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Porto in 4 Days: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

Porto is an ideal city for a short visit, because although it is not very big, it has many attractions to discover. Here I tell you everything you can see and do in a four-day stay in the city.

Matías Rodríguez

Matías Rodríguez

12 min read

Porto in 4 Days: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

Porto | ©Tiana

Although it is not a very big city, Porto has many attractions to surprise you and one of the most varied offers for tourism. It not only has a picturesque historic center and some of the most beautiful panoramic views in Europe, but also an exquisite gastronomy and first class wineries.

Porto is also an ideal city for a stay of a few days, as its main attractions are concentrated in the historic center or on the coast, so with an organized itinerary you can get to know it on foot. Below I tell you what activities you can see and do in Porto if you have a 4-day trip planned.

Day 1: Walk along the Route of the Churches, visit the Vitoria viewpoint, visit the Don Luis I Bridge and have lunch at the Bolhao Market

Don Luis I Bridge| ©Deensel
Don Luis I Bridge| ©Deensel

On your first day in Porto I propose a tour of the historic center that includes some of the most famous churches of Portugal, a country with a large number of Catholics, as well as a visit to the Vitoria viewpoint so you can enjoy from the heights the wonderful architecture of the city.

Lunch will be at the picturesque Mercado do Bolhao and you will watch the sunset from the Don Luis I Bridge, which is the most important bridge in Porto.

St. Ildefonso Church

The tour starts at Sao Bento Station, which is one of the main points of Porto, and has as its first stop the Church of San Ildefonso, which stands out for the two towers of its bell tower and for the eleven thousand tiles with allegories of the Eucharist that crown its entrance.

This religious building of baroque style is the starting point of the Route of the Churches, has free admission and is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 to 15.00 hours.

Book your guided tour

Chapel of the Souls

Five blocks away from the Church of San Ildefonso is its younger sister, the Chapel of the Souls, which is one of Porto's best kept secrets.

This temple stands out for its exterior cladding, an unusual element in religious buildings, which nourishes the facade with thousands of tiles depicting the life and work of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catherine. It can be visited free of charge from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Bolhao Market

Continuing in the neighborhood and two streets away you can visit the Bolhao Market, which accounts for the alternative atmosphere that characterizes the area.

In this market, which is the most important in the city, you will be able to get to know the local lifestyle and find fresh fish, flowers, delicious bakeries and gift shops. If you visit Porto during Christmas in Bolhao you can find the best Christmas stalls.

The market is also a must among the gastronomic tours of Porto. There you can have lunch, at affordable prices, a menu of typical food and taste wines from local wineries before continuing your tour.

Church of the Clérigos

Exterior of the Church of the Clérigos| ©yuka HAYASHI
Exterior of the Church of the Clérigos| ©yuka HAYASHI

Taking streetcar line 22 or walking seven blocks you can get from the Bolhao Market to the Church of the Clérigos, which marks the beginning of the rococo style associated with religious temples.

This work, the most important of the architect Nicolau Nasoni, stands out for the Clérigos Tower, which is one of the main emblems of Porto.

From its 75 meters high you can contemplate one of the best panoramic views of the city. It is open every day from 9.00 am to 11.00 pm and the entrance fee is approximately 10 euros.

Lello Bookstore

Opposite the Church of Los Clérigos, on the other side of Calle de Las Carmelitas, you can't miss the Lello Bookstore, which is considered one of the most beautiful in the world and one of the most visited since an urban legend arose according to which J. K Rowling was inspired by it to set the story of Harry Potter.

True or not, Lello is one of the places you can't miss in the city, to the point that it has become one of the fixed stops on Porto's tourist buses.

Porto Cathedral

The next stop, five streets away, is the Cathedral of Porto, the main attraction of the Route of the Churches. The Cathedral is located in the heart of the historic center of the city and has a mixed Gothic and Baroque style that gives it a very particular look.

I recommend that you pay special attention to the rose window, the cloister decorated with tiles and the bell tower. Admission is free and it is open every day from 9.00 am to 6.30 pm.

Book a place on the tourist bus

Vitoria Viewpoint, Stock Exchange Palace and St. Francis Church

From the Oporto Cathedral you can take buses lines 303 and 403 and streetcar line 22 or walk the six streets to the Mirador de Vitoria, which is the next stop, to enjoy the most famous panoramic view of the city.

This viewpoint is free, open daily from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm and from there you can see the Don Luis I Bridge, the Douro River and the immensity of Gaia.

Three blocks away from the Mirador you will find the Palacio de la Bolsa, which can only be visited with the assistance of a local guide with prior reservation on their website, but stands out for its beautiful architecture and themed rooms.

In front of the Palace you can finish the Route of the Churches knowing the parish of San Francisco, noted for its catacombs and altarpiece.

