Perfect One Day in Porto Itinerary: Everything to See & Eat

Porto is known for several things: the production of port wine, being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and beautiful city views from the Douro River. Even though it’s Portugal’s second largest city after Lisbon, Porto is actually quite small and compact. This makes it easy to experience a lot of the best things to do in Porto in 24 hours.

With this complete one-day Porto itinerary, you’ll see all the major attractions and try some of the best food and drink that Porto has to offer. I’ve also added all of the places mentioned in this itinerary to the map below so that you can easily plan out your route for the day.

Get a light breakfast

Breakfast is simple and light in Portugal – usually consisting of coffee and bread or a pastry. This is a great time to try pastel de nata or Portuguese egg custard tarts. These creamy, flaky tarts are a must when you’re in Portugal, and you’ll discover that eating just one is never enough. Here are some of the places to get the best pastel de natas in Porto:

If you’ve already had plenty of pastel de natas and want to try some other Portuguese pastries, head to Confeitaria do Bolhão, a historic bakery founded in 1896.

See the highlights on a walking tour or on your own

The easiest way to see the highlights of Porto is to join a walking tour, and there are many that are free. I recommend SANDEMANs, which offers free tours in many European cities, and Porto Walkers. Walking tours are usually 2.5 to three hours and start in the morning or early afternoon. If you choose this option, make sure to reserve in advance. Also, while these tours are offered for free, they’re actually tip-based, so make sure you have some cash on hand to tip your guide at the end of the tour.

While walking tours are great for getting information about each sight, learning about the city, and even getting local recommendations, you can also do it yourself. To tour Porto on your own, here are the places to see.

Porto City Hall

Starting from the north, the Porto City Hall towers over an open plaza containing a blue “Porto” sign and a monument of the poet Almeida Garrett. Construction began in 1920 and finished in 1955, with a clock tower that stands in the center.

Igreja do Carmo

From the city hall, start making your way south to Igreja do Carmo. The church is a national monument that draws visitors in with its stunning blue and white azulejo tiles. What looks like one church is actually two, as the Igreja do Carmelitas stands next to the Igreja do Carmo and the two are separated by a narrow three-foot wide house.

While it’s free to visit the church, it costs €3.50 to see the house, catacombs, Noble Hall, Hall of Paramounts, and sacristy. The church is closed to the public during mass.

Torre dos Clérigos

Torre dos Clérigos is the 75 meter bell tower of the Clérigos Church. It’s a distinctive landmark of Porto and is one of the many fantastic pieces of baroque architecture designed by the Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni. You can climb up the tower for panoramic views of the city by buying your ticket online or in person, and your ticket includes access to the Clérigos Museum too.

São Bento Train Station

The São Bento Train Station is described as one of the most beautiful train stations in the world, and it definitely delivers on that. The floor-to-ceiling windowed arches let in an enormous amount of sunlight that illuminates the 22,000 blue and white azulejo tiles that cover the walls. These tiles depict Porto’s history, so take your time looking at all the details. As amazing as these tiles are, be sure to also look up at the ceiling, which is flooded in a beautiful, sunny yellow color.

Porto Cathedral

Also called the Sé do Porto, the city’s cathedral is a beautiful example of Roman, gothic, and baroque architecture. While you can simply admire the cathedral from the outside, you can go inside for a small fee to see its towers, cloisters, and blue and white tiled walls.

The Ribeira neighborhood

The historic Ribeira district is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the riverbank of the Douro River. You’ll find a maze of cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and lots of restaurants and shops. No visit to Porto would be complete without a wander through the Ribeira.

Ladies walking down steep stone steps into the Ribeira neighborhood in Porto
Steep stone steps leading to the Ribeira neighborhood

Grab lunch

There are lots of options for lunch in Porto. An obvious one is Mercado do Bolhão, which is a market with fresh produce and restuarants that spans an entire block. You can easily make a meal out of many small bites and snacks, or you can sit down at one of the market’s 10 restaurants for a proper meal. The marketplace is also a convenient place to pick up some delicious items to take home with you.

If you’ve decided to follow the DIY tour, you’ll end in the Ribeira neighborhood. Pregar is on the outskirts of the Ribeira and only a six-minute walk from the Porto Cathedral. The casual restaurant specializes in pregos or steak sandwiches, which are topped with a variety of ingredients, including mustard, cheese, bacon, and cassava crumble. Aside from these sandwiches, you’ll also find hamburgers, appetizers, desserts, and a large selection of drinks.

For an authentic lunch at an iconic spot that Anthony Bourdain visited, head to Cervejaria Gazela for its famous cachorrinho or Portuguese hot dog. These aren’t like American hot dogs. Instead, sausage and melted cheese is stuffed between crusty bread and dressed with a spicy sauce. Be sure to pair your cachorrinho with a cold beer. Cervejaria Gazela also serves other Portuguese classics like steak, francesinha, and pica pau.

