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One Day in Porto Itinerary: Explore Porto in a day

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Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city and one of Europe’s most charming destinations. Situated on the Douro River, Porto is known for its stunning architecture, vibrant culture, and delicious food and wine. In this one day in Porto itinerary, you will explore the city’s many sights, including the Cathedral of Porto, the Palacio da Bolsa, and the São Bento Railway Station. 

Plus you can also enjoy some of Porto’s legendary port wine while in town!

One Day in Porto Itinerary: Explore Portugal’s Second City

Girl at the Jardim do Morro exploring Porto in a day. One day in Porto itinerary
Stunning views of Porto from Jardim do Morro: How to spend one day in Porto itinerary guide

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If you’re looking for a European city that’s brimming with charm, look no further than Porto. Situated on the Douro River, this Portuguese destination is known for its stunning architecture, vibrant culture, and delicious food and wine. 

Here are some of the things to do in Porto in a day

Porto in one day itinerary: Explore Porto in 24 hours

  • Visit the Porto Cathedral
  • Go on a TukTuk Tour
  • Check out Livraria Lello Bookstore
  • Explore the rooms of Palacio da Bolsa or Bolsa Palace
  • Visit Igreja de São Francisco
  • Stroll the Ribeira 
  • Go on a Douro River Cruise on a traditional boat
  • Walk across the Dom Luis I Bridge
  • Wine tasting at Burmester 
  • Watch a fado show

Planning your trip to Porto Portugal

Porto is located in northern Portugal. When traveling from North America, it would make sense to fly down to Lisbon, the capital city, and then take a high speed Alfa Pendular train to get to Porto.

Read: Portugal itinerary 8 days | 2 weeks in Portugal itinerary

Getting to Porto and commuting 

Lisbon to Porto is about 3 hours by train. The route is pretty scenic and it also makes quick stops at Coimbra and Aveiro. 

Due to the existence of the high-speed trains, and their flexibility, many visitors also explore Porto on a day trip from Lisbon, and yes it is totally doable. 

You can take the first train from Lisbon (from either Oriente or Santa Apolonia station) in the morning at around 6:30 am and return by the last train (08:30 pm from Porto’s Campanha or Sao Bento station). 

Porto is a very walkable city, and you can easily explore its many sights and neighborhoods on foot. This way, you can really take in all the stunning architecture and vibrancy of the city. 

Because you only have a day in Porto, we recommend taking a cruise, tram ride, and a TukTuk to make the most of your visit. We will share our tips below so that you can incorporate these experiences into your Porto itinerary.

Where to stay in Porto overnight?

A full day in Porto will be excellent for sightseeing. If you need a place to stay overnight here are a few options. 

  • Mercure Porto Centro Santa Catarina: This is a lovely 4-star hotel in the old city center. There is a restaurant onsite (with views), and their cuisine is excellent. Rooms are of decent size and well-equipped. Book your stay at the Mercure Porto Centro Santa Catarina
  • Oporto Street Miragaia Riverside Suites: The riverfront setting of this property gives this apart-hotel a uniquely romantic air. The Riberia and the Porto Cathedral are within walking distance. The hotel is close to a tram and bus station. The host was super nice as well! Check availability and book a suite here

Staying in a centrally-located hotel or Airbnb will allow you to walk to most of the city’s attractions. Porto has an Upper and Lower level, and there are inclined areas, and stairways connecting both levels.

If you plan to use public transport, then opt for a Porto Card. Porto Card comes packed with various features including free access to 6 museums. 

And it also offers reduced entry from 10% to 50% to many museums and attractions in Porto (such as Porto Cathedral, Stock Exchange Palace, Clerigos Tower, etc). 

You can also get discounts on wine cellar tours (up to 50%). For transportation, you ride free on the Porto metro and STCP buses. However, it doesn’t include the Porto tram. 

Porto Card:

  • One Day Porto Card: It offers free travel on public transport for 24 hours after the first validation.
  • It is also available for Two Days (valid for 48 hours), Three or Four Days (up to 96 hours of free transportation and entry discounts. 
  • Walker One Day: You can also buy a walker pass that includes discounts on museum entrance etc.

