What to See and Do in Porto in Portugal

Can you see Porto in two days? Doable. It is a very very interesting city to see and a two-day itinerary is enough to be able to enjoy it. Of course, maybe three days would be even better, but already two is enough.

The objection is legitimate…how on earth can you call a city romantic and decadent at the same time, those are two things that have nothing to do with each other.

You are not wrong, but what can I do, that is precisely what is so special about Porto.

EVER BEEN TO PORTO? HERE ARE SOME INTERESTING POSTS:

If you have already read some of my articles, you will have realized that I love wandering around a city on foot. If I have to choose between walking 1 km to get to the point or eventually taking a vehicle, I definitely choose the first option. Wander and go, that’s the only way to get enraptured by the beauty of the city, you get to see spots, views, little squares, etc., that you wouldn’t get to see otherwise.

It was the same way in Porto, comfortable shoes, like the Salomon’s SpeedCross 3, to visit the city. This allowed me to see a lot of alleys, very narrow alleys, hundreds of steps, allowed me to delve into the old Ribeira neighborhood. This very neighborhood represents the image of decadence that I dare to call structural. It is not a decadence due to malpractice but is simply a characteristic of Porto that makes it decidedly fascinating.

The location is also fascinating and characteristic. Porto is built on the slopes that develop toward the Duoro, which is the river that runs through it. It is therefore a city in which you cannot but find yourself always going uphill or downhill; in short, your calves will hate you, or thank you, depending on your point of view.

Where to stay in Porto? After several searches, I focused on thePorto Boutique Guest House. It is located near the church of Santo Ildefonso. It is very neat and clean, plus it has a very distinctive breakfast room.

oporto cosa vedere due giorni

Quick clarification: as you know, I like to be blunt. When you look for information about the city of Porto, you will easily find those who will tell you that the city is challenging for walking, etc. Yes, it is indeed not a walk on the waterfront. Some uphill is there, but it’s not that big a deal.

Why do I consider Porto a romantic city? I’ll show you a picture first so you understand better. If you then add a few glasses of Porto wine to it, it becomes even more charming.

porto due giorni ponte dom luis sera night

What to see in Porto: day 1

The itinerary I propose is a “slow mode” itinerary, it allows you to enjoy the city of Porto with the right timing to appreciate it at its best.

Let’s start. First, I recommend you consider -> this free (in English) sightseeing tour of the city with free cancellation.

Once you arrive in the city you will realize that the distances will be less than you expected and you will have everything at your fingertips, basically everything is almost equidistant from Sao Bento station.

That is why I would start these two days in Porto from the station. Seeing this station all decorated reminded me a bit of the one seen in the beautiful one in Valencia. The Porto station like the one in Valencia is also a riot of decorative ceramic tiles that give a very elegant look. One would hardly expect to find such decorations in a station.

porto due giorni ponte dom luis sao bento station stazione

Sao Bento station is covered with Azulejos, each wall representing particular and important moments in Portugal’s history. From the station via R. 31 de Janeiro you can reach the Santo Ildefonso Church.

It is worth seeing for the decorations on its facades. Internally it is very simple, it also holds a hint of melancholy, the same melancholy that characterizes Porto and occasionally pervades you as you stroll through the Ribeira.

porto due giorni santo ildefonso From the Church of Santo Ildefonso starts one of the most lived-in streets in the upper city of Porto, this is Rua Santa Caterina, here you can find many stores and above all you can find one or perhaps the most important cafè in Porto. I am talking about the Café Majestic, you have to make a stop there.

It is certainly not the cheapest café you will find in these two days dedicated to the city, but it is certainly the most characteristic.

Here again you can see how the romantic decadence of Porto is everywhere, just look at the mirrors inside the place. You think they are shiny beyond belief and they are not like that at all. They look poorly maintained and perhaps they are, but this represents nothing less than the city’s identity.

Just to be precise, I will also tell you how much you spend: 2 coffees neat and 1 Pastel de Nata, euro 8.50, but for this picture it all fits.

oporto cosa vedere due giorni ponte dom luis cafè majestic

Proceed for your two-day itinerary on Rua Santa Caterina to the intersection with Rua Formosa, here you will find yourself in the Bolhao Market area. It is a classic permanent market where every day, except Sunday, there is a riot of commodities such as fish, vegetables, bread, etc. A very unique market but don’t compare it to the Boqueria in Barcelona, this is different. It is much smaller, much calmer. Also in this place you find the melancholic and decadent aspect I have already told you about. The Bolhao Market is still a must-see.

