Your Porto Itinerary for 3 Days in the City
Make the most out of a short trip to this charming city with our carefully curated guide
Porto might not have as many 'must-see' sightseeing draws as other European cities, but that’s what makes this ancient city that little bit more magical (aside from its Harry Potter influences of course). With 3 days in this charming UNESCO city, you’ll have plenty of time for pottering around Porto (no pun intended): browse its signature boutiques, admire the colourful facades of its medieval houses and enjoy leisurely lunches in its best restaurants. Here at Plum Guide, we pride ourselves on doing the hard work for you, so let us walk you through some of the city’s highlights in this essential Porto itinerary of 3 days.
Day 1: Admire the picturesque sights and browse local stores
Once you’ve browsed our serviced apartments in Porto and decided where to stay, drop off your luggage, don your comfortable flats and head straight to Cafe Majestic for some Portuguese cafe culture. Order a “bica” and treat yourself to a pastel de nata while people-watching outside the 1920s art-nouveau facade. Pastry indulgences done, brace yourself for a walk up and down Rua Santa Cantarina’s steep slopes and stone cobbles for an Azulejo tile photo shoot - no pain, no gain, eh? The Church of St. Ildefonso’s exterior is a glazed ceramic masterpiece but the real star of the show is São Bento railway station down the hill. While there are no traces of a 9 ¾ platform, its interior is adorned in over 20,000 decorative tiles.
From São Bento, head to the pretty Rua das Flores for a pit-stop into Portuguese beauty and fragrance store Claus Porto - it also houses a mini-museum displaying the history of its hand-milled soaps and retro packaging. Oh, and while you’re in the area, don’t miss paying Aguas Furtadas a visit: you’ll love it’s colourful ceramics and decorative paper designs. Press onto the jewellery quarter and stop by talk of the town jewellery store Luisa Rosas - if you’re going to have any love affair this trip, make it with her pieces.
Gifts, souvenirs and jewellery-purchasing sins out the way, you’re now just footsteps from famous Livraria Lello. Each day, thousands of Instagram-hungry muggles flock here for
highly original snaps of its red-crimson spiral staircase, gorgeous wood carvings, ladders and rails to move the books around (sound familiar?). Smart marketing or not, it’s rumoured to have inspired J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter books. But we’d say you’d be much more wise to dodge the millennials and head to the adjacent super-chic Vogue Cafe for some cocktails and light bites instead. Amble back home and dress to impress, before heading to your reservation at Boa Nova Tea House. One of the best spots in Porto (it even gets our nod), it was designed by Pritzker-Prize winner restaurant owner Alvaro Siza, and was built on the rocks that hang over the sea in Leca da Palmeira.
Day 2: Enjoy traditional Port and a seafood lunch
Have a lie in. Go on, you’re on holiday after all. Soak up the riverside views from your balcony then get yourself down to Zenith for brunch. From classic eggs Benedict to tapioca pancakes, the menu has something for everyone. Yes, even us particular and pernickety Plum Guide lot. Oh-so-healthy brunch post uploaded onto Instagram, it’s Port o’ clock. Head over to the wine cellars in Vila Nova da Gaia on the South bank of the River Douro to discover why this sweet fortified wine is hailed as a national treasure.
Take the scenic route via Se (Terrero da Se), the city’s 12th century cathedral and site of 360 degree vistas of Porto. Then cross over the river via the arched Dom Luis I bridge for that mandatory holiday snap on one of the city’s impressive bridges. Avoid the household name wineries and give CV Kopke a try. This is the oldest port wine company and its family staff are remarkably knowledgeable (it’s in their blood after all). Don’t leave without trying their flagship Colheita, a vintage tawny port. No Porto itinerary of 3 days would be complete without a seafood lunch. Ignore the waiters flashing frankly unappealing pictured menus and head straight to Restaurant Nova Terra for the freshest catch of the day in town.
From here, burn some calories by taking a stroll along the River Douro. Once you reach the old-fishing town of Sao Pedro da Afurada, stop off at Taverna Sao Pedro - a local watering hole. Later, slip into your party shoes and head to quirky Pedro Limao in Bonfim, run by architect turned chef Pedro Barrieros. The Portuguese dine late and party even later so order some cocktails before hitting Maus Hobitos - a late-night haunt for Porto’s it-crowd (and you).
Day 3: Embark on a guided tour of Casa da Musica
Whether you’ve chosen to stay in Riberia, Baixa or Cedofeita to name a few, chances are there are a number of charming little cafes on your doorstep. Down your obligatory “bica” and take a leisurely stroll along the riverfront, soaking up the Portuguese sun. (Make the most of it, you'll be back home in the rain this time tomorrow).
Hail an Uber or local cab and usher the words “Casa da Musica” in your most polished Portuguese - you’ve got yourself a ride to Porto’s iconic concert hall. Designed by architect Rem Koolhaas in 2001 to prove that Porto was worthy of the title of European capital of Culture, the polyhedron is freakishly modern. The “Tourist” guided tour is the best way to discover the many faces of the building and even ends with a glass of Port wine…naturally. For contemporary art that will knock your new season mules off, hop on a historic tram heading in the direction of “Museu Serralves”, where you can brush up on native exhibits, as well as international artists. The Serralves estate also has elegant gardens to roam in. So elegant, in fact, that they're (almost) up to Plum Guide's standards.
All that culture has surely worked up an appetite by now and on your last day, there’s one Porto culinary delicacy that you can’t leave without trying - the notorious Francesinha. This meat sandwich (sorry, herbivoers), topped with an egg and tomato beer sauce is best served at Casa Negra - a truly never-again-in-a lifetime experience. Spend the rest of your afternoon wandering through the gardens of Jardins do Palacio de Cristal, where the museums display a blend of modern and antique scenes. End your Porto itinerary of 3 days at Miradouro Ignez to watch the sun setting over the Riberia district with an ice-cold Super Bock in hand -“De nada”.