Updated: Sep 22
3 days in Porto. A vibrant Portuguese city on the North bank of the Douro River !!
Porto is an ideal place for short vacations. The city offers a perfect combination of culture, architecture, history, and traditional Portuguese Cuisine. We had 3 amazing days in Porto.
We were in Guimarães for an Erasmus exchange. After attending the Erasmus in Guimarães We took the train to Porto Sao Bento (Porto Central Train Station). The train costs € 3.60 from Guimarães to Porto.
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Our First Day in Porto:
We booked an apartment in city center via Booking.com. After dropping our bags, We went straight to the Santa Catarina Street the main pedestrian walkway in old center. It has all the well known International and local brands. We always like to explore the fashion streets to get the feel of the city. The city center also has a Via Catarina shopping mall which has a traditional architecture and unique interior.
The best way to explore Porto is by walk. There are so many hidden gems which can be missed out or remained unexplored if you don’t like to walk. Porto is slightly hilly and all the monument and tourist attractions are closely located and reachable by a walk.
Every street and corner has its own beauty, view and feel. There are amazing houses with beautiful tiles on the walls, arts and crafts shops and local café on every corner of the streets.
Our next stop was Porto Cathedral called Sé do Porto. It's just few miles away from Central Train Station, Sao Bento. It's a Roman Catholic and one of the oldest monuments of the city. It has a free entrance.
The first most famous thing about the Cathedral, is its square where criminals were used to hang in old times. And the second most important is its view to Douro River. If you want to enjoy the panoramic view of the city- you must go to the tower. The entrance price is € 3.
We started climbing down the stairs and it took us to the fascinating narrow streets with alluring houses on my both sides. That's how we reached Famous Ribeira Square.
Cais de Ribeira is an alluring medieval district with the fascinating riverfront. It has traditional floating boats and colorful ancient houses. It's one of the most photogenic places and also declared as a World Heritage site of UNESCO.
There are lot of cafés, Bar and restaurants serving traditional Portuguese food and drinks. We would highly suggest trying Francesinha Sandwich, Codfish cakes, Ice cream and sweet Pastel de Nata. The city is very famous for its sea food. If you are sea food lovers it’s a heaven for you.
It's one of the romantic places to enjoy your date dinner with the beautiful view of the river. At night, all the restaurants, bars and café are fully packed with tourists.
We would highly suggest enjoying the long lasting images of Porto and it’s skylines from Cais de Gaia. Cais de Gaia is just across the river from Cais de Ribeira. You can cross the bridge to reach to Cais de Gaia or you can take the Ferry that is only for crossing the river.
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We would highly suggest taking the ferry and experiencing it. It's € 3 for one way. There are lot of cafés, restaurant, Stalls of food and traditional bags and local brands on the other side of Douro River. We would suggest Bar Restaurant Micha for your evening drinks and coffee.
There's also a Teleferico de Gaia which you can take near the bridge. It costs € 6 for one way. Be careful with the timings, it closes at 8 PM. We must say it's the best way to enjoy the view of the city and river.
Porto has one of the most beautiful and romantic Ferris Wheel of Europe with an amazing view of the Porto city and river. The ticket is for € 4. We would highly suggest taking it at night so you can enjoy the view of the city and skylines with beautiful lights.
After experiencing the mesmerizing view of the Porto and its alluring sky line we head back to the Porto and crossed the Douro River from the ground deck of the famous Porto Bridge on foot and I must say it will give you goosebumps.
Second day in Porto:
At night when we were walking back to our apartment, we saw a cozy café crowded with people on the corner of my street. At that moment, we already made our mind to have a breakfast there in the morning.
In the next morning, I saw myself in the mirror. Oh Man !! I seriously need a haircut. First of all, I searched for Hair saloons in Porto. As I was living in the heart of city center, luckily I found a hair saloon right in front of my apartment.
After hair cut, we started walking to the same street café called “Buondi Café”. The café was fully crowded with people. The café has also a sitting space outdoor. We had ordered bread filled jam called “Berliner” in Germany with Orange juice and sat on the table placed outside of the café on the footpath. We enjoyed my breakfast with view of the road next to me.
