2 Days in Porto – The Ultimate Itinerary

Porto is known as the second-largest city in Portugal and is unarguably one of the most-go cities in Europe.

Why Porto? Visitors are able to experience an intimate escapade thanks to its narrow stretch of cobblestone streets, state-of-art museums, and distinguished architectural monuments style. 

With everything that Porto has to offer, it is without surprise that it has always been a top choice for tourists to spend 2 days in Porto or a weekend in Porto while on a trip to Portugal, as there are so many things to see in Porto.

In this post, I will highlight the guided itinerary, places, and things to do in Porto, where to stay, how to get around Porto, and a few possible day trips from Porto, if ever you wish to stay more than 48 hours in Porto.

Summary of 2 Days in Porto Itinerary

This Porto two-day itinerary covers:

Day 1

  • São Bento Train Station
  • Sé do Porto
  • Terreiro de Sé
  • Miradouro Barredo e Jano
  • Cais de Ribeira
  • Dom Luis I Bridge
  • Teleférico de Gaia
  • Palacio da Bolsa

Day 2

  • Pr. da Liberdade
  • Igreja e Torre dos Clérigos
  • Universidade do Porto
  • Igreja do Carmo & Igreja dos Carmelitas
  • Livraria Lello
  • Rua de Santa Catarina 

Where to stay in Porto?

Budget – If you are looking for a cozy place to crash in without breaking the bank, then The House of Sandeman – Hostel & Suites is the one you’re looking for. It provides clean and designed dormitories with great breakfast and authentic views of Porto. If privacy is your concern, then try checking out Boavista Guest House too.

Mid-rangeGallery Townhouse & Home, aDuquesa – GuestHouse and Cale Guest House are highly rated on Booking.com. All of them provide affordable stays with complimentary breakfast included. What’s more the locations for all of them are terrific – so any visits to the landmarks in the city center can be done conveniently.

Luxury – I recommend staying at Vignette Collection – Casa da Companhia, an IHG Hotel, if you want a lovely stay in Porto. Suppose you wish to experience staying in a museum hotel in the heart of Porto. In that case, Palace Museum – Espaço Palmeiras is the one. Are you thinking of spending more for your stay? You might want to check on Maison Albar Hotels Le Monumental Palace.

2-Day Porto Itinerary: Day 1 

São Bento Train Station

Established in 1916, the São Bento Railway Station is one of the main attractions in Porto as it is located in the heart of Porto.

It is declared a National Monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its intricate white-blue tiles and decorated ceilings depicting agricultural life and the city’s history.

This modest railway station shows glazed platforms disappearing into a large tunnel.

Spend around 5-15 minutes admiring this railway station’s beauty.

You may also opt to book a tour guide which can be found anywhere in the hall, to indulge further in the Portuguese Azulejos story. Come earlier as it is usually flocked with tourists.

Sé do Porto

2 Days in Porto

Exit from the São Bento Railway Station and climb the Avenue Dom Afonso Henriques for around 5 minutes to reach the Sé Cathedral.

This 12th-century Porto cathedral was first built in the Romanesque style. After several renovations, it has a mix of Gothic and Baroque styles.

With its fortress-like structure, it is not hard to believe that the cathedral was once a governing center of the district, fitting its name – Sé (seat).

With only a few euros entrance fee, you will find inside Azulejo decoration tiles, contrasting architectural styles, and panoramic views of the city and Douro River. 

Terreiro de Sé 

Located just outside the Sé Cathedral, Terreiro de Sé is a broad plaza where you get the overview of the main facade of Sé, the majestic Pelourinho – a pillar with a twisting column dating back from the 18th Century and the Episcopal Palace.

Depending on the visibility during your visit, this extensive plaza gives excellent views of Porto, overlooking the rooftops of the Douro River, Vila Nova de Gaia, and the Barredo area.

Take your time to enjoy the impressive city views, and remember to take many photos!

Miradouro Barredo e Jano 

From the plaza, take the narrow stairs down next to the Episcopal Palace to get to the Ribeira.

Follow the route until you arrive at Capela Nossa Senhora das Verdades (Our Lady of Truths Chapel).