You can buy your Porto Card here!

When planning your trip, keep in mind that the best time to visit Porto is between April and October when the weather is milder. 

November to March can be quite cold and rainy. Also, be sure to pack comfortable shoes as you’ll want to do a lot of walking around this beautiful city!

One day in Porto Itinerary: Things to do in Porto in a day

Start your day in Porto with the most iconic spots and include some amazing experiences throughout the day,

Visit the Porto Cathedral

The Cathedral of Porto, more commonly known as the Sé, is one of the city’s most iconic and popular tourist attractions. The imposing Gothic building is located in the historic centre of Porto and overlooks the River Douro. 

It is one of the oldest cathedrals in Portugal, dating back to the 12th century, and is one of the most important Romanesque monuments in the country. 

If you’re visiting Porto for the first time, a stop at the Cathedral of Porto is a must. The exterior of the cathedral is stunning, with its ornate Gothic facade and twin towers. 

The interior is just as impressive, with a beautiful nave and an altar adorned with gold and silver. 

The cathedral also has a small museum that houses some of the original 12th-century Romanesque sculptures that were once part of the cathedral. The famous cloisters are beautifully tiled with the Porto blue tiles or Azulejo. 

We went to Porto Cathedral by climbing up from the city’s lower reaches. You must not overlook this area surrounding the cathedral, as you can get some incredible photographs and absorb the views of Porto’s colorful houses.

The large square around the Cathedral was the seat of trade in the Middle Ages. You will be welcomed to city views and an equestrian statue of Vímara Peres at the square. 

A visit to the Cathedral of Porto is a great way to learn about the city’s history and culture. The cathedral is one of the most important landmarks in Porto and is a must-see for any visitor to the city.

Hours and tickets: The cathedral is open to visitors every day from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm, and admission is free.

Go on a TukTuk Tour

Right outside the Porto Cathedral, you will find TukTuks. They are an easy and fun way to check off major city attractions on a short visit. I booked a history TukTuk tour on my solo trip to Porto, and really enjoyed the experience.

The tour guide also stopped at major sites and viewpoints which allowed me to take photos and spend some time getting acquainted with the city’s corners. 

The experience lasted 2 hours, and during the tour, a sample of port wine was also offered. I highly recommend this tour if you are pressed for time. Plus it was really a fun way to see the city of Porto (without walking much). 

Hours and tickets: You can choose from a morning, day, or sunset cruise for the TukTuk ride. Meeting points might vary. This is the TukTuk tour I booked on GetYourGuide and it started at the cathedral meeting point.  

Visit the most beautiful bookstore in the World – Livraria Lello 

Livraria Lello is one of the most iconic bookstores in Portugal. It is known as the world’s most beautiful bookshop. The store has been open since 1881 and is known for its beautiful interior design. 

Livraria Lello is located in the center of Porto and is a must-visit for any book lover. Spend an hour browsing the shelves and picking out a few new releases. 

Keep in mind there are LONGGGG line-ups to get to the bookstore. We recommend getting a priority ticket for the day for your visit, that way you don’t have to wait forever. 

During my solo visit, I got a 15 euro priority ticket on their website, and I was allowed in right away. Inside the bookstore, it was busy and crowded though. 

For the value of the ticket, you can also grab a book (for that amount) and bring it back as a lovely souvenir!

Hours and tickets: The bookshop is open from 09:00 am to 07:00 pm, and your tickets are valid for the day. Tickets can be purchased on their website

Afterward, head to one of Porto’s many cafes for a traditional Portuguese pastry or a snack and a cup of coffee. There are cafes in and around the bookstore for you to hang out. 

Check out the stunning rooms at Palácio da Bolsa

Palácio da Bolsa is one of the most beautiful and historic buildings in Porto. It was built in the 19th century to be the Stock Exchange Palace, and today it is home to the city’s Chamber of Commerce. 

If you are interested in learning more about the history of the Palácio da Bolsa and the Porto Stock Exchange, be sure to take one of the guided tours.

The tour includes a visit to the Stock Exchange Room, where you can see the original furniture and learn about the role of the Porto Stock Exchange in the city’s history. 