In front of the Bolhao Market exit on the Rua Formosa side is one of the things I recommend you do in Porto. You are standing in front of the Confeitaria do Bolhao, a well-known bakery pastry shop. Put your hand in your wallet and pamper yourself with every good thing.

oporto cosa vedere due giorni bolhao

oporto cosa vedere due giorni bolhao

That’s exactly what I did: I grabbed two nice specialties from Porto and went to the beautiful and very long Praça da Liberdade in front of City Hall. It is a very wide space between the two Avenida dos Aliados. They have installed wooden swings that give the square a very livable look. It seems almost impossible, but if you sit on these swings and let yourself swing, you will not even feel like you are in the middle of a city.

It was very pleasant and that is exactly why I recommend it for a very easy lunch break. That is why I was telling you that the itinerary of these two days in Porto is a “slow mode” itinerary. It is a city that should be experienced also and above all in an informal way, a bit like this, in a good way and with Portuguese rhythms, in this way you will appreciate it even more.

Just behind City Hall is the Igreja da Trindade which I cannot tell you about, however, because I have not visited it. Instead, I recommend that you always move on foot and get to another very interesting area of the city, which is the area of the Igreja das Carmelitas.

oporto cosa vedere due giorni carmelitas

It is an area with many small restaurants, many outdoor cafes and a lot of greenery. It is very livable and in the sunshine it becomes really pleasant. Here you can find of course the church, the history museum, the Livraria Lello ed Irmao and the Torre dos Clerigos.

The Lello and Irmao bookstore is a very famous bookstore to see in Porto and beyond, it is considered among the most beautiful in the world. They have a point, it is indeed very beautiful even if it disappointed me a bit, unfortunately I had high expectations and had imagined it to be different. In any case, it is worth the visit and is absolutely one of the things not to be missed in Porto.

oporto cosa vedere due giorni carmelitas lello irmao librearia

These things include climbing the Torre dos Clerigos from which you can see all of Porto, the Duoro River and the Vila Nova do Gaia area with all the wineries.

By this time you will also already be in the late afternoon and the city will be getting ready to turn on the lights that make it so romantic, it will be about to start changing its clothes and put on its evening dress, the elegant and ladylike dress. Here is the right time to enjoy this aspect of the city. I suggest you devote the first afternoon of this weekend in Porto to visiting the Ribeira, and I suggest you do so “approaching” the Luis Bridge.

oporto cosa vedere due giorni porto carmelitas dom luis

Go down in the direction of Palàcio da Bolsa, go as far as the Duoro and you will be practically on the promenade along the river. As you proceed toward the bridge you will find yourself in a flood of river view venues. You will be heading toward the Praça da Ribeira. The promenade will widen and the venues will become more lived-in, sometimes you will find a few musicians ready to entertain the audience enjoying the arrival of evening while enjoying a nice glass of Porto wine in complete tranquility.

Well, do you want to exempt yourself from such a tradition? I don’t think so, right? And so to the rhythm of good music, enjoy the romantic Porto.

porto due giorni vicoletti ribeira

The first of two days in Porto will be drawing to a close but you cannot go to bed without first eating a Porto specialty: the francesinha. Actually I doubt that immediately after eating it you will catch sleep easily, it is slightly heavy but then again what can you do, on a trip the culinary part plays a very important aspect!

What to see in Porto: day 2

As you may have guessed the first day will have been pretty full, if you were to have three days to see Porto then you could include in the itinerary the Casa da Musica, the Palacio Cristal with its gardens and perhaps, why not, even take a cruise of a few hours on the Duoro.

But in case you have just two days, well then you will just have to follow my advice because if you like culture, nature, the sea and wine, you will be completely satisfied with this second day that I am about to propose. As far as I am concerned it was a beautiful day.

We always start from our reference point: the Sao Bento station, from here continue towards the dom Luis Bridge along Avenida D. Alfonso Henriques. On the slight ascent to the bridge you will see the beautiful Cathedral of Sé rising above the city of Porto. You can safely visit it and then go down the steep stairs that will take you into Praça da Ribeira. It is nice to see how at this time in the morning the steps amidst the houses of the Ribeira recreate a peace almost impossible to find in a classic city. Instead, here in the heart of Porto’s historic center, this is possible.

Imagine the 5 terre inserted in the center of a city, paradoxical isn’t it?

Anyway, the descent is very nice because you often get glimpses that allow you to see the Douro.

porto due giorni vicoletti ribeira

At this point you will reach the long river from which you will then walk down to the Palácio da Bolsa. This is an ancient palace that is absolutely worth visiting, if you have purchased the Porto Card the entrance will cost you 4 euros each instead of 8.

