Porto is one of the most romantic cities in Europe. Its decadent charm is indeniable, like a spell cast by the colorful houses of the Ribeira with their azulejo-clad facades. What to see in Porto in 2 days? Discover the city with our guide, bet you’ll fall in love with it.
10 Things to See and Do in Porto in Two Days
Porto was the first stop of our road trip in Portugal. Here we spent two days before heading east towards Douro Valley, crossed by the same river that divides Porto from Vila Nova de Gaia.
When to visit Porto? The city is at its best during spring and summer, but also the fall with its colors and the grape harvest gives it a magical atmosphere. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Porto, we recommend The Gallery Studios II located in Bonfin, super cosy and close to all main tourist attractions.
What to do in Porto in two days? Here are 10 spots not to miss in this city of Portugal and some useful tips to visit it.
1. Porto’s Ribeira
Ribeira neighborhood on the banks of the Douro River is a labyrinth of alleys and buildings covered in azulejos, the typical tiles of Portugal. The Ribeira is a Unesco World Heritage Site and probably the place which better represents the romantic decadence of Porto. It’s a carnival of colors and geometries, taverns and street artists where you can happily get lost.
2. Dom Luís I Bridge over the Douro River
The majestic Dom Luís I Bridge is not something that goes unnoticed. It spans the Douro River between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia, where you can find many porto wine cellars.
The bridge was built by Belgian architect Théophile Seyrig, who won the construction bidding against his famous colleague Gustave Eiffel. Crossing the bridge on foot, you can reach Vila Nova de Gaia and its wine cellars in a few minutes.
3. São Bento Railway Station
Some of the finest azulejos in Porto can be found inside São Bento railway station: approximately 20.000 blue tiles portraying key events in Portuguese history such as the Battle of Valdevez and the conquest of Ceuta.
The painter of those azulejo tiles is Jorge Colaço, an artist that managed to transform a common train station into the most photographed spot in Porto.
4. Rua da Santa Caterina and Capela das Almas
If you want to indulge in some shopping, Rua da Santa Caterina is the right place to go. Always crowded and lively, this central street brings together many different shops and restaurants, for example the refined and richly decorated tea room Café Majestic.
On Rua da Santa Caterina you can also find the Capela das Almas, a splendid chapel covered in blue and white azulejos telling the stories of saints and martyrs like St. Francis and St. Catherine.
5. Mercado do Bolhão
Mercado do Bolhão is the most famous market in town, dating back to 1850. Here you can buy all kinds of local products, from Portuguese cheese to fresh fish.
At the time of our visit the original building was under restoration, so the market has been temporarily moved to a close spot. Take our advice: try some pasteis de nata, they’re very cheap and delicious with a delicate taste of cinnamon.
6. Igreja do Carmo and its Azulejos
Igreja do Carmo is one of the most photographed spot in Porto. With its facades entirely covered with blue and white azulejos this church from 18th century is a must-see attraction in town. Still a sacred place, but the urge of striking a pose in front of this building is strong!
7. Livraria Lello: the Bookshop of Harry Potter
Inaugurated at the beginning of 20th century, the splendid Livraria Lello in Neo-Gothic style is one of the oldest bookshop in Portugal. Its decorations and stained-glass windows, not to mention the impressive forked staircase, make this place really magical.
It is no coincidence that this bookshop inspired J.K. Rowling to write Harry Potter while living and working in Porto between 1991 and 1993. This is why Livraria Lello is a must-see attraction for Harry Potter fans and not only. Thinking of taking a picture of yourself on the staircase? It may take some time… and some fight.
Livraria Lello: Visitor Information
- €5 tickets, totally deductible on the purchase of a book
- The ticket office is located a few meters ahead on the same street of the bookshop
- Open daily from 10am to 7pm
- Visit early in the morning to avoid crowds
8. Torre dos Clérigos
With its 76 meters of height Torre dos Clérigos towers above the city, allowing visitors to enjoy a breathtaking view over Porto’s roofs. Designed by Italian architect Niccolò Nasoni, the building contains a spiral staircase of 225 steps.