You will also get to see the Palácio da Bolsa’s magnificent Grand Hall, which is decorated with intricate art and chandeliers!

We recommend booking a ticket online – you can use GetYourGuide, or your Porto Card (for a discount). The ticket will be valid for one day. 

On the day of the guided tour, visit the Bolsa Palace first to confirm at what time the tour will take place in your preferred language. As for me, I wanted to visit the palace when the gates opened, but no English-speaking guide was available. 

And the next option was to come in at 11:00 am (2 hours after I planned), so we recommend checking the time first (or just call them before you get there).

Hours and tickets: The Palácio da Bolsa is open every day from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm. Guided tours are available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and they last for 30 minutes. Admission tickets here.

Head to the Church of Sao Francisco

If you’re visiting Porto for one day, make sure to include a visit to the Monument Church of St Francis in your itinerary. This spectacular church is one of the city’s most important religious landmarks, and it’s well worth taking the time to explore.

It is just a quick walk from the Bolsa Palace.

The church was built in the early 13th century, and it’s a prime example of Gothic architecture. The exterior is covered in beautifully carved stone, and the interior is just as impressive. 

Be sure to take a look at the stunning stained glass windows and the imposing organ.

The interiors have stunning gilded baroque columns and altars. There are three big naves that are all gold-plated. It is estimated that over 650 pounds of gold were used to cover the entire church.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Hours and tickets: The church has a different timing depending on the month of your visit. 

  • from November to February: 9:00 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.
  • from March to October: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • from July to September: 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Access is paid, and it is 7.50 euros for adults. With the Porto Card, it is 25% off. 

From the Church of São Francisco, it is a short walk to Ribeira. From the street, you will also find a McDonald’s and some cafes, plus a tram station, with connections to different parts of the city. 

Enjoy the Ribeira by cruising on a traditional sightseeing boat

Riberia is the historic center of Porto and the site of many of its most important landmarks. It is located on the right bank of the Douro River, just across from the city’s more modern center on the left bank. 

Riberia was once a separate borough, but it has been incorporated into the city proper since 1822.

Ribeira is home to many of Porto ‘s most iconic landmarks, including the Palacio da Bolsa, the Igreja de São Francisco, and the Torre dos Clérigos. It is also the site of Porto’s main square, Praça da Ribeira, which is a popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike.

Praça da Ribeira is lined with cafes, restaurants, and bars. This place is perfect for people-watching and soaking in the river views and bridges. What you see across the river is Vile Nova de Gaia, home to wine cellars.

At Riberia, you can hop on a sightseeing cruise (the last trip leaves at 6:00 pm) that takes you along the route of the old Rabelo boats on the Douro River. This is a great opportunity to learn about the 6 bridges of Porto, and its history. 

Traditional boats also have a covered area, in case it rains, or if it’s too warm to sit on the top deck. 

Tickets: Here is the boat tour I booked

Walk across Dom Luis I Bridge

The Dom Luis I Bridge is a bridge that spans the Douro River between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. The bridge is one of the most distinctive landmarks in Porto and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The bridge is a double-deck one and was designed by Téophile Seyrig, who was a disciple of Gustave Eiffel (Eiffel Tower fame). The bridge was completed in 1886. 

The lower deck carries a roadway and the upper deck carries a railway line. From the top of the bridge, you’ll get sweeping views of the cityscape and the river below. 

If you’re visiting during the summer months, you can also take a leisurely stroll along the pedestrian walkway on the lower deck of the bridge. 

Walk across the bridge, and you will be in Vila Nova de Gaia. 

Go port wine tasting at one of the cellars

Port wine is a fortified wine that originates from the city of Porto in Portugal. And when in the city, you got to visit one of the wine cellars. 

A Douro Valley tour is always an option, but when you only have limited time and just one day in Porto, this one-hour wine tasting experience is excellent.

Port wine has a long history dating back to the 18th century. Once you cross the bridge over to Vila Nova de Gaia, you will see a cellar on your left. That’s Burmester, and it is one of the oldest and most renowned port wine cellars in Porto. 

