Porto-North-Portugal.com

The best independent guide to Porto

Porto-North-Portugal.com

The best independent guide to Porto

Three days in Porto: a suggested itinerary and tour for 2024

Three days is the perfect length of time for exploring Porto and its surrounding region.

Porto is a fascinating city and a wonderful tourist destination, offering the perfect blend of rich history, varied sights and genuine Portuguese culture.

The city lies on the banks of the mighty Douro River and comprises of a labyrinth of narrow alleys, bustling shopping streets and grand plazas. Within the city you’ll find a rich variety of historical sights, as well as a vibrant food scene and lively nightlife.

If you are planning a city break to Porto, three days provides sufficient time to discover the city, along with the opportunity for a day trip (often to Braga or Guimaraes). In the summer, this third day could be spent enjoying a relaxing day on the beach or a trip along the Douro Valley.

If you are fortunate enough to have a longer trip to Portugal, and are able to devote three days entirely to Porto, then you could discover parts of the city that would be missed during a more rushed trip. These additional sights could include the Foz district and its beaches, the Serralves art gallery, the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal and the Estádio do Dragão stadium.

This article will guide you through both options for your three days in Porto, ensuring you make the most of your time in this amazing city.
Related articles: Introduction to Porto

Overview of suggested 3-day itineraries

A three-day city break to Porto and the surrounding region

Day 1 morning: Delve into the ancient heart of Porto by exploring the labyrinthine alleyways of the Ribeira and Sé districts. Marvel at the iconic Sé Cathedral, the beautiful azulejo tilework of São Bento train station and the majestic Ponte Luís I bridge that spans the Douro River.

Ribeira Porto

The colourful houses of the Ribeira neighbourhood line the banks of the Douro River.

Day 1 afternoon: Wander the bustling shopping streets of the Bolhão neighbourhood and visit its characterful market. Afterwards, visit the grand Aliados plaza and the charming Cordoaria district, which contains the Igreja do Carmo and Livraria Lello bookshop.

Câmara Municipal  Porto

The grand Câmara Municipal standing at the top of the Aliados plaza

Day 1 evening: Have a meal at one of the many excellent restaurants along the Ribeira waterfront, followed by a lively evening of drinks and socialising at the bars around the Rua da Galeria de Paris.

 romantic dinner Porto

A romantic dinner overlooking the Ponte Luís I bridge.

Day 2 morning: Cross the iconic Ponte Luís I bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia, a city on the southern bank of the Douro River that is famous for its Port wine cellars. Embark on a guided tour through one of the historic cellars and indulge in a Port wine-tasting experience.

Taylor’s port cellars

The Taylor’s port cellars, with barrels filled with port that is stored for many decades

Day 2 afternoon: Join a leisurely boat cruise along the Douro River, taking in the scenic beauty of Porto's waterfront and six unique bridges. Afterwards, stroll along the Vila Nova de Gaia waterfront and ride the cable car up to the Miradouro da Serra do Pilar viewpoint.

Miradouro da Serra do Pilar viewpoint

The view over Vila Nova de Gaia and the Douro River from the Miradouro da Serra do Pilar viewpoint

Day 2 evening: Watch the sunset from the Miradouro da Serra do Pilar viewpoint, that stand high above Vila Nova de Gaia before having dinner in the sociable Mercado Bom Sucesso food hall.

Day 3 - A day trip to:
Guimaraes - A delightful city, known as the birthplace of Portugal and full of character and authentic Portuguese charm. Wander through its medieval streets and marvel at the impressive Guimarães Castle.

Guimarães

The historic centre of Guimarães

Braga - The historic religious heart of Portugal and home to the magnificent Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary. Climb its iconic zigzag stairway adorned with intricate baroque sculptures and fountains for breathtaking views.

Bom Jesus do Monte Braga

The Bom Jesus do Monte, near Braga

Douro Valley - Embark on a scenic journey along the Douro River, a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its vineyards and picturesque landscapes. Ride the historic Douro Valley train to charming towns like Peso da Régua or Pinhão and join a traditional Rabelo boat tour, before savouring the region's world-famous Port wines.

Douro valley

The stunning scenery of the Douro valley, as seen from the Miradouro de Sao Leonardo de Galafura viewpoint

Alternatively, in the summer, escape to the Atlantic coast and soak up the sun at the beautiful beaches of Espinho, Póvoa de Varzim or Matosinhos.

A three-day tour of just Porto
If you have three days in Porto, the first two days would follow the above itinerary, but the third day could be used to explore the Foz district. The third day would include:

Day 3 morning: Ride the number 1 tram along the Douro River to the Foz do Douro district. While here, stroll along the riverside promenade, explore the São João Baptista fort, and admire the ocean from the end of the sea wall.

