Porto is a city steeped in magic. From the moment I stepped off the train for my 2 days in Porto, into what might just be the world’s most beautiful train stations, I was already in love.
Even in the short walk to my accommodations, I was absolutely captivated by the picturesque streets. These are the kind of streets that make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time, like they’ve got plenty of stories to tell.
As I made my way through my 2 day Porto itinerary, I couldn’t help but fall in love more and more. While I spent 3 days in Lisbon and also loved it, Porto has its own kind of magic.
While I spent 3 days in Lisbon (with a day trip to Sintra) before visiting Porto, and while I loved it, I loved Porto even more. Sure, Lisbon may be a bigger city and have more attractions to check off your bucket list, but the best part of Porto lies in just being in the city and soaking up its beauty and charm.
There’s still plenty of museums and historical attractions to keep you busy during your Porto 2 day itinerary. You’ll also have plenty of time to wander through the enchanting streets and soak in those stunning riverfront views, which to me were the things I loved more about the city!
In fact, the entire historic center of Porto was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site for this reason.
You can also sample some of its most iconic foods (helloooooo pasteis de nata and francesinhas), listen to some traditional fado music, and taste some port wine.
Have I convinced you to spend a weekend in Porto yet? If I have, then here’s the perfect itinerary to help you see the best of Porto in 2 days!
Things to Know Before Your 2 Days in Porto Itinerary
How many days in Porto – can you really see Porto in 2 days?
Porto’s historic center is very compact and walkable, making it super easy to see all of the main highlights in 2 days. If you’re looking for a European city break or a weekend getaway, then Porto makes the perfect destination!
Spending 48 hours in Porto is the perfect amount of time to see the city’s top attractions, wander its charming streets, experience a bit of its culture, eat some of its iconic foods (helloooooo pasteis de nata and franscesinhas!, and sample some port wine. I was able to see and do a ton in Porto in 2 days!
That said, I could’ve easily spent a week here, soaking up all of its charm and beauty. If you’ve got extra days to spend in Porto, lucky you – you can take extra time to really experience what the city has to offer. You’ll also have time to take some day trips, which range from wine tasting in Douro Valley to checking out the beach town of Aveiro and Costa Nova.
If you only have one day in Porto, you can still probably see many of the city’s top sights, but be warned – you’ll probably feel a bit rushed! Still, even if you only have a day to spare, I still highly recommend visiting, as the city really is special.
When to visit Porto
Portugal is known for its hot summers and temperate winters. Contrary to that, Porto experiences a relatively moderate and mild climate year-round. This means that it never gets *too* hot in the summer (unlike in Lisbon or even Seville in Southern Spain).
However, it does get pretty chilly and rainy in the winter months. While many people flock to Portugal to escape the cold temperatures elsewhere in Europe (like Munich and Prague, where it gets freezing cold!), don’t expect it to be very sunny or very warm in Porto.
I visited in late November, over Thanksgiving week, and did find it a bit chilly. It also rained a bit, but it didn’t hinder me from exploring the city. I did find it cold compared to Lisbon, where I regretted packing sweaters and tights; in Porto, I was extra thankful that I did pack them!
For my next visit to Porto, I would come back in the summer to experience the perfectly sunny days (those views probably are extra beautiful in the sun, too!).
In any case, here is what to expect when spending 2 days in Porto at different times of the year:
The summer months are the city’s high season (and Portugal’s in general) and considered to be the best time to spend 48 hours in Porto. These are the warmest months in the city – but temps are comfortable instead of sweltering, hovering around 75°F/25°C.
You’ll also get a nice breeze from the river – but bring a light jacket because the breeze might be a tad chilly at night.
Summer is the best time to be outside and soak in the city’s beauty and charm – it’s the perfect weather for checking out the beautiful waterfront views, or to frolic at one of the nearby beaches.
The summer months are also when the city comes alive with various festivals and outdoor events, including the festival of São João (June), Nos Primavera Sound (June), and the Porto Wine Fest (July).
Do note that because the summer months are the most popular to visit, flight and accommodation prices are at their highest (and may sell out quickly). It’s also the most crowded time, so you may also want to book activities and make restaurant reservations well in advance of your two days in Porto.
Spring/Fall (March-May and October-early November)
The spring and fall months are considered Porto’s shoulder season, and also an excellent time to visit. Crowds thin out considerably, but the weather is still relatively mild.
Late spring (May-early June) and early fall (late September-mid October) are the best times to visit, as the weather is still relatively pleasant, with highs in the mid to upper 60s°F. Flights and accommodation prices are lower, along with crowd levels.
Do note that early spring and late fall bring occasional rain, so you may want to pack an umbrella (and some warmer layers, as it also tends to get chillier).
There’s also plenty going on in the spring and fall months, especially in fall as it is wine harvest season!
Winter (late November-February)
Winter is Porto’s low season, where you’ll find the least crowds, along with the lowest rates for flights and accommodations. The tradeoff for this is chilly temps and likely rain. That said, it doesn’t ever really get *too* cold in Porto – average highs for this time of year hover around 58°F, and lows rarely fall below 40°F.
