Menu

Porto, Portugal – A 3-Day Travel Itinerary

By adriana - April 8, 2016 (Updated: April 9, 2016)

3 Day travel itinerary for Porto, Portugal

Adi shares her itinerary for 3 days in Porto, Portugal, including the must-see tourist attractions, UNESCO sites, shops, and restaurants.

Portugal had been on my bucket list for a long time but, to be honest, Porto was not my number one choice for a visit. I had initially wanted to visit Lisbon but when the opportunity came to visit Porto I took it.

Iconic Porto, Portugal - a perfect off-season travel destination

Iconic Porto, Portugal – a perfect off-season travel destination

Traveling to Porto in winter has many perks; one of them is cheap travel. A round trip ticket with EasyJet cost me only 47€. Another perk of off-season travel is an abundance of cheap accommodations. I am a die-hard fan of Airbnb and Lili’s apartment was affordable and the perfect stay for a weekend. Lili is friendly and easy to communicate with, the apartment is clean, and it fits four people comfortably. But above all, Lili’s apartment is fantastic, because downstairs is the bakery that sells the world’s best croissants. (Thank you for the recommendation, Lili!!).

Porto croissants---the best in the world (sorrynotsorry France)

Porto croissants – the best in the world (sorrynotsorry France)

My trip to Porto was an all ladies trip (4 of us) and we found Porto very safe, even walking around in the evening after dark.

Porto is a city of contrasts – gorgeous tiled buildings, new and ancient, sit beside rundown structures ready to collapse. In an odd way, I found this charming. As a city built beside the ocean, the humidity puts its unforgiving print all over the city. It reminded me of Venice, with the same contrasting charming atmosphere. I loved the narrow cobblestone streets lined with little stores, restaurants, and neighborhood cafés. The people are friendly and welcoming making you feel less of a stranger.

 

Porto in the evening

Porto in the evening

If you travel to Porto for the weekend, buy the 3-day Andante Card for 15€ as soon as you arrive at the airport. With it, you have unlimited access to the public transportation for 72h from the time of the first validation. Remember to validate it before every trip. There will be controllers checking it every time you get on the metro.

There are so many places to visit in Porto but I want to share my personal itinerary with you.

Clérigos Church and Tower

Clérigos Church and Tower, Porto, Portugal

Clérigos Church and Tower, Porto, Portugal

Our first day in Porto was horribly rainy but we decided not to let it stop us from visiting a few historical sites. Clérigos Church was the perfect beginning to my sightseeing list. Construction began on this Baroque church in 1732 while the tower construction began in 1754. This incredible structure quickly became the symbol of the city.

Inside the Clérigos Church, Porto, Portugal

Inside the Clérigos Church, Porto, Portugal

A visit only costs 3€ and it grants you access to the church and the 75.6m tower. Trust me; at the end of the 240 steps awaits gorgeous views of the city.

The view of Porto from Inside the Clérigos Church's tower

The view of Porto from Inside the Clérigos Church’s tower

São Bento Railway Station

São Bento Railway Station, Porto, Portugal

São Bento Railway Station, Porto, Portugal

São Bento Railway Station was inaugurated in 1916 and it is not your typical train station. Its massive walls are decorated with approximately 20000 azulejo tiles, depicting the history of Portugal. I loved how a space so beautiful was used for something as average as a train station.

São Bento Railway Station is covered in beautiful tiles

São Bento Railway Station is covered in beautiful tiles

Livraria Lello & Irmão

Book-lover heaven - Livraria Lello & Irmão bookshop in Porto

Book-lover heaven – Livraria Lello & Irmão bookshop in Porto

Livraria Lello & Irmão is a bookstore in central Porto, just up the road from the Clérigos Church. This Art Nouveau bookstore is beautiful and worth a visit. JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, also frequented the bookstore when she taught English in Porto and the shop is reported to be an inspiration for her writing. It costs 3€ to get in, but you get your money back if you buy a book.

We can see why this bookstore inspired Harry Potter!

We can see why this bookstore inspired Harry Potter!

