Porto is a small, and a charming city, located in northern Portugal. The city is world famous for its beverage Porto that has been brewed locally since the 17th century and the sweet Pastel de Natas. It is great for a weekend getaway. Here is how to spend 2 days in Porto: a detailed guide with travel tips and more.
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Planning for Porto: Weekend itinerary guide
BEST TIME TO VISIT PORTO
The best time to travel to Porto are in the months of April to October, during which you can enjoy the pleasant temperatures, with little to no rain.
Porto is a UNESCO Heritage City and is steeped in beauty. Being compact, you can cover a lot in a weekend. I recommend staying here for at least two nights so you can easily discover the hilly city.
WHERE TO STAY IN PORTO FOR 2 DAYS
GETTING TO PORTO: AIRPORT INFORMATION
Porto is served by Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport. It is an international airport, and services flight carriers such as TAP Air Portugal, easyJet, Ryanair, and TAP Express.
If you are flying from North America or Asia, most likely you will either land in Barcelona or Lisbon and then make connections to Porto.
I traveled to Porto from Brussels, Belgium. So from Zaventem, Brussels you fly about two hours and twenty minutes to arrive in Porto.
From the airport in Porto to the city, it takes about 20 minutes with Uber. The ride will cost you around 20 euros. Public transportation is a much cheaper alternative and it costs only 3 euros. Buses operate from 06:00 am in the morning to midnight, to take you to the city.
If you are road tripping in Portugal, you can add a Lisbon to Porto journey to the mix. Lisbon to Porto is only a 3 hour drive, one way. A day trip might be a stretch, so I recommend setting aside a 2 day Porto getaway.
Note that Porto is the second largest city in Portugal.
MOVING AROUND IN PORTO
The best way to move around in Porto is by foot. The city is very compact, and as long as you wear comfortable walking shoes exploring Porto will be a breeze.
Porto also has its network of trams, trains and funicular (thanks to the hills!). Metro train tickets cost about 1.50 euros, and it is the cheapest mode of transport – after walking, of course.
Tram lines are limited. If you really want to move around on wheels, know that Uber is available in the city, which is also very affordable as compared to other European cities.
2 days in Porto: Making the most of your trip
Porto is the city where almost every facade is decorated with beautiful Azulejos, which are authentic blue and white tiles, and this is where you can eat deliciously and cheap all across the city.
I have visited Porto a few times, and on my second visit I was blown away by Porto’s nice streets, beautiful squares and in particular by the hospitality of its inhabitants.
In this travel guide, you will read everything about Porto’s finest attractions as well as my personal recommendations on wonderful things to do in Porto in 2 days.
WANDER THE HISTORIC OLD CENTER
The charming historic center of Porto is an UNESCO World Heritage Site (listed in 1996). The center had retained many of the nuances from the 12th century, including features like the Roman foundations, narrow alleyways, cute cafes and colorful homes, as you see today.
This old center is called the Ribeira and it is my favorite neighbourhood by far in Porto. You can easily spend 2-3 hours here exploring the small, colorful and chaotic alleys along the River Douro.
Here are some of the attractions you must not miss out on in the Ribeira district. Number one on the list is the Ribeira Square itself. Bring out your camera, take photos here, and admire the beautiful promenade – Cais da Ribeira.
If you love city and river views, ride up the Elevador da Lado, which is a public elevator. It connects Ribeira to the slope of Barredo, and welcomes you to amazing sights from up above!
VISIT THE CHURCH OF SAINT ILDEFONSO
The Church of Saint Ildefonso, also called the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso is located very close to the city center and the Batalha square.
The church that you see today, was built on the site of a smaller church, and was completed in the early 18th century. The church took over 30 years to be constructed, and the stunning Baroque style, mixed with the façade of the blue and white azulejo tilework, makes it very iconic to the city of Porto.
The Church of Saint Ildefonso is named in honour of the Visigoth, Ildephonsus of Toledo (the bishop of Toledo). Visiting the church interiors is completely free.
Although an iconic structure, the church is not crowded, which makes it easy to snap photographs of the beautiful and iconic bell towers of the Church of Saint Ildefonso.
Drink some Porto!
When in Porto, you must try Port wine or vinho do Porto. It is produced in Northern Portugal and this port wine comes from the Douro Valley. It is a red wine, and is also rather sweet in taste. From wines to cheese, Porto will delight any foodie traveler.