You’ll definitely want to prepare for rain when visiting Porto in the winter. December is the rainiest month, when it rains more often than not, but not necessarily a terrible time to visit because the city gets super festive, making it worthwhile to put up with the rain.
I visited at the end of November, and did encounter overcast skies and a bit of rain. Still, the rain wasn’t too bad and it didn’t really hinder me from exploring Porto in 2 days – and I still thought it was beautiful and fell in love! Still, when planning a return visit to Porto, I’d want to visit in the summer.
Getting to Porto
Porto is located on the Iberian Peninsula in Northern Portugal. It is located 315 kilometers north of Lisbon, and considered to be the capital of the north.
It’s located along the Douoro River Estuary, and where the river empties into the Atlantic Ocean. While the city center isn’t located right on the coastline, you’ll still be located pretty close to some gorgeous beaches!
Porto is also located close to the Douoro Valley, one of the best wine regions in the world. If you have extra time, it’s a fantastic place to go for a day trip, to experience sweeping vineyard views and go wine tasting.
But, first things first: you’ve gotta actually get to the city for your weekend in Porto!
Getting to Porto from Lisbon
Many people visit Porto after visiting Lisbon on their Portugal itinerary (like me!). Luckily, it is very easy to travel between the two cities. Here’s how to get from Lisbon to Porto:
- Via Train: This is what I did, and it was so easy! There are plenty of daily departures between Lisbon’s Santa Apolonia station and Porto’s Campanha station. Hop on the high-speed AP (Alfa Pendular) train, and you’ll arrive in less than 3 hours; you can also travel on the IC (Intercidades) trains which are cheaper but also slower. Your ticket includes a transfer from Campanha Station to the Sao Bento Station, which is located in the city center. I always recommend booking train tickets on Omio, which streamlines the booking process so you don’t have to deal with booking on the Portuguese rail site, which can be confusing.
- Via Air: Flying between Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS) and Porto’s Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO) is a breeze. There’s multiple flights a day offered by TAP Portugal Air, which only take about an hour and cost around $50 one-way. Although…with the time it takes to get to and from the airport, go through security, and board, you might be better off taking the train instead.
- Driving: It is relatively easy and straightforward to drive between Lisbon and Porto, which takes around 3 hours. The roads are relatively well maintained and navigation is fairly easy. Do note that you don’t need a car once you arrive in Porto.
Coming from Spain?
You might be looking to add two days in Porto to an itinerary that includes both Spain and Portugal. So, you may be wondering how to get to Porto from Spain.
If you’re looking to travel directly from Spain to Portugal, the best way is probably flying. This is the most efficient way, and it will save you a lot of time (it’s probably the cheapest way too, honestly)!
Do note that there is no direct rail service that travels between Porto and Spain. However, Renfe offers rail service between Madrid and Lisbon.
Flying to Porto
Porto does have its own airport, Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO), or simply Porto Airport.
The airport mainly serves domestic and European flights – so if you’re coming from the United States or another international destination, you’re gonna have to stopover in Lisbon or elsewhere in Lisbon.
Lisbon is the main international hub in Portugal, so it might even be best to book a flight there and then take the train or drive over (andI highly recommend spending a few days exploring there first if you already haven’t!).
The Porto Airport is located 11 kilometers north of the city, and it is relatively easy to get to the city center. You can take the Porto Metro (Line E – purple), which takes about 20 minutes and costs €2 (plus a refundable €0.60 fee to get a reloadable transit card). Trains run every 20-30 minutes between 6am and midnight.
If your flight gets in while the metro isn’t running or you have a lot of luggage, you can take a taxi. The average fare is €25, although do note there is a 25% surcharge between 9pm and 6am, as well as on weekends and holidays. Rideshare service is also available in Porto, and usually costs €20-30, depending on traffic and demand.
Taking the train to Porto
Portugal’s cities, including Porto, are relatively well-connected via high-speed rail. It is an excellent way to travel around the country.
CP (Comboios de Portugal) operates the country’s rail network, including the high-speed AP (Alfa Pendular), intercity IC (Intercidades), and regional trains.
If you can, I recommend taking the Alfa Pendular trains, as they are the fastest and most efficient way to travel around. They are a bit more expensive, but the trains travel at speeds 220 km (135 miles) per hour, so getting around is a breeze!
I took an AP train from Lisbon to Porto, and it was so easy! They were also super comfortable, with Wi-Fi and power outlets.
You can also travel on the Intercidades trains, which are a bit slower but slightly cheaper.
When booking your train tickets, I highly recommend using Omio. Booking directly through the CP site can be a bit tricky and confusing, and it sometimes gets finicky when you try to use a foreign credit card.
By using Omio, you can book directly on their site or app, streamlining the process and avoiding any language barriers or credit card issues. You have to pay a small commission (only a few euros), but it’s well worth it to save time and hassle!
Trains arrive into Porto’s Campanha Station, which is located a bit east of the city. You’ll have to take a local train that goes to the São Bento station, which is located in the city center. Luckily, this transfer is included in your train ticket and I found it to be a relatively easy transfer.
