Are you looking to spend 3 days in Porto?
Yes? Phew, you’re in the right place.
If you want a city break that’s sole focus is it’s delicious food and wine, colourful and bright architecture, warm sunny days and makes you feel happy and relaxed; Porto is for you.
For some reason everyone tends to favour a trip to Lisbon over Porto, which is crazy as I definitely feel that Porto has the upper hand. Any place that’s named after the wine it produces is surely a winning destination! Am I right?
I visited Porto for 3 days in May with my besties and had one hell of an epic trip. May have put on a few pounds and my liver was furious but trust me it’s all worth it.
Read on for a detailed 3 day itinerary to Porto, with a few nuggets of information on where to stay and essentials for your own epic Porto visit.
3 days in Porto
Day 1 - Eat, Drink and be merry
So you have to start your day right with a delicious breakfast and Porto has a lot of options to choose from. It seems that O Diplomata is the Instagram go-to as there was a queue right round the block. Luckily I always have a back up plan, so we walked 2 minutes to a less crowded Cafe Progresso. We snagged seats outside which was a bonus and soaked up the spring rays whilst sipping a cappuccino. The food options are vast with lots of healthy and non-healthy for me and Claire. We had pancakes and a smoothie bowl; €5 for pancakes and €7.50 for smoothie bowls. My morning coffee is important and I’m glad to say that the coffee was on point here. Hands down, a real winner.
From here you can take a wander into the streets below. Fonte dos Leões in front of the University is a pretty square where you can take one of those typical open air bus tours or just take the architecture in. We found a cute street market on Rua da Galeria de Paris with hand made products, where we brought small souvenirs to take back.
The Lello Bookshop is close by too if you wish to visit. Across the road there is a Base which is weirdly on top of a shopping centre Passeio dos Clérigos, don’t be put off though as it’s actually gorgeous with lawn to sprawl out on. The cocktails are refreshing and the views are of the Clérigos Tower and the University of Porto are worth it.
After brunch and drinks, we wanted to see the city, now at this point I would opt for a bus or tram. Oh no. We ended up in a bloody Tuk Tuk! Which was hilarious. Located on Largo dos Loios street a short walk down the hill from Base. Our guide was a bit of a joker and at one point we were tearing down a cobbled street on Miradouro da Serra do Pilar holding on for dear life. You get a real sense of Porto, we visited Vila de Nova Gaia, Ribeira, and the city of Porto. €13 each for 50 mins was a steal and as he was local, he gave us great tips and insight into different areas. You also get a free port wine tasting ticket with this too.
We had booked Vinum at Grahams Port House in advance due to a friend’s recommendation, one hell of a suggestion. High Vila de Nova Gaia overlooking Porto, this restaurant has the wow factor for sure. In a spot like this we had to celebrate so we had a glass of Pol Roger for only €12 just taking in the views. It was special. A little on the pricer side at €60 but that includes a bottle of local wine, starter and a main. You could tag on a port wine tasting session as it is part of Grahams.
3 Days in Porto
Day 2 - Wine and Beaches
It’s Mercador Cafe this morning, in central Porto. I thought this cafe looked cute and reminded me of the older style European cafes, like you see in Vienna. I had eggs and Chorizo with a croissant and of course coffee! When locals are buzzing in and out, you know you have a good thing. I was gobsmacked at how cheap it was too, €35 for four breakfasts and a sneaky plate of Pastel Da Nata's too. It’s situated on the beautiful Rua das Flores street too which was on my list of places to visit. Two for the price of one.
As it was a sunny day we thought we’d catch the tram to Foz, the nearby beach as the ride there is supposed to be very picturesque. However, things did not go to plan. Firstly, the tram was completely rammed and the queue for the next one was too much to bear in the sun. We opted for a taxi as it only takes 15 minutes. I kid you not but as we were approaching Foz it was getting foggy. When we got out of the taxi, it was freezing, like we had been transported to anoter country, nevermind 15 minutes! Apparently, it’s foggy until 1pm and then it clears and you can enjoy the beautiful beach. As it was 11am, we got the taxi straight back to the warmth. Definitely, head to the beach as it was lovely, just make sure you head there in the afternoon.
We needed food and warmth! I had my heart set on a little charcuterie spot next to the Dom Luis Bridge; Bacchus Vini. Now, it is super small here with only 4 tables outside and it is popular so you may need to have a drink nearby and keep an eye out for a free table. We were lucky as a table opened up as soon as we arrived (think our bad luck was left in Foz). Platters are €6-20 depending on what you choose. You can taste local wines €13 for 5 glasses, 2 white, 2 red and 1 champagne. The waitress knew her wine and food here and that is why it is a must for me. She spends so much time taking you through the history of wine in Portugal, focusing on the Duoro Valley. If you love wine, this has to be on you list!
