The colorful houses of the old town

Porto: Unmissable Two Days Itinerary

This unmissable two days itinerary fully covers from day one and two. Porto is a city you can visit all year round, due to its Mediterranean climate. Summers are hot and dry and mild winter temperatures; therefore, an ideal destination to spend for a city break. Of course, if you’re going for more than two days, that’s fantastic! There is so much to see and do in Porto. 

I was primarily searching for a place to spend for two days during the weekend somewhere warmer than home. Admittedly, I can’t come up with anything, as we have already visited many of the European cities. In the previous year, we’ve been to Lisbon and Prague during the winter, and we have excellent weather. So I thought a trip to Porto would be a good idea. Besides, Porto is smaller than Lisbon, an ideal place to immerse for a weekend gateway.

 

To Make The Most In Two Days

To make the most of our two days in Porto, we took a flight on a Friday night and flying out on a Monday morning. For this trip, I book two separate tickets; the outward flight with Ryanair and return with TAP Air Portugal. It is sometimes cheaper by booking two different airlines. Porto no longer underrated destination, the cheap ticket to Porto is a long history, particularly during the weekend. Sometimes if you get lucky, promotional tickets on sale for weekday trips. Find out how to save money on flights – how to find cheap flights.

Weather And Climate

We visited Porto in January to avoid the crowds, and for the pleasant weather. Therefore, it is understandable that visiting Porto during winter – you have a chance of sustained rainfall during this period. However, we only have drizzles on the first day, and despite the light rains, the temperature still 15 C. And continue to see things around with an umbrella.  

Finally, on the second day was sunny and felt like summer around 20C. Not to mention our trip to Helsinki and Tallinn in November, it was bitterly cold. Regardless of the freezing temperature, it was a sunny winter, and we’re lucky it didn’t snow yet. But that is intelligible visiting European cities in the winter – it’s like throwing dice you lost and won sometimes. Of course, summer is the best season to visit a European metropolis, but then it isn’t easy to avoid the crowds.

How To Get To The Center From The Airport

There are different options to reach the center of Porto – from the cheapest to the most expensive ones: Metro is the most affordable for 2 euro plus 0.60 cents for the rechargeable card.  The line E purple runs every 30 minutes to the center until after midnight. 

You can keep the card top-up anytime if you need it — the shuttle bus Terravision 5.50 euro for the ticket. Hotel pick-up costs almost the same as a taxi, as I’m enquiring about our hotel for their service. Taxi cost 30 euros going to the airport in the morning without traffic. 

Getting Around The City

It is something not to get worried, as there are enough choices of how to get around. The metro runs through a large part of the city for 1.50 euros for a single ticket whereas the historic trams with three lines are also an ideal means of city transport for 3.50 euros per ride. Trams fixed-route go through the historic center of Porto and the opposite of Gaia.

However, if you want to explore the city from the roof, the hop-on-hop-off bus is one you need costs 18 euro a day pass. Walking is free! We took the metro and trams, but some of the tourist attractions still require walking from the station. To enumerate, Porto is ideal for exploring on foot because it is a relatively compact city. Keep in mind Porto is hilly with significant height differences; suddenly, you found yourself climbing.

Unmissable Two Days Itinerary In Porto

There are so many things to see and do in Porto, depends on your interests. Below are things we’ve visited on the first and the second day, mostly done by walking. Of course, we use the metro, trams, and the cable car, but sparsely. So let’s start on the first day.

The Bolhao Market

Bolhao Market, a lovely market place is where farmers came to sell their fruit and vegetables
A lovely market place is where farmers came to sell their fruit and vegetables

The original Bolhao market is under restoration during our visit. The temporal market is moving to the basement of La Vie Porto Baixa shopping center. However, with the temporary location, still, a beautiful place to stroll around. I always visit a local market during my trip, not for shopping but to see local people and understand what they eat and their economy, also a place to blend with locals.

Capela Das Almas

Capela das Almas covered with azulejos on exterior
Typical Portuguese azulejos church

There are so many churches in Porto in all styles and sizes, that some awe-inspiring. We have seen a few of them during our walk. You don’t need to search for it because you’ll find them almost in every corner. Capela Das Almas has a striking wall outside. 
It’s something you can’t miss during your walk, the building wholly covered in blue and white tile panels. You can visit the church for free, while other churches in Porto will charge you to visit inside. Speaking of churches – don’t miss Igreja de Sao Francisco. There is admission if entering the church, but genuinely worth the money. 