Taking the bus to Porto
Taking an intercity bus is a very affordable way to travel to Porto. You can find bus service from a number of Portuguese cities, including Lisbon.
Flixbus is especially popular for traveling by bus in Europe (I’ve used it a few times and recommend them!). A number of other companies also offer bus service to Porto, including Alsa, Renex, and Rede Expressos – for these, I recommend booking through Omio.
Like with intercity trains, buses also arrive into the Campanha Station. You can then hop on a local train to get to the São Bento station in downtown Porto.
Driving to Porto
Many people also include Porto as a stop on a Portuguese road trip itinerary. It’s relatively easy to drive to Porto – the highways are well-maintained with straightforward signage.
However, once you arrive in Porto, it is not recommended to drive. The streets are narrow, there’s lots of confusing one-way streets, and there’s tons of hills. Plus, the traffic can be bad and parking is an absolute b*tch.
If you plan to drive to Porto, I’d recommend that you park your car in a lot or at your accommodations, and walk or use public transportation when you’re actually getting around the city.
Getting around during your 2 day Porto itinerary
Porto is a city best explored on foot. The city is relatively compact, and attractions are located pretty close to one another, which means you can easily walk in between them.
The streets are also super charming and fun to explore on foot. In fact, wandering through the streets was one of my favorite things to do on my 2 day Porto itinerary – I couldn’t stop oooh-ing and ahh-ing and snapping photos every 30 seconds!
Just know that Porto is HILLY – it may be flat along the river, but the rest of the city is built up on one giant hill. You’ll have to huff and puff your way up to get everywhere. I thought Lisbon was hilly, but Porto was just as, if not more hilly (it reminded me of San Francisco, where I lived at the time).
Do also note that the city is full of cobblestone streets, which can be a bit uneven. Leave your heels at home; wear your comfiest flats or sneakers here (I highly recommend Rothy’s and Allbirds!)
Porto has a pretty well-connected public transportation system, although chances are that you might not even have to use it because it’s so easy to walk around.
For those times when your feet give out or you don’t feel like walking, the city has a network of six metro lines, 75 bus lines, and even historic trams operated by STCP (Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos do Porto).
If you do plan on utilizing public transportation during your two days in Porto, consider getting a Porto Card, which includes an unlimited transit card valid on the city’s metro, buses, and funiculars (trams, however, are not included). You’ll also get discounted entry into some of the city’s most popular attractions, which are also included on this Porto 2 day itinerary (i.e. the Clerigos Church and Tower, Bolsa Palace, the cloisters at the Cathedral, and more).
Otherwise, you can also pay for fares on a per-ride basis. You will need to purchase a reloadable Andanate Card for this, which costs €0.60. Single ride tickets cost €1.20-2, depending on what zone you are traveling in.
You can also purchase an unlimited one day pass for €7, and a three day pass for €15.
Hop-on, Hop-off Bus
These hop-on, hop-off bus tours are a fun way to see Porto, as well as get in between its top attractions. You’ll learn more about the city, while checking out some amazing views! It also includes a tram tour, a funicular ride, and a port wine tasting.
Rideshares + taxis
I didn’t really need to use any rideshares/taxis during my two days in Porto, except one time, since I went to eat at a restaurant outside of the city center. But if you need it, rideshare service is available in Porto via Uber and Bolt, which is like an European version of Uber that’s also a bit cheaper.
Traditional taxis are also available – you can also download the FreeNow app, which sort of works like Uber but for taxis.
More Porto travel tips
Language in Porto
The official language of Portugal is Portuguese.
And no, it’s not Spanish. Portuguese might seem kinda similar to Spanish at first, but it’s also quite different.
In any case, I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the locals spoke English (although maybe less so than in Lisbon), which was good since my Portuguese was…basically nonexistent haha.
Still, I found it helpful to pick up a few basic Portuguese phrases before my 48 hours in Porto, and the locals very much appreciated it!
Here’s a few phrases you may find helpful:
- Olá: hello
- Adeus: goodbye
- Obrigado: thank you
- Por favor: please
- Sim: Yes
- Não: No
- Bom dia: Good morning
- Boa tarde: Good afternoon
- Boa noite: Good evening
- Eu não falo português: I don’t speak Portuguese
Currency, Money, and Tipping
Like many European countries, Portugal’s official currency is the euro.
I found that virtually all places I went to accepted credit cards, but it is always a good idea to have a little cash on hand for places that don’t, and for smaller purchases.
I usually like to take cash out from an airport ATM, which I did when I arrived in Lisbon. Avoid using currency exchange booths, as these usually have very unfavorable rates.
Portugal is considered to be one of the most affordable European countries, and I found Porto to be especially affordable! I think it’s steadily getting more and more expensive though as it grows in popularity, so go now! Still, I think it’s still much cheaper than Los Angeles, where I currently live, or San Francisco, where I used to live.
Tipping at restaurants isn’t mandatory in Portugal, but can be expected at tourist-centric spots, or upscale eateries. In this case, you can leave 5-10% for good service, or round up the bill (for example, leaving €40 on a €37 bill). Also double check to see that the restaurant hasn’t already added a service charge.