Torre dos Clérigos
- Open from 9am to 11pm
- The attached museum is open until 7pm
- €5 tickets
9. Palácio da Bolsa
Palácio da Bolsa celebrates the gloriousness of Portuguese trades. Built between 1842 and 1910, this building is famous for its Arab room, a huge ballroom decorated in the Moorish Revival style and covered in gold.
Palácio da Bolsa
- Tickets from €5,50
- From November to March, 9am-1pm; 2pm-5.30pm
- From April to October, 9.30am-6.30pm
10. Vila Nova de Gaia: Porto Wine Tasting in the Cálem Cellars
Crossing Dom Luís I Bridge, you will reach the city of Vila Nova de Gaia on the other bank of the river. Here you can find the historical Porto wine cellars, renowned all over the world for their fortified wine, produced with distilled grape spirits in the Douro Valley.
Wine trade was brought to Porto by the British in 14th century, thanks to the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance established by the marriage of King John I of Portugal and Philippa of Lancaster. From their union was born in Porto Prince Henry the Navigator, a central figure in the Portuguese maritime discoveries.
In the past, Porto wine barrels reached Vila Nova by boat. Some of these cargo boats, the picturesque barcos rabelos, can still be seen rolling peacefully on the Douro River. From here the view of Porto is enchanting: you might watch the most romantic sunset of your life.
Walking through the alleys behind the cellars, do not miss the work “Half Rabbit” by Portuguese street artist Bordalo II.
The most famous wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia are Taylor’s, Graham’s, Sandeman and Cálem: after some consideration, we decided to visit Cálem cellars and took part in a Porto wine tasting.
Entering the cool, dark cellars of Cálem, where Porto wine is stored for ageing, is a real privilege, the same as discovering its history and different varieties. At the end of the visit, we tasted two types of Porto wine, a white Port and a Special Reserve Tawny.
- Guided tour in English and tasting (2 wines): €12
- Guided tour with fado show and tasting (3 wines): €21
- Open from 10am to 7pm
Other Things to See in Porto
If you have some time left, you should also visit:
- the Casa de Música, an extraordinary concert hall built during the ambit of Porto’s 2001 presence as the European Capital of Culture;
- the Serralves Foundation, a must-see for contemporary art and architecture lovers.
Where to Eat in Porto
This nice restaurant is located in the homonym square, Praça da Ribeira, definitely one of the most scenic places where to eat in Porto (but beware of tourist traps). We had a delicious meat and cheese board and two glasses of wine from the Douro Valley. It’s the perfect spot for a quiet, romantic dinner.
Taberninha do Manel
Are you looking for a restaurant where to eat fish specialties while enjoying an amazing view of the Douro River and the colorful Ribeira? Taberninha do Manel is the right place for you, just a few steps from the best wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Do try their octopus and the Bacalhau com nata. Literally “salted codfish with cream”, this is one of the most traditional dishes in Portugal, made with codfish, potatoes, onions and cream: a real treat.
Typical Dishes of Porto: the Francesinha
Have you ever heard of francesinha? Local people love this legendary dish, while tourists are almost scared of it. The francesinha is a particular sandwich filled with beef, sausage and other cured meat, covered in melted cheese and beer gravy, and served with chips. Is your stomach strong enough?
Nevertheless, it is worth a try. You can eat the best francesinha in Porto at Café Santiago, also in the new establishment of Plaça dos Poveiros. Our tip: order a portion to share.
How to Get to Porto and to Reach the City Center from the Airport
Getting to Porto is usually easy and cheap. We flew from Italy to Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport with TAP airline, which made a good impression on us. From the airport you can reach the city center in 45 minutes taking the purple line E, a ticket costs around €2.
To travel on public transport you will need an Andante Card, which can be bought and topped up at the ticket machines in every station.
Are you planning a trip to Porto? Do you have any questions? Leave a comment and we’ll get in touch!