Avenida Dos Aliados

One of the many beautiful buildings in Porto
One of the many beautiful buildings in Porto

Avenida dos Aliados is the beating heart and importance street of Porto. The center of which forms a vast space between the lanes and pleasant to take a walk on both sides dominated by the fabulous historic building facades. It is also a good starting point for a city walk in various directions. So after we visited the Bolhao market and the Capela das Almas we continue to walk through the Avenida dos Aliados. Porto is a city full of tourist attractions and can be confusing where to start. But that’s me I just let myself surprise by magnificent architectures and surroundings during my exploration, and walking is the best way to see closer to all the sights.

 

Ride-on One Of The Historic Trams

The historic tram of Porto
The historic tram of Porto

In Lisbon, the recognizable yellow tram 28 is the icon of the city. Porto does it better. Porto´s first tram line came into operation in 1895, until early 1960. The tram was the most important means of transport in the city. Today trams from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s are still running, which intended for tourists. Each line with different routes, tickets are available onboard for 3.50 euros.
• 1- is the river route, Marginal – runs along the banks of the River Douro, to the Jardim do Passeio Alegre garden. With beautiful views en route.

• 18 –  Restauracao, runs from Massarelos do Carmo.
• 22 –  Batalha, the historic city route through the most typical streets of the center.

Sao Bento Train Station

Mural Artwork Inside Porto train station Sao Bento
Mural Artwork Inside Porto train station Sao Bento

It is not something you may expect of how can be a train station unmissable thing to do in Porto. Sao Bento station surely worth a visit. The station built in 1916 on the site of the former monastery, therefore the station got its name. The building itself doesn’t look impressive from the outside, but when you walk into Sao Bento, you immediately notice that this is not just a train station. The entrance hall entirely covered with ceramic tiles as well the colorful tiles just below the impressive ceiling which, represents some scenes from Portuguese history.

Take The Stairs At Escadas Dos Guindais

The Stairs At Escadas Dos Guindais in Porto
The view from the bridge was spectacular while going down

The staircase connects to Luis I Bridge, and the Ribeira – not everyone crosses this way. Escada dos Guidais with hundreds of stairway, is a hidden gem of Porto. How could anyone miss the area? It pretty descends – most people prefer to take the cable car down to the bridge and missed the beautiful vista.
It is one of my favorite parts during our walk – mainly, the quietness there were no tourists around. It was a pleasant walk through a narrow way with old city walls on both sides, and sometimes, a peep of the houses from the windows. Since there were hundreds of stairs, it may be wise taking it while going down. And I’m glad we’re descending whereas the residents using the stairs daily.

Tips on how to get there: the step begins from the city wall – Rua de Arnaldo Gama, by continuing it takes you down to the road till you get to the stairs.

 

Crossing The Lower Part Of Dom Luis Bridge

Walking at the lower surface of Dom Luis I bridge
Walking at the lower surface of Dom Luis I bridge

Various bridges connect Porto to the other side of the Douro. The Dom Luis is the best-known and most impressive bridge, which consists of two road surfaces that are 44 meters above each other. It is a remarkable steel construction that offers beautiful panoramas. The lower part is for pedestrians and cars, and the upper part is for the metro and pedestrians. We initially visited the higher bridge on the second day and did the lower part on the first day. Despite the bad weather, it didn’t stop us from crossing. It’s the most walked bridge for people crossing to Vila Nova de Gaia.

Vila Nova de Gaia

The roof of Vila Nova de Gaia and the Ribeira across the river
The roof of Vila Nova de Gaia and the Ribeira across the river

After crossing the Dom Luiz bridge, the first thing you see while going down from the bridge deck are boats on the river and the surroundings. From here, you have a stunning view of the Ribeira. Primarily, the main sights are the breweries, the most famous export product of Portugal. Tastings and storage cellars located here. I’m not into wines, but I am saying – a trip to Porto is not complete without visiting one of the wine cellars. There are so many of them and not easy to choose which cellars to visit. However, there is always a tasting during the tour. You can get a tour at one or more of the renowned Port houses, such as Calem, Taylor’s, Sandeman, and Dow or one of the less well-known houses.