Safety in Porto
Portugal has a reputation for being one of the safest countries in Europe. I spent my 48 hours in Porto as a solo traveler, and never once did I feel unsafe.
While violent crime is rare in Portugal, pickpocketing can be an issue (although less so than in Lisbon). Keep a close watch on your belongings, especially in crowded areas. Never leave your belongings unattended, don’t leave your bag on the floor or your phone on the table while eating at an outdoor restaurant. I also recommend carrying a cross-body bag (if it has a zipper, put one hand on the zipper) or anti-theft purse for your belongings.
Some other basic safety precautions to keep in mind:
- Don’t walk around late at night, or by yourself
- If you’re out at night, walk around well-lit places where there are people
- ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings!
- Don’t carry around valuables
- Don’t go off with strangers
- Don’t get super drunk
- Always let someone at home know where you’ll be at all times and give them a copy of your itinerary
Like the rest of Europe, Portugal uses 230V plugs. This means that if you’re coming from the United States, you will need a power adapter to plug in your devices.
What to pack for your weekend in Porto
Here are some things to pack or your Porto weekend break:
- Rain jacket: Especially so if you’re visiting during shoulder season/low season.
- Light jacket: For warmer months, since it gets a bit breezy at night.
- Comfortable walking shoes: You’ll do a LOT of walking during your Porto 2 day itinerary, up gnarly hills and through cobblestoned streets! My favorite travel sneakers are from Allbirds, and my favorite travel flats are from Rothy’s. For warmer months, I also love these sandals from Crocs – which are super comfy and stylish, I swear!
- Power adapter: If you are coming from the United States, you will need a power adapter to plug in your devices. This one is the one I travel with and has multiple ports for plugs and USBs.
- Portable phone charger: Keep your phone and other devices charged while you’re out and about – all that navigating and photo-taking really does drain the battery quickly.
- Reusable water bottle: You’ll want to make sure to stay hydrated as you walk around the city during your two days in Stockholm. Another thing to keep in mind is that in Europe, there is usually no free tap water at restaurants, and will have to pay for bottled water.
Where to stay during your weekend in Porto
For maximum convenience, I suggest staying in one of the following areas: Baixa, Ribeira, and Bolhao/Santo Ildefonso. This will put you near all of the attractions included on this 2 day Porto itinerary, and you can easily walk to all of them.
For the most part, I found accommodation options to be super affordable in Porto, even in the historic center. You’ll find a variety of options, from luxury hotels, apartments, to hostels.
This is the downtown area of Porto, and where you’ll find many of its top attractions, from the Sao Bento Station, Livaria Lello, Clerigos Church and Tower, and more. You’ll also find plenty of options for dining and nightlife nearby when staying in Baixa.
The downside – it tends to be super busy, and this is probably the most expensive area to stay in. Still, I found it to be super affordable!
Here are some suggestions for where to stay in Baixa:
- Porto Center Apartments: I stayed in an apartment here, and it was perfect – super convenient location, just a few minutes walk to almost everywhere I needed to go! It was also comfortable and had modern furnishings. Some of the apartments have a view as well! The only downside was that you have to climb up a bunch of stairs, so I would not recommend it if you have a ton of luggage.
- House of Artists: You really can’t beat the location here! You’ll be super close to the Sao Bento Station and Clerigos Church, and many other attractions are just a few minutes away. The rooms are super clean and comfortable, and breakfast is included as well.
- M Maison Particuliere: This boutique hotel has a stylish interior, with plenty of details! You’ll find elegant furnishings, chandeliers, extravagant mirrors, and more. The service here is also excellent, with an amazing staff.
By staying in the Ribeira district, you’ll be staying in the heart of the most charming neighborhood in Porto. You’ll also have some amazing views of the Douro River, the Dom Luis I Bridge, and Vila Nova de Gaia across the river.
Keep in mind that Ribeira is at the bottom of the hill along the river, so you’ll have to walk uphill in order to reach the rest of the city.
- ICON Duplo Ribeira: This property has an elegant decor, with rich colors and kind of an Art Deco vibe. You’ll also be in the heart of the Ribeira district, just minutes away from the riverfront.
- Ribeira do Porto Hotel: You’ll be right on the river, and you can’t beat the views from this property! Rooms are modern, comfortable, and clean. It’s also conveniently located close to many attractions.
- Exmo. Hotel: This stylish boutique hotel has a Scandinavian inspired design, with incredible river views. You’ll be just a 2 minute walk from the waterfront and the Bolsa Palace, among other attractions.
This area north of Baixa is a good option for those looking to save a bit of money on accommodations, as you can usually find better deals than in Baixa or Ribeira.
- Grande Hotel do Porto: Located in a renovated historic building, Grande Hotel do Porto has an elegant and romantic vibe. It’s also got some incredible views from the rooftop! You’ll be close to some of the top sights in town, yet it’s far enough away for it to be a bit quiet.