Our next stop was Town Hall Porto called Camara Municipal do Porto. It's one of the famous buildings with amazing architecture and perfect for photography. We took a short break and sat on the stairs and enjoy the hassle and bustle on the roads. There's also a big town square and it has all the big hotels like Intercontinental nearby.
We started walking towards the Igreja da Santissima Trindade. The church is behind the City hall of Porto. There's a beautiful square near the church with wonderful collection of flowers.
The entry of the church is free. The main Chapel has a large panel of Painting representing Baptism of Christ.
After exploring the Igreja da Santissima Trindade we came back to the town square of Porto and lost in the wanderlust of time and history.
After I finished with my Travel Photography and experience the feel of Porto city we started walking towards Igreja dos Clérigos that is located just few miles away from town square.
It is a baroque church which has Torre dos Clrigos. The most famous bell tower of Porto that’s 75.6 meters high with 240 steps to climb. The entry for the church is free.
The ticket to the tower is for € 5 including the Museu dos Clerigos. The Panoramic view from the top of the tower was so amazing and breathtaking. On the one side, you can see all the historical architecture and building and on the other side the view of the Douro River.
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We would recommend to explore the Church and exhibition first before climbing the Tower.
The Tower is a must go place to experience the panoramic view of Porto and it requires a lot of physical exertion.
Indulge in the wanderlust of Porto !!
It was my 78th Panoramic view in 40 Countries and 2nd one in Portugal after Guimarães.
After experiencing one of the most amazing panoramic view in the Western Europe we came down from the Torre dos ClrigosI , we started walking towards the Henry Prince Square.
It is a wonderful place in the city with full of historical importance. On the right of the square is Ferreira Borges. In the center, there is a Statue of Infante D. Henrique and on the left, it’s Palacio da Bolsa.
We sat in the courtyard and enjoyed the surrounding and got the feel of the rich history and background of the city. The famous Church of San Francisco is also just few steps away from the square.
Due to limited time, we were not able to visit the Church from inside but we would highly recommend visiting the church from inside as well.
There are many cruise company’s counters near the river. The Douro Cruise trip cost € 15 each. It's a one hour cruise trip which takes you from East to West and covers the main landmarks and skyline of Porto.
It also passes under the Bridge Ponte de Dom Luis. The best time to take the cruise is between 6 PM to 7 PM in October. In the beginning of the cruise, the sun was shining and later on it started setting. It is the best and most romantic moments to enjoy the sun set in the cruise.
It happened to be my 28th Cruise in 40 Countries and I am just improving my stats after every trip.
The Douro River Cruise will take you to the Atlantic Ocean as well and it was the 1st time I have seen the Atlantic Ocean and now I have experienced 4 Mighty Oceans: Pacific Ocean in Singapore, Indian Ocean in Malaysia and Seychelles, Arctic Ocean in Sweden and now with the Grace of Almighty ALLAH I have experienced Atlantic Ocean in Portugal.
Hard Rock Café is a must go place for dinner and drinks. I have been to 19 Hard Rock café so far. The Hard rock café Porto has triple floor with unique ambiance and collection of rock stars.
We would highly suggest booking the table in advance else you have to wait for your turn. Don’t miss their Chicken Mac and cheese and Crispy Onion ring.
After the dinner at Hard Rock Cafe we were out again to cover the night life of Porto and for Night Photography.
It's a place for party lovers and second best city in Portugal. There are many clubs and bars that are heaven for all kind of music lovers. You can either go to the clubs in Downtown or also in Ribeira and Foz square.
3rd day in Porto:
We really feel that three day are not enough for this amazing city. We had a breakfast in front of Sao Bento station in my favorite road side café called “Traveller café”. We had yummiest French Croissant.
We started our day by visiting the famous Sao Bento Railway station. Sao Bento is a very unique and artistic station with panels of Azulejo tiles. The first tiles were placed in 1905. The tiles on the left side represent the scene of Battle of Arcos de Valdevez and Egaz Moniz before Alfonso of Castile.