Discover some beautiful photo opportunities

After lunch, continue to discover some of the best spots in Porto that are also incredibly photogenic. Your first stop is Livraria Lello, which is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal and one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. Its iconic curved staircase, colorful stained glass window, carved arches, and wood balusters create a photo-worthy backdrop that feels like it belongs in Harry Potter. Due to its popularity, you need to purchase a ticket in order to enter. The cheapest ticket is €8, and the cost of the ticket can be used toward the purchase of a book. Since it’s not free, it’s only worth entering the bookstore if you want to take photos or buy a book.

Porto has several small parks and gardens, and luckily, there are three that are clustered close together. South of the Igreja do Carmo are Jardim da Cordoaria and Parque das Virtudes. A bit farther out is Jardins do Palácio de Cristal or Crystal Palace Gardens, which is the most beautiful of these three. The landscaped gardens have fountains, shrub-lined walkways, and a wonderful view of the Douro River.

Lastly, stop by Miradouro da Vitória for spectacular views over the city and Douro River. You’ll be able to see the Luís I Bridge, Porto Cathedral, and Vila Nova de Gaia on the other side of the river.

Go port tasting

The afternoon is the perfect time for a port wine tasting. Port production and cellars are concentrated in Vila Nova de Gaia, which is on the other side of the Douro River. To cross the river, you can either walk across the top or bottom deck of the Luís I Bridge. I recommend choosing the top deck for better views of the river and the city.

Avenida de Diogo Leite, which runs along the river, has lots of places that you can simply walk up to for a cheap port tasting. This is your best option if you didn’t make reservations for a proper tasting and tour at a cellar in advance. Unfortunately, you won’t get the information that a guide can provide, but you’ll still be able to try several types of port wine.

You can also get a top-notch tasting experience at the Vasques De Carvalho tasting room, which is just off of Avenida de Diogo Leite and doesn’t require reservations. Expect attentive service and informative explanations in an intimate space. There’s even a small courtyard for enjoying your port outside.

If you’re reading this before you reach Porto, here are some of the best port cellars to reserve a tasting and tour at:

  • Adriano Ramos Pinto – Reservations are not accepted, but you should check their schedule for when tours are offered in different languages. You can also stop by for a tasting without taking a tour.
  • Graham’s Port Lodge – Graham’s Port dates all the way back to 1820 and is known for its vintage ports. They offer a variety of tours and tastings at different price points, including private tours. Book in advance on their website.
  • Porto Augusto’s – This small, family-owned port cellar takes reservations online. Same-day reservations are not accepted through their website.
  • Taylor’s Port – Buy your ticket in advance on their website. Your ticket includes access to a self-guided audio tour of their cellars and a tasting of two wines.

Indulge in Portuguese or international dishes for dinner

Top down view of a francesinha sandwich, with an egg on top and fries surrounding it, at Cafe Santiago
Francesinha with an egg on top at Café Santiago

After port tasting, make your way back across the Luís I Bridge. Enjoy the view of Porto and take many photos along the way! Depending on when you decide to walk over, you can also watch the sunset bathe the city in a warm glow.

With so many great restaurants in Porto, it can be difficult to choose where to have your last meal. To help you narrow it down, here are some of the best restaurants.

Another iconic Porto dish is the francesinha, a sandwich with layers of meat that’s topped with melted cheese and a savory tomato sauce. You can also get it topped with an egg, and it usually comes with a side of fries. The francesinha is an absolute must-try in Porto. While there are many great places to order one, Café Santiago is one of the most well-known. If Café Santiago is full, head just a few doors down to Lado B Café – another top spot for francesinhas. Be warned that francesinhas are heavy sandwiches, so you may want to split one with someone else.

Near the city hall is Taxca, an unassuming tavern that serves Portuguese dishes. Their snacks or small plates range from €4 to €15 and include codfish cakes, Portuguese sausage, and pica pau, which translates to woodpecker and consists of small pieces of fried meat, gravy, olives, and pickled carrots and cauliflower. They also offer sandwiches and soups. Taxca is best for a casual dinner where you can sample a lot of different food and fill up on beer. Before arriving, make sure you have cash, since Taxca doesn’t accept credit card.

For a nicer dinner, MISTU is a modern, airy restaurant that features international flavors, creative dishes, and excellent cocktails. Their menu is separated into warm and cold dishes, plus desserts. Everything is a work of art, with vibrant colors and fresh ingredients carefully plated.

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Perfect One Day Porto Itinerary: Everything to See and Eat