Admission to the Church of San Francisco is free and it is open daily from 9.00 to 20.00 hours.

Don Luis I Bridge and dinner in a tavern

The Don Luis I Bridge is the most famous of Porto's six bridges and because of its cast iron design it was long believed to have been designed by Gustave Eiffel.

In reality, it was actually a disciple of his who designed it under his supervision and is now one of the most visited sites in the city. You can reach the bridge by walking five blocks from the Church of San Francisco to find it on the banks of the Duero.

The bridge, which connects the historic center with Vilanova de Gaia, has at its base a funicular that leads to the narrow streets surrounding Batalha and has two platforms for pedestrians.

From there you will be able to see one of the most beautiful sunsets in the city, even if you visit Porto in winter, as drizzles are rare.

To close a first day of intense sightseeing you can go for dinner to one of the taverns of Clérigos.

Day 2: Walk along the Avenida dos Aliados and Cais da Ribeira, visit the Hill Garden and visit a winery in Gaia

Hill Garden| ©Armando Costa
Hill Garden| ©Armando Costa

After the intense walk of the first day, during the second day I propose you to visit the Avenida dos Aliados, one of the main arteries of the city, and the colorful Cais da Ribeira.

Crossing the Douro you will be able to relax in the Hill Garden and enjoy a local wine in a winery in Gaia.

Avenida dos Aliados and Praça da Liberdade (Liberty Square)

The Avenida dos Aliados is a popular destination for all tours and excursions in Porto because it is not only the main street of the city, but also one of the most beautiful in Portugal, with its stately buildings, its marble statues and the immensity of the City Hall in the background. I assure you that you will love to get lost in its cobbled streets!

At the end of the Avenida dos Aliados you can visit the Liberty Square, crowned by the equestrian statue of Don Pedro IV and the main fountain.

From there you can see the white granite buildings that during the 19th century housed the banks and insurance companies that gave Porto its reputation as a global financial city.

Cais da Ribeira and lunch on a terrace

By bus lines 10M and 905 you can get from Praça da Liberdade to Cais da Ribeira, which is the coastal area that goes from the Don Luis I Bridge to the Arrábida Bridge.

There you can lose yourself in a leisurely stroll to enjoy the picturesque colorful houses, the murmur of the river and, if you want to have lunch, a fresh cod and a glass of wine in some of the outdoor terraces.

Cais da Ribeira adds a medieval touch to the Porto picture, housing some of the city's oldest buildings, and during your walk along the waterfront you will see rabelos, Portugal's traditional boats used to supply the city with barrels of wine made in the Douro Valley, the wine region that you can visit on day trips.

Book an excursion to the Douro Valley

Hill Garden

After lunch at Cais da Ribeira, for the next stop I suggest you use the crosswalk of the Don Luis I Bridge to walk the 400 meters to the Gaia Hill Garden.

From there you will be able to observe a panoramic view of this city dedicated to wine production and if you are visiting Porto with children you can also visit the Children's Park.

Tasting at a winery in Gaia

In Gaia you can spend the afternoon strolling along the riverside and through its winding alleys and then enter a winery to learn about the process of Port wine production on a guided tour.

There you can opt for tastings that include a four-course dinner with a typically Portuguese menu in one of the city's traditional wineries, such as Ferrerira, Sandeman, Croft or Cálem.

To return to Oporto you can use the Gaia Cable Car, which costs approximately six euros per person and offers one of the most beautiful views of the city, especially at night.

Day 3: Take a boat trip on the Douro River, visit the Felgueiras Lighthouse and Matosinhos Beach and attend a Fado concert

On the Douro in a Pirate Ship| ©JlCota
On the Douro in a Pirate Ship| ©JlCota

After touring the historic center and the main sites of Porto during the first two days, for the third day I propose a tour away from the city center that includes a boat ride and a visit to the Portuguese Atlantic coast visiting some of the best beaches.

Boat trip on the Douro River

The Douro not only runs through Porto and divides it, but also provides the city with its vital energy. For centuries Portuguese commerce moved freely through its waters and today it is possible to travel along it on a boat trip.

The most common of the tours is the one that includes an itinerary along the six bridges, although you can also opt for a cruise to Aveiro from Porto, for a tour of the Douro Riviera or for a full day tour to Pinhao.

You can also choose to take a ride to the mouth of the Douro in a rabelo, which is the traditional Portuguese boat and is now mainly used for tourism.

River boat tours are inexpensive and have a starting cost of €17, so it is worth including it in your itinerary to see the city and the bridges from the calm waters of the Douro.

All tours usually start from the Cais da Ribeira area and can be done during daylight hours. Exceptionally there are some night tour services, especially if you are visiting Porto during the summer.