You will see the signage of Escadas das Verdades (The Stairs of Truths) adjoining the small chapel.

Take the stairs and follow the path until you arrive at Escadas de Barredo.

Continue walking down the stairs until you reach a quiet residential area where Miradouro Barredo e Jano (Barredo and Jano Viewpoint) is located.

It would be best to take this route to Ribeira to enjoy this outstanding architectural view of these residential buildings with their mesmerizing orange rooftops.

Cais de Ribeira 

Ribeira, another top spot in Porto, is a picturesque Porto’s older neighborhood where many bars, cafes, traditional restaurants, and quirky shops are housed in colorful buildings.

Stroll along the riverside and enjoy the stunning view of the Douro River. Take your time watching people passing by and taking in the authentic ambiance of the area.

You may secure tickets for the 6 Bridges River Cruises to admire the view of the historical center of Oporto and Vila Nova de Gaia.

Dom Luis I Bridge

The trip to Porto is complete with visiting this iconic bridge connecting the Ribeira district and the Vila Nova de Gaia.

The metal bridge was designed by one of the infamous Gustave Eiffel pupils, named Théophile Seyrig. It was built in 1881 and was the longest bridge ever built at that time.

There are different methods to experience the bridge – you can walk on the top half, drive over it or take the metro to cross it to the other side of Porto.

Better views of the neighborhood can be seen from the upper level of Dom Luis I Bridge.

Teleférico de Gaia

Just situated at the Vila Nova de Gaia riverbanks, across the Dom Luis I Bridge, you will see the Gaia cable car station where the ticket office is located.

The Gaia cable car will serve you the best views over Porto – the Dom Luis I Bridge, the Douro River, the port wine lodges and the colorful Ribeira district.

The ride lasts 5 minutes and you will end up at the Jardim de Morro, a garden where you can chill and enjoy the beautiful sunsets.

If you purchase a one-way ticket, you can use the metro or get there on foot to return to Porto’s other side.

Palacio da Bolsa 

If you fancy another monument tour, visit Bolsa Palace, which is just around 3 minutes from Cais de Ribeira.

This former Porto Chamber of Commerce is now open to the public.

You will find impressive architectural work on the wall, ceiling, and floor inside.

As the queue tends to be long, book your slot first and return when your slot is up.

Booking Palácio da Bolsa Guided Tour to bring you around the building is recommended. The tour typically lasts 30 minutes.

2-Day Porto Itinerary: Day 2 

Pr. da Liberdade 

Located on the north side of São Bento Railway Station, Pr. da Liberdade is one of the main squares in Porto, making it a must-visit place when you’re in Porto.

A monument of King Peter IV can be seen being installed in the middle of the square.

Currently, the square is surrounded by offices, banks, and restaurants.

Another major attraction along this square is undoubtedly its McDonald’s restaurant which has been nominated as the most beautiful McDonald’s in the world!

See it yourself and find out if the restaurant is true to its title!

Igreja e Torre dos Clérigos

The Clérigos Church is a landmark in Porto and can be seen from various points in Porto.

The 18C Baroque church is the highest bell tower in Portugal.

Visitors can visit the church for free but must pay the admission fee to view the bell tower’s interior.

The fee includes the museum exhibitions and visits to the top of the bell tower for a fantastic view of the city of Porto and the Douro River.

Wear proper shoes and clothes as the there are more than 200 steps to reach the top and it can be windy too, especially during Winter and rainy days.

Before proceeding to the next stop, it is recommended to visit any small restaurants/cafeterias around the area, sit back, and enjoy the atmosphere the square offers.

If you’re looking for a calm area to eat, stop by the nearby park while observing people come and go.

Universidade do Porto

Just a stone’s throw from the park, you’ll find the University of Porto, which is infamous for being the one that inspires the Harry Potter series -thanks to the university’s distinctive students’ attire which goes back 500 years ago; a black suit, a symbolic cape and a white shirt. 

Igreja do Carmo & Igreja dos Carmelitas 

The Carmo Church and Carmelitas Church were built in 18C in Baroque-Rocco styles, standing side by side but separated by a small house in between.

