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How to make the most of one day in Porto

Discover what to do in one day in Porto from detailed itineraries written by a local. It includes city attractions and restaurants.

Sara Riobom

November 28, 2019

Full day Private tour in Porto

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Have you decided where to stay? If not, read my article about the Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Porto.

You might be organising a day trip to Porto from Lisbon, Coimbra or other Portuguese / Spanish city. Or you have a flight connection in Porto and hence have a few hours to spend in the city.
It doesn’t matter. Whatever the reasons are for you to spend one day in Porto, welcome! Here you’ll find my one day itineraries in the city.

What to do in one day in Porto?

What you decide to do on a single day in a city really depends to your pace, to your travelling profile and also to whom you’re travelling with.
Therefore, I wrote five day itineraries in Porto: one for families with kids, one for couples, one for middle age / senior citizens, one for large groups and another one for solo travelers.
Regardless of your age and the people you are travelling with, I always suggest you to take a private tour with us.

The best way of making the most of one day in Porto… is to book a private tour with us!

portoalities best private tours porto
It might sound strange that I am recommending my own private tours as one of the best things to do in Porto. But I wouldn’t be making them if I didn’t believe them to be very good 🙂 You can read the reviews on our TripAdvisor and see the wonderful things that people are writing about us.
Besides that, if you have just one day in Porto then the best way to get to know the city and learn more than the obvious things is to join a tour with an experienced, enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide.
Our tours are always private, which means that we will tailor make an itinerary that matches your travel expectations and your rhythm. We can include whatever monuments and activities that you like.
If you are interested, check our tour page or send an email to sara@portoalities.com with your preferred date for the tour, and a bit of information about your group. We will take it from there!

One day in Porto: itinerary for Couples

What you find romantic is not necessarily what I find romantic (for instance, I find visiting old bookstores with my boyfriend very romantic!), so please keep an open mind when reading this suggestion 😉

Hours Activity
10am Walk in the Crystal Palace Gardens
11.30am Visit the best Porto’s art galleries @ Rua Miguel Bombarda
1pm Lunch at Centro Comercial Bombarda / BUGO
2pm Walk in the city centre
5pm Walk the upper deck of Luiz I bridge
6pm Watch the sunset at Serra do Pilar or Watch a Fado show

If I had one day in Porto with my boyfriend, I’ll definitely start with a morning walk at the Crystal Palace gardens. It’s a peaceful garden, very close to the city centre and free of charge.
There, you can go for a walk, sit quietly by the lake, feed the peacocks, visit the roses’ garden and even take a quick nap. It’s perfect 🙂

© Hans Pohl

Afterwards, I suggest you to walk in Rua Miguel Bombarda, where most part of the art galleries in Porto are located. On this street, as well as on a perpendicular one called Rua do Rosário, you can find really beautiful concept stores, second hand stores and cute restaurants.
I suggest you to visit these beautiful places without a rush, and then go for lunch.
A place where I really enjoy going to is Centro Comercial Bombarda – it’s a cool, modern shopping mall with cute concept stores and two nice restaurants. Go to a restaurant called “Sabores & Açores”, as it has really nice Azorian – inspired dishes at affordable prices.
In the afternoon, continue your walk towards the city centre. There’s plenty of monuments to see – Lello bookstore, the stunning Clérigos tower, Allies Avenue, São Bento train station, the cathedral of Porto… whatever you end up doing, it’s mandatory to end the day by crossing the upper deck of Luiz I bridge by foot and watch the sunset at Serra do Pilar. It’s so, so romantic!
If you feel like doing something more entertaining you can end your day in Porto with a fabulous Fado show at Casa da Guitarra. You can get an online ticket to watch a Fado show for just 15€, which includes a glass of Port wine.

© Antero Pires

One day in Porto: itinerary for >50 years old

From my perception, usually middle aged and seniors prefer to do slow tourism, as they don’t feel the rush to see everything but would rather enjoy what they really want to see at their own pace. I suggest the following itinerary:

Hours Activity
10am Visit to a Port wine lodge
11.30am 6 bridges cruise / Visit to a second Port wine lodge
1pm Lunch at Mercado Beira Rio
2pm Cable car to the city centre
3pm – 5pm Walk in the city centre: Cathedral of Porto, São Bento train station, Avenida dos Aliados
6pm Watch a Fado show

If you only have one day in Porto, then I suggest you to start it with a visit to a Port wine lodge. Usually the lodges by the riverfront are quite crowded and the tours are very fast, so I suggest you to pick a lodge on the hills: Graham’s, Croft or Churchill’s.