How to See Porto in 2 Days: the Perfect Itinerary
2 Day Porto Itinerary DAY 1 (Harry Potter, River Views + Port)
On the first day of your weekend in Porto, you’ll fall in love with the city’s quaint historical streets, take in some breathtaking views, and taste some port wine across the river.
Porto also has a special place in Harry Potter history, as JK Rowling lived in the city and started penning the series. You’ll get to visit some of the places that inspired the author.
Livaria Lello is one of Portugal’s oldest bookshops, as well as one of its most famous. If you know anything about LIvaria Lello, then you’ve probably heard that this is supposedly where JK Rowling drew inspiration for the Hogwarts library and the Flourish and Botts bookstore on Diagon Alley.
This supposed inspiration (as well as its fame on Instagram) is what draws flocks of people to Livaria Lello. It absolutely made me include it on my 2 days in Porto itinerary, and I was so excited for it! Well, as it turns out – JK Rowling later revealed that she never even visited the bookstore, womp womp…
Still, there’s no denying that Livaria Lello is absolutely stunning, with its striking red staircase, breathtaking stained glass ceiling, and intricate wood patterns, along with the Art Nouveau/Art Deco architectural details. There’s a reason it draws crowds – and does it ever bring the crowds!
I think we need to do a little bit of Instagram vs. Reality here, because chances are that you’ve seen photos of Livaria Lello completely empty, looking like a quaint little bookshop. Well, I hate to break it to you, but this is nothing like what it looks like when you actually visit. Because hooooooly crap y’all – it is SO FRIGGIN CROWDED here.
I got in line about 10-15 minutes before opening, and the line wasn’t too bad – I got into the shop almost immediately after it opened (mind you, this was in late November so it was during low season). However, there were swarms of people that came in after me and it felt like we were all packed inside like sardines. I actually felt a bit claustrophobic here, and had to leave in 15 minutes.
And trying to get a good photo of yourself on that famous red staircase? FORGEDDABOUTIT. There are so many people coming up and down the staircase at any given time that you’re gonna have tons of people in the background. And, you’ll likely have to wait a bit for your turn to take the actual photo.
I’m still including it on this Porto 2 day itinerary because it is still one of the most beautiful bookstores/libraries that I’ve ever seen (right up there with the Long Room at Trinity College in Dublin, and the Klementinum in Prague). Various publications have also ranked it as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, including Lonely Planet, CNN, and Time Magazine. It’s also been declared a National Monument.
However, if you don’t want to deal with the crowds and none of this interests you, feel free to skip it (you can use that time to sip some extra port, woo!).
If you do still want to visit, here are some tips:
- You’ll have to buy a ticket to visit for €5 – you’ll get this back as a credit to spend in the shop. If you go, I recommend buying the first time slot available at 9:30 and getting in line at least 30 minutes before opening.
- Also consider buying a priority ticket, for €15 which includes priority entry and a book.
- Here’s another way to skip the line (and I think the best way!) – book this tour! Not only do you get to skip the line to Livaria Lello (yes, you heard that right!), it also includes a walking tour around the historic center of Porto. Win-win!
If you’re a Harry Potter fan who is crushed by the news that no, JK Rowling was not actually inspired by Livaria Lello, then I have good news for you – she did actually write part of the series at Majestic Cafe (and she confirmed it in a tweet, phew!).
And even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan, I still recommend checking out Majestic Cafe because it is a real stunner, considered to be one of the most beautiful cafes in the world.
The Belle Epoque cafe was opened in 1921, designed by Joao Queiroz, who also designed many other buildings in the Baixa district. Inside, you’ll find crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, intricately carved wood fixings, ornate mirrors, and more.
It is definitely one of the most beautiful cafes I’ve been in, and I really enjoyed savoring my morning coffee and pastry here!
You’re definitely going to be paying for the atmosphere – prices are quite inflated here. But I think it’s worth it!
(Or, head to McDonald’s)
Yes, I’m totally serious. And yes, I know you’re reading this and thinking…why in the world should I go to McDonald’s?!…it’s just McDondald’s!
Well, that’s because this isn’t your average McDonald’s. The McDonald’s Imperial located on Avenida dos Aliados is often called the most beautiful McDonald’s in the world. And after stopping by to check it out, I must say that it is pretty darn beautiful (it is right up there with the McDonald’s in Antigua, Guatemala. Yes, that’s another McDonald’s that you need to check out).
This McDonald’s is located in the space that used to be Cafe Imperial, a cafe that had been around since the 1930s and known for its Art Deco interior. When McDonald’s took over the space, they retained most of the building’s architectural features, which include stunning crystal chandeliers, ornate friezes, and massive stained glass behind the counter.
I’m not afraid to admit that I actually love stopping by McDonald’s while traveling internationally, because they always feature special country-specific items. This is no different in Portugal. Try the pastries here – it’s what the Portuguese Mcdonald’s are known for.
São Bento Station
You may have already passed through the Sao Bento train station upon arrival for your Porto weekend break. Still, I urge you to come back for a second look, because there’s much to take in and admire!
