If you’ve already traveled to Portugal, you know how magical it is, and if you haven’t, we promise you’ll fall in love at first sight.
However, you may have encountered the dilemma of how many days to set aside for which city in Portugal on your trip.
If Porto is on your list of destinations, look no further because you’ve come across the right text!
In this article, we will answer how many days to spend in Porto and how to use the time best.
You will also find out what time of year is best to travel to the second-largest city in Portugal and how many days are enough for you to visit Porto’s biggest attractions.
We have also prepared a list of the most famous sights in Porto that are worth visiting.
But let’s start with some background information.
Porto is a fairytale city located in the north of Portugal. Although it is smaller than Lisbon, many travelers claim it is even more beautiful than the Portuguese capital.
This city, whose name comes from the Latin word for port, is located at the mouth of the Douro River into the Atlantic Ocean. It was this city that gave its name to the entire state.
Although for most people Porto is best known for the sweet wine that is named after it and the successful football club, this city is much more than that.
Porto is a city of rich history and culture, which is reflected in the city’s most significant sights but also awaits you around every corner, in every narrow street, among old houses, small local shops, and charming cafes.
Porto is one of those cities that will win you over with its authenticity because it is both simple and honest but also completely unique.
If you can appreciate delicious food and like to try new tastes, there will be opportunities for that in Porto.
Apart from the fish specialties most represented on the menus, be sure to try the Francesinha, the famous sandwich from this city made from several types of meat, cheese, and a thick, spicy sauce.
It would be a shame to go to Porto and not try the dessert wine of the same name! You can enjoy one of the many wine tours if you love wine.
During these tours, you will learn all about the history of this drink and have the opportunity to taste excellent port wines.
You have various options to get to know Porto’s nightlife.
For the classic Portuguese atmosphere, melancholy, and the feeling that the Portuguese describe as “saudade,” which could only be roughly translated as “longing,” it is best to go to one of the many restaurants, bars, or taverns where fado music is performed.
Suppose you favor slightly faster rhythms and enjoy drinking and dancing until late. In that case, Porto offers many bars in the city center, some located in unusual interiors, such as former churches or roof terraces.
For the most extended parties, visit the nightclubs on the beach.
In addition to all the magic Porto has to offer, there is also one genuinely magical place.
Fans of the beautiful world of Harry Potter will be delighted to learn that Livraria Lello bookstore in Porto served J.K. Rowling as inspiration for Hogwarts.
There are several things to consider when deciding how many days to spend in Porto.
Is Porto one of several stops on your trip through Portugal (or Europe), or are you planning to spend your entire vacation in this city?
Are you only interested in the sights, or do you want to get to know the city’s atmosphere and dive deeper into its culture and history?
Do you want to see as many attractions as possible in as little time or enjoy the so-called slow tourism?
How much time you should set aside for fascinating Porto depends on the answers to these questions.
So, How Many Days in Porto is Enough?
If you are looking for a direct answer to how many days in Porto are enough to see the most prominent sights, the answer is two days.
Porto is not too big of a city, and two days are pretty enough if you just want to visit the most famous places without much stopping and exploring.
Therefore, this city can be the perfect destination for a short escape from everyday life and a break.
However, remember that it will be a somewhat hectic two days.
If you’re a traveler used to a fast pace, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Most of the sights are located in the historic part of the city, and Porto is an easily walkable city, although, like Lisbon, it is pretty hilly.
If you don’t want to get tired and want to make the most of every moment, you can also use public transport, which works quite well in this city.
You can move through Porto by metro, bus, or tram, which is particularly interesting because it has a romantic undertone and is part of Portuguese tradition and culture.
If you are in a big hurry and want to visit places in different parts of Porto, you can use a much cheaper taxi than in most big European cities.
Uber is an even cheaper option than a taxi, also widely available in Porto.
If you only have two days to visit this city, make a good schedule and try to find accommodation in the city center or a similar location where you can quickly and easily go sightseeing.
Choose the days for your visit carefully. For example, if you plan to visit museums, avoid Monday because these places are unavailable, and if you are interested in shopping in Porto, it would be good to avoid Sunday.
Although large shopping centers are usually open on Sundays, smaller shops are generally closed or available only on Sundays before noon.
If you only stay in Porto for two days, you won’t have time to get to know all its beauties, but with a good organization, you will see most of the main attractions and maybe find inspiration for a little longer stay on the next occasion.
How Many Days to Spend in Porto if You Have More Time?
First-time travelers to Portugal usually plan to visit several different cities, including Porto and Lisbon.
Although Portugal is beautiful and has much to offer, you won’t go wrong if you spend your entire vacation in one place.
If that place is Porto, you will quickly realize that this is a city that you cannot get bored of quickly.
With so much exciting content, a history that springs up at every turn, and rich culture, Porto is a city you can enjoy for days.
Although two days are enough to see the most significant sights of Porto, a two-day stay is nowhere near enough to explore the hidden beauties of this city and immerse yourself in the specific atmosphere of life that reigns in it.
Therefore, if you have the opportunity, feel free to extend your stay in Porto for five, seven, or even more days and surrender to the charms of this seductive city.
