Thinking about spending a weekend in Porto? I've got you covered with a 48-hour trip itinerary that will have you walking around Porto like a local.
Porto is a colourful city filled with artists, friendly 'Tripeiros' (Locals from Porto) and delicious food. Known as the city of the people, it has been voted as the Best European Destination, 3 times, and in 1996, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. This means that the entire city of Porto is protected by heritage laws.
Portugal was the first country I wanted to visit after moving to Spain. Why? Mostly because of its proximity, wine and delicious pastels de natas. More on that later...
Located in the north of Portugal, Porto is the country's second largest city and is a popular tourist destination after the capital of Lisbon. Porto is famous for its Port wine, colourful buildings, tasty food, and the Douro River which separates Porto and its neighboring city Gaia.
Fun Fact: the name for the country of Portugal came from the two cities of Porto and Gaia (formerly called Cale), and when you combine them Porto + Cale, you get the name "Tranquil Porto” which eventually evolved into Portugal.
One thing that I most loved about Porto, was that being a solo female traveller I felt incredibly safe, and very welcomed by locals. All the restaurants, bars or café staff that I spoke to were so incredibly kind and very willing to offer me suggestions and their recommendations while in the city. It made my loose plans more concrete, especially with recommendations from locals! 😃 I was also able to discover a bunch of great spots that I’ll share below!
From Barcelona, Porto is a quick 1h 25 min flight, and cost me about 40 euros round trip! From the airport in Porto you can take the metro right down town. It will cost you 2.60 euros, and takes about 30 min. If you're coming or leaving at an odd time, Cabify and Uber also are active in the city.
'Must Do' Activities for a Weekend Trip
1. Walking Tour
Every city I go to, I always do a walking tour. I usually Google “[city name] free walking tour]” and choose the one with the best ratings. This is usually Sandeman’s but in Porto I recommend you also do the Porto Walkers tour. Both of these companies offer “free” walking tours, meaning you pay a tip to your guide at the end if you enjoyed it. Spoiler alert, the tours are amazing and I recommend paying them at least 15 - 20€.
2. Port Wine Tour
I also did a Port Wine Tour through Porto Walkers and had a fabulous time. It was about 30€ and lasted for 4 hours. You are taken across the river to Gaia and will visit 3 wine lodges with a very generous 7 tastings of Port Wine. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty tipsy by the end of it.
3. Eat Portuguese Tapas and Pasteis de Natas
My favorite part of travelling to a new place is trying the local cuisine. Top on your list should be Portuguese Tapas and Patseis de Natas. Lots of variety and very economical as well!
Hot Tip: Be warned! When going out to eat at restaurants the Portuguese will usually serve you a plate of bread, olives, cheese and a type of ham or sausage - these are not free! They will charge you for them if you consume them. If you’d rather not eat them, just politely decline and ask them to take away the plates.
What to do and see in Porto:
Walk along the Duoro River in Ribeira
- This is where you'll see the traditional colourful buildings of the Ribeira neighbourhood
Explore the other side of the river in Gaia
- Stunning views of Porto!
Chapela das Almas de Santa Catarina
- A beautiful chapel covered with blue and white Portuguese tiles on the outside of the church
São Bento Train Station
- Gorgeous train station with 20,000 painted Portuguese tiles
- After climbing the 240 steps you have breathtaking 360 degree views of the city
The Blue Porto Sign
- Located next to the Clérigos Clocktower, it’s a great photo opp
- This is the picturesque book store where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter. Heads up, there’s always a line and it costs 5 euros to enter
Look out point next to the Catholic Church of Nossa Senhora da Vitória
- Another great viewpoint of Porto and Gaia
Rua das Flores
- Known as the Avenue of the Flowers, it’s filled with great little boutique shops, pretty buildings and is on the way to the river
Rooftop of Porto Cruz
- Porto Cruz is one of the more commercialized brands of Port Wine, and have an incredible rooftop with amazing views of Porto. Check it out!
Ponte Luiz I
- A majestic bridge with two decks that connect the cities of Porto and Gaia. Amazing to walk along in the day and night
Jardim do Morro
- Cross the Ponte Luis I bridge and catch the sunset here!
São Pedro da Afurada (Fisherman’s Village near Gaia)
- Hop in an Uber or Cabify (10 - 15 min ride) and eat at Casa do Pescador, for an authentic Portuguese seafood experience
Where to Eat:
- Call ahead to make reservations. Amazing Portuguese tapas restaurant with eclectic decorations and antiques.
O Buraquinho da Sé
- New restaurant, and very tiny (so call ahead to reserve a table) but incredible food!
What to Drink:
Think Gin Tonics but with Port wine. You can also get it with aperol and it’s delicious. This drink is available in most bars and restaurants.
Where to Drink:
- Locals bar in the Portuguese neighbourhood of Porto
- Take the elevator up to the 4th floor and enjoy the views with a delicious cocktail.
Pasteis de Natas
That’s right. Pasteis de Natas get their own section in this post. Originally from Belem in Lisbon, the Pastel de Natas are little cups of heaven. Think of a creme brûlée custard tart that is gooey, flakey and just insanely delicious. I’m salivating as I write this.
The first time I went to Porto, I tried to eat as many Natas as possible just to give each one a rating. But basically - no matter where you go, as long as they are fresh and warm, you can’t go wrong! They usually range from less than 1€ to about 2€. I definitely wouldn't pay more than 2€ for one nata.
Places I ate Natas:
- Manteigaria Fábrica de Pasteis de Nata
- Confeitaria do Bolhao
- Nata Lisboa
- Cafe Embaixador
- Porto Airport (over priced, but still decent)
- Local cafe in Fisherman's Village outside of Gaia
- Other Random cafes throughout Porto
Basically, no matter where you go, you can get Natas in Portugal, but, once you start eating them, you will quickly realize there are better quality ones in certain places. My two favorite spots were Manteigaria and the Confeitaria do Bolhao.
And there you have it! A 48-hour weekend itinerary, jam packed with fun sites and delicious food. Enjoy!
Have you been to Porto? Share your favourite parts of the city in the comments section below!