Iglesia de los Carmelitas

Iglesia de los Carmelitas, Porto, Portugal

Iglesia de los Carmelitas, Porto, Portugal

Iglesia de los Carmelitas is one of the most beautiful and important churches in Porto. Like the Lello & Irmão bookstore, Iglesia de los Carmelitas is a short walking distance from the Clérigos Church. It’s worth the visit to admire its striking architecture. The outside is beautifully decorated with azulejo tile. The inside, while not large, is elaborately decorated in the Rococo style. Entrance is free of charge.

Porto Cathedral

Porto Cathedral

Porto Cathedral

Porto Cathedral is located in the historical center of Porto. It is one of the city’s oldest monuments and one of the most important Romanesque monuments in Portugal.  Its construction started around the year 1110. While the interior of the church is being refurbished and scaffolding makes it hard to enjoy its beauty, the gothic cloister offers a visual feast. Entrance costs 3€ and, if you go early, you will have the entire place to yourself.

Porto-Cathedral's stunning interior

Porto-Cathedral’s stunning interior

Church of São Francisco and Catacombs

Church of São Francisco and Catacombs, Porto, Portugal

Church of São Francisco and Catacombs, Porto, Portugal

The Church of São Francisco is the most prominent Gothic monument in Porto and is located in the historic center of the city. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building of this church began in 1383 and, today, it’s the best example of Gothic architecture in Porto. The interior displays the exact opposite of the simple exterior; the massive walls are decorated heavily with gold, in the Rococo style.  In 1809, Napoleon’s troops invaded Portugal and captured Porto. The French Cavalry officers decided that the Church of São Francisco would be an ideal location to host their men and their horses. A local story tells of the monks and parishioners hurriedly painting whitewash over the gilded interior fittings when they heard about the invasion, to prevent them being destroyed and looted by the French. The entrance fee is 3.50€ and grants you access to the church as well as the catacombs.

St Ildefonso Church

View of the Clerigos Tower and church from Sao Ildefonso church and the church's beautiful facade

View of the Clerigos Tower and church from Sao Ildefonso church and the church’s beautiful facade

St Ildefonso Church is the final church we visited but only from the outside as inside they were holding mass.  Completed in 1739, this church is built entirely of granite and the façade is decorated with approximately 11000 beautiful azulejo tiles depicting the life of Saint Ildefonso and images from the Gospels. The church sits near Porto’s Batalha Square, a historic, mostly pedestrian, public space frequented by tourists for the breathtaking views of the city and the Clérigos Church and Tower.

Avenida de los Aliados

Avenida de los Aliados, Porto, Portugal

Avenida de los Aliados, Porto, Portugal

Avenida de los Aliados is a pedestrian area that was started on February 1st, 1916, and the city center of Porto. In the center of the square, you will observe the 10m tall bronze statue of King Pedro IV, dating from 1862, while the buildings flanking the square, including the Town hall, are early twentieth-century architecture. On a sunny day, it’s the perfect place to be for a little R&R between tourist sites.

Praça da Ribeira

Praça da Ribeira, Porto's UNESCO designated heart.

Praça da Ribeira, Porto’s UNESCO designated heart.

Praça da Ribeira is the city’s most lively area and part of the historic center of Porto. It is also designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the place to be if you seek nice restaurants and cafés with a relaxing atmosphere. At the moment, it is the place preferred by tourists and I imagine summer being crowded but if you travel off-season it’s as relaxed as can be.

Take a boat ride down the Douro River

View of the Pont Luis from the river

View of the Pont Luis from the river

From the Ribeira square, you can take a 50-minute river cruise up and down the Duoro River. It only costs 12.50€ and it gives you the chance to get some information about the area and the magnificent bridges linking the riverbanks.

Get a bird’s eye view of Porto from Dom Luís I bridge

a birds eye view of Porto from Dom Luís I bridge

A bird’s eye view of Porto from Dom Luís I bridge

The bridge opened on October 31st, 1886 and, at the time, it was the longest of its kind in the world. The upper deck is put to use for pedestrians and light rail while the bottom deck is open for pedestrians and general traffic. Walk this 385m long bridge for magnificent views of Porto.

