Perfect 3 Days in Porto Itinerary [2024]

Intricate ceiling details of Clérigos Church in Porto, featuring ornate stonework and a lavish golden altar, embodying the rich baroque architecture that visitors can admire as part of their Porto travel itinerary.

Planning to spend 3 days in Porto?  This guide has got you covered!  

Porto is one of my favorite cities in all of Europe.  It’s not only the tiled orange rooftops spilling over the vibrant, blue river.  It’s really the electric vibe the city gives off.  

It’s easy to catch a bus there from Lisbon and makes a great home base before jetting off into the mountainous, lush island of Madeira.  

The best things to do during 3 days in Porto are visiting the best free viewpoints, walking across the Don Luis Bridge, visiting blue and white tiled buildings (like the Sao Bento Station), and taking a day trip to nearby Duorro Valley. 

Its historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site!

Tuck into cozy cafes where the scent of strong, freshly brewed coffee mingles with the sweet aroma of pastéis de nata, and let the warm, flaky pastry melt on your tongue as you plot out your Porto adventure.

Meander down alleyways where every turn brings a new splash of color or the tunes of Fado music.

Whether you’re here to soak in the rich tapestry of history, savor the sumptuous port wine, or simply bask in the golden glow of the setting sun, Porto has something for everyone. 

This charming city is not just a place to see; it’s a world to experience.

Day 1: Essential Porto

The first day of your Porto itinerary is all about getting acclimated.  Stop at the top places in Downtown Porto on your own, with a free walking tour, or both! 

I personally love to explore a new location with a free walking tour to get acclimated with the town, and then pop back to spots I fall for and need more time to explore on my own!

1. Liberdade Square

Begin your day right in the center of Downtown Porto at Liberdade Square. This vibrant square, also known as the Lion Square (rawr!), is adorned with towering sculptures that add to its charm. 

It even features the world’s most beautiful McDonald’s (if there was ever to be such a thing?)

You don’t need more than a few minutes here.  Use it as a central leaping-off point for a full day of exploring.  

Liberdade is also the main starting point for walking tours in Porto.  If you want to see the best spots in Porto within a limited time, I highly recommend this option. 

I had a great experience with Hi Porto Walking Tours.  The tour was lively, fun, and ended with an entire PDF full of restaurant, culture, nightlife, and tapas tips right to my inbox.  

Tip: Mercado de Sol is a well-known handicraft market that runs daily here.  It’s primarily for tourists.  For a more authentic experience, consider La Vie Market.  La Vie is open during weekend only.

Time: 15 minutes ⏐ 🕑 Hours: 24 hours ⏐ 💲Price: Free

2. Sao Bento Station

Visiting Sao Bento Station is crucial for anyone traveling to Porto!  Not only is it a central hub for transportation, but it’s comprised of thousands of stunning works of art.

The station’s main hall features over 20,000 azulejo tiles, painted by Jorge Colaço, a prominent Portuguese artist.

These tiles depict significant moments in Portugal’s history, including royal scenes, wars, and the evolution of transportation. The intricate blue and white tiles are a mesmerizing sight and are an iconic symbol of the country!

Sao Bento remains a fully operational train station, ideal for day trips to explore the northern region of Portugal.

Time: 20 minutes ⏐ 💲Price: Free to enter, search train tickets here ⏐ 

3. Clerigos Church and Tower

Clerigos Church and Tower by Wendell Adriel via Unsplash

The Clérigos Church and its impressive bell tower, the Torre dos Clérigos, stand as one of Porto’s most iconic landmarks.

Designed by the famed Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni in the 18th century, the church exhibits a baroque style that is both grand and elegant.

One can climb the 240 steps of the tower to be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the city.

The climb is a rigorous one, but the unique perspective of Porto’s undulating landscape, the Douro River, and the sea beyond is a memorable experience that shouldn’t be missed. 

Visitors are encouraged to visit early in the day or during off-peak hours to avoid long queues and make the ascent a more personal moment of awe.

This one was just admired from the ground-up for me!  