According to the legend, the small 3-story house was built to prevent contact between the nuns from the Church of Carmelitas and the nuns from the Church of Carmo.

The churches in Porto can usually be distinguished easily by their exterior intricate blue and white tiles paintings.

Entrance into the church of Carmelitas is free, but with a small fee, you can visit both churches and the tiny house.

Livraria Lello 

Just a skipping stone from the Carmo & Carmelitas Churches is one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores.

The main attractions are the central staircase, beautifully carved ceiling, and art exhibition.

Admission is not free; you must pay around 5-6 euros per entry, but the fee is redeemable if you buy any books in the bookstore.

Most of the books sold are in Portuguese, but the English books are in smaller sections in the bookstore.

Visiting during lunch or at the end of the visiting hours is advisable as it tends to be hoarded with tourists at other time slots.

Rua de Santa Catarina

We end our visit with Rua de Santa Catarina, Porto’s main pedestrian shopping street. 

This charming shopping street has branded stores, restaurants, caféteria, and souvenir shops.

The street is next to The Sacred Art Museum of Santo Ildefonso Church.

Along the street, you will also be able to appreciate historical sites such as the Chapel of Souls, A Pérola do Bolhão, and Majestic Café, which was established in 1921.

More fun things to do in Porto

Do you have extra time in Porto and looking for more personalized activities? Check out the list!

How to get to Porto?

There are different ways to get to Porto.

a) By plane

You must get on a flight directly to Porto if you are flying from outside of Portugal and wish to start the trip with Porto.

Porto Airport, or Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (code OPO), is located about 17 kilometers from the city center of Porto.

The cheapest way to get to Porto’s city center is via the metro line E, which runs every 20 minutes. The 30-minute trip costs around €2 to get to the Trindade Station.

With only €3, you can take the shuttle GetBus to the city center. The bus departs from the airport’s ground floor every hour, taking around 25 minutes to get to Campanha Bus Station.

If you are traveling in a group, the most convenient option is to take a private transfer from the airport, which costs around €28 for a group of 4.

How to choose the best transfer from the airport to the city center?

It depends on how many people you’re traveling with and the luggage/carry-ons you have.

If you travel solo and want to save more, then getting on the shuttle or the metro is the best option.

But if you are traveling with small kids or the elderly, it would be best to book private transfers as it is more convenient and hassle-free.

b) By train

The largest city in Portugal, Lisbon and Porto, are 190 miles apart and connected by direct high-speed trains (Alfa Pendular) and Intercity trains.

The train tickets range between €20-50, depending on which type of train & class (First Class or Second Class) you wish to book.

The ride between Lisbon to Porto offers scenic views of the Portuguese countryside and the Atlantic coastline.

Head up to Comboios Portugal to book your ticket in advance to ensure getting the best deals. Opt for Google to translate the website into English on the top right of the homepage if you need help understanding Portuguese.

How to get around Porto?

Porto is a very walkable city as most of the best things to see are in the city center (Ribeira district). 

If you wish to visit any landmarks outside of Ribeira, you should use the metro as it is cheap and easy to navigate.

Consider investing in a Porto Card if you wish to visit the sights in Porto and use public transport to get around. 

The card offers discounts, special offers, and accessible entrances to museums, cruises, restaurants, shops, shows, and tourist excursions. 

It also offers unlimited access to city buses, metro, and suburban trains. The Porto Card differs depending on the validity (1-4 days).

You can also book a guided city highlights walking tour to get around or take an Uber.

Day Trips from Porto

Do you have more days to spare in Porto? Then check out these day trips from Porto.

1) Guimarães 

Guimarães is a small city located just 47 kilometers from Porto. It is the first city established in Portugal as the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, was born here.

The first highlight of Guimarães is the Guimarães Castle. This 10th-century medieval castle is situated on the hill of Guimarães with impressive features.

You can climb the castle wall inside, but be extra careful with its narrow stairs. The view of the countryside is terrific from atop the castle.

In the tower is information on Portugal’s history and an animated video of Afonso Henriques made for children. 

Just 2 minutes from the castle is the second highlight of Guimarães, the Palace of Dukes of Braganza, where the first Dukes of Braganza used to reside.