However, if you want to do something special, I suggest you to get the online ticket to Calém Port wine lodges – by joining this activity, you will be sipping your wine whilst listening to a live Fado concert. How does it sound?

© Moz278

From there, you just need to walk down to the riverside, where you can get the 6 bridges cruise. This is a relaxed cruise in Douro river that will allow you to enjoy the fantastic views of both Porto and Gaia, on the other side of the river.
After these activities, you can grab a bite at Mercado Beira Rio, where you’ll find plenty of food options.

© MyRestaurant

Afterwards, simply take the cable car from Cais de Gaia (where you just had lunch to the top of Luiz I bridge, the famous iron bridge from Porto. From there, it is a short and easy walk to the city centre.
Once you arrive in the centre, there are some very nice monuments for you to see: the cathedral of Porto, the stunning São Bento train station, Avenida dos Aliados (the Allies’ avenue), and Lello bookstore.
You should also go to the Clérigos church – don’t get discouraged by the long queue, that is for the TOWER, not the church itself (which is stunning and free of charge, by the way! 😉
casa guitarra cheap fado show porto
You can end your day in Porto with a fabulous Fado show at Casa da Guitarra. It is the cheapest way of listening to Fado in Porto, because it does not involve dinner. You can get an online ticket to watch a Fado show at Casa da Guitarra for only 15€, which includes a glass of Port wine.
This Fado show in Porto starts at 18h and it lasts for one hour, during which the voice of a wonderful female singer and the melody of Portuguese guitars will take you on a journey into the Portuguese culture 🙂
I recommend you to get the online ticket to Casa da Guitarra as it is a very popular show, so it gets sold out very easily. You don’t need to print it, just show it on your smartphone at the entrance.
Another affordable way of listening to Fado in Porto is to get a combo ticket to visit one of the best Port wine cellars in Porto and enjoy the wine tasting while listening to a live fado concert played in front of the wine barrels. How does that sound?! 🙂
Now, this is a really good deal because a visit and wine tasting at a Port wine cellars costs around 15 / 18€ these days, and if you go to a traditional Fado show (in a restaurant) you will never pay less than 30€. Therefore, by getting a combo ticket you are saving a lot of money since it only costs 21€.
Don’t forget to book this activity in advance as it sells out fast – no need to print the voucher.

Alternative plan for those who don’t want to go to the Port wine lodges:

Hours Activity
10am Walk in the city centre: Cathedral of Porto, São Bento train station, Avenida dos Aliados
1pm Lunch in the city centre
2.30pm 6 bridges cruise
4pm Take the tram line #1 riverside
5pm Go for a coffee at Tavi / for a savoury snack at Casa de Pasto da Palmeira

If you’re not so keen on Port wine, then just substitute it with a nice tram ride followed by a coffee at a splendid pastry shop. How does that sound?! 😉

One day in Porto: itinerary for large groups

When you are traveling with a large group (whether family or friends) you most definitely need an open mind and loads of patience.
After all, it is hard to combine the expectations and travel preferences of many people. But I am writing this article to help you make the most of one day in Porto, so here we go!
I am contacted by a lot of groups who, quite rightfully, believe that the best way to spend a day in Porto is to join a half day tour with us because this way they get to see the major sights and points of interests of the city. Moreover, because we only organize private tours, our tours are more price friendly to large groups.
However, if you prefer to do it on your own, these are my suggestions for one day in Porto:

Hours Activity
10am Visit the Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa)
11am Visit the St Francis Church
11h30 Ride a bike until Matosinhos
noon
Have lunch at one of the best seafood restaurants in Matosinhos
2.30pm Go for a walk at Praia de Matosinhos
4pm Enjoy a few capirinhas at CaipiCompany, in Foz

stock exchange palace porto
The Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa), being one of the most famous monuments in Porto, needs no introduction. The tours inside the building are not particularly interesting but the building is stunning and will make your inner-Instagram-lover shine with joy.
Afterwards visit the stunning St Francis church, the only gothic church in the city. Even if you don’t like churches, I highly recommend you to set your prejudices aside and visit this one, because it is entirely covered in baroque gold leaf.
After these too monuments it is time to add some physical activity to your one day in Porto: rent a bike and ride all the way until Matosinhos, through Foz neighborhood! 🙂