Founded in 1750, Burmester has been producing high-quality port wines for over 250 years. Their port wines are some of the most respected and sought-after in the world. 

You can book an hour’s cellar tour with wine tasting. When booking this experience you can opt for premium add-ons like chocolate or cheese pairings.

These cellars produce a wide range of ports, from classic ruby and tawny styles to rare vintage and colheita (aged) ports. 

Visitors to the cellars can taste and learn about all of these different styles of port, as well as purchase bottles to take home.

Hours and tickets: The cellars are open for tours and tastings every day from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Here is the one hour tour to book (the tour is conducted in several languages).

Watch a fado show with Port wine or visit Mercado do Bolhão

We have two options for you to end sightseeing in Porto. One is to watch a fado show (if you have never done that in Portugal) or head to one of the traditional markets in Porto. 

Watch a fado show:

Fado is a type of Portuguese music that is known for its melancholic and emotive lyrics. The music is often compared to the blues, as it deals with similar themes of love, loss, and yearning.

If you’re interested in seeing a fado show during your trip to Porto, you can do so near the Ribeira (after crossing the bridge back to this side of the Douro River). Most shows last for around an hour and they also offer a glass of port wine. 

The tickets are also reasonably priced.

Tickets: Here is a ticket to your fado show in Porto Ribeira

Alternate option: Bolhao Market

Enjoy a lovely stroll along the Avenida dos Aliados, and check out the City Hall, and then stop at the Bolhao market. 

The Bolhao market is one of the most popular markets in Portugal. It is located in the city center of Porto and it is a great place to buy fresh produce, seafood, and other goods. 

The market opened in 1912, and it has been a major part of the city’s economy ever since. Every day, the market is filled with locals and tourists alike who come to shop for the best produce in town. 

If you’re looking for a truly authentic Portugal experience, then a visit to the Bolhao market is a must.

Other things to add or swap to your one day Porto itinerary

There are more things to do in Porto than what can fit in a day. So we have rounded up some of our favorites and you can swap them for any of the Porto attractions above,

Climb the Clerigos Tower

The Clerigos Tower is an iconic landmark in Porto. This 76-meter-tall bell tower is a prime example of Baroque architecture dating back to the 1750s. You can access the tower’s viewing platform via a narrow staircase of 240 steps. 

The climb is well worth the effort to get a great view over Porto. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. 

The Clerigos Tower is definitely a must-see for anyone visiting Porto. You can switch the Bolsa Palace or Livraria Lello for the tower. 

Tickets: Here is an entry ticket

São Bento Train Station 

When you arrive in Porto, or leave you will most likely be at the Sao Bento Train Station. The train station has some of the stunning work of blue tiles aka Azulejos so it is worth entering the train station for the artwork itself. 

Jardins do Palácio de Cristal

The Jardins do Palácio de Cristal are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Porto. 

These beautiful gardens were built in 1864 and are located on a hillside overlooking the city.

The gardens feature a variety of plant life, as well as fountains, and sculptures. Visitors can also enjoy breathtaking views of Porto from the gardens.

If you’re looking for a place to relax and take in the sights of Porto, the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal are a must-visit. They are open 24 hours, so you can explore it in the evening for sunset views!

Beaches of Porto

When in Porto, you are just a short bus (or car) ride away from sandy beaches. Matosinhos is a fishing town in the north of Porto, and in 15 minutes you can be surfing and bodyboarding here. 

Praia do Carneiro, a tiny windswept beach with the Farol de Felgueiras lighthouse at one end and the 16th-century Fortaleza de São João da Foz fortification at the other, is located near the entrance to the River Douro. 

The beach serves as an excellent jumping-off point for a stroll along Porto’s gorgeous seaside, particularly on stormy days when waves crash against the lighthouse.

Porto one day itinerary sightseeing map

Day trips from Porto Portugal

Excited to spend more time in Porto? You can add a few day trips from the city. With a plethora of trains and good road connectivity, you can visit many pretty historical cities close to Porto.