Now a museum, this palace exhibits different curated rooms that display furnishings, costumes, tapestries, and equipment from the 15th through 10th centuries.

Tips: Buy the combo tickets of the Guimarães Castle and Palace of Dukes of Braganza for better deals.

The easiest way to get to Guimarães from Porto is by train, which is more affordable and frequent than the bus. 

The train departs daily from the São Bento Train Station or Porto Campanhã, which takes around 1 hour.

Guimarães is walkable, and there is much more to see in its city center.

If getting to Guimarães hassle-free is what you’re looking for, check out this Braga and Guimarães Full-Day Trip.

2) Aveiro

Aveiro is dubbed the Venice of Portugal due to its historical canals and traditional-looking Moliceiro boats.

The highlight of Aveiro is the Rossio area, where you will be served with picturesque views of its canals and colorful houses, all designed in the Art Nouveau style.

Enjoy a boat ride in a Moliceiro boat, which was once used to harvest seaweed in the Ria de Aveiro.

If you are strolling around in the Rossio area, try out Aveiro’s traditional pastry called Ovos Moles de Aveiro (soft eggs from Aveiro) from the famous Casa dos Ovos Moles – a bakery that sells traditional Portugal pastries.

Visit the two primary museums in Aveiro, Museo da Cidade de Aveiro and Museu de Arte Nova, to learn more about the history of Aveiro and the Art of Nouveau styles.

Walk around the town area to enjoy the beautiful facades that house shops, cafes and restaurants!

If you have extra time in Aveiro, then visit a visit to Costa Nova, a beach nearby Aveiro is not to be missed! Costa Nova is reachable by bus from the town center of Aveiro and the journey takes around 20 minutes. Spend at least 2 hours here to enjoy the stroll along the colorful houses.

The journey from Porto to Aveiro takes under 1 hour by train that can be taken from the São Bento Train Station or Porto Campanhã.

Ultimately, you can also visit Aveiro from Porto with this tour – Aveiro and Ílhavo Full-Day Tour.

3) Coimbra

Are you a fan of Harry Potter? If so, then be sure to visit Coimbra to see another place that inspired the series – Coimbra University! 

Coimbra University is still a very much active university. If you’re lucky, you will see students flocking in the Harry Potter costumes – which is, by the way, the university’s costume that existed long before Harry Potter!

Once a medical palace, this university has added a few more buildings joined to the original castle over the following centuries. Today, the whole university complex looks impressive. 

You will need to buy tickets to visit the university, or you can book the University of Coimbra Walking Tour. Inarguable, Coimbra University is the main highlight in Coimbra, so do spare a few hours to visit the site.

Another highlight of Coimbra is the Old Cathedral (Se Velha), a Romanesque Cathedral which gives out a unique look of a fortress as much as a cathedral!

Coimbra can be explored easily on foot but do take note that Coimbra is a hilly city. So do take account of that when planning your visit.

Coimbra can be reached from Porto in around 1 hour using the high-speed train, Alfa Pendular.

Another way to visit Coimbra stress-free is by booking this Fátima and Coimbra Full-Day Tour from Porto.

FAQ

1) Is two days in Porto enough?

Two days in Porto is definitely enough to visit all the main landmarks in Porto – but I must admit, there are so many things to do and places to visit in Porto! If you want to see all of Porto, then, by all means, do add a few more extra days in Porto!

2) When to visit Porto?

The best time to visit Porto is spring and fall as the weather is pleasantly warm. Avoid visiting Porto during summer as it can get dry and hot and most importantly – all hotels will cost more.

Winter in Porto is moderately temperate due to its Mediterranean climate, but it can be wet due to rainy days.

3) Can you do a day trip from Porto to Lisbon?

Though Lisbon is accessible from Porto by buses and trains, the journey alone will take around 3 hours one way. I do not recommend making a day trip to Lisbon as you will spend more on the journey (return trips) than visiting the city.

I hope the Porto 2-Day Itinerary has helped you to plan 2 days fun getaway in Porto!

You may find other things to do on GetYourGuide or visit Booking.com to find the best hotels deals to stay in Porto.

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