Porto 2 Day Itinerary: Squeeze the City Dry
Have you been to Porto? Oh, you have – well, go again and follow our Porto two day itinerary. If you haven’t, also go.
There’s a reason Portugal is named after Porto; it’s the best. Trying to fit Porto into two days is like trying to fit a dog into a teacup…impossible. We've gone ahead and given it our best shot anyway. We actually went to Porto for the weekend and got home a month later (true story, they didn’t pay us to say that). What was it like? Picture a cobbled labyrinth of quaint wineries, baroque architecture and sexy river views. We'll pinpoint exactly what's needed to get the most out of this charming city – it's conveniently been crafted into a Porto 2 day itinerary (which is exactly why you've clicked on it).
We’re going to start with a history lesson and we hope you like gold. Firstly, grab a coffee from the distinctively Art Nouveau Café Majestic before heading to São Francisco Church. If you don’t like queuing get there early-ish… British readers you can go whenever you like. This of course doesn’t apply if you’re there on a rainy Monday in November, but for the sake of our Porto 2 day itinerary we've assumed the sun is shining. Once you’re done trying to figure out the interior budget of this pocket sized Vatican, trot around the corner to Palácio da Bolsa and take in its impressive neoclassical facade. Although you might guess Palácio da Bolsa was a palace (what else could it be when it’s named ‘palace’?), it was actually a stock exchange building built to impress international business people. Is it working?
Let’s stop for lunch. Calling all foodies, have you heard of a Francesinha? It's basically a lasagne in the guise of a sandwich. It’s filled with a variation of red meats, covered in melted cheese and topped with a spicy tomato and beer sauce. There’s an egg too if you’re interested. The locals love it, visitors love it, vegetarians don’t love it – and neither do tight trousers. There are a couple of places that nail this delicacy, the most famous being Santiago’s. You might take a look at the exterior and think “really?”, but you’re just going to have to trust us. This is not fine dining, this is ingenious street food. 6,500 (and counting) 4.5+ star reviews.
How does one effectively cut through a meal of red meat, cheese, bread and egg? Wine. More specifically, Port. Graham’s Port Lodge is a sublime experience. Graham’s is located in Gaia which is across the Mia Pia bridge (built by Gustav Eiffel - fun fact for you architecture lovers) from the old town. It’s a 45 minute walk from Santiago’s so we suggest you take it at a leisurely pace and go via Cais da Ribeira – a collection of brightly coloured townhouses in a lively commercial district filled with fishmongers, grocers and shoemakers. As with the best things in life, you need a reservation so be sure to book in advance just in case - we would do it for you but, data protection. Try and arrive there for sunset too as this particular Port Lodge has a terrace with a picture perfect view of the River Douro.
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After a good night’s sleep (in one of Plum Guide’s remarkable homes in Porto) it’s time for a little more education and art ogling. You have options aplenty when it comes to museums in Porto, so pick any of our top 3. Although you could squeeze all of them in if you’re quick, make sure you save enough time for this afternoon’s activities, we’ve saved the best until almost last. Contestant number 1 is Portugal’s first national museum, Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis. Steeped in art history this glorious building, complete with glorious gardens, is bursting with paintings and sculptures alike. Contestant number 2 is Museu Romântico. Picture period art and furnishings, along with gardens and scenic river views that evoke the kind of nostalgia that make you feel like you actually lived through the 1800s. Contestant number 3 is the Portugese Centre of Photography - does what it says on the tin.
More wine. But not just any wine, wine in a spa. The Yeatman Luxury Wine Spa Hotel has been lulling visitors into a relaxing state since 2010. You'll enjoy visiting but still feel smug about choosing your Plum Guide home (you're experiencing Porto like a local, after all). Back at the spa you can sip on your choice of 12 wines, swim in the panoramic infinity pool and enjoy a treatment. We'll leave the order in which you do these things up to you – there’s no wrong answer here.
Our last night in Porto. We were tempted to send you on a sunset bridge climb but that's probably not wise following a day of wine. After you’ve freshened up and had the “I wonder how much a place by the river would cost?” conversation with yourself it’s time to stroll through Avenida dos Aliados. Considered the centre of Porto, this grandiose avenue lights up marvellously at night. Look closely and you’ll spot the most hilariously elegant McDonald’s you will ever encounter. Make your way by foot to Mistu, a restaurant known for its elegant ambience and Asian and South American cuisines. Then to end your trip, head down to the gently sloped cobbled streets to Cais da Ribeira where you will find the Wine Quay Bar. Grab a table overlooking the River Douro, sip on a Douro wine and reflect on how much you enjoyed our Porto 2 day itinerary.