacio da Bolsa is listed as a “World Heritage Site” by UNESCO and it’s a unique historical building of the 19th century in a pure neoclassical style.
The entrance to this building costs 10 euro, but it’s worth a visit. This will give you access to all the areas, starting from the awesome hall, where you can breathe the richest past of Porto during the Industrial Revolution. This building was once the trading core of the city.
The white marble staircases at the entrance will blow your mind and will open you the door to the “hall of nations”, once the core of the stock market and daily trading. The beautiful Palace is for sure the hall of nations, and you can understand it by visiting the Arab Hall, “Salão Árabe ” in Portuguese. This wonderful room is completely dedicated to arabesque motives, in blue and gold windows.
LOCATION | R. de Ferreira Borges
TICKETS | Get your skip-the-queue ticket to Palacio da Bolsa
OPENING HOURS | November to March 9:00 a.m. – 13:00 p.m. / 14:00 p.m. – 17:30 p.m. | April to October 9 am to 6:30 p.m.
Praça da Liberdade
The bridge between the two souls of Porto, modern time and old heritage. Praça da Liberdade is the most important square in Porto and is located in the centre of the city. Around this square, there are a lot of points of interest in Porto, like São Bento train station and Torre dos Clérigos. Use this square as your meeting point to start exploring Porto in one day.
However, be mindful that being the most important square in the city is often a theatre of manifestation, concerts or other events, which might make this space overcrowded.
The two symmetrical buildings with at the centre the statue of Dom Pedro IV “King Peter IV ” are iconic photo to be shot in Porto. Take a long walk from here to Praça Gen. Humberto Delgado, or often referred to as Praça do Município for a beautiful overview of Porto. Right at the end, there is the typical sculpture with the name of the city.
Casa da Musica
We have included this place in our guide to one day in Porto, however, it can be skipped without missing a lot.
This is our opinion, but if you are into architecture, or interested in this aspect of your visit, Casa da Musica can be the right place for you.
This place opened the door in 2005 when Porto was elected European Capital of culture. However, the style of the building reflects just the need for the perfect acoustic without matching the surrounding architecture. To be honest we prefer the style of the area around Palau de la Musica in Valencia which matches the nearby Palau de la Ciencia y Artes. Despite that the Casa da Musica is a unique venue, hosting world-famous concerts and music for connoisseurs.
How to spend one day in Porto
Foz do Douro
This is one of the areas of Porto we love the most. Just because of the beaches. Foz do Douro is where the Douro River reaches the Atlantic Ocean and today is a beautiful residential area. Here are some of the best beaches in Porto, like Praia dos Ingleses and Praia do Molhe. We discovered it just by going away from the city, but you can visit also while staying in Porto for one day.
Some very unique places are located in this part of Porto like the chapel lighthouse of Farol de São Miguel and the Felgueiras Lighthouse. You can reach this place from the Southern part of Porto, driving through the Ponte da Arrábida, or just admiring the beautiful arch bridge at sunset.
For a walk on the promenade, we suggest you reach Raul Peres Road, with a beautiful view of the ocean. You can also reach Miradouro das ondas and Miradouro do Atlântico. However this area might fill your one day in Porto, so for a full relaxing visit to Foz do Douro you might need to extend your vacation.
Let’s go back to the incredible attractions of Porto in One Day, with the beautiful Cathedral. This is also the highest point of the city, from the top you can admire the gorgeous Portuguese city.
Locals intend it not only as of the Cathedral but as the Sé. This is the most important religious building in the whole city. It is also one of the most ancient and standing buildings in Porto, protected internally in ancient times by the city walls. The location is pretty suggestive, in the borough of Batalha and gives the surrounding area unique vibes. The Architecture of the 12th century is predominantly in baroque style, features high ceilings, however you can find a significant influence of the Romanesque and Gothic Style, coming from the modification of the 18th century. The Cathedral of Porto is today a protected National Monument. The visit to the Sé Cathedral is free, however, we suggest you consider visiting the incredible cloisters.
LOCATION | Terreiro da Sé
ENTRANCE | Free Entrance – Cloisters cost 3 euro per person
OPENING TIMES | April to October, every day from 9.00 am to 12.30 pm and from 2.30 pm to 7.00 pm – From November to March, every day some morning shifts close one hour early in the evening, at 6.00 pm. On National Holidays it is closed.
Enjoy the view from Clerigos Tower
From one of the tallest buildings of Porto to another, and maybe the most scenic one. Clérigos Tower or Torre de Clérigos in the local language is a 75 meters granite tower, dated back to the 18th Century. To reach the top, you have to climb 240 steep steps.
