Europe » Portugal » Spending 1-Day In Porto: Itinerary and Tips For Food, Drink and Activities

Spending 1-Day In Porto: Itinerary and Tips For Food, Drink and Activities

From amazing sights and authentic Portugese food, to fun activities and sipping Port by the Douro River, spend 24 hours in Porto with me.

Porto is one of Europe’s secret treasures. Located three hours north of Lisbon, I adore this vibrant city! It’s absolutely spectacular. Overlooking the Douro Valley, Porto is packed with culture, history and, of course, is home to the world-famous port wine.

Enjoying 1 day in Porto
I’m going to share how to spend 1 day in Porto

One of the things I love most about Porto (and I think you will too!) is how compact it is. It’s the kind of city that’s really easy to get around on foot, so you don’t have to worry about transport.

Boats on the Douro River in Porto
Boats on the Douro River in Porto

From the heights of Clérigos Tower, down to the cool street scene of Massarelos, each corner of this charming UNESCO World Heritage city tells a story. You’re probably reading this blog because you’re short on time and only have 1 day in Porto. Well, don’t panic. You’ll still be able to cram lots in.

Are you ready to explore? I hope these tips will help you to make the most of your time in this wonderful Portuguese city!

I loved taking photos in Porto
I loved taking photos in Porto – it’s such a photogenic city!

How to get around Porto

Like many old cities, when you first arrive in Porto you might feel like it’s a bit of a jumble of small streets. I’d suggest being armed with Google Maps to navigate your way easily around the city’s narrow lanes. Whether you’re trying to find the quickest route from the Douro River up to the bustling Ribeira district, or looking for the best cafes around the Livraria Lello, you won’t want to waste a second if you’ve only got 24 hours in Porto.

Another great tip is to pick up a Porto Card. You can pick up a 1-day Porto card to fit with your short break. These cards give you unlimited access to the city’s public transport system as well as free or discounted access to many of Porto’s top attractions.  

Spending 24 hours in Porto
Are you planning to spend 24 hours in Porto? I’ve got lots of tips for you

How To Spend 24 Hours In Porto

Spending a morning in Porto

If this is your first time in Porto, I’d recommend kickstarting your day is with a stroll through the Ribeira District. I love this picturesque neighbourhood, with its colourful tiled houses and narrow streets. There are so many photo ops around here, with postcard-like views over the Douro.

Ribeira Square is one of the most colourful squares in Porto
Ribeira Square is one of the most colourful squares in Porto

This is also an amazing part of town to indulge in a traditional Portuguese breakfast while you soak up the atmosphere. One of my favourite cafes in Ribeira is My Coffee. Grab a seat out on the terrace overlooking the river as you munch on Pao de Deus (literally “the bread of God”) stuffed with cheese and ham.

Or, if you have a sweet tooth, you’ve simply got to load up on a pasteis de nata (Portugal’s amazing custard tarts). Pretty much every time I go to Portugal, I come back a bit heavier from eating so many nata tarts!

Nata tart in Porto
Don’t mind me, just eating my body weight in nata tarts in Porto

After breakfast, wander down to the edge of the Douro River for a morning cruise along the river. One of the coolest things about this trip, is that the boat you travel on was once used to transport barrels of port wine!

On the cruise, you’ll pass beneath the six bridges that span the river and connect Vila Nova de Gaia — the southern part of Porto.

Pretty tiled buildings in the Ribeira District, Porto
Pretty tiled buildings in the Ribeira District, Porto

Obviously, there’s a big element to any trip to Porto, and that’s connected to the wine. Walk across the Dom Luís I bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia, and you can join a wine-tasting tour of the cellars and warehouses located in this colourful part of the city.

If port is your big reason for visiting Porto, the option would be to set off on a full-day wine region tour of the Douro Valley. These tours are lovely as they include lunch and visits to numerous vineyards and cellars. 

Dom Luís I Bridge in Porto
The iconic Dom Luís I Bridge in Porto

Lunchtime in Porto

For lunch, I’d suggest stopping at one of the riverside restaurants in the Gaia District. One of my top picks around here is Ar de Rio (which translates as River Air) which frames the beautiful view with its floor-to-ceiling windows. 