Have a Port wine and chocolate tasting

Port wine and chocolate tasting at Porto's oldest Wine House

Port wine and chocolate tasting at Porto’s oldest Port Wine House

I admit Port wine is not my favorite drink but when in Porto it’s a must. If you decide to try it you have to do so at the oldest Port wine house, C.N. KOPKE, established in the year 1638.  There are different ways to enjoy a tasting, from selecting just one or two glasses to trying the entire suite of house wines. I chose the latter and, for 28€, I tried five wines paired with lovely Portuguese chocolate. The atmosphere was relaxed; you stay as long as you need, and the staff is welcoming and knowledgeable. Beware, five glasses of wine will make you tipsy or drunk, depending how much tolerance you have to alcohol. I recommend you do this in the afternoon when you are done sightseeing.

Go to the ocean

Take the tram to Lady of Light Lighthouse on Porto's coast

Take the tram to Lady of Light Lighthouse on Porto’s coast

One of my favorite things to do in Porto was to go see the Atlantic Ocean in an old-fashioned tram. For just 2.50€, you get a ride from the Sao Francisco Church station all the way to the beach. The tram ride is clunky but fun. Once at the ocean, you can choose to walk the strand all the way to the Lady of Light lighthouse. The ocean is cold and restless in winter putting on a spectacular show of waves breaking on the lighthouse wall as well at the rock formations near it. The world felt like a much better place after some wild ocean therapy.

Fishing area by the strand in Porto, Portugal

Fishing area by the strand in Porto, Portugal

Eat lots of seafood

Fresh oysters on Porto's stand

Fresh oysters on Porto’s stand

Porto is a city on the Atlantic Ocean so it would be a pity not to try as much fresh seafood as you can.  Most restaurants offer fresh clams, octopus, codfish, mussels and many more delicious choices.

Madureira's restaurant, Porto, Portugal

Madureira’s restaurant, Porto, Portugal

One of the best meals I had in Porto was right by our Airbnb apartment, at a neighborhood restaurant called Madureira’s. It’s a restaurant beloved by all, as evidenced by how full it was every evening. The delicious food choices and the very affordable prices will convince you to eat there more than once.

Peza Arroz Restaurant, Porto, Portugal

Peza Arroz Restaurant, Porto, Portugal

The restaurants that line Praça da Ribeira serve nice, fresh seafood as well but higher in price, as you can imagine. I especially enjoyed the clams and the octopus ceviche at Peza Arroz restaurant; a little restaurant decorated with gorgeous azulejo tiles with nice views of the river.

Cosy Escondidihno traditional Portuguese restaurant

Cosy Escondidihno traditional Portuguese restaurant

One last restaurant I deeply appreciated was Escondidihno, a traditional Portuguese restaurant that served me the best cod I’ve ever eaten. Everything was perfect: the ambiance, the service, the food, and the prices. I would eat there again, and again, and again.

I still want to visit Lisbon but I am very pleased I decided to give Porto, Portugal a try. This city of contrasts left its mark on my heart through its people, food, and history wrapped in azulejo tile.

3 Day travel itinerary for Porto, Portugal

Like this article? Save it to Pinterest!
Read more from Cheeseweb.eu
Adriana
I live in Germany with my husband and two children. I have a big passion for travel and photography. I am most happy when I travel, when I discover new cultures, see new places and try new foods. We have travelled to more than thirty countries and almost two hundred cities. See some of the photos taken during our adventures at Life in A Suitcase and follow on Google+.
Adriana

Latest posts by Adriana (see all)

4 comments

  1. Comment by Junie

    Junie April 11, 2016 at 21:48

    Portugal is one place I need to visit.
    I can hardly wait after reading your 3 Day adventure.
    I plan on traveling with my friend from Lisbon, and Porto will for sure be added to our itinerary.
    Thank you for sharing 🙂
    junie

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison April 27, 2016 at 16:22

      Thanks Junie. Portugal is fabulous and I hope you have an amazing visit!

  2. Comment by Adam

    Adam September 15, 2016 at 20:42

    Thank you for writing this wonderful post! We are planning a trip to Porto and we will absolutely be sure to check out these locations. This was very helpful.

    • Comment by Adriana Yampey

      Adriana Yampey September 15, 2016 at 22:48

      You are very welcome, Adam! I found Porto so easy to navigate, and fun to explore. Don’t forget to stamp your travel cards before EVERY public transportation ride. There are controllers on every single ride. This is something I’ve never encountered before.

Comments are closed.

Go top