From the top, the view is breathless, with the best Porto’s skyline. The Clerigos Tower is one of the most impressive landmarks in Europe and definitely worth a visit. The birds-eye-view gives you access to the surrounding Porto’s hills (where the tasty wine is made), and the Douro River view.
LOCATION | R. de São Filipe de Nery
TICKETS | 5 euro
OPENING TIMES | Every day from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm, the National Holidays is closed.
Sao Bento Train Station | Must See in Porto
We have previously mentioned the Sao Bento Train Station, one of the most suggestive in the world. In Portuguese named Estação de São Bento is the main train station of Porto. If you are travelling from Lisbon to Porto you might be welcomed to the city centre in this station.
This is today one of the best attractions of Porto, a 20th-century station that features one of the largest collections of azulejos for free. The main hall is covered by 20,000 azulejos with a predominance of blue and white colours. This is an authentic gem of Porto, unique and unmissable. The Azulejos features some important events of Portuguese history, from transport contests to wine references. Include the São Bento Train station in your guide to Porto in One day.
Off the beaten path in Porto
Wine tasting in Porto | Port wine cellars tour
This is considered one of the main attractions of Porto. How can we blame that? It is impossible to visit Porto without sipping the local wine. Even Alessia, who doesn’t like that much, admits that sipping a glass of wine on the banks of the Douro River is a memorable experience.
Luckily Porto features some of the most incredible wine cellars and Port wine lodges too. Just crossing the Dom Luís I Bridge, toward Vila Nova de Gaia, you will also find the World Wine Museum of Port. Vila Nova de Gaia was the maturation hub of the grapes, before the transport to the final destination in the 17th century. It is today the hub of wine tasting and amazing cellars.
Having a wine tasting tour you will learn how they make the wine, the characteristics and way to develop the Port wine in this way, which makes this quality unique and unrepeatable. Definitely, you have to stick this on top of the things to do in 1 day in Porto Portugal.
River Cruise on the Douro
Among the most romantic things to do in Porto, there is a Cruise on the Douro River. Portugal is an overall cheap destination compared to other European cities. This is the reason why you should go for a unique activity, which will leave you with memorable lifetime opportunities.
Several companies are running this service, and you can buy a ticket on the spot, which will cost you a little more compared to buying it online before your trip.
If you are interested in amaze your partner with a River Cruise on the Douro river, make sure to check out all the opportunities.
Porto Sunset Cruise
Duration 2 hours 30 minutes | Free Cancellation – Kids Free
Spend an unforgettable evening in Porto and watch the sunset over the city as cruise the Douro River. You’ll even enjoy a glass of wine onboard!
Church of Sao Francisco
The last spot you should check out while visiting Porto in a day is the Igreja de São Francisco, the Church of Sao Francisco. This building is an architectural mix, due to this being extended by the initial convent. This was initiated by a small church dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi around 1244.
The beautiful details of today’s church appear just later, around 1425 this was extended with a new structure following the Gothic style. You can already see from the photo above the awesome details of the inside, which makes this one of the most hidden gems in Porto. Because of that, this is often referred to as the Gold Church of Porto. The high fee entrance makes it an element off the beaten path in Porto, which might be ideal for Architecture lovers.
LOCATION | Rua do Infante D. Henrique
ENTRANCE | 7.50 euro per person.
OPENING HOURS | From July to September, open daily from 9.00 am to 8.00 pm. From March to October, the church closes at 7.00 pm and from November to February the closing time is at 5.30 pm.
Spend more time in Porto
Our experience tells us to advise you to stay longer in Porto. While we were on an epic road trip in Portugal, we were supposed to stay in Porto for just one day. However, we felt the city so much that we decided to stay longer.
Extending our stay we were able to visit more of Porto which promptly became one of our favourite cities in Europe. We suggest you spend at least 2 or 3 days in Porto. This extended time will help you to try some delicious local food, take one more tour and even plan a day trip from Porto. There are many attractions that we haven’t mentioned in our guide of one day in Porto, that you can easily include with a few extra days.
Is the Porto Card worth it for one day?
Yes. One day is not enough to visit all the city, however, the Porto Card can speed up the process, allowing you to jump the queue, get free unlimited access on public transport and discount on some attractions. This card is just costing about 5 euro and is valid for 24-hours from the first use. You can easily order it online before your visit and have already once arrived.