The exterior of the station is built in a 20th century French Beaux-Arts style, but what you’re coming to see is the interior. Specifically, you’re here to see the 20,000 azulejos tiles that adorn the entryway, depicting various scenes from Portugal’s history.
Seeing all the azulejos tiles all around the city was definitely a highlight during my 2 day Porto itinerary, and the Sao Bento station was one of my absolute favorite places to see them. They will take your breath away!
It can get crowded here, especially as trains arrive, but you’ll get a moment of quiet if you’re patient.
Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto)
Located a 5 minute walk from the Sao Bento station, the Porto Cathedral is the oldest Roman Catholic church in the city, as well as a national monument.
Perched high on top of a hill, the Porto Cathedral looks imposing from the outside, with its fortress-like facade. Construction on the cathedral began in the 12th century, and was built over centuries. It was also renovated in the 17th and 18th centuries. Because of this, it boasts several distinct architectural styles, from Roman, Gothic, and Baroque.
The inside of the cathedral is equally impressive, with barrel vaulted ceilings, a Romanesque nave, and a stunning altar. However, the true highlight here is the 14th century Gothic cloister.
You’ll have to pay €3 to enter the cloisters, but it is absolutely worth it! You’ll find it adorned with tons of beautiful azulejos tiles – some of the best in the city. The tiles were created by artist Valentim Almeida and depict the Life of Virgin, and scenes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
While you’re here, also don’t miss the view from the square surrounding the cathedral. Since the cathedral is built on the city’s largest hill, you’ll find incredible views over the entire city, the waterfront, and the wine cellars across the river.
Wander around the Ribeira district
The Ribeira district is one of Porto’s most charming neighborhoods, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is filled with picturesque cobblestoned streets, colorful azulejos-tiled buildings, and beautiful waterfront views.
You can wander the streets on your own, or take a walking tour, which is highly recommended if you want to learn more about the city’s history and culture (or if you don’t feel like walking, you can even take a tuk-tuk tour)!
Walking through the streets of the Ribeira district was one of my favorite things that I did during my two days in Porto. These streets were what really made me fall in love with the city – they were just so enchanting and photogenic. I literally could not help but stop to snap photos every five seconds! I highly recommend setting aside plenty of time to explore the Ribeira even when you’re trying to see Porto in 2 days!
The Ribeira is basically built on one giant hill, so I’d suggest starting from the top and making your way down towards the waterfront to keep the climbing to a minimum. Even still, your legs will probably get a good workout!
Two notable streets that you cannot miss while exploring the Ribeira district:
- Rua das Flores: This 500 year old street is one of Porto’s most picturesque. The buildings feature intricate tilework and wrought iron balconies, housing cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, and more.
- Rua da Bainharia: One of Porto’s oldest streets, dating back to 1296. The narrow, winding street reminded me a lot of the ones in El Born in Barcelona.
- Cais da Ribeira: The city’s waterfront promenade, Cais da Ribeira is one of Porto’s most famous streets. You’ll find plenty of outdoor cafes, restaurants, and bars, along with gorgeous views of the Dom Luis I and Vila Nova de Gaia across the river. While the street is pretty to explore (and snap photos of) during the day, it especially comes alive at night.
Admire the views from the Dom Luis I Bridge
The Dom Luis I Bridge is one of the most iconic structures in Porto, connecting the historic center with Vila Nova de Gaia, which is the next stop on your 2 day Porto itinerary. You can see it from the Ribeira district and from many other points in the city.
The bridge features a towering arch and a grand iron framework. If it kinda reminds you of the Eiffel tower…well, that’s because it was built by a student of Gustave Eiffel. Construction started in 1881, and it was the longest metal bridge in the world upon completion.
It is a double decker bridge, with the lower deck for cars and the upper deck for the light rail. Pedestrians can cross on both, but I highly recommend walking on the upper deck!
As the bridge is situated 60 meters high, you’ll catch some incredible views over the Douro River, the city of Porto, and Vila Nova de Gaia on the opposite side.
It is supposed to be absolutely stunning at sunset, unfortunately, it was pretty overcast the entire time I was in Porto. Hopefully you are luckier than me and can catch a gorgeous sunset from the bridge, though! In any case, the view is pretty spectacular!
Port tasting in Vila Nova de Gaia
Situated directly across the river from the Ribeira district is Vila Nova de Gaia (or just Gaia). Technically, Gaia is considered to be a whole separate city, but it’s so easily accessible from the historic center of Porto that you need to visit it on your 2 days in Porto.
Gaia is famous for its port cellars, and you can’t spend a weekend in Porto without tasting some. I never really considered myself to be a port fan, but when in Rome…(or in Porto, in this case). And, after taking a cellar tour and tasting some of the *real* stuff, I must say that I came out with a new appreciation for the stuff.
Port got its because it was being shipped from Porto to the rest of Europe in the 17th century. The grapes to make the sweet fortified wine come from nearby Douoro Valley, and it cannot be called port if they come from elsewhere (similar to how sparkling wine cannot be called champagne unless the grapes were grown in the Champagne region of France).
Today, Porto is still used as a shipping point of port and there are tons of port lodges in Gaia, including many of the top brands.
