How to Spend Three Days in Porto, Portugal: An Efficient, Fun-Filled Itinerary!

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The following three days in Porto itinerary is brought to you by Sydney from Alone and Abroad, an American living abroad! Read on for some of her top tips for making the most of three days in Porto.

Found just a few hours north of Lisbon, Porto is a charming city with a surprising history. 

Like, did you know that J.K. Rowling *allegedly* based much of the world of Harry Potter on Porto? 

Or that the Portuguese coastal route of the Camino de Santiago, the popular medieval pilgrimage, starts in Porto?

Or that the same architect who designed the Eiffel Tower also designed one of the bridges in Porto?

Out of all the cities I’ve visited in Portugal, Porto may be my new favorite. 

There are so many things to do in Porto in three days that fitting all the best spots into a weekend trip was a Herculean task – but one that I will do my best to measure up to! This whirlwind of an itinerary will take you through some of the most iconic “can’t miss” spots.

Come along for this Porto three day itinerary and we’ll dive into the city’s fascinating history, while also taking in some of the best sights, sounds, and foods this beautiful city has to offer!

Save this Porto in Three Days Itinerary for Later!

You’ll be very glad you did.

Where to Stay in Porto

  • Oporto House: Truth be told I had no idea just how good of a deal I was getting when I booked Oporto House. Just 5 minutes away from the famous bookshop, this historic boutique hotel was nothing short of a bargain with its prime location and private balcony rooms.
  • Vincci Ponte de Ferro: This hotel is the definition of luxury. With a rooftop pool, sky bar, and central yet quiet location, what more could you possibly need?
  • Torel Avantgarde: This 5-star art hotel offers two swimming pools, a sauna, a gym, full tea service, a rooftop bar, and a spa. Sign me up immediately.
An ornate building lit up at night

Day 1 – Explore the Historic Center

For the first day of this Porto three day itinerary, we’ll be focusing on the city’s dreamy historic centre! But first, we need…

Breakfast: Start the Day off Right with Pastel de Nata

As always when in Portugal, the very first thing to do after getting off the plane is to find the nearest pastel de nata!

Pastel de nata is a small Portuguese custard tart that is nothing short of heavenly. They were first made in Lisbon, but now you can find them in bakeries all over the country. Some of the best places to find pastel de nata in Porto are:

  • Fabrica da Nata: The popular, classic option. They’re widely considered to have some of the best pastel de nata in Portugal.  
  • Natas D’ouro: If you’re interested in trying something a little different, Natas D’ouro combines pastel de nata with one of Porto’s main draws – port wine. In addition to the classic custard pastry, they have lemon, chocolate, orange, and even caipirinha-flavored pastel de nata. 
  • Confeitaria do Bolhão: Since 1896 this bakery has been serving freshly prepared breads, pastries, and, of course, pastel de nata. The dining room has kept much of the original decor, making this bakery a tasty and affordable trip back in time.
  • Com Cuore: Gluten-free restaurants can be difficult to come by, but that’s exactly what Com Cuore is. They serve a wide variety of Portuguese cuisine, all of which is entirely gluten-free.
A custard tart on a white plate
Photo by Samantha Gollnick on Unsplash

Morning: Browse the Lello Bookstore

In the 90s, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling lived in Porto while working as an English teacher. The rumor goes that she used Porto as inspiration for some of the series’ settings and began writing Harry Potter from the stunning Lello Bookstore

While she later tweeted that this wasn’t true and she had never been to the bookstore before, it’s hard to deny the similarities between this bookshop and the Hogwarts library. 

Regardless of where the Hogwarts scenery inspiration came from, Lello Bookstore is a book-lovers paradise, and definitely worth seeing while in Porto.

You will need to purchase timed tickets to enter (the ticket price is discounted against anything you purchase inside). Be aware – it gets packed. My hotel was only a few blocks away so I passed by several times. I never saw the line not wrap around the block. 

If you don’t feel like facing the crowds but still want to pick up a new book to read on vacation, they have a book vending machine outside. Yes, that’s right – a BOOK. VENDING. MACHINE. Why are these not everywhere?

An ornately decorated wooden bookstore, with a red staircase in the center
Photo by Peter Justinger on Unsplash

Climb the Tallest Tower in Porto

Standing at 75 meters, Clergios Tower is the tallest building in Porto. Not only does climbing to the top help achieve your daily step count, but you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view of Porto. 