To visit the Palacio da Bolsa is to enter fully into the commercial history of the city, in fact it is also called the palace of the commercial associations of Porto. It stands beside the Church of St. Francis and is a building of extraordinary elegance. The guided tour (English and French) will take you to discover the large rooms that are still used for special events. Of extreme beauty and worth the visit alone is the Arab Hall. I have never seen a room so decorated, there is not an inch empty, just think that it took them 80 years to make it. When you are inside it you will understand why. Any photo would not give the idea.

Once you are done visiting the Palacio de la Bolsa, it is time for the ocean. Porto was built on the banks of the Duoro River a few kilometers inland from the river mouth and thus from the ocean itself. With the old Tram 1 that you will find not far from the exit of the Palacio da Bolsa you can get to the ocean and up to the lighthouse.

Since I was also looking for practical information on how you can get to the ocean from the city center of Porto but could not find any comprehensive ones, I wrote an ad hoc article By Porto Tram 1 to the lighthouse on the ocean

porto due giorni vicoletti ribeira tram vecchio

We have come to the end of what is the second day of the two-day Porto itinerary I have proposed. You are missing one thing that Porto is world famous for: its exceptional sweet wine.

The Vila Nova de Gaia area is practically across the river from Ribeira. Here you will find lots of wineries producing Porto wine. There are some very large and well-known ones like Sandeman and some smaller, family-run ones. All offer a guided tour with accompanying tasting.

I was looking for a winery that was off the usual tourist routes; I wanted something authentic. I was actually then attracted to the only winery that also offers Fado in conjunction with the tasting, namely Calem. It is a fairly well-known winery as well, and tasting Porto wine with traditional Portuguese music was a nice experience that I recommend. For dinner, however, I put my hand on the fire for the Raiz restaurant.

Outside the Ribeira, I found it through TripAdvisor reviews and I must say I got it right on the money. Slightly above average prices in Porto but excellent quality of ingredients. The guys are really courteous and the place is also definitely romantic. a good place to end this itinerary to visit Porto in two days.

Two small considerations about visiting Porto

The city, as I told you, is very unique and I highly recommend it for a weekend getaway, however, there were aspects that left me a little bitter in the mouth. On the security level I would have something to point out. It doesn’t deviate much from Italian cities, and so you have to have a watchful eye at all times, especially in the evening. There are many homeless people, illegal parkers and also several people trying to sell you drugs along the street. I am giving you this overview just to give you an idea so that you arrive “prepared.” Again, in terms of security we are on par with any Italian city, you just need to be a little careful.

How to get to Porto from the airport?

Getting to the city center of Porto is very easy. There are many ways including buses, cabs etc. However, I would like to recommend the one that I have followed and consider the best way: the metro. Inside the airport you will find all the signs that will take you to the purple line.

You can get your ticket at the machines you find just before you go up the flights of stairs to the platform.

The cost of a one-way ticket between the airport and Porto city is 2.45 euros. If you do round trip (so two tickets) you save a little something and spend 4.30 euros. The ticket is magnetic, to stamp it you just place it on the reader.

If you look at the subway map you probably won’t understand a thing about it as it happened to me, more like you won’t understand why there are so many lines that do the same route. So far, I still haven’t gotten an answer.

porto due giorni metro That

From the airport take the metro with direction Estadio do Dragao (where all lines end). Taking Sao Bento station as the hypothetical center, you will have to change at Trindade and take the yellow line towards Vila Nova de Gaia. This line, by the way, is the one that goes over the Luis Bridge, so if you want you can go ahead and take a scenic ride as well.

The ride from the airport to Porto city takes about 30 minutes or so. Airport return tip: If you have a return plane that leaves in the morning from Porto, be aware that this line is not that frequent. In my case at 6 a.m. I had to wait a 30 to 40 minutes before boarding the carriage. Plan accordingly.

Alternative to the metro, I can recommend the transfer service between the airport and the city -> click here to access booking.

How to get around and visit Porto?

Getting around Porto is very easy, I recommend you do it on foot so you can explore the city well. Alternatively, you can safely use the metro or better yet the two old streetcar lines, 1 and 22, which are certainly picturesque and pleasant.

In any case, I recommend that you buy the Porto Card and theAndante Card, the former allows you to get many discounts or free admissions, the latter is related to transportation. The discounts you can get are, for example, 50 percent off at the Palàcio da Bolsa or 10 percent for visiting the Càlem winery. The Porto Card has different validity depending on what you purchase. It can be 24,48,72 hours.

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