A Perfect 2 Day, Weekend Itinerary in Porto, Portugal
Although it’s the second largest Portuguese city, Porto gets left off of many visitors itinerary – much like the rest of northern Portugal. Well I’m here to tell you that is a terrible thing folks. Even if you only have time for a quick two day, weekend in Porto you’ll be privy to some beautiful sights.
I mean where else can you find modest prices for a Western European city, stretches of beautiful beaches and an old town filled with exquisite architecture that is rumored to have inspire the creation of the wizarding world of Harry Potter?
PRICE POINT: €€
FOOD TO TRY: Bacalhau
How Many Days to Spend in Porto?
Is two days in Porto enough? Is two days enough anywhere? No not really, there’s always more activities to fill your days with. But a solid weekend getaway would suffice to check off all the top things to do and see Porto.
Where to Stay in Porto?
So where shall you rest your rump at night? There are three viable options as far as I could tell, all best suited for Airbnb type accommodations. Depending on what your own travel preferences are, decide if you’d rather be 1. by the beach 2. in the historic old town or 3. in a convenient (and cheaper) alternative.
Being on a backpackers budget for our year long trip across the globe, we opted for choice #3 and stayed in a great Airbnb in a quiet area of town close to the University of Porto (find the Airbnb listing here!). Atypical to most of our budget friendly accommodations, we lucked out and had our own room in a 3 story Airbnb without spending more than €20 each per night.
Public Transportation: How to Get From
A to B in Porto
Once you decide where you’d like to stay in Porto, take note of the multiple public transit options. For our weekend in Porto, we flew into Porto from Paris (about a 15-20 minute drive from the airport to our Airbnb) and after some deliberation, decided not to rent a car during our three weeks in Portugal (more on our Portugal adventures coming soon!). Main reason to not rent a car? My main man Uber (and also because we’re those Americans who don’t know how to drive manual).
We Ubered everywhere in town. It’s quick, easy and incredibly cheap to use in Portugal. Although there is a public bus system in Porto, we found it unreliable after waiting 30+ minutes at the beach for a bus that never came.
Heading out of Porto to Lisbon we chose to bus it up instead of the train, much to the dismay of our Airbnb host. He seemed quite confused why wouldn’t select the comforts of a train but with a €20 higher price tag than the bus, it was an easy choice with zero regrets. We ended up on a bus with Wifi and a whole row for each of us, praise be to the travel gods!
What to Eat in Porto?
Let’s talk food shall we? The dish featured below is a Portuguese tradition of Bacalhau – salted and dried codfish.
So far on the trip people don’t really believe me when I say I’ll pretty much eat anything at least once. When they ask, “What food do you NOT like?” the only thing I can honestly respond is gum. Yes, yes I know gum?! It’s gross. I’ve never tried it, even as a child I thought it was a disgusting concept. Anyway, when it comes to real food I will try anything. So when the waiter was hesitant to let me order a traditional dish called Bacalhau since it’s essentially raw fish I had to convince him, like everyone else, that when I say I’ll eat anything, I mean it.
Synopsis: it was reminiscent of a ceviche but with olive oil instead of lime and a tad more chewy than I was expecting. But I’m probably a bit biased being from Florida with fresh fish in abundance. Overall not bad though and best paired on top of bread.
What To See in a
weekend in Porto
Day 1: Hit up the beach side
Before making the 30-40 minute walk to the coastal town we stopped by the local bakery and loaded up on goodies for the beach. While a 40 minute walk sounds a bit daunting, about 20 minutes into it you’re right next to the sea on a picturesque boardwalk along the water.
Lighthouse of São Miguel-o-Anjo
First stop on the walk will be Portugal’s oldest existing lighthouse built in 1527. The outside is rectangular but inside is in the shape of an octagon like most lighthouses.