Or, if you’d rather try something different, the tower is also open at night. Try to time your nighttime visit just as the sun is setting, so you can watch as the city lights come alive.

A stone church tower decorated with angels and church bells
Photo by Dalila Moreira on Unsplash

The tower is attached to the Clerigos Church and Clergios Museum. Both are worth taking the extra time to pursue, especially if you have an interest in religious art.

While the church is free to enter, the tower and museum require tickets, which can be bought online or in person.

The orange roofs of Porto from above
The view from the top (it’s very hard not to think about the Lisbon earthquake from up here!)

Grab a Quick Snack at the World’s Prettiest McDonald’s

I’m not suggesting eating here because there is much better food in Porto, but swing by and check out the interior because it’s the most beautiful fast-food restaurant I have ever seen.

Inside the Liberty Square McDonald’s, you’ll find crystal chandeliers, stained glass windows, and even a larger-than-life eagle statue. 

How did this particular McDonald’s become so stunning? Well, before it was a McDonald’s, the building was home to the Cafe Imperial, a cafe that was famous at the time for its interior design. After the original cafe closed, McDonald’s bought the building and kept Cafe Imperial’s original features.

Live Your Barbie Dreams in This Pink Cafe

When I mentioned earlier that there are better places to eat than McDonald’s, Miss Pavlova was one of the spots I had in mind.

This adorable bakery looks like it was created in Barbieland. It’s known for its pavlova – a meringue-based cake with a crisp exterior and a delightfully light and creamy interior. They have dozens of these cakes, macrons, and a full lunch menu.

Black forest cake topped with berries
Highly recommend the Croque Monsieur and the Black Forest Pavlova

Afternoon: Check out the São Bento Train Station

The São Bento Train Station is more than just a train station – it’s a work of art. The walls and ceiling are covered in over 22,000 hand-painted tiles. These tiles are called azulejos and they are a staple in Portuguese architecture. They’re incredibly detailed and often arranged to create a larger mosaic.

Along the ceiling, the azulejos depict the history of transportation in Portugal throughout time.

In other places, you’ll find depictions of kings, queens, and historic battles. 

If you look closely at the tiles, you’ll see that there are a few mistakes where tiles were put into the wrong order. According to my walking tour guide, when questioned, the artist said that the mistakes were made on purpose because only god can create something perfect. The mistakes were an attempt to show humility.

This is now going to be my excuse anytime I make a mistake for anything, ever. 

An empty train station decorated with white and blue tiles along the walls
Photo by Rostyslav Savchyn on Unsplash

Explore the Porto Cathedral

Porto’s Cathedral is one of the city’s most iconic buildings. Built at the highest point in Porto, this 12th-century Baroque cathedral was partially designed by the same architect who designed the Clergios Tower! 

An old city cathedral

I didn’t personally go inside the cathedral. Instead, my group and I walked around the outside and gazed out over the city from the lookout behind the cathedral. The views here are nothing short of phenomenal, especially at sunset.

Boats in a harbor and a city lit up at night
The view from the Cathedral

Start (or Pretend to Start) the Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago is the medieval pilgrimage that leads travelers to the shrine of St. James in northern Spain. Thousands complete this trek every year and have for centuries. 

While there are Camino “starting points” all across Spain, France, and Portugal, the most popular Portuguese route starts in Porto. More specifically, the starting point is the Porto Cathedral itself.

If you choose to take this pilgrimage, keep an eye out for conch shell signs. As the symbol of Camino, they’re used to point the way to Santiago de Compostela, the Camino’s end destination. They can be found all across Porto.

A blue and yellow sign that shows a person walking, an arrow, a scallop shell, and the words "Camino de Santiago"

Dinner: Treat Yourself to Heavenly Italian Cuisine

I’m aware that I have a flair for the dramatic and am oftentimes prone to exaggeration. But I’m not exaggerating when I say that this was the best pizza I have ever eaten in my life – and I have eaten a lot of pizza during my time on earth. 