Porto Travellers Card
Where to stay in Porto
Porto is very big and there is not only one place worth staying in. However, if you plan just one day in Porto you should consider the central location to be closer to sightseeing and main landmarks. The most suggestive place is for sure the Ribeira district with some places at good prices, nice restaurants at the doorstep and good vibes surrounding you.
Day trips from Porto
Planning a longer stay in Porto you should consider some day trips from the northern capital of Portugal. The Portuguese countryside is unique, featuring amazing landscapes, good food and wine and places to unwind.
The hills of Porto are famous for the production of Port wine, with traditional grape trees hilltop and fantastic little villages. Drive along the Douro Valley, going up to the river and checking one of the most suggestive Unesco World Heritage Sites.
While on a road trip through Portugal we were lucky to visit Aveiro, the Venice of Portugal, but also Coimbra, Braga and Guimarães are worth a visit.
How to get from Lisbon to Porto?
Depending on the way you want to reach Porto from Lisbon, the easiest is for sure by train. Not everyone is willing to embrace a 3-hour drive between the two cities.
It is also the cheapest way, a one-way ticket can cost about 20/30 euro and takes about 3 to 4 hours depending on the service.
Multiple trains are departing from Lisbon Santa Apolónia train station arriving at Porto Campanha. Check them out.
Instead, you can also reach Porto by bus from Lisbon, (check the route) or using blabla car, which will be ideal to make new friends and save some bucks. The same travel tips can be applied on the opposite way from Porto to Lisbon.
Check the best option for you to reach Porto
Depending on your needs you can reach Porto from Lisbon or any other location by train, bus or renting a car.
Q&A Porto in One Day
Where is Porto?
Porto is located in the North of Portugal and is about 3 hours drive away from the capital Lisbon. This is often also found in Oporto. Compared to Lisbon, the city is more windy and cold, especially in winter.
What is the best way to see Porto?
Porto is beautiful to visit, however, it is difficult just walking. Due to the geography of the city, made of many hills, we suggest you take a 24-hours card to discover the city through public transport. The links are very efficient and can take from one side to another quick and easy. Instead, if you are visiting the city for a short time, just get lost in the maze of beautiful narrow streets.
When to visit Porto?
The best time of the year to visit Porto is in Spring or late summer. The city tends to be overcrowded in summer. Unfortunately, in winter the city is rainy and very cold, but it is also true that it is less touristy.
Is Porto walkable?
Definitely. Porto city centre is not big, but very hilly. This small European city is ideal for a few days’ retreat. It is walkable and very safe for pedestrians. Some of the best areas to walk are around Liberdade Square, with over a mile of square without cars at all. 1 day in Porto will recharge you, enjoying the amazing and vibrant cafes, the churches, architecture and tasty wine.
Which is better, Lisbon or Porto?
The two are completely different. However, Porto is smaller compared to Lisbon, which makes more sense to visit on a short trip. Definitely, Porto is more charming compared to Lisbon, which instead is more buzzing and vibrant.
How many days do you need to visit Porto?
Two days. At least you have to plan 2 days in Porto to have a full overview of the city. This means to see the attractions in the city centre and also go on a wine itinerary at Vila Nova de Gaia. However the more is better, so plan at least a full 48 hours in Porto.
Is one day in Porto enough?
No. not really. One day in Porto will just give you a small taste of how charming this city is and things to see in Porto. To see all that the city has to offer you should plan ideally 2 or 3 days in Porto. However, 1 day in Porto is enough to see all the most important sightseeing.
ESSENTIAL THINGS TO PACK FOR YOUR TRIP TO PORTO
If you are packing your bags, there are a couple of things that you need to have with you.
COMFORTABLE SHOES | The hilly Porto will challenge you a lot, pack your best comfy shoes.
REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE | Buy a reusable water bottle in advance of your trip to Porto.
SUNCREAM | Great tip if you are visiting Porto in Summer.
TRIPOD | Everyone loves taking pictures and sometimes with a tripod it can be easier than asking someone else. We use this!
SANITISER WIPES OR HAND SANITISER | Spending your day always around you won’t be able to wash your hands frequently and this is why you should have a hand sanitiser.
POWER BANK | Your phone battery is very important especially if you love taking pictures with your phone. So, don’t forget to pack a power bank. Check this power bank for your next trip!
CAMERA | The amazing landscapes of Porto will take you to snap everywhere. The blue hour is just magical, same as the sunset in Porto. Take your camera with you to collect the best memories ever. This is our Camera Gear, have a look.
DO YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT PORTO AND PORTUGAL? CHECK OUR GUIDES
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