With our apartment overlooking the Duoro River, we got ourselves a bottle of wine or three and went back to our apartment for a couple of hours to chill and use our terrace. Below were our particular favourites:
An easy stroll from our base was Wine Barrels in Ribeira. It was bustling in the evening and they just about squeezed us in, a good sign! I had a delicious carbonara, my girls opted for a platter to share. It had a local feel and the tables are dispersed between cabinets of wine bottles. I particularly liked the outdoor space overlooking the river for an after dinner drink. Afterwards you can stroll along the riverbank, potentially bar hop as this area comes to life at night.
3 Days in Porto
Day 3 - More Wine and food anyone?
I had been looking forward to the Hungry Biker Cafe since we landed so even though it was a trek uphill for 15 minutes I was determined. I had seen great things on Instagram so knew it wouldn’t disappoint. I mean the breakfast was incredible and healthy too. We had smoothie bowls again, and supercharged toast. It was a relaxing atmosphere as it is nestled on a quiet street a short walk from The University of Porto.
Today we decided to wander around the city and take in the sights we hadn’t got round to. So we walked up from Hungry Bike Cafe to Cordoaria's Garden. Kate forced down a Bolinhos de Bacalhau (a mix of codfish and potato) with a glass of Port from Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau a traditional Porto staple apparently. It was delicious and you can watch as they make them in front of you. Be warned though! In May, the students graduate and as we found out, take over the city of Porto! Personally I loved it as you get to see a part of their culture that JK Rowling was clearly inspired by, their uniforms. Plus they do a weird whacking their hats with a cane whilst on their head thing! Painful. We also checked out the grandest MacDonalds in the world in the Praça da Liberdade square.
A very short walk from the Praça da Liberdade square is the famous Porto São Bento train station covered with 20,000 azulejo tiles. It’s worth poking your head in and taking a few photos. It is incredible and probably the prettiest train station I have frequented. We then picked up some Pastel Da natas from Nata Lisboa on our way back down to Ribeira for our last afternoon of lazy drinks by the river.
Wine Quay Bar is super small and only has around 10 spots to sit outside on the wall. There are two levels when walking along the river, this is on the second level. The views of Dom Luis and the Port Houses is breathtaking and I enjoyed the quirkiness of being sat on a wall drinking wine and eating some snacks. Like Bacchus Vini, it gets busy here so try and get there for opening at midday to snag the best seats.
And just like that our 3 day adventure to Porto was over! This itinerary is not tourist site heavy, I don’t see Porto as that “type” of city break, it’s not a Rome or Paris. I love it for it’s relaxed atmosphere and that I felt rested from a city break as I usually feel like I need another break to get over the super busy city break! Anyone else feel like that? I promise you’ll love Porto, just go give it a chance to work it’s magic on you!
Where to stay in Porto
Our home away from home for 3 days. I knew the location was great but I had no idea is was going to be as stunning as it was. Right in the heart of Ribeira on the Duoro river, this is hard to beat. It was incredibly cheap too, we paid £120 each for 3 nights. Looking at other hotels around that area, they are nearly double and lacking that all important view. If you cannot snag this apartment, check on booking.com as they do have other apartments that are similar and in the same location.
Contemporary and comfortable boutique hotels are always a good idea to me and this one looked stunning. We walked passed it near the train station and the Santa Catarina shopping street so it’s in a great location. It’s unique as it has a little courtyard at the entrance with tables lining the outside, it’s a bistro as well as a hotel. Did I mention it has a cocktail bar too? What more do you need?
Anyone who reads my site regularly will know I do like a splurge hotel, once a year I like to truly treat myself and my fiancee to one hell of an experience; this hotel fits the bill. It’s just won an award for best luxury hotel. Perched high near the gardens of Roseiral, with exceptional views over to Vila Nova de Gaia, you’re only a short walk into the city centre. Every inch of this hotel is picture worthy, from it’s flower ceiling, sleek bar, designer bedrooms and oh the outdoor pool. If you’re in the mood to go big, this one’s for you, just make sure you send us your pictures to swoon over!
If nothing has taken your fancy, not too worry, type your dates into the map below and see what comes up! You may get a bargain of the century.
Head for Lisbon
Porto is around 310km North of Lisbon which means it’s a relatively easy commute if you fancy visiting both cities. It will take around 3 hours to drive. The train service is direct, the faster service is the Alfa Pendular and costs around €42.40, you will have to book in advance by using the CP website. The train departs from Porto - Campanha to Lisboa - Santa Apolonia; both stations are a little out of the city centre but have access to the metro as well as taxi ranks.