If you take anything from this Porto in three days itinerary, let it be dining at Tutti Buoni Loios Pizzaria Artesanal. Normally when traveling I try never to eat at the same place twice. That rule was abandoned after eating here because I couldn’t get enough. Despite being only a few blocks away from the Sao Bento train station, it was never crowded. 

The staff gave fantastic wine pairings for their made-from-scratch pizza and pasta. For their incredibly reasonable prices, we were given the kind of meal that makes you almost resent getting full because everything is so delicious you wish you could have just one more bite.

A table set with two glasses of wine, carbonara pasta, and pizza topped with meat, arugula, and burrata cheese
It’s been weeks and I still think about this meal daily

Evening: Float Away on a Sunset Boat Cruise

Make your way back to the waterfront so we can end our first night of this Porto itinerary with a sunset boat cruise.

There are dozens of different cruises to choose from. Some are family-friendly, some are party boats, and some offer Port wine tastings. No matter which you choose, they’re all going to offer stunning views of the city as the sun goes down.

Two rowboats in a harbor

Day 2 – Across the Douro River

For the second day of our Porto 3 Day itinerary, we’ll be venturing along and across the stunning Douro River, taking in plenty of treats, views & Port along the way. Yes, do get excited.

Breakfast in a Traditional Portuguese Bakery

What better way to start day two of our Porto itinerary than at a typical Portuguese bakery? Breakfast in Portugal is usually small – coffee and a small pastry or two. There are countless great pastry shops in Porto, but here are some standouts:

  • Padaria Ribeiro: Any bakery that’s stayed open for over 100 years must be doing something right! They offer 40 different bread varieties, sweet and savory pastries, and larger meals as well.
  • Confeitaria Moura: Known for their Jesuítas, a Portuguese puff pastry topped with egg custard and meringue, this sweet shop typically sells out by the early afternoon, so come early!
  • Pastelaria Tupi: This bakery is newer than some of the others in Porto, but it offers inexpensive, delicious, and vegan-friendly pastries.

Morning: Shopping Along the Ribeira Waterfront

The charming Ribeira neighborhood is one the most popular in Porto. Situated along the riverbank, it’s a fantastic area to meander through and pop into any shops or cafes that pique your interest. 

Here you can find handcrafted pottery shops, street performers, outdoor cafes, and random grand archways that lead down beautiful alleyways. It’s great for souvenir shopping and people-watching!

A city's waterfront, complete with outdoor cafes and a staircase that goes into the water

Lunch: Try Portuguese Francesinha

This delicacy originated in Porto in the ‘50s when a chef was inspired by the French Croque Monsieur and wanted to add a Portuguese twist to it. The result was a francesinha – a sandwich with ham, cheese, sausage, and steak topped with cheese and a secret mildly spicy sauce. 

Most Portuguese restaurants in Porto serve Francesinhas, and all their recipes differ slightly. Many restaurants serve them with a fried egg on top and others offer vegetarian options. 

If you’re seeking the ‘best’ Francesinha, you might want to start your search in one of these restaurants:

Afternoon: Cross the Dom Luís I Bridge

The Dom Luís I Bridge is one of Porto’s defining landmarks. The bridge connects Porto with the neighboring town Vila Nova da Guia, and is a great spot to take photos of Porto and the Douro River.

You can walk or take the train across the bridge, but I prefer walking so you can stop and take in the views.

The city of Porto

Admire the Views from Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar

Once you’ve crossed the bridge, stop and look straight up. That’s where we’re heading next!

The Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar is a former 16th-century monastery that became a military fortress before finally becoming a church. Out of all the viewpoints I visited in Porto, this was my personal favorite. 

It was closed for a private event when I was there, so I couldn’t go inside, but the views from outside the monastery alone made it worth the trek.

The Douro River and the city of Porto
The view from the monastery lookout

Take a Break in Jadrim do Morro

Directly to the left of the Monastery (if you’re facing the river) is the Jardim do Morro, a cute park to stop and give your feet a break after climbing all these hills!

Inside the park is a cafe, a children’s playground, and live musicians. There’s also a cable car station that takes you on a short journey over the waterfront.

Evening: Explore a Port Wine Cellar

One of the most iconic things to do in Porto is to try port wine in a wine cellar.

Port wine was created by the need to preserve wine throughout the long journey from the Douro Valley to England where it would be sold. They started adding brandy to the wine to keep it fresh, and the rest is history. 