If you are lucky enough to stay in Porto for a few days, we suggest you first forget everything you have read in the numerous guidebooks.
Don’t rush to see the famous Sé Catedral, São Bento railway station, or buy museum tickets. Everything will certainly be in order, and you will hardly miss the most important things.
You will get to know Porto best if you don’t have a plan. Have your morning coffee at any cafe you see locals walking into, then let your intuition guide you and wander Porto’s beautiful narrow, steep streets. This way, you will discover this city’s beauty and charm.
Keep your eyes wide open, and be ready to indulge in any surprise the city throws at you.
Porto looks like it fell out of a fairy tale, and that’s why it would be a shame if you already have enough time to miss getting to know it off the beaten tourist track.
It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t visit the main tourist attractions. It just means you shouldn’t limit your stay in Porto to the most famous places.
With five or more days in this beautiful city, you will have enough time to visit everything you planned leisurely and see many things that were not in your plan but happened as a wonderful surprise.
Take every opportunity when you tire of walking to try a new dish or rest in one of the many parks and gardens. Some parks are perfect for a little picnic if the day is bright and sunny.
If you stay in Porto for a few days, you will have time to visit the beaches you can reach by public transport.
Although the ocean here is cold all year round and probably won’t be warm enough to swim, you can relax and sunbathe or have a drink at one of the many bars while enjoying the breeze.
Going on a river cruise is also a good idea, giving you a new perspective on the city.
A longer stay in Porto is also a perfect opportunity for a trip to the nearby towns. Some of our suggestions for day trips from Porto are Aveiro, Barcelos, Braga, Guimaraes, and Vila do Conde.
In these destinations, you will find more rich and exciting history, beautiful architecture, and a distinctive Portuguese atmosphere that makes you feel welcome at every step.
You can reach all these places easily and quickly by train, bus, or car, and the list of cities to which you can go on a trip from Porto is long, so feel free to explore some destinations we haven’t listed here.
What Month is the Best for Visiting Porto?
There’s indeed no wrong time to go to Porto, but some months can be a better choice depending on whether you’re looking for the best price, the least crowds, or the most pleasant weather conditions.
Porto’s Mediterranean climate is strongly influenced by its proximity to the ocean, so Porto is one of the wettest Mediterranean cities.
Summers in Porto are warm and mostly dry, while winters are mild but highly humid.
The coldest month of the year is January when the daily average is 9°C (48°F), and the average low temperature is 5°C (41°F).
The warmest month in Porto is August, with a daily average of 21°C (70°F) and an average high of 26°C (79°F).
During the spring and autumn in Porto, the weather is pleasant and ideal for outdoor activities, although you may experience rain here and there.
The period from March to May and September to October is the shoulder season in Porto, so the prices are slightly lower than in the summer, with fewer crowds.
If you don’t mind getting a little wet, this could be the ideal time to go to Porto as you’ll enjoy warm days and won’t have to wait in long queues for the city’s main attractions.
For even lower prices and fewer crowds, choose November to February.
However, it rains a lot in Porto in winter, so even though it is not very cold, you may have to choose more indoor activities.
Porto is also an excellent choice for winter holidays, so if you don’t mind that you almost certainly won’t see snow, consider spending Christmas or New Year’s Eve here.
The city is beautifully decorated at this time. You will come across great Christmas markets in several places, and considering that Portugal is among the cheaper countries in Europe, you can conveniently do your Christmas gift shopping here.
On the other hand, the winter holidays in Porto bring crowds and price hikes, so don’t count on the accommodation prices valid during the rest of the winter.
However, the crowds are less than in the capital of Portugal, so if you are wondering whether to spend Christmas in Porto or Lisbon, choose Porto.
Most tourists come to Porto in summer, so during June, July, and August, the prices of flights and accommodation are higher than during the rest of the year.
Also, this is the time when you will see big crowds at the most important city sights and when you will have to reserve tables in the most popular restaurants in advance.
However, if you don’t mind the crowds and are willing to spend more on accommodation, summer is a great time to go to Porto.
In addition to the beautiful weather, numerous celebrations and festivals are organized in this city, so you will have the excellent opportunity to get to know the Portuguese culture even better and have a great time.
If you are traveling to Porto in summer and hoping to swim, you should know that the ocean here is quite cold even in summer.
The average water temperature from June to September is 17-18°C (63-64°F), so although most beaches have a blue flag, few people choose to swim in such cool water.
What to See and Do in Porto?
Every city has some sights that you shouldn’t miss on your trip.
Although Porto is one of those cities that is best explored while wandering around without a plan, it’s a good idea to keep in mind the must-see attractions in this city.
Below is a selection of the most important and exciting places in Porto.
São Bento Railway Station
One of the most beautiful and unique train stations in the world, and indeed the most beautiful in Portugal, is the São Bento railway station.
It is one of Porto’s two main train stations and is located in the city center, so be sure to visit it even if you are not traveling by train.
The building is beautiful from the outside, but the interior is stunning.
The walls are decorated with twenty thousand magnificent blue and white tiles that are hand-painted and represent important moments from Portuguese history, but also scenes from the daily life of the Portuguese at the end of the nineteenth century.