Time: 60 minutes to climb ⏐ 🕑 Hours: 9:00am – 11:00pm ⏐  Website  ⏐💲Price: ☀️ 8€ during the day🌙 5€ at night.  Free to admire from below ⏐ 

4. Livraria Lello

Livraria Lello by Dmitri Zotova via Unsplash

Livraria Lello, often regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores, is beloved amongst literary enthusiasts.. but not crowd haters!

I need to make it clear that I did not visit Livraria Lello.  It’s one of those obligatory, top famous things to do in Porto and deserves a spot on any top itinerary.  However!  You let the crowds choose for you if this is worth it or not.  Here’s the tip:

Visit in the morning or late afternoon after 5 pm.  Book lovers, you don’t want to miss peeking at one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores located on Rua das Carmelitas.  

However, the other tourists realize this too and lines are wild.  Thank JK Rowling for this one!

When I say morning, I mean early morning (before 9 am) or late afternoon (after 5 pm). After a long day of sightseeing, head back to Sao Bento Station around dusk and try again – you can thank me later.

Tip: I alternatively recommend visiting, Livraria Bertrand, the oldest operating bookstore in the world in Lisbon!  

Time: 30-45 minutes ⏐ 🕑 Hours: 9:00am – 7:00pm ⏐  Website  ⏐💲Price: 8€ to enter.  Entrance fee is refunded with a purchase ⏐ 

5. Igreja de Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas

Adjacent to one another, the Igreja de Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas, though two separate churches, present an awe-inspiring facade that is often mistaken for a single structure.

With their intricate azulejo tilework depicting religious and historical scenes, these churches are not only a testament to Porto’s deep-rooted religious heritage but also stand as one of the most popular photo spots in the city.

Marvel at the beauty and detail of the azulejos, and capture a moment in time against one of Porto’s most picturesque backdrops.

Pop by for a quick visit and to snap some photos.

Tip: Alternate locations for blue tile galore include: Capela das Almas, Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, and of course the infamous Bento Train Station.

Time: 10 minutes ⏐ 🕑 Hours: 24 hours outside views ⏐ 

Want to learn more about Azulejos? 

If you’re interested in diving into the art of azulejos, there are several museums and workshops in Porto dedicated to the traditional art of tile-making. 

The National Museum of Azulejos in Lisbon is a great place to start. You can also take a tour of one of the many ceramic factories in Portugal to see how these beautiful tiles are made.

6. Matosinhos Beach

Matosinhos Beach is a super cool, free, underrated beach approximately 20 minutes by car from Porto. 

Consider escaping the city for late afternoon and finding some much-needed beach relaxation.  It is known for its golden sand and great surfing conditions. 

Highlights include sea castles, beach volleyball, a huge workout equipment area, basketball courts, a boardwalk, and scooter rentals. 

They’ve even got scooter rentals!  During my visit, Mantosinhos Beach was most popular among locals. 

Tip: If you’re looking for a quieter option, head to Praia do Foz, where you can also explore the picturesque fishing village of Foz do Douro.

Time: 1 hour – 3 hours (your beach preference!) ⏐ 🕑 Hours: 24 hours ⏐  Website  ⏐💲Price: Free ⏐ 

7. Miradouro Da Vitoria

Make it back into town for sunset at Miradouro Da Vitoria! 

This was by far one of my favorite viewpoints in all of Porto.  It has a hidden feel and is ever so slightly off the beaten path, making you feel like you have found a hidden gem!  

From Miradouro Da Vitoria, you can see panoramic views of the iconic Dom Luis Bridge and the colorful rooftops of the Ribeira neighborhood.  The real magic is at sunset!

Tip: This viewpoint is also known as “Teleferico de Gaia” because it is located near the cable car station in Porto.

Time: 30 minutes ⏐ 🕑 Hours: 9:00am – 9:00pm ⏐ 💲Price: Free ⏐ 

Day 2: Viewpoints

Today emphasizes the most amazing viewpoints in Porto!  The best part is, they are almost all free.  AND, you finally get to check out Porto’s wildly infamous bridge: Luis I Bridge!

1. Porto Cathedral

Start your day bright and early at the Porto Cathedral.  It has an incredible city viewpoint. 