best bike tours porto
© Steel Vintage Bikes

You can stop halfway through to climb the Arrábida bridge’s concrete arch. It is quite an interesting activity (have you ever climbed the inside of a bridge?!) and the view at the top is very rewarding.
Then you can continue all the way to Matosinhos, and head straight to one of the best seafood restaurants – I recommend you to go to O Gaveto or Salta o Muro, but you can’t really go wrong at a fishermen city.
After lunch you can go for a walk by the beach of Matosinhos. Afterwards, as you drive towards Ribeira neighbourhood (where you have to return your bikes), stop for a bite at Casa de Pasto da Palmeira (tapas tavern) or Bocca (a great pizzeria).
Another option is to stop pretend that you care about food and ride all the way to CaipiCompany to have some refreshing caipirinhas by the beach.

One day in Porto: itinerary Families with kids

Only parents know how challenging it can be to travel with kids. They get easily distracted / cranky / tired and it can be quite an adventure to make them eat anything.
One thing that I’ve learn after taking many families on my tours in Porto is that kids can be a really good travel companion if 1) you engaged them on the activity you’re taking them to and 2) you give them choices of different activities.
Therefore, I wrote a loose one day itinerary in Porto with a few alternatives – my suggestion is for you to ask your little ones what they would prefer to do! 🙂
But before we move on, I suggest you to discover the best family hotels in Porto.

Hours Activity
10am Walk in the city centre / Take the hop on hop off bus tour
1pm Lunch at one of the best family museums in Porto
2pm Go for one of the best museums in Porto: Biodiversity Gallery or Serralves

If I had one day in Porto with my kids, I’d spend the morning in the city centre, and then do a more kid – friendly activity in the afternoon.
In the morning, you can either take a walk to visit the main monuments: Rua de Santa Catarina (a commercial pedestrian street in Porto), Avenida dos Aliados, São Bento train station, Lello bookstore and the Clérigos tower.
You can also check my guide about the best things to do with kids in Porto.

Rua de Santa Catarina

When I think about families travelling in Porto, the first thing that comes to mind is how to simplify (no fuss, no worries!) and how to get great quality for a great price. So, I got some treats for you below.
A great deal is to get a combo ticket for the Hop On Hop Off Bus, river cruise and Port wine cellar for 25,20€. This is incredibly cheap because the river cruise costs 15€, a visit to a Port wine lodge around 15 / 18€ and the Hop on Hop off Bus around 18€ / day. Save yourself some bucks by buying this online ticket.
An amazing option is this ticket of a city train tour, river cruise and wine cellar visit. It is a great combo if you want to get the most of a single day and it’s very cheap – only 22€. I recommend you buy the combo ticket because if you buy separately you will be paying double that price (over 40€). The city train and the river cruise are wonderful to wind down and relax with kids.
If water is not really your thing, you can get a similar experience by getting a ticket to the magic train tour and Port Wine tasting. The magic train is a quaint way to see the city and children always find it really cute (and adults, too!) 😉

I recommend you to read about the monuments you’ll see on the itineraries of the hop off bus tour in Porto, so that you can explain your kids something about the things they’ll see. Try to learn some fun facts about the places & monuments, and ask the kids – they’ll engage much more with the city this way! 🙂

© Jornal Público

Then, you can go for lunch at one of the best family restaurants in Porto.
In the afternoon, I most definitely recommend you to visit the Biodiversity Gallery, one of the best family museums in Porto, or to visit Serralves Contemporary Museum. Both these museums have very interactive exhibitions and are surrounded by beautiful gardens that you can explore with the kids.

One day in Porto: itinerary for Solo travellers

One thing you don’t know about me is that I’d rather travel on my own most part of the times. Yes, I have people I can travel with, but I simply enjoy the freedom of not having to compromise on my trips, and the likelihood of meeting new people is much higher. It’s addictive once you start doing it, so I totally understand your urge to do it! 🙂
Unlike the other groups I’ve written about here, I don’t think it makes sense to write an itinerary of one day in Porto for solo travellers because you can pretty much do whatever you want.Nonetheless, I’d like to give you a few links that I think that you might like:

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