Porto is a charming coastal city in northern Portugal that has emerged as a popular destination for day trips from Lisbon or as part of a visit to northern Portugal. Its picturesque riverfront, historic Ribeira district, and wealth of attractions encapsulate the beauty and culture of this region within an easily walkable area.

One day in Porto provides enough time to orient yourself and experience highlights like the Dom Luís I Bridge, port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, São Bento train station, and the Sé Cathedral without having to rush around. The compact city centre allows you to dip in and out of key sights, while also discovering the pleasure of wandering Porto’s atmospheric streets lined with brightly-tiled buildings. It’s the perfect introduction to the riverside city.

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One Day in Porto: Full Itinerary

Table of Contents

Where to Stay in Porto

Getting to Porto

The most convenient and affordable way to get to Porto for a day trip is by train. There are regular train services running from Lisbon to Porto throughout the day, with the fastest route taking just over 2.5 hours. Tickets can be booked in advance online via sites like CP.pt for as little as €15 each way.

An alternative is to take the bus between Lisbon and Porto. The main bus operators on this route are Rede Expressos and Flixbus. The journey takes around 3 hours and tickets cost approximately €10-20 each way if booked in advance. The bus drops off right in the city centre making it easy to start exploring Porto right away.

Driving from Lisbon to Porto is also an option, however it’s not recommended for a day trip due to the 3+ hour drive each way. Parking in Porto can also be difficult to find and expensive. Train or bus are simpler and more affordable options.

Whichever method you choose, be sure to purchase round-trip tickets in advance to get the best fares. Arrive early in Porto to maximise your time exploring this beautiful city.

Morning Stroll around Porto

Start your morning in Porto by taking in the sights and sounds of the historic Ribeira district. Wander through the colourful streets and admire the tiled buildings that line the Douro River. Be sure to stop into Café Majestic, an ornate cafe that dates back to 1921, for a strong Portuguese coffee and some fresh pastries.

After your coffee, make your way over to the Sao Bento Train Station to check out the magnificent azulejo tile panels that decorate the interior walls. These 20,000 tiles depict important moments in Portuguese history and make for an impressive sight. Spend some time admiring the meticulous details.

From the train station, walk over to the landmark ponte de Dom Luis I bridge for spectacular views over the Douro River. This double-deck metal arch bridge connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia, home to many of the city’s famous port wine cellars. Take photos overlooking the colourful Ribeira district from this iconic vantage point.

Where to have Lunch in Porto

With lines out the door at many of Porto’s popular lunch spots, it’s best to plan ahead for where you’ll grab a bite. One excellent option for lunch is Café Majestic, located on Rua Santa Catarina 112. This beautiful historic café dates back to 1921 and features ornate decor, old world charm, and delicious food.

The Majestic is known for its art nouveau interior, attentive waitstaff, and decadent desserts like the Café Majestic’s famous rabanada (Portuguese sweet french toast). For your main course, try the octopus salad, the francesinha sandwich, or the seafood rice. Wash it down with a glass of port wine. With reasonable prices, immense character, and a central location, Café Majestic is a quintessential Porto lunch spot.

Afternoon Exploring in Porto

Porto is famous for its port wine, so an essential afternoon activity is a visit to one of the many port wine cellars across the city. At places like Taylor’s, Graham’s, or Ferreira, you can tour the cellars, learn about the winemaking process, and sample some of the delicious ports.

After visiting the port cellars, head over to the Sao Francisco church, an imposing gothic church built in the 14th century. Marvel at the Baroque interior and climb the tower for sweeping views over the city.

Another top attraction is the Palacio da Bolsa, the historical stock exchange of Porto. The interior is lavishly decorated with sculptures, paintings, and azulejo tilework. Be sure to check out the extraordinary Arabian Hall with its intricate wood carvings.

End your afternoon with a stroll across the iconic Ponte de Dom Luis I bridge for panoramic views over the Douro River. It’s a perfect spot to watch the sunset over the city.

Where to Watch the Sunset in Porto

Porto’s hilly landscape offers plenty of great spots for catching the sunset, but one of the most popular is the Jardim do Morro garden overlooking the Douro River. Located in the historic riverside neighbourhood of Ribeira, it’s easy to access and has amazing panoramic views across the shimmering river to Gaia and beyond.

Around sunset time, the garden fills with locals and tourists alike strolling along the winding paths under the shade of the trees. Find a bench or a patch of grass, pour yourself a glass of port from one of the nearby cellars, and settle in to watch the sunset. The fading golden light illuminates the red-tiled rooftops of the city as it dips below the horizon, making for an unforgettable experience. It’s the perfect way to cap off a day of sightseeing in Porto.

Some key things to keep in mind are arriving a bit early to secure a good spot, as it does get crowded. Bringing a jacket is also a good idea, as it can get breezy when the sun goes down. But it’s worth braving the chill for the magnificent sunset views over Portugal’s beautiful “River of Gold.” Jardim do Morro truly offers one of the best sunset vantage points in Porto.