The right wall of the station depicts the scene of Conquest of Ceuta. There are also borders on main entrance representing countryside scene. The train station is very much fascinating for the historian like me.
Porto has lovely beaches. We have been to Gondarem and Praia do molhe Beach which are easily accessible with public transport. Right in front of the central station, we took a bus no. 500 direction Matosinhos Mercado. The name of the bus station is Praia de Gondarem.
Both beaches are located near to each other. It's around 7 km from Sao Bento. Gondarem and Praia do molhe are the beaches with Rocky shore. The weather was quite cold in October so it was not an ideal situation for the swimming but it is a best place for summers.
We had a long walk along the shore. There are many beach side cafés where you can enjoy your lunch and drink with an amazing view. After an overwhelming experience of the Atlantic Ocean we went to Pizza Hut for a Veg Pizza and enjoyed the cold breeze.
We would recommend to go to the rocks as well for an everlasting experience with the mighty waves of Atlantic Ocean.
Getting a ride in the traditional Tram of Portugal is a must thing to do in Porto. Most people associate it with Lisbon but it was first started in Porto.
It used to cover most of the city before 60s and 70s but now there are only three routes as a sign of their heritage.
The Line 1 tram covers most scenic route along the bank of Douro to Foz District. If you want to enjoy the ride, we would suggest you to take it early or late in a day. At middle of day, it's always full of tourists. So it's a bit difficult to get a spot to sit.
The Tram line 22 is in a loop and it covers the more historical area of the city. The Tram line 18 is the least famous for the tourists as it goes into quiet areas of the city. But in this route, it is easily to get a seat. The fare of the tram is € 3.
Unlimited pass is for € 10. The tram line 1 is departing after every 20 minutes and Line 18 and 22 after every 30 minutes.
It was raining cats and dogs when we reached the Foz district via Tram and we decided to cross the river on foot from the lower deck and after crossing it we started climbing the rocky road which led us to the Porto Castle.
And here it was, the breathtaking Panoramic View of Porto and we were lost in the beauty of this magical city. Indeed a city of a fairytale, Porto !!
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After spending 3 amazing days in this wanderlust. It was Time to say Good Bye, even though we wanted to stay more and to explore it more but life has other plans for us and we were on our way to cross the iconic bridge: Dom Luis I from the upper deck.
In the middle there's a Tram line and you can walk on either side of the bridge and can elevate your hunger for Porto to a whole different level.
There's always good connections to airport by public transport from the city. If you don’t have much luggage, I would suggest taking a Metro or else you can book an Uber.
We have few other Suggestions about Porto:
You can also visit Museu do Tesouro da Sé Do Porto. It's an ideal place for the historians. It has priceless collection of ceramics, furniture, jewellery and textile.
If you are a nature lover, Passeio das Virtudes is a place for you. It's on the back yard of Palace Justice. It's a green area to relax and enjoy a beautiful view of Douro River.
Mercado do Bolhao is the most famous market of Porto. It intact the tradition of fresh products with best quality. The farmers come here to sell their fresh fruits and vegetable. There are many butcher shop from where you can buy fresh meat.
Matosinhos, Praia dos Ingleses and Homem do Leme are also the famous beaches and highly accessible with Public transport.
Majestic Café, It's one of the Top 10 café in the World. This café used to be a meeting place for elite, writers, politician and thinkers. It's in Santa Catarina Street. We forget to book it in advance but surely we will visit Porto again Insha ALLAH.
There are many companies offering Hop On Hop Off services in Porto. If you don’t have enough time to explore all the place on your own, I would highly suggest taking Hop On Hop Off trip.That's how you also know about the rich history of the city with the guided tour.
There are also tour operators offering one day trip to surrounding towns like Guimarães, Braga, Vila do Condo from Porto. If you have enough time, we would highly suggest visiting these areas.
These places are highly accessible with public transport. It would be much cheaper if you visit these places on your own rather than booking it with some tour operators.
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