Book a boat trip on the Douro

Felgueiras Lighthouse

Because of its proximity to the mouth of the Douro, Porto was born as a port city. This not only gave the city its name but also Portugal and the maritime tradition is still maintained in every corner of the country. From Porto it is possible to tour, then, the picturesque Felgueiras Lighthouse.

From Sao Bento Station you can reach the Felgueiras Lighthouse by taking bus lines 500 and 200 and there, in addition to the old granite maritime signaling tower and the mouth of the Douro, you can visit the Paseo Alegre Garden and the boardwalk.

Matosinhos Beach

Buses 500 and 200 can also take you to the enclave of Foz and then to Matosinhos Beach, which is the largest beach on the Atlantic coast and offers golden sands and waves ideal for surfing.

This beach will surprise you because it is located a few minutes from the historic center of Porto, but also because it is hidden behind a fishing village, which makes it even more enigmatic.

Attend a Fado concert

Fado is Portugal's folk music and also a declaration of principles for its nostalgic and melancholic style that condenses sadness, loss, heartbreak and social injustice in its melodies.

This artistic expression is typical of the most southern Portuguese cities, with Lisbon as the main representative, but it is also possible to attend a fado show in Porto, which could be an interesting experience if you are looking for a typical activity.

The best places to attend a fado show are in the historical center of Porto, although you can also find them in Gaia or Foz.

Some places like Casa de Guitarra offer genuine and autochthonous shows so that visitors can discover the magic of fado, which is the highest artistic expression of Portuguese music, in shows lasting about an hour that start at 17 euros.

Book your visit to a wine cellar and Fado concert

Day 4: Visit the Crystal Palace Gardens and the Arrábida district and say goodbye to Porto enjoying its gastronomy

Crystal Palace Gardens| ©Ashuash
Crystal Palace Gardens| ©Ashuash

For the last day of your Porto itinerary, I suggest a visit to the Crystal Palace Gardens, which is one of the most beautiful green spaces in the city.

Another great activity is to walk around the Arrábida neighborhood, which has much more than just one of the most picturesque bridges in Portugal.

Crystal Palace Gardens

Porto is a tangle of interwoven alleys that create a beautiful city atmosphere, but leave little room for green space, so the presence of the Crystal Palace Gardens in an area close to the center is good news for those looking for a space to rest, relax, take pictures and have lunch.

These gardens are built around the now defunct Crystal Palace, which was built in the nineteenth century for an International Exhibition, emulating the Crystal Palace in London. In them you can find camellias, fountains, sculptures, artificial lakes and a public library.

It is also very close to some of Porto' s best museums, such as the National Museum of Art or the World of Discoveries theme museum, which explores the history of Portuguese navigators.

The Crystal Palace Gardens are an ideal visit for you to relax during your last day in Porto or to take a break from visiting the museums. You can get there from Sao Bento by bus lines 200, 302 and 501. Admission is free.

Arrábida district and Casa da Música (House of Music)

The Arrábida district is known for the reinforced concrete bridge that is one of the largest in the world and one of the six that cross the Douro.

In addition, it is also worth touring it to see the 19th century houses that make it one of the most exclusive areas of Porto, far from the bohemian Vitoria or the picturesque medieval houses of the riverside.

The Arrábida is also home to the Casa da Música, an eclectic concert hall that revolutionized the city with its design and helped make Porto an icon of contemporary architecture.

This building, with a polyhedral layout that breaks the canons of traditional music halls, will catch your attention from the Rotunda of Boavista, which serves as the stalls.

Say goodbye to Oporto savoring its exquisite flavors

Oporto will delight your eyes but also your palate, because in addition to wonderful landscapes, it has one of the best gastronomies in Europe.

Its typical dishes are as varied as exquisite and include from some simple tapas such as cod fritters or grilled sardines to more elaborate and traditional dishes such as octopus with green sauce, aletria or francesinha, a delicious sandwich with bechamel sauce.

You can accompany any meal in the city with a port wine or any other variety. For dessert I recommend natas or Belem cakes, which are very common in Lisbon and have their own local variant, but which will be ideal for you to say goodbye to Porto with the exquisite taste of its sweets.

Daily summary of activities

  • Day 1
  • Historical tour of Porto
  • Route of the Churches
  • Lunch at the Market
  • Viewpoint of Vitoria
  • Don Luis I Bridge
  • Day 2
  • Walk through Gaia
  • Avenue of the Allies
  • Cais da Ribeira
  • Hill Garden
  • Tasting and dinner at a winery
  • Day 3
  • Boat trip and Atlantic coast
  • Excursion on the Douro River
  • Felgueiras lighthouse
  • Matosinho beach
  • Fado concert
  • Day 4
  • Last day in Porto
  • Crystal Palace Gardens
  • Arrábida district
  • House of Music
  • Tasting of typical dishes