You’ll have your pick of cellars to do a tour and tasting – heck, you can hop around to a few and make a day of it. Just remember that the stuff is strong and can sneak up on you – its ABV is close to 20%, which is 4-6% more than regular wine.
Below are a few of the best port cellars in Gaia. Do note that you will need to make a reservation in advance for a tour/tasting! Also remember that the last tastings of the day usually occur around 4-5pm, so be sure to make your way over to Gaia by then.
- Calem: Probably one of the most famous and most-visited cellars. I did the tour and tasting and learned so much about the port-making process! Your ticket includes admission into an interactive museum as well. You can also do a tasting that includes pairings with cheese and chocolates, or add an option that includes an evening performance of fado (highly recommended if you haven’t already been to a fado performance!).
- Graham’s: Another well-known port cellar, known for its tasting rooms with incredible views over the city and river.
- Sandeman’s: This is another super well-known brand, and is probably the most “touristy” cellar. It’s a good starting point if you know nothing about port.
- Taylor’s: Another popular cellar. They also offer an option for a self-guided visit.
Dinner at Tapabento
If you choose, you can stay in Gaia for dinner. However, I recommend coming back across the bridge into Porto to eat at Tapabento, which was probably my favorite meal that I had during my two days in Porto!
Tapabento is one of the city’s most popular restaurants, a favorite of both locals and tourists. They feature a menu full of internationally-inspired dishes (i.e. Thai mussels), along with some Portuguese classics (like bacalhau), all made using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.
I still have dreams about the duck dish I had here – so tender, so juicy, and so flavorful. It came with a sweet potato and carrot puree, and the sweetness made the perfect accompaniment. I licked up every single bite!
Do note that Tapabento is VERY popular, and reservations are an absolute must! I saw so many people get turned away as I was eating a meal. I emailed them about a week in advance of my trip, and was able to snag a counter spot for an early dinner (helps also that I was traveling solo). Just in case, I’d email even earlier in advance.
2 Days in Porto Itinerary DAY 2 (Azulejos Tiles Galore + History)
On the second day of your Porto 2 day itinerary, you’ll get to see some beautiful sights that are adorned with the Azulejos tiles that the city is famous for. You’ll also visit some of its historical attractions, and taste some of its iconic foods (don’t worry, you’ll walk plenty to work it all off)!
Start the day with some pasteis de nata
If you go to Portugal and don’t have a pastel de nata (or two…or even ten lol), did you even go to Portugal?
If you’ve never had one of these iconic Portuguese pastries, then you’re in for a treat (and even if you have, well you’re still in for a treat)! It’s got a flaky crust, buttery crust, with a decadent egg custard filling, usually topped with a dusting of cinnamon and/or powdered sugar.
And some of you may be thinking….well, I’ve had an egg tart before, what’s so special about them? Trust me, the ones you get in Portugal are on a different level.
Anyways. You’ll find plenty of spots in Porto that sell pasteis de nata, and they are the perfect little treat to start your morning off with. They make the perfect pairing with your morning cup of coffee, too. (And yes, I think this counts as breakfast!)
Two of my favorite spots to get a pastel de nata in Porto were Manteigaria (which was also one of my favorites in Lisbon) and Fabrica da Nata, which are both located on Rua de Santa Catarina, the city’s main shopping street.
And, they are located close by to the next stops on this Porto 2 day itinerary, which make it the perfect way to start off the day!
See Porto’s famous Azjulejos
You’ll probably come across plenty of buildings in Porto adorned with intricate azulejos tilework. Today, you’ll visit some of the attractions that are some of the best places to see azulejos in the city.
First things first. What exactly are azulejos? They are those iconic ceramic tiles that you see all over Portugal, but the ones in Porto are especially famous. Azulejos were initially used in Moorish architecture, and were brought over from Seville in the 15th century.
While Portugal is especially known for its azulejos, it isn’t the only place to see them. You’ll see them over in Spain, where they originated, especially in the Andalusia region. Other places to see them include Morocco, Italy, Turkey, and even in Mexico City.
Here are three spots that you absolutely need to check out for their breathtaking azulejos tiles:
Capela das Almas (Chapel of the Souls)
Of all the azulejos-clad churches in Porto, Capela das Almas may just be the most impressive.
The entire exterior of the church is covered in over 16,000 blue and white tiles, depicting scenes from the death of St Francis of Assisi and the martyrdom of Santa Catarina.
It’s a bit tricky to photograph the church, as it’s pretty big. I think it’s easier to take a photo from across the street – but it’s on a busy street (Rua de Santa Catarina, one of the main shopping streets in the city), so you will have to be patient. It’s worth it though, since the exterior is just so darn pretty!
The inside of the church is supposed to be beautiful as well, but if you’re limited on time, you can skip it (lots more to see when trying to do Porto in 2 days!)
Igresia Paroquial de Santo Ildefonso
This 18th century church is perched up on an isolated platform, which gives it a unique vertical perspective.