  • Douro Valley day tour: A trip to Porto wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Douro Valley. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Portugal’s most stunning regions and is home to some of the country’s best wines. There are many ways to explore the Douro Valley, but one of the most popular is by taking a full day tour that includes a river cruise, and wine tasting.
  • Aveiro and Costa Nova: Aveiro is known for its art nouveau history and canals. About 15 minutes from here is the beautiful coastal town of Costa Nova. If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation spot with plenty of things to see and do, then Aveiro Portugal is the perfect place for you.
  • Braga: Braga is a historic city in Portugal that is known for its beautiful architecture and rich culture. The city is home to numerous churches, cathedrals, and monasteries, as well as a number of museums and art galleries. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can book a combined trip to Braga and Guimaraes here

Porto Travel Tips: 

Portugal has a minimal passport requirement and offers visa-free access to the United States and Canada.

Visitors holding the USA and Canadian passports do not require a visa to enter the country and stay for 90 days; however from 2023, an online authorization – ETIAS – is required prior to travel. 

Non-visa exempt passport holders must have a Schengen Visa before entering Portugal.

Portugal is a European Union member and uses euros as its official currency. 

In Porto, you can use credit cards, but cash is always a good idea to keep for accommodation, city tax, tips, and for paying at restaurants. 

And don’t forget to get travel insurance for medical issues, cancellations, and trip delays. If you need travel insurance, you can ask for free quotes from World Nomads here.

Is one day enough in Porto?

One day is definitely not enough time to see everything that Porto has to offer. However, if you plan your itinerary carefully, you can make the most of your time in this historic city. 

We recommend spending at least 2 full days in Porto to check off all that the city has to offer. This way you can immerse yourself in the beauty of the city, and also hit all the prime attractions in Porto.

What is there to do in Porto for 24 hours?

Make the most of your 24 hours in Porto, by visiting the following spots

Visit the Porto Cathedral
Go on a TukTuk Tour
Check out Livraria Lello Bookstore
Explore the rooms of Palacio da Bolsa or Bolsa Palace
Visit Igreja de São Francisco
Stroll the Ribeira 
Go on a Douro River Cruise on a traditional boat
Walk across the Dom Luis I Bridge
Wine tasting at Burmester 
Watch a fado show

Is Porto worth a day trip from Lisbon?

A day trip from Lisbon to Porto is really feasible and well worth the effort. Take the high-speed train to get to Porto in 3 hours (the earliest train leaves at 6:30 am). Porto is compact and can be explored in a day (with selected attractions) and then take the return train at 8:00 pm. 

Is Porto or Lisbon better?

Both are great in their own ways. Lisbon has more tourist attractions, sights, and museums and it is the capital city of Portugal. It is a very charming destination. 

Porto is a great contrast to Lisbon. It is smaller, and unlike Lisbon, which was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake, Porto was spared. Thus it still has many of its historical buildings and layout intact. 

Porto has cathedrals and unique spots like the Harry Potter bookstore, Port wine tasting, and stunning views in a compact area! And everything is within walking distance. 

Do you need a car in Porto?

A car is not needed in Porto. You can easily walk to various attractions, or catch the tram, tuk-tuk, or train.  

Is Porto a walkable city?

Porto is small, walkable, and heavy on the charm. The city has colorful buildings, narrow winding lanes, river banks and bridges, and neighborhoods lined with cafés, castles, historic churches, and plenty of wine.

Is there a beach in Porto?

Yes, there are beaches within the city limits of Porto. 

Is Porto Portugal expensive?

Porto is one of the most affordable cities in Western Europe, and when compared to other city breaks, Porto offers outstanding value for money.

Is Porto worth visiting?

Porto is one of Europe’s most popular destinations right now, and for excellent reasons. Its Old Town along the beautiful Douro River, with six bridges and ancient buildings, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The city is very charming, it is hard to not like or enjoy its stunning views, colorful facades, blue tile-laced buildings, and its famous Port wine. Plus Porto is very very affordable!

Around Porto, you’ll find spectacular Beaux-Arts and Baroque churches, palaces, and other structures.

Whether you’re interested in exploring Portugal’s second-largest city or sampling its delicious food and wine, be sure to add Porto to your travel itinerary. This charming European destination will surely win your heart. 

This charming destination will not disappoint!

Read our Portugal travel guides:

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