Back in the old days, businesses in Porto had to pay taxes to the King and the Bishop. But businesses across the river weren’t in the Bishop’s jurisdiction, so by setting up wine cellars in Guia instead of Porto, they got to pay significantly less taxes. 

Now all the wine cellars are lined up along the southern edge of the Douro river. They’re easy to find, as most will have the company name and logo posted above their store. They all offer tastings and tours of their wine cellars, which is a must when in Porto!

A wine cellar in Porto with the Sandeman logo on top of it.

Tastings and tours can sell out, so it’s always a good idea to book in advance, especially if traveling in peak season. Some wine cellars worth checking out:

  • Ferreira: For over 270 years, Ferreira has been the only Port wine company that has always been 100% Portuguese-owned. 
  • Sanderman: While all wine cellars offer tours, this is the only one I found that offers a workshop on how to pair port with chocolate.  
  • Taylor’s: This place is unique because after you finish touring their cellar, you’ll be led to the terrace where you can enjoy the port and the views.
Wooden barrels in a Port wine cellar
Photo by Svetlana Gumerova on Unsplash

Dinner & Drinks on a Suspension Bridge

Before there was the Dom Luís I Bridge that we see today, there was the Ponte Pensil Bridge. It was later disassembled, but what remains is now a riverfront restaurant and bar. The views, ambiance, and passion fruit sangria make for an unforgettable evening to close out our second day in Porto.

Two glasses of passionfruit sangria in at a riverfront restaurant in Porto
Passion fruit Sangria. Highly recommend!

Day 3 – Wine Tasting in the Douro Valley

For the final day of this Porto 3 day itinerary, we’re venturing out to the famous Douro Valley for a taste of their world famous wine… but first:

Morning: Brunch Time!

Before our big day of exploring Portugal’s wine country, it might be a good idea to fuel up with a big brunch before we go.

Luckily, Porto has many brunch spots to try: 

  • Zenith Brunch Bar: On nearly every “best breakfast in Porto” list, Zenith surely has a spot. Be sure to try the shakshuka if you visit this vegan-friendly spot.
  • Negra Café: A classic and cozy cafe known for its passion fruit pancakes.
  • Eleven Lab Downtown: I have just three words for you: hot chocolate pancakes. Need I say more?

Day Trip: Explore the World’s Oldest Wine Region

We didn’t come this close to the Douro Valley not to visit the birthplace of port wine. Similar to how true champagne can only come from the Champagne region in France, real port can only come from the Douro Valley.

The Douro Valley is the oldest wine region in the world. Over hundreds of years, terraces have been cut into the steep landscape to make growing grapes easier.

Port is a sweet, rich, and strong wine that originated here. The brandy that is added to help preserve the wine also makes port significantly stronger than most wines.

A scenic region renowned for its stunning vineyards and wineries, the Douro Valley offers visitors a unforgettable experience.
Photo by Rach Sam on Unsplash

It is possible to drive or take a train to the Douro Valley, but I highly recommend taking an organized tour. Most include tours of the winery, lunch, and of course, a wine tasting.

There are Douro Valley boat cruise tours, private tours with a personal driver, or, if you’d rather stay in Porto, there are also walking and wine-tasting tours available.

A vineyard in Porto on a hillside near a river
Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

Evening: Dinner, Drinks, and Dancing the Final Night Away

Finally, we’ll toast to this beautiful city in style on Rua das Galerias de Paris, a street famous for its nightlife. While this area is always lively the atmosphere transforms throughout the day. 

During the day it is buzzing with people outside the cafes and shops. Then at night, this becomes party central, with crowds from the cubs often spilling into the street. If you’re looking to have a fun night out, this is the place to be!

I Hope You Enjoyed This Guide on How to Spend 3 Days in Porto!

Let us know in the comments if you have any more questions about this  Porto in three days itinerary!

My Go-To Travel Favourites:

🧳 Eagle Creek: My favourite packing cubes

💳 Wise: For FREE travel friendly credit cards

🍯 Airalo: My go-to eSIM

🏨 For searching hotels

📷 Sony A7IV: My (amazing) camera

✈️ Google Flights: For finding flight deals

🌎 WorldNomads: For travel insurance

🎉 GetYourGuide: For booking activities

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