Igreja Paroquial de Santo Ildefonso has a striking exterior covered in 11,000 azulejos. The tiles depict the life of Saint Ildefonso. The tiles were added in 1932 and are by Jorge Colaço, who also did the tilework in the Sao Bento train station.
Igreja do Carmo + Igreja de los Carmelitas
Igreja do Carmo and Igreja de los Carmelitas are referred to as twin churches, because they are two separate buildings that are connected by a narrow one meter long house.
This was done to separate the nuns from the monks, because they weren’t allowed to share a wall with each other – it kinda reminded me of how the Santa Catarina Arch in Antigua, Guatemala was created to house a bridge used as a secret walkway for nuns.
In any case, Igreja do Carmo and Igreja de los Carmelitas are some of the beautiful churches in Porto. The Baroque-Rococo style churches are some of the oldest buildings in Porto, dating back to the 1600s.
Igreja do Carmo in particular is well-known for its incredible azulejos on the exterior. You’ll find thousands of tiles telling the story of the Carmelite order. There’s tons of stunning detail here! I also loved the large wooden doors.
It can be a bit tricky to photograph the entirety of the facade – like with the Chapel of Souls, I suggest standing across the street to capture it in its entirety.
Igreja de Santo Antonio
This one is a church that I stumbled upon while wandering around. Igreja de Santo Antonio is located right across from the Sao Bento train station, and while it isn’t as well known as all the others, it was so beautiful that I had to give it a second look (and include it on this 2 days in Porto itinerary).
Built in the 18th century, Igreja de Santo Antonio features an impressive Baroque facade with azulejos depicting images of Saint Anthony.
Indulge in a Francesinha for lunch
Now it’s time for lunch, and this is a perfect opportunity to try a francesinha.
What is a francesinha (pronounced fran-se-si-nhuh), you ask? It’s one of Porto’s most iconic foods, and it’s a sandwich filled with ham, sausage, steak, topped with a layer of cheese, then all smothered in a tomato-beer gravy. It’s served with a fried egg on top for good measure, and usually comes with a side of fries. It is also customary to wash it all down with a nice cold glass of beer.
If that sounds like a heart attack on a plate…well it kinda is, but you’ve gotta try one when in Porto. It’s definitely a unique dish!
I hopped in an Uber and headed over to O Afonso, which is famous for its francesinhas as it is where the late Anthony Bourdain tried one. And after having one here, I must say that it was quite tasty, although I felt so full after barely finishing half of it.
If you don’t feel like venturing very far out of the city center, Cafe Santiago is said to have the best francesinha in the historic center.
Igreja dos Clerigos/Torre dos Clerigos (Clerigos Church and Tower)
You’re probably feeling a bit full from that francesinha, so time to work it off. And what better way than to climb up the tower at the Clerigos Church?
Dating back to the 18th century, it’s a Baroque masterpiece that stands 250 feet tall. You’ll have to climb 225 steps to get to the top, but it’s absolutely worth it as you’ll get a spectacular view over the entire city.
From here, you can see the entire historic center, the Douro River, and Vila Nova de Gaia. It is absolutely worth the climb (and dealing with the kinda narrow stairs).
It gets super busy here, so I recommend booking this skip-the-line ticket in advance of your visit.
Palacio da Bolsa (Bolsa Palace)
The Palacio da Bolsa translates to the Stock Exchange Palace, and used to be the seat of the Porto Commercial Association. But make no mistake – this isn’t just a boring stock exchange building, it is an absolute architectural gem.
Built in the 19th century, built in a mix of Neoclassical and Palladian architectural styles. It was also declared a National Monument in 1982.
It definitely looks much more like a palace than a financial building, with an impressive interior that boasts a number of extravagantly decorated rooms. Throughout the Bolsa Palace, you’ll find chandeliers, ornate carvings, elaborate sculptures, frescoes, and much more.
Some of the highlights here include the Hall of Nations and the Arab Room, which was inspired by the decoration of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain.
You can only visit the Bolsa Palace on a guided tour, which lasts about 30 minutes.
Six Bridges Cruise
One of my favorite ways to see a city is from the water, and this was no different in Porto. It always gives such a unique perspective than seeing a city on land.
I’ve always loved taking sightseeing cruises (some of my favorites have been in Stockholm and Chicago) because it is always such a relaxing experience, to help you rest your feet as you close out your Porto 2 day itinerary.
I highly recommend taking the Six Bridges cruise, which sails through the Douro River and gives you some incredible views of the historic center of Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia, as well as the unique experience of sailing under the bridges that surround the city.
You’ll also learn a lot about the bridges, as well as the history of the city itself, which is super interesting!
Dinner at Cantinho do Avillez
Jose Avillez is one of Portugal’s most well-known chefs. He’s got a number of top-rated restaurants all around the country – and after dining at one in Lisbon, I had to check out another while in Porto.
Cantinho do Avillez was the famed chef’s first venture outside of Lisbon and is known for its Portuguese dishes with an international twist.
I had a duck and curry dish here that was phenomenal! I also tried a Porto tonic here – like a gin and tonic, but made with port.
Have you ever been to Porto? What would you see on 2 days in Porto itinerary?
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