You May Never Want to Leave Portugal After You Have These Perfect 3 Days In Porto

If you’re planning a trip to Portugal, you absolutely cannot miss visiting Porto. I can’t say enough good things about this place. It was easily my favorite city in Portugal the first time I visited, and even after a second trip, this incredible city remains at the top of the list of my all time favorite places. You really only need 3 days in Porto to see all the major highlights.

A bit of a warning though: you might never want to leave I could spend weeks in this charming little port town. One of the greatest things about Porto is how compact it is and easy to navigate. Once you’re in the city center you aren’t a far walk from anything you’d want to see.

You can probably hit all the major stuff in a day or two, but I do believe you need three full days to really experience all this city has to offer. Here’s my perfect guide to spending 3 days in Porto.

More on exploring Portugal:

  • Explore some of my favorite Porto restaurants here.
  • Check out my favorite place to stay in Porto here.
  • If you’re heading to southern Portugal, check out my guide to Sintra here.

city street in Porto

Even though the center of the city is an extremely popular tourist destination, this city has not changed itself at all to keep up with rest of the world. It still remains intact and untouched by time.

Day One: Walk the City

Grab a free map from your hotel and just start walking, it doesn’t matter the direction. The best thing about Porto is how easily accessible it is by foot. I can say that with the charming streets surrounding you, you’ll never turn a corner and be disappointed.

The best place to start is Liberdade Square. I recommend getting a hotel there if possible. From there you can make your way South to the River or North to Rua Santa Catarina (the cities popular shopping avenue).

Just next to Liberdade Square is Clérigos Church where I highly recommend that you climb the bell tower for the most incredible views of the city. After you can wander through Cordoaria’s Garden, and the Church of São Francisco. The city really is untouched by major restaurant and shopping chains and because of that has all the appeal of an old European city.

You can’t walk far without stumbling onto another notable church or museum with minimal effort.  Porto is one of the best cities to just get lost in. Keep following the hilly streets downward, and you’ll end at the river just in time for a late lunch.

clerigos church in Porto
Clérigos Church is conveniently located and a must see attraction for anyone visiting Porto.
View from top of Clerigos church tower in Porto
View from the top of Torre dos Clérigos, a staple landmark that can be seen from various parts of the city.
newspaper and tobacco stand in Porto
Just outside the São Bento Railway Station where locals and tourists can be found on the crowded streets daily.
pink alleyway in porto
Bright colors jump out at you from every corner. I snapped hundreds of photos of streets, doorways, windows and pretty much every inch of this city.

Still on Day One: Visit the Magical Bookstore

If you pay entry to go into just one thing in Porto, pay to go inside the Livraria Lello bookstore. It’s worth the lines and the crowds to get a glimpse inside this truly magical bookstore. For a side reference, it was used by J.K Rowling as inspiration for the bookstore in Harry Potter. Because of that you will find plenty of references and memorabilia for the popular series. If you aren’t a Harry Potter fan though that’s okay, because you’ll still be in awe of this place.

The first time I visited this store was back in 2014. There was no entry fee then, but also no photos allowed inside. The bookstore is now opened up to tourists for a small entry fee (just 5 Euros). You can purchase a ticket at the corner of the street (but lines can get quite long).

The best part? You can now take as many photos as you’d like inside the store.

Tip: This place can get VERY busy. Come first thing in the morning, or later in the evening when everyone else is having dinner. And if you plan to purchase a book you can use your ticket for 5 Euros off any purchase.

livrario lello bookstore porto
The famous Porto bookstore where J.K. Rowling got inspired for parts of Harry Potter.
inside livrario lello porto
The grand staircase is almost never empty of people trying to capture themselves surrounded by the magic of this place.
livrario lello grand staircase in porto
Doesn’t it look like books should be dancing and wizards in capes and pointy hats should be walking around? Unfortunately, they’re not.

Spend an evening listening to Fado Music

I do believe that trying to immerse yourself in other cultures is such an important part of traveling. And what is more filled with culture than music that originated in a specific place? It’s right up there with food and language as the defining traits of a culture. I had never even heard of Fado Music until I got to my hotel in Porto and was told about the live music in the bar that evening.

This was something I missed on my first trip to Portugal. Now that I have heard live Fado music, I would tell everyone not to miss out on the opportunity to experience it. Although the music takes on a mournful tone, and often carries feelings of longing and loss, it is a truly beautiful form of art.

No dance club jams here – just beautiful music, beautiful lyrics with beautiful meanings.

I saw a live performance at the hotel I was staying at (the Palacio das Cardosas Hotel in Liberdade Square). They show live performances a few times a week and I would highly recommend seeing it there. However there are many other places to to see live Fado music while in Porto, so make sure to search around and plan it for your visit.

live fado music in porto
Catching local live music performances, especially while traveling, is almost never a bad idea.
live fado music hotel bar porto
I can’t say enough how much I loved the show at the Palacio das Cardosas Hotel.

Day Two: Enjoy an Afternoon By the River

Make sure to allow for plenty of time during your 3 days in Porto to fully take in the river. Nothing attracts a crowd quite like a spectacular waterfront view and that’s just what the Douro River has to offer.

With the Luís I Bridge connecting the picturesque scenery, there’s no better place to waste an afternoon. There are countless places along the riverside to get a glass of famous Port wine or have a bite to eat.

The best restaurant to eat at in Porto is hands down Bacalhau, which happens to be right on the river. This place fills up quickly, and it’s not easy to snag an outdoor spot once it gets later in the day. If you can’t grab a seat by the river here, just find a good place with outdoor seating and enjoy the view.

Make sure you walk up the steps of the bridge, and cross the river for what is truly the most iconic view of Porto. It has even a better view at night and it is definitely something you don’t want to miss.

douro river view in porto
Best part about this lunch day? It was a little cold and the restaurant placed blankets on all the chairs, so I could enjoy this view without freezing.
woman at douro river in porto
Here’s me, being happy, and a little cold. But still happy.
sunset at douro river in porto
I don’t joke around when it comes to climbing towers and bridges for the best views. I am also a sucker for a good sunset.

Day Three: Tour a Port Wine Cellar

One of the best things you can do while in Porto is take a tour of one of the many Port wine cellars that line the Southern bank of the Douro River. On my first visit back in 2014, I took a tour of Sandeman Cellars and it ended up being my favorite thing that I did in Porto. In fact, the poster I bought in the gift shop of a vintage wine label is still my favorite souvenir I’ve ever purchased.

During the tour you learn about the history of Port wine, how it’s made and the story behind the university cape being worn on the label of the Sandeman “Don.” At the end of the tour, enjoy samples of different varieties of Port wine. You can even buy a bottle to take back to your hotel. If you’re brave enough, book a couple in an afternoon and spend your day wine tasting in Porto.

At only 15 Euros for a premium tour, you won’t even break the bank. If you aren’t a little bit tipsy, is it really considered a vacation?

wine cellars line douro river in porto
The Douro River is lined with plenty of Port wine cellars to choose from.
sandeman wine cellar in porto
But you absolutely can not go wrong by taking a tour of Sandeman’s Cellars.
cheers from sandeman wine cellar in porto
Don’t forget to cheers!

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