Jardim do Passeio Alegre
Perched along the boardwalk next to the sea is a landscaped garden created in the 1800’s and home to a Franciscan convent, fountain and sculptures. We were lucky enough to pass by on a day when a market filled the gardens selling everything from clothes, soaps, jewelry, food, children’s toys and homemade crafts.
As you make your way down the coastline to the beaches of Porto, take a moment to walk down the boardwalk of the Felgueiras Lighthouse. Besides spectacular sea views, you’ll find locals sunbathing, watching the waves crash against the granite walls and a few fishermen perched along the boardwalk hoping to make a catch.
Foz do Douro
Behind the lighthouse and extended inland is the affluent neighborhood of Foz do Douro. This seafront area boasts an eclectic mix of traditional Portuguese residential architecture and restaurants facing the Atlantic. Continue walking down Avenida Brasil taking in the sites of sea, sand and large rock boulders dotting the shores.
Beaches of Praia da Luz
We stopped in a market here to grab some wine before heading to the beach in front of the Praia da Luz Beach Bar for the rest of the day.
Day 2: Immerse Yourself in Architecture & History in Old Town
Porto was the first stop in Portugal and a whole new country for me. So seeing the historic old town for our weekend in Porto was a must. When we Ubered into Old Town and were met with a robust historic town covered in colorful tiles, my jaw dropped. Everywhere you turned in Old Town there was something old and beautiful to look at. Check out below some of the top things to see in the Old Town of Porto.
Built on the highest point in Porto, the Sé Cathedral is the most important religious building in Porto. Construction began during the 12th century, but was renovated numerous times throughout history explaining its identity crisis of architecural styles. The temple is predominantly Baroque in style, although its façade and the nave is Romanesque while its cloister and one of the chapels are Gothic in style.
The Clérigos Church is a Baroque styled church while it’s bell tower, the Torre dos Clérigos, can be seen from various points throughout Porto.
Igreja de Santo Antó
This smaller cathedral in the heart of Porto doesn’t seem to get as many visitors as it’s more popular cousins in town, but it’s intense gold decor inside is worth peeking inside for. Also, the relics are rather peculiar and I’m still not sure if we saw a mummy or not…
Igreja de Santo Ildefonso
If you’ve come across Porto on Instagram or such, it was most likely some girl twirling in front of this church for a photo op. It’s thousands of white and blue tiles do create a nice background but there are plenty of gorgeous sites just like it in Porto but still undoubedtly worth taking a gander at.
Livraria Lello & Irmão Bookstore
First opened in 1906, this bookstore is said to have inspired J.K. Rowling’s interior of Hogwarts in her acclaimed series, Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling taught the English language in Porto between 1991-1993 and developed the initial outlines to Harry Potter during her time here. Although if you ask me, I feel like most of Porto could be used as inspiration for any wizarding otherworldly novel.
Take a stroll through Ribeira, a picturesque neighborhood in the heart of Porto with outdoor terraces and traditional Portuguese restaurants.
Dom Luís I Bridge to Gaia
Cross the bridge onto neighboring Gaia for pearler views of the city. We attempted to visit the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar on other side but alas, we happened to go on the only day it was closed of course. Oops.
So how’s that for a nice little recap of Porto for ya? Have I convinced you to take a nice, long weekend vacay to Porto? If you have any other questions on Porto not answered above, be sure to leave a little comment below!
And stay tuned for more Portugal come to the Walrus soon!
Weekend in Porto Travel Itinerary:
Day 1: Beachside
- Walk along the boardwalk down the coastline
- Lighhouse of São Miguel-o-Anjo
- Jardim do Passeio Alegre
- Felgueiras Lighthouse
- Foz do Douro
- Beaches of Praia da Luz
Day 2: Old Town
- Porto Cathedral – Sé do Porto
- Clérigos Church
- Clérigos Church
- Igreja de Santo Ildefonso
- Livraria Lello & Irmão Bookstore
- Ribeira District
- Dom Luís I Bridge to Gaia
- Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar
Pin It! Weekend in Porto
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