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The Best Things to do on a 3 Days in Porto Itinerary

3 days in Porto - rabelo boats on the River Douro under a bridge
Why spend 3 days in Porto? Porto's namesake port wine, atmospheric architecture and colorful tiles, historic rabelos bobbing on the Douro River and bone-rattling trams; these are just a few of the reasons that Porto in Northern Portugal was high on our travel wish list for a 3-day city break. Did you know that the historic centre of Porto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site? We finally took the opportunity to visit Porto for a long weekend and I'm pleased to report that the things to do in Porto exceeded our expectations as a European city break destination.

Here's the Porto 3 day itinerary that we created and experienced for a magical weekend away.  We hope you'll benefit from what we learned if you're planning your own long weekend trip to Porto.

3 Days in Porto: Day 1 (Morning) - Arrival and Orientation

3-days in Porto - The tram from Porto airport
  • Getting There:  Porto is served by the major low cost airlines in Europe including Ryanair and EasyJet.  Here is a link to the full list of airlines servicing Porto.
  • Ground Transportation:  Getting to Porto's city centre from the airport is easy via the Metro do Porto.  Buy an Andante ticket from the kiosks at the station (2.30 € single includes 0.50 € card fee at the time of writing).
  • Where to Stay in Porto:  Stay at the charming Casa dos Lóios Boutique Guesthouse (Shiadu) in the heart of Porto for 198 € for 2 nights at the time of writing). Alternatively, if you are looking for a splurge, head to The Yeatman Hotel in Vila Nova de Gaia for 285 EUR per night for a Superior Deluxe Panoramic Room.
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SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other European city break ideas with great wine? How about:

3. discovering all kinds of things to do in Malta

3 Days in Porto: Day 1 (Afternoon) - Lunch, A Stroll on the Douro, and our final 'Port' of Call

  • Take a walk near São Bento Train station: Admire the tiles inside the train station. If you time your visit with the Christmas season, you'll discover a cool Christmas Market across from Sao Bento train station. I picked up tile earrings and a necklace with a tile cut out like a tree for less that 10 EUR each. Take a detour through the narrow streets leading uphill from Sao Bento train station. Keep an eye out for the adorable yellow house with red door.

3 Days in Porto: Yellow house with red doorPorto 3 day itinerary: Sao Bento train station tiles
  • Porto coffee break: Take a coffee break with a ham and cheese quiche and Bolinho de bacalhau at Fabrica Nata across from Sao Bento station. The place was a little touristy, but had a clean bathroom which is another understandable motive for stopping.

  • Menu do Dia: Grab an inexpensive two course lunch offered at many places throughout Porto. We chose Larica.  We were treated to soup, a plate of pasta or rice with meat, and a glass of wine for less than 7.50 € per person. 

    • Tip: we asked the manager at our hotel for recommendations for places to eat in Porto before we set out rather than relying on our guidebook.
  • Enjoy an Afternoon stroll along the Douro River in Porto: Take a short walk and do a bit of shopping in Old Town Porto before making our way to the river. You'll love the way the light dances on the buildings along the Douro River. Of course, the doors are also quite eye-catching. Consider hopping on the Douro River Taxi to appreciate the views along the Douro River from a different vantage point. The boat ride costs 3 EUR per person one way and the trip takes less than 10 min.   
  • 3 days in Porto - City Break in Porto - A Stroll Along the Douro River
  • Port Tasting: Finish off the afternoon across the Douro with an uphill climb to one of Porto's famed port houses.  We chose Offley and were treated to a tour and generous samples of three ports for just 4 € per person at the time of writing. 
3-days in Porto - City Break in Porto - Port Tasting at Offley

3 Days in Porto: Day 1 (Evening) - Sunset and Dinner on the Douro

  • Enjoy an Amazing Sunset:  Stake out a rooftop table and sip a port cocktail at Espaço Porto Cruz.  Alternatively, walk along the Douro River in Porto and bask in the late afternoon golden light and endless photo ops. Pushed yourself a bit and climb from the riverfront to the upper deck of Pont Luis I. There is a lower path across the bridge, but construction and better views make the high road more tempting. The pre-sunset views from the bridge are glorious. Pont Luis I is for the Metro not cars so you can walk back and forth to see both sides easily.
3-days in Porto - City Break in Porto - Sunset over the Douro River
  • Dine along the Douro: Lovely outdoor eateries line the Douro River in Porto.  We tried Casa Filha da Mae Preta.  Entries average about 10.00 € at the time of writing and it's worth every penny not only for the food (we loved our octopus dish served with sharp raw onions) but for the people-watching.  

3 Days in Porto: Day 2 (Morning) - An Atmospheric Stroll  

  • Take the Metro to Porto's Historic Centre: If you are staying in Vila Nova de Gaia, take the Porto Metro to Aliados and emerge in front of Câmara Municipal do Porto, Porto's town hall.
  • Steep in the atmosphere of Porto: Take a walk to explore the area around Clérigos Church, Church of St. Ildefonso, Cinema Batalha, Rua de Santa Catarina, and Câmara Municipal de Porto. Make a quick stop inside Igreja da Trindade. It was not busy when we visited Porto, but still there was a line to enter world famous Livraria Lello. We skipped it, but had a lovely walk down R. da Galeria de Paris with pretty doors and overhead bunting and mannequins in colorful skirts.
  • Shop Porto: You'll find lots of cool storefronts and doors in Bolhão, an older shopping district in Porto. Pick up some lovely filled chocolates at Arcádia Casa do Chocolate on Rua Santa Catarina. If you need shoes, Portugal is a good place to shop. There are lots of shoe stores in Porto and excellent prices. If you visit Porto in the winter, seek out Urban Market, a local artisan market selling all kinds of local gifts for Christmas. We picked up silver earrings made from silicone molds of sea creatures, a cork trivet, and jams and salt made with ingredients from the sellers garden. Oh, and I got some hair scrunchies. The Urban Market features great prices and friendly people!
3 Days in Porto - Art Nouveau Door3 Days in Porto - Majestic Cafe