While at the city center, stop by a restaurant to try Port wine. Here you will also find some centuries old port houses that are worth visiting to learn about the wine making process.
You can also book a 3 hour wine tasting tour here.
ENJOY A BOAT RIDE ON THE DOURO RIVER
Porto’s charm is magnified by the picturesque Douro River and the six bridges over it.
And the best way to explore the historic old town is to take a boat trip on the Douro River, and enjoy the lovely views of the Riberia riverfront.
HEAD TO IGREJA DE CARMO
Igreja De Carmo is another beautiful church in Porto. This 17th century church is worth a visit for its marvelous interiors, as well as for its famous white-blue tiles Azulejos – facade.
This church is one of the oldest buildings in the historic center of Porto. And the interesting thing about it is that the church is composed of two buildings, dating from two different centuries.
WALK THE LUIS I BRIDGE
Dom Luís I Bridge is one of the iconic and an industrial symbol of Porto. It was constructed and opened in the late 19th century. The bridge is a double-deck metal arch bridge and it is built on the River Douro.
You can take your time, and easily walk across the Luis I Bridge or hop on the tram. This is a great spot to soak in sunset views, and watch the sun go down over the city of Porto!
CHECK OUT LIVRARIA LELLO
Are you a Harry Potter fan? Did you know that J.K. Rowling got her inspiration for the famous Harry Potter book here in Porto!
Yes, that’s the stunning Livraria Lello. It is a bookstore, and is often recognized as one of the world’s most beautiful bookshops. The grand interiors, with the maroon carpeted stairway, pulls in thousands of tourists, every year.
The bookstore has gorgeous art nouveau details inside, and is one of most popular tourist attractions in Porto, resulting in endless queues at the entrance, even long before the store opens.
The entrance is 5 euros and you need to buy your ticket in advance online.
SNAP A PHOTO OF THE MOST INSTAGRAMMABLE SAO BENTO TRAIN STATION
Pay a visit to one of the most beautiful train stations in Europe – the São Bento Railway Station. Sao Bento has served as a transportation hub in Porto, connecting people together.
But what makes this station unique are the 20,000 gorgeous azulejo ceramic tiles, all telling a story about Portugal’s rich past, from its kings, wars, and transportation history.
The station dates back to the 1900s, and it was named after a Benedictine monastery that was built here in the 16th century. A fire outbreak led to severe damages, and in the 19th century it was completely removed to make way for the train station.
TAKE IN CITY VIEWS FROM SE DO PORTO CATHEDRAL
Add another church to your 2 days in Porto trip, and this time for stunning views!
Sé Do Porto is a beautiful Roman Catholic church. It is located at the highest point in the city, so put on your hiking boots for this tough climb to the top. I am sure you will rapidly forget your stiff muscles once you notice the beautiful city views.
Sé Do Porto is one of the city’s oldest monuments, and a must visit!
RELAX AT THE PORTO BEACH
It might surprise you, but Porto is home to many beaches. Its location at the heart of the Costa Verde brings forth a rugged coastline with beaches, and natural scenery to mesmerize every traveler.
If you wish to relax at a Porto beach, I recommend heading to the Matosinhos beach. It is the main beach of Porto, and features an esplanade with many cafes to hang out, after soaking in the sun.
BEST VIEW OVER TOWN
At Teleférico de Gaia, you can not only take an iconic photo with a spectacular view over the Ribeira, but can also enjoy a nice picnic or a quiet drink or two. A nice park has been developed here, so definitely check it out.
BEST RESTAURANTS IN PORTO
Porto is a great destination to eat and drink your heart out. Here are some of my favourite restaurants
- Zenith – This is a brunch and cocktails bar, perfect to hang out with girlfriends
- Base Porto – Enjoy drinks in the open air at the Base Porto, great for evenings after a full day of sightseeing
- Cruel Restaurante – Great spot to try out European, Mediterranean and Contemporary delicacies.
- Mercado Bom Sucesso – This is a covered food market, where you can enjoy local produce, clothing and live entertainment
- Mercearia Flores – From good food to a vibrant atmosphere, Mercearia Flores is also the perfect place to buy souvenirs
Porto is a perfect destination for a weekend getaway, and it has something for everybody – from active travelers to laid back vacationers, and foodie lovers.
Do you have any further questions about this article? Feel free to leave a comment below.