This famous building was built on the site of the Benedictine Convent in the first years of the 20th century.
If you have enough time, you can take a train trip from this station to cities in the north of Portugal, such as Aveiro, Guimarães, and Braga.
Luís I Bridge
The bridge named after one of the Portuguese kings, Dom Luís I Bridge, has two levels and is one of the most recognizable symbols of Porto.
The bridge crosses the Douro River, and while the lower level is reserved for road traffic, the upper level is used by railways.
Both levels are accessible to pedestrians, although those afraid of heights are not recommended to cross the upper level, about sixty meters above the water.
Also, avoid the upper level on highly sunny and hot summer days, although the view from there is priceless.
The metal construction of the bridge may remind you of the famous Eiffel Tower, which is no coincidence.
Namely, the bridge was designed by Téophile Seyrig, one of Gustave Eiffel’s students and close associates.
The most important religious building in Porto, the Cathedral, which the locals call simply Sé, looks a bit like a fortress from the outside.
The construction of this church began in the twelfth century. Still, in the following centuries, it was renovated many times, which is why various architectural stylistic influences are present in the Cathedral.
For many, the most beautiful part of this building is its cloister, with characteristic Portuguese white-blue tiles painted with religious motifs.
In front of the Cathedral is a spacious square with a pillar in the middle, which throughout history was used for public punishment of criminals.
The square is also one of the famous viewpoints from where you can observe the city and the river.
From this point, there is also a beautiful view of the river bank where the wine cellars are.
Praça da Liberdade
Freedom Square, or Praça da Liberdade, was built at the dawn of the 18th century and is located in Porto’s center.
When the urbanization of this area began in the second decade of the eighteenth century, the square was conceived as a central point around which new streets sprung up.
Over time, this area gained great economic and political importance for the entire city, and today it is also a tourist favorite.
In this square, you can also learn something about Portuguese history because there is an equestrian statue of King Peter IV holding the Constitution in his hand.
Today, this square connects the city’s historic core with the new part of Porto.
Near this square are numerous hotels, office buildings, and restaurants, including McDonald’s.
However, what is unusual about this fast food restaurant is that it doesn’t resemble other McDonald’s restaurants worldwide.
Instead, it is located in a beautiful building built in the Art Deco style, and many consider it one of the most beautiful restaurants of this franchise in the world.
One of the most beautiful views of Porto is from the top of the Clérgios church tower.
The church was built in the first half of the eighteenth century in the Baroque style, and for a long time, it was the tallest building in all of Portugal.
The tower is almost 76 meters high, and over 200 steps reach its top.
Rest assured, if you’re wondering if it’s worth all the effort. The view is priceless.
The church’s bell tower is modeled after the Tuscan bell towers and is a unique attraction.
Casa da Música
Not all sights of Porto are several centuries old.
The avant-garde Casa da Música, an impressive modernist concert hall, was built at the turn of the twentieth century into the twenty-first century.
Construction began in 1999 as part of preparations for the European Capital of Culture project in 2001. However, it was completed only in 2005.
Although the experience of this impressive building is complete only when you listen to a classical music concert performed by the Porto Symphony Orchestra or a world-famous soloist, it is worth visiting during the day as well.
You will be surprised by the main concert hall, which bypassed the traditional rules of interior design for spaces where music is performed, and two of its walls are made entirely of glass.
If you belong to the millions of people worldwide who are enchanted by the magical world of Harry Potter, but even if you are not among them, you must visit the famous bookstore Livraria Lello in Porto.
While magic lovers will have the impression that they have stepped into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, others will simply be dumbfounded by this place’s beauty and charm.
It is not an unknown fact that J. K. Rowling lived in Porto and often stopped by this bookstore, so it is assumed that its interior inspired the appearance of the famous school for wizards.
By the way, the building in which the bookshop is located was built at the beginning of the twentieth century.
As a result, the fairytale appearance primarily comes from Art Nouveau design, with additions of Gothic patterns, stained glass, and a fantastic winding staircase.
This bookstore is rightfully considered one of the most beautiful and best in the world.
The answer to how many days you need for Porto depends on what you expect to see and how deeply you want to immerse yourself in this city.
Although two days are enough to visit the most significant attractions without much delay, we advise you to stay a few days longer in this city if you have time so that you have an opportunity to get to know it and explore its hidden gems.
Porto is full of surprises that are often more interesting and exciting than the well-known sights, so it is best discovered when you wander without a plan and a rush.
If, however, you are planning a more classic visit with sightseeing, consider the option of purchasing a Porto Card.
This card offers free public transport and entry to several major attractions. With it, you will also get a discount on many tickets and some restaurants. Cards valid for 1, 2, 3, or 4 days are available.
However long you stay in Porto, the most important thing to take with you is a willingness to adventure because this city will have many pleasant surprises if you let it.
Wander, explore, try local specialties and wine, listen to fado, and meet locals who are sincere, kind, and always smiling, and don’t regret the attractions you don’t get to visit, but add them to your list for your next visit, because you will almost certainly want to come back.
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