3 Days in Porto: Colorful tiled buildings and a pigeon3 Days in Porto itinerary: Tuk tuks in front of colorful tiled buildings.
  • Keep an eye out for buskers: If you're lucky, maybe you'll chance upon Tuna de Medicina do Porto on Rua Santa Catarina. The lads really draw a crowd with their energetic Portuguese singing, dancing, and flag twirling. Impressive! 
Tuna de Medicina do Porto on Rua Santa Catarina
  • Take a Coffee Break: Stop for a honey cookie and coffee with a view at Primar across from Igreja do Carmo. The church is only open for prayer unless you want to go to the museum. We decided to admire the church while sipping an espresso. Watch out! There are some ramps in the sidewalk near Primar. I didn't see and took a big fall. Fortunately, I was not injured, just a bit embarrassed. A lovely old couple stopped to see if I was ok. I really appreciated their concern.
  • Head to Praça do Infante Dom Henrique: Set a course downhill toward Mercado Ferreira Borges. Let yourself get a little lost. You never know what you might find... like an amazing view of Porto Cathedral.
  • Tour Palácio da Bolsa: It costs 10 EUR per person for a 30 min guided tour of Palácio da Bolsa, the Stock Exchange Palace, in Porto. The opulent late 19th century building is home to the Associação Comercial do Porto and is definitely worth the price of admission, especially if you enjoy architecture-focused photography.
Porto in 3 Days - Map

3 Days in Porto: Day 2 (Afternoon) - Lunch and an Excursion to Foz

  • Tram Excursion to Foz:  Hop on historic Linha 1 of the tram system (3.50 € per person each way at the time of writing, buy on board) along the Douro and you'll be transported within 30 minutes to where the Douro river meets the sea.  Take time to walk along the break walls and note the difference between the serenity of the Douro River and the raw power of the Atlantic. 
  • 3 days in Porto - Sailboats near Foz in Porto Portugal
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for more ideas about where to travel in Portugal? Why not experience Lisbon for Christmas or spend a weekend in winter in the Algarve. Maybe you'll spend a whirlwind one day in Coimbra, Portugal's historic university city. Did you know that Madeira is also part of Portugal? Madeira is full of surprises including great food. You won't regret spending a long weekend in Madeira.

3 days in Porto - City Break in Porto - Tram Ride to Foz

3 Days in Porto: Day 2 (Evening) - Port Tasting Reprise and Sunset Cruise

  • Port and Chocolate Tasting: Retrace your route on the tram from Foz back to its origin in Porto.  Cross the river and do a reprise of your port tasting experience from Day 1.  This time, we opted to try one of the port tasting rooms along the Douro River, Kopke.  We were led upstairs to a quiet room overlooking the Douro and were presented with a menu of wine flights to choose from.  We selected an option (22.40 € at the time of writing) that included two wines and three ports (one was 30 years old!).  The port tasting was served with a copious supply of chocolate.
  • 3-days in Porto, Portugal: Port wine and chocolate tasting at Kopke
  • Sunset Cruise on the Douro:  A number of companies run ~1 hour excursions under the 6 bridges of the Douro River in Porto for about 10 € per person.  Time your Douro cruise to coincide with the sunset in Porto for extra-special views.  3-days in Porto - City Break in Porto - Sunset River Cruise

3 Days in Porto: Day 3 (Morning) - Enjoy Magnificent Vistas While Getting Some Exercise

Walk in Porto map
  • Climb Torre dos Clérigos:  On Sunday, many shops and attractions in Porto are closed but you can still climb the iconic tower at Clérigos Church.  Catch your breath while steeping in the amazing views over Porto. The area by Clérigos Tower is fantastic for a photowalk on a sunny day. 
  • O Mundo Fantástico das Sardinhas Portuguesas: Who knew that you could make a tourist attraction from canned fish! O Mundo Fantástico das Sardinhas Portuguesas does just that. Pop in for a quick look at all the colorful cans. Sardines to commemorate your birth year or 20 different kinds of canned fish are available. 
3-days in Porto - City Break in Porto - View from Torre dos Clerigos
  • Final Stop at the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal do Porto: Walk from Torre dos Clérigos to the Crystal Palace in Porto which boasts unparalleled views over the Douro River.
  • 3-days in Porto - Jardins do Palácio de Cristal do Porto
We hope you've enjoyed our recommendations for a 3-day trip to Porto, Portugal.  If you have even less time and want to see even more, check out this post on spending two days in Porto with a Porto day trip to the Douro Valley

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3 Days in Porto, Portugal - An Ideal Itinerary for a Long Weekend European City Break

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: The Best Things to do on a 3 Days in Porto Itinerary
The Best Things to do on a 3 Days in Porto Itinerary
Find out tips on how to spend 3 days in Porto, Portugal with this vacation itinerary. Explore Porto on a 3 day weekend from Dublin. Discover things to do in Porto.
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