Wandering Through The Narrow Streets Of The Ribeira

One of the historic streets in the old quarter
One of the historic streets in the old quarter

One of my favorites during my trip, getting lost in a maze. It’s the way to immerse myself in the culture and historic town. Wandering in the old quarter is like going back in time. The colorful houses, narrow streets, give the neighborhood a striking look. The long history of the area can still behold everywhere. In recognition of the structured network of narrow, winding streets, arcades, and stacked houses, it seems as if time has stood still. For most visitors to the town, Ribeira is the place where they return at least once a day – we indeed came back on the second day.

Igreja De Sao Francisco

San Francisco Church, the most prominent Gothic monument
San Francisco Church, the most prominent Gothic monument

After crisscrossing through the historic town, we came out to this famous church in Porto. There’s a small entrance fee of 3 euros to see inside but excellent value for money which and allows you to the cloisters and bell tower, which offers magnificent views over the city. The outside is relatively austere but inside overwhelmingly decorated with rich carvings that painted with gold leaf. It is also the only Gothic cathedral praised for its vibrant decorations in baroque style. Just a little disappointing because you can’t take a picture inside.

Palacio da Bolsa

Palacio de Bolsa and the square around
Palacio de Bolsa and the square around

If coming from the church San Francisco, just a short walk, you’ll come to a beautiful square of Palacio da Bolsa. The notable palace is the perfect example of how vigorous the Portuguese Empire was. The architect Gustavo Adolfo Goncalves de Sousa was inspired by the Alhambra Granada in Spain. The most remarkable inside of the palace is the Arab Hall, which reminds me of the Royal Regalia Museum in Brunei – except there was free admission. The palace building used to be a stock exchange, and now it is one of the tourist attractions in Porto. 

The Famous Street Rua Das Flores

Rua Das Flores, One Of the Famous Street in Porto
Rua Das Flores, One Of the Famous Street in Porto

While I’m searching for an unusual thing to do, I came to a website mentioning the famous streets of Porto. And Rua das Flores is not just an ordinary street. The long, mainly beautiful renovated tiles street has some interesting and beautiful architecture. Sometimes you have to look up at the beautiful buildings, some decorated with flowers — lots of souvenir shops, but also the necessary restaurants and bars. If you look around and so curious, you’ll find some uncommon things that other street doesn’t have.

On the second day, the first thing we’ve done take the metro F line (orange) to Jardin de Morro; the metro cost 1.50 euros one way. The intention is getting to the upper level of Dom Luís I Bridge. We’ve done the lower part on the first day. And finally, we’re so lucky with the weather – it was a perfectly sunny day, an ideal to see Duoro River and surroundings. Also, for more exquisite views, go up to Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar Monastery, it’s genuinely worth exertion.

 

Go Up To The Highest Point of Dom Luis Bridge

The view from Dom Luis Bridge on the highest level
The view from Dom Luis Bridge on the highest level

While standing from the ground and looking up to the bridge with its striking arch, it’s frightfully high. You must not have a fear of heights because it’s really on the altitude; it is one of the best places to see the Duoro river. The beautiful structure has been designed entirely in the Eifel style, elements of the construction of the Eiffel Tower can be recognized if you walk to the lower part of the bridge.

Make A Ride With Cable Car

Stunning view from the cable car
Stunning view from the cable car

I include the cable car as part of things to do in Porto, even though it is 6 euro for a one-way ticket but recommended to make an exception once. To do it, take the funicular going down, it features some excellent views over the roofs of Vila Nova de Gaia and the city of Porto. In Vila Nova de Gaia, you have a cable car that takes you from the top of the bridge to the boulevard of the river. Additionally, the price of the ticket includes wine tasting. You can visit a wine house after the ride.

 

Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau

The fancy interior of Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau in Vila Nove de Gaia
The fancy interior of Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau

I believe there were two of these houses where you can get the pastel bacalhau in Porto – the one in Vila Nova de Gaia is new. We stumble upon Casa Portuguesa pastel de bacalhau as we’re back down with a cable car. The inevitable yellow building has a luxurious interior and a piano player. You can roam inside and watch how they prepare the croquette. You get a watering mouth by looking at it. They serve for the price with a wine, definitely worth a try. 