Where to have Dinner in Porto

Porto has many excellent restaurants to choose from for dinner during your one day visit. Here are some top recommendations to consider:

Taberna Santo António – This cozy tavern serves excellent traditional Portuguese cuisine in a charming setting. Highly recommended are the baked octopus rice, the Feijoada (pork and bean stew), and the grilled fish. It’s located in the historic center near the Clérigos Tower.

Casa da Musica – For a fine dining experience, book a table at the Michelin-starred restaurant on the top floor of Porto’s iconic concert hall. The contemporary Portuguese tasting menus are excellent and provide amazing city views. Reservations are essential.

Cantina 32 – This popular local spot offers delicious, authentic Porto cuisine at very reasonable prices. Try their signature Francesinha sandwich, baked cod dishes like Bacalhau à Lagareiro, or the Grilled Octopus Salad. Casual atmosphere.

O Paparico – Specialising in quality Portuguese ingredients prepared creatively, this upscale restaurant is known for its great service and romantic ambiance. The duck rice and the monkfish cataplana come highly recommended. Located in the city center.

After dinner, consider stopping for a port wine tasting at one of the many port lodges across the Douro river in Vila Nova de Gaia. Or enjoy Porto’s nightlife by heading to the rooftop bar at the Yeatman Hotel, taking in the sparkling views of the city.

An Evening in Porto

Porto’s evening charm is enchanting. As the sun sets over the Douro river, the city lights begin to sparkle across the landscape. This is the perfect time to relax at an outdoor cafe with a glass of port wine and soak up the ambiance.

One great option for the evening is to take a walk across the iconic Luís I bridge for lovely views. The top deck of the bridge is for pedestrians only, providing a peaceful spot to watch the sunset over the river.

Another idea is to wander the historic Ribeira district down by the river. The cobblestone streets come alive at night with street musicians and lively restaurant terraces perfect for lingering over dinner. Stop into one of the many fado houses to experience Portugal’s traditional melancholic songs.

Overall, Porto offers a delightful and memorable one-day itinerary with its charming streets, captivating landmarks, port wine cellars, and scenic river views. Enjoy exploring this beautiful city!

Before You Leave for Porto

Before you set off on your way to Porto, there are a number of things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. These include what to pack, where to stay and what is the best insurance for your trip to Portugal. All of this is discussed in detail below.

How to Get to Porto

transportation hubs to the city center. The two main train stations in Porto are São Bento and Campanhã. If you’re looking to explore the city center’s attractions like Ribeira, Clérigos Tower, and Livraria Lello, São Bento is the most convenient train station for you. It is located right in the heart of Porto and provides easy access to the city’s main sights.

The main bus station in Porto is the Rede Expressos station, which is centrally located near Avenida dos Aliados. This area is bustling with shops, cafes, and the iconic Porto City Hall. If you prefer traveling by bus, arriving at the Rede Expressos station will bring you into the heart of the city.

Porto’s Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport is located slightly outside of the city center. To reach the city center from the airport, you have several options. The most convenient and time-efficient option is the Metro, with Line E connecting the airport to the city center in around 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or use ride-sharing services for a direct transfer to your destination in Porto.

For this itinerary, any of these transportation options will work to bring you into the city center. However, if you plan to focus on exploring the central areas of Porto, São Bento train station or the bus station near Avenida dos Aliados would be the closest and most convenient options.

Where to Stay in Porto


What to Pack for Your Trip to Porto

Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around Lisbon, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.

You can read what else we keep in our camera bag over here.

What is the Best Travel Insurance for Porto

I know travel insurance is the least enjoyable thing to purchase and look at when you’re planning a trip, however, you wouldn’t want to be without it in the event that something happened. Accidents can happen anywhere and the extortionate medical bills will ruin your trip if you are not covered.

To ensure you have a stress-free trip with no worries about potential medical bills, make sure you cover yourself when you travel. We can recommend using SafetyWing, a backpacker-friendly and cheap insurance company that provides good coverage and support. It is also nomad-friendly, unlike most other insurance companies, meaning you do not need to worry about being out of your home country for too long.

Get a quote for your travel insurance right here and get covered!

So there you have it, your one day itinerary to Porto. If you are visiting this incredible city and have any other questions on what to expect, leave us a comment down below. We love to chat about this stuff! If you have already been, let us know how it was! Did you get visit the castle? Did you manage the trip without getting caught in the rain? Let us know in the comments below!

Also, remember to share this with your friends and family that you are going to share this amazing experience with. Sharing is caring and we want to ensure that everyone is fully prepared to maximise their experience completing this stunning walk.

If you are planning a Portugal trip soon then check out our other Portugal content right here. Come and find us on social media to see where we are currently exploring. Tag us in your photos from your stay and we will share them with the rest of our community of explorers and backpackers.

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