The cathedral is free to enter and offers stunning views of the city from its terrace.  You can also climb the bell tower for a small fee for even more amazing views.

Time: 1 hour ⏐ 🕑 Hours: 9:00am-5:30pm ⏐  Website  ⏐💲Price: Free ⏐ 

2. Luis I Bridge

Crossing the turquoise Douro River while breathing in the mesmerizing views of this orange-roofed city is a treat for any traveler. 

Just watch out for the tram- it comes down the middle of the bridge frequently, and there is no gate shielding you.  A bit scary!

This bridge isn’t just for getting from one side of the river to the other; it’s a special part of the city’s history. It was made by a student of a famous builder named Eiffel (yes, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris!)

While you’re up on the top part of the bridge, you can see all sorts of cool stuff like the old buildings by the river, the place where they make a sweet wine called Port, and the houses on the hills.

Photography enthusiasts will appreciate the unique angles of the city’s skyline, especially during golden hour when the sun casts a warm glow over the terracotta rooftops and the river glimmers beneath.

Time: 10 minutes ⏐ 🕑 Hours: 24 hours ⏐ 💲Price: Free ⏐ 

3.Vila Nova de Guaya

The famous Luis I Bridge connects Porto to the next town over, Vila Nova de Guaya!  It features an incredible viewpoint directly after you cross the bridge.  Vila Nova de Guaya is perhaps most known for its port wine.

I recommend spending at least an hour here.  There were lots of evening festivities in the local park, such as a live concert and street food vendors.   

For a more laid-back experience, take a leisurely stroll through the town’s charming streets and soak up its rich history and culture.

Let the winding alleys lead you to hidden gems like quaint cafes, family-owned shops, and colorful street murals.

Take a break from sightseeing and relax at one of Vila Nova de Guaya’s many waterfront restaurants, sipping on a glass of port wine while watching the boats pass by.

Have your camera ready for some stunning sunset shots over the river!

Time: 1 hour ⏐ 

4. Ribeira District

Ribeira is Porto’s oldest district and a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Wander through its narrow streets and staircases, admiring the traditional architecture and vibrant colors.

Stop by the bustling Ribeira Square, where street performers entertain passersby and local vendors sell delicious snacks.

For a unique experience, take a boat tour along the Douro River, passing under the iconic bridges and getting a different perspective of the city.

You can also find quaint cafes and restaurants along the riverbank, perfect for a midday break or a romantic dinner.

Time: 2 hours ⏐ 

5. Jardins do Palacio de Cristal

Take a break from the bustle of the city with a lovely garden stroll.  Jardins do Palacio de Cristal is most known for its quaint, small botanical gardens.

Make sure to visit the Crystal Palace itself, a stunning glass structure that hosts various events and exhibitions throughout the year.

Don’t miss out on the tranquil lake and charming pavilions scattered throughout the gardens!

Time: 1 hour ⏐ 🕑 Hours: 8:00am-7:00pm ⏐  Website  ⏐💲Price: Free ⏐ 

Day 3: Porto Day Trip

I highly recommend visiting Duorro Valley.  However, I am slightly partial because this is the only day trip I took from Porto! 

However, I loved it, it is magical, and I cannot wait to visit again.  I remember it so fondly and recommend it as a must-visit to others.  Seriously. 

Other top day trips from Porto include:

  • Braga
  • Aveiro
  • Peneda-Geres National Park
  • Guimarães.

This itinerary was created from me to you with love! 

Having 3 days to explore Porto is a gift in itself, so I strongly encourage you to do your own research to decide your favorite, must-see spots, and spend as much time there as YOU want!  This itinerary is merely a starting guide!

Conclusion

Wrapping up your Porto adventure, it’s plain to see how this lively city captures hearts with its blend of charm and vitality! I can tell you from experience that Porto is definitely worth visiting.  

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Alyssa

As a full time employee who loves her job, learn how I honor my wanderlust while working a 9:00-5:00 (because I want to!) This blog welcomes all, and specifically provides resources for those seeking travel intertwined into a busy schedule (3 days to 5 weeks).