Day 3 afternoon: Discover the many small beaches of Porto’s Atlantic coastline that lie between Foz do Douro to Matosinhos. Scenic footpaths connect these beaches along with passing the Pérgola da Foz and the Castelo do Queijo fortress. Afterwards, visit the tranquil Palácio de Cristal Gardens, an oasis in the heart of Porto.

Pérgola da Foz Praia do Molhe beach Porto

The Pérgola da Foz overlooking the Praia do Molhe beach and the Atlantic Ocean

Day 3 afternoon (alternative): For a cultural experience, visit the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, with its extensive collection of modern art and scenic gardens. This could be followed by a visit to the excellent Nacional Soares dos Reis Museum.

Day 3 Evening: Watch the sunset from the peaceful Miradouro da Ponte da Arrábida, which lies within the Palácio de Cristal Gardens. For the final evening, head to the waterfront of Vila Nova de Gaia and admire the view over Porto while drinking port wine.

The interactive map below shows the highlights of the three days in Porto itinerary and a suggested walking tour for each of the days. (Note: zoom out to see all of the points)

Day1 (yellow): 1) Sé Cathedral 2) São Bento Train Station 3) Ribeira neighbourhood 4) Ponte Luís I bridge 5) Igreja de São Francisco 6) Palácio da Bolsa 7) Mercado do Bolhão 8) Avenida dos Aliados 9) Torre dos Clérigos 10) Igreja do Carmo 11) Livraria Lello
Day 2 (green) 12) Caves Cálem 13) Caves Sandeman 14) Caves Ferreira 15) WOW Porto 16) Gaia cable car 17) Serra do Pilar viewpoint 18) Mercado Bom Sucesso
Day 3 (blue) 19)
Guimaraes 20) Braga 21) Peso da Régua 22) Pinhão 23) Foz district 24) Palácio de Cristal gardens and Ponte da Arrábida viewpoint 25) Arte Contemporânea de Serralves 26) Matosinhos 27) Dragão Stadium (FC Porto)

Useful guides for your three-day tour of Porto

The following are links to our specific guides, which may be of further use to you:
A walking tour of Porto (for your first day in Porto)
Which port cellar in Vila Nova de Gaia should you visit? (for your second day)
Guimaraes or Braga? (for your third day)
A guide to Guimaraes (for your third day)
A guide to Braga (for your third day)
A tour of the Foz district (for your third day)
Porto’s best beaches (for your third day in the summer)

Have you booked your hotel yet?

There is a very high demand for accommodation during the peak season, so we advise you to book your hotel rooms now before they sell out. To check current prices and availability, enter your holiday dates in the search box below:

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The following section details this 3-day tour in greater depth.

Day 1 - Exploring Central Porto

To get a traditional taste of Porto, it is recommended to spend the first day exploring the historic city centre and the charming Ribeira district.

Below is a list of the Porto’s main attractions to include on a self-guided tour:

Avenue of the Allies (Avenida Dos Aliados): This impressive boulevard is the monumental heart of Porto, which leads up to the Câmara Municipal do Porto (City hall) with its distinctive70m bell tower. The grandeur of the marble and granite buildings that line the Avenida Dos Aliados portrays a history which doesn’t actually exist, as the entire plaza was constructed in 1916.

Câmara Municipal Avenida Dos Aliados, Porto

The Câmara Municipal and the Avenida Dos Aliados

Clérigos Tower (Torre Dos Clérigos): The quaint, baroque Clérigos Church and Tower is situated on the highest point of the old city. After climbing the 250 steps of the tower, visitors are rewarded with a fantastic 360-degree panoramic view of the city.

Torre dos Clérigos porto

The view from the top of the Torre dos Clérigos tower

Lello bookshop (Livraria Lello): This Lavish bookshop is one of the oldest in Portugal and walking around this art nouveau building it is clear to see why this could have prompted the inspiration for the Hogwarts library and staircases. The ornate interior has transformed the shop into a major tourist attraction, and you will need to pre-order tickets to enter.

Saint Ildefonso Church: This uniquely beautiful church has an exterior covered in over 11,000 traditional painted blue azulejos tiles. For tourists interested in this architecture, it is also worth visiting São Bento Train Station, one of the most decorative stations in Europe.

Igreja de Santo Ildefonso Porto

The Church of Saint Ildefonso

Porto Cathedral (Sé Do Porto): The highly fortified Porto Cathedral is the religious centre of Porto and the original church dates from the 12th century. The Cathedral is situated in the oldest district in Porto, and the square surrounding it once served as the bustling trading centre.

Palácio da Bolsa Porto

The Palácio da Bolsa

Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa): The Neoclassical Palácio da Bolsa complex was built by Porto’s Commercial Association in 1830 to act as the city’s stock exchange and entice investors to the city.