Here, you can enjoy traditional dishes like bacalhau (salt cod) or munch on a francesinha, the legendary Porto sandwich of hot meats covered with a tomato and beer sauce. It sounds heavy but believe me, it’s yummy! And, of course, you’ll want to wash it all down with a glass or two of wine made in the Douro Valley wine. What’s not to love about that?!

Francesinha sandwich
You should definitely try the francesinha sandwich in Porto
Enjoying a glass of port overlooking Vila Nova de Gaia
Enjoying a glass of port overlooking Vila Nova de Gaia

Spending the afternoon in Porto

Once you tear yourself away from your lunch spot, it’s time to head to Livraria Lello. This is often described as one of the world’s most beautiful bookshops and there’s even a rumour that it inspired the Harry Potter books. I’ll warn you, this isn’t a ‘hidden gem’ despite how some may write about it! It gets insanely busy, but it’s worth a look if you have time. You’ll need to buy a ticket to enter (usually starting from 8 EUR), but the price can be redeemed against a book of your choice.

Livraria Lello bookshop in Porto
Livraria Lello bookshop in Porto is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world

Behind the Lello bookstore’s stunning neo-Gothic facade you’ll discover an amazing red staircase leading up to several floors of books where you can browse to your heart’s content.

A short walk from the Livraria Lello is the Torre dos Clérigos. The tower is part of the Igreja dos Clérigos (Church of the Clerics) and if you climb to the top of the tower via the steep spiral staircase you’ll see one of the best views of Porto. 

Clérigos Tower / Torre Dos Clerigos
Clérigos Tower (Torre Dos Clerigos) offers amazing views of the city

Another of Porto’s grandest buildings is the São Bento Train Station. This is easily the most stunning station I’ve seen on my travels, not just in Portugal but possibly the world!

Located right in the heart of the city, its atrium boasts an astonishing twenty thousand hand-painted tiles, each narrating Portugal’s rich history, from historic battles to royal visits. Even if you’re not planning to catch a train, this amazing place is definitely worth a look.  

São Bento Train Station in Porto
The pretty tiles of São Bento Train Station in Porto

Not far from São Bento station is the imposing Porto Cathedral. With its twin square towers and plain facade, the church may not look like much from the outside. But, as seems to be the trend with a lot of Porto’s architecture… when you step into the nave you’ll be blown away by the exquisite blue murals and golden ceilings!

If your feet are getting a bit tired from all the walking, you could look at tours of the city by electric tuk-tuk. These compact vehicles hold four passengers and quietly make their way up and down Porto’s steep streets with ease. I’d definitely recommend these in the warmer months. It’s a really enjoyable way to see the city’s sights, without working up a sweat!

Spending the evening in Porto

After a busy day exploring the city, it’s time to round off this Porto itinerary with more of the city’s fine food and wine. There are tons of great eateries to choose from, such as Taberna dos Mercadores, tucked away on a tiny street in Ribeira, where you’ll find a tasty array of Portuguese comfort food. 

I'd recommend Taberna dos Mercadores for dinner in Porto
I’d recommend Taberna dos Mercadores for dinner in Porto

For some after-dinner entertainment, I’d suggest booking a live Fado show. These shows, featuring Portugal’s soul-stirring Fado music, are best experienced in the intimate setting of a traditional Porto wine cellar. Sip a glass of port (it seems the wine is a theme to this itinerary!) and lose yourself as the melodies weave stories of love, loss and longing.  

Fado Show
Try to catch a Fado Show

And, if your heart can stand any more romance, you can always wander down to the banks of the Douro River for one last view of the city lights and the bridges lit up at night.

Porto at night
I think Porto is even more magical at night with all the lights

Even with just 24 hours in Porto, you can still experience the essence of this special city. From the historic Ribeira district to the heights of the Clérigos Tower, I hope this Porto itinerary helps you make the most of your time in the city.

If you’re looking for any other tips for your time in Portugal, don’t miss these guides:

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1 day in Porto itinerary

With a passion for food, fun and adventure, Chloe is the content creator behind one of the UK's top travel blogs Wanderlust Chloe. From volcano boarding in Nicaragua, to sailing around Sicily and eating her way around Japan, her travels have taken her to some of the coolest spots on the planet. Named Travel Influencer of the Year in 2022, Chloe regularly works with a number of tourism boards, producing inspirational travel content across multiple platforms. Find out more about Chloe here.

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