Chasing Street Arts In Porto

One of the many street art in Porto
One of the many street art in Porto

Porto is a town with many contrasts: you will find beautiful churches and museums, on the other hand, many buildings have fallen into oblivion, paint is peeling off in all directions. Besides, Porto is not only famous for painted tiles – you will find various colorful artworks in multiple styles, and they’re accessible for everyone. It can be spotted either in new buildings, electricity houses, and walls.

There are also walking tours offer which takes you to the city’s art street, but we didn’t join the tour. We primarily walk around without looking for artworks and bump into some of the impressive street art. We’ve found a few of them. Furthermore, you never have to search long for cool street art in Porto. Certainly not if you occasionally look up at the cams of the roofs.

The Bookstore Livraria Lello

Livraria Lello one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal
Livraria Lello one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal

Generally, we put this on the list for the first day, but there were long lines. I recommend buying a ticket online if you plan to visit the bookstore. So again, we came back on the second day. This bookstore is markedly one of the essential things to do in Porto. On the contrary, it is a bit of disappointment; in less than ten minutes, you’ve seen it. You pay 5 euros for the ticket, and you can’t even have a decent picture inside because packed with tourists unless you come early or before closing time.

The Library Lello & Irmao became a source of inspiration for Harry Potter books with a unique environment – some people even call it the most beautiful bookstore in the world. It’s a historical and artistic bookstore with impressive staircases. Specifically, the real artwork if you look down from above. The colors of ceilings, walls, and the bookcases made of beautiful dark wood carvings, which gives a warm look at the interior.

 

Beach Walk In Porto

A lovely walk at Matosinhos beach, Porto
The main square of Matosinhos

Many people think that Porto only a wine city. Surprisingly, there are some beautiful beaches in Porto – both north and south of the mouth of the Douro. Albeit wasn’t a beach time during our visit in January; I include this on the list. As there were different beaches in the city, we choose the closest one to the center. Matosinhos is a charming town, popular with surfers, bodyboarders, and kite surfers due to its strong waves. The promenade runs along the entire beach and ideal for relaxing walk. You can easily reach the beach with the trams for 3.50 euros – line 1 romp along the Duoro river and gives a scenic trip.

 

Get The View From Se Cathedral

The city's red roofs
The city's red roofs

Se Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church of around 800 years old. It is one of the oldest monuments and the most important Romanesque building in the city. The Cathedral, together with the adjacent monastery – has been declared a national monument. Since the Cathedral sits on the highest hill in town, the square around offers a fantastic overview of the old city and the Douro river. In the afternoon it is quite busy, a lot of people waiting for  sunset.

 

The precise itinerary of our two full days in Porto: started in the morning after breakfast till late in the afternoon. Lunch and snack time included without specific hours. It may look so much to do in one day, but this was doable on our part.

 

First Day

Morning:

      • Bolhao market – is a buzzing place and to enjoy the Portuguese atmosphere.
      • Capela das Almas – with its facade wholly covered with blue and white color tiles. 
      • Avenida dos Aliados, the main street of Porto
      • A ride of antique trams – it offers three routes through the most exciting areas of the city.
      • Sao Bento train Station – with its a unique hall

Afternoon:

  • Crossing the lower part of Dom Luis Bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia.
  • Vila Nova de Gaia, have lunch and visit one of the wine houses. 
  • Ribeira – exploring the old town of Porto.
  • Igreja De Sao Francisco
  • Palacio da Bolsa
  • The medieval street, Rua das Flores

Second Day

Morning:

  • The upper level of the Dom Luis Bridge for a spectacular view
  • Go up to Monastery of Serra do Pilar for a more spectacular view of the Douro.
  • Take the cable car going down for exquisite view over the city.
  • Stop at Casa Portuguesa, and have a snack

Afternoon:

  • Chasing for the street arts
  • Visit the bookstore Livraria Lello 
  • Take the tram number 1 to the seaside area
  • SE Cathedral and the surrounding view

Where To Stay in Porto

The standard room at Hotel Sao Jose
Our simple room

Like any European city, Porto has so much to offer on accommodation for every budget. I mostly choose a hotel in the city center for convenience.  The location of Hotel Sao Jose was perfect! Across the street is the shopping mall with a food court: as well as restaurants nearby. The metro station is just a few minutes walks. Everything is walking distance; such a convenient place to stay in Porto. The standard room was a bit less comfortable, but for three nights,  it wasn’t so bad. We’re out the whole day on sightseeing – when returning to our room in the evening, it was cleaned. 

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