Evening: Dine in Ribeira The evening of the first day should be spent in Ribeira, one of the oldest districts situated on the northern bank of the Douro River. This is a delightful area of narrow, winding streets lined with restaurants, and it is the perfect place for dinner and a glass of Port.

Day 2 - Vila Nova de Gaia

Vila Nova de Gaia city, situated on the southern banks of the Douro River, is the renowned home of Port. Whilst the city is equally as picturesque as Porto, the real tourist highlight is taking one of the many Port tasting tours. Interestingly, Port production is still very much a part of the modern culture and the sweet drink is still matured and bottled in the vast cellars located on Avenue de Diogo Leite along the riverside.

port Porto

The wooden tanks where the ruby ports are stored for three years

Visiting the cellars and Port tasting tours are surprisingly inexpensive and costs reflect the quantity and quality of the Ports tasted. Tour prices start from €8.00 for two drinks of medium quality. Each of the Port lodges conducts tours in multiple languages. To get a real experience it is suggested to join a couple of the tours throughout the day.

For visitors with time for only one tour, it is advisable to head to Ferreira Cellar, the only wholly owned Portuguese Port producer.
For a guide to the Port cellars, please click here.

Dom Luis I bridge porto

Other highlights of Vila Nova de Gaia include:

Ponte Luis I Bridge: Take a walk along this iconic bridge that connects Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia. This feat of engineering has stood since 1886 and was created by a partner of Gustave Eiffel. It is possible to cross the bridge at both levels, with the top level providing wonderful views of the city.

Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar: Take the cable car (Teleferic de Gaia) that transports visitors from the banks of the Douro up to the elegant, whitewashed Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar. From this unique circular cloister there are unparalleled views across the Douro and the Ribeira district. The cable car station is located on Rue Piedade, just off the main riverside Avenue de Diogo Leite.

Vila Nova de Gaia

The water front of Vila Nova de Gaia

Cruise the River Douro: There are many scenic boat cruises along the Douro River, which pass under the famous city bridges and allow unique vantage points of the dramatic city landscape.

Day 3: Day trip to Guimarães, Braga or Espinho beach

For the third day, it is suggested that you take a day trip to either one of the historic cities close to Porto or (if the weather is good) visit a beautiful beach for a relaxing day. The two most fascinating historic cities close to Porto, are Braga and Guimarães while the best beach is the Praia de Espinho. All three of these destinations can be travelled to by train services that depart from São Bento train station.

Day trip to Guimarães - Guimarães is regarded as the ‘birthplace of Portugal’ as it was the first capital city of Portugal during the 12th century and was also the birthplace of Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henriques. The city boasts a medieval castle, a restored Gothic palace, numerous pretty squares and a cable car ride to the top of Penha Hill.

Praça de São Tiago Guimarães

The historic centre of Guimarães

Day Trip to Braga - Braga is the religious centre of Portugal, and within the compact historic centre are numerous ornate churches and beautiful baroque-styled houses.

Just outside of Braga is the wonderful Bom Jesus do Monte, a charming church that is situated on top of a hill and is reached via elaborate staircases, which represent the steps to heaven. The Bom Jesus do Monte is considered as the finest tourist attraction in the north of Portugal.

Jardim de Santa Bárbara Braga

Braga is a delightful city

Day trip to Espinho beach - Espinho is a popular beach resort that lies to the south of Porto and is a great location for a relaxing day on the beach. The town is situated on a 17km stretch of golden sands and, as it faces a westerly direction, provides waves that are suitable for surfing.

Espinho is a typical Portuguese beach resort with a charming town centre and a small fishing community that moor their colourful fishing boats on the beach. In the centre of the town, there is the largest casino in northern Portugal, as well as numerous great restaurants serving up fresh fish.

Espinho

A colourful fishing boat on the vast beach of Espinho

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Porto-North-Portugal.com

The best guide to Porto

porto portugal guide
porto top 10
porto where to stay which area district
when to visit porto and weather
Cost of trip to porto
1 week in porto
48 hours 2 days porto
porto 1 day walking tour
porto beaches
porto day trips
Port cellars andtasting tours
Foz district porto
Douro valley
Braga portugal
Guimarães portugal
Aveiro portugal
Porto Airport to city centre
Matosinhos
Viana do Castelo portugal
Douro by car
porto trams

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porto portugal guide
porto top 10
porto where to stay which area district
when to visit porto and weather
Cost of trip to porto
1 week in porto
48 hours 2 days porto
porto 1 day walking tour
porto beaches
porto day trips
Port cellars andtasting tours
Foz district porto
Douro valley
Braga portugal
Guimarães portugal
Aveiro portugal
Porto Airport to city centre
Matosinhos
Viana do Castelo portugal
Douro by car
porto trams