What can I do in Porto for a few hours?

If you’re doing a trip across Europe, traveling to Portugal for business or you have a layover in Porto for…

Sara Riobom
30 de November de 2018

If you’re doing a trip across Europe, traveling to Portugal for business or you have a layover in Porto for a few hours, it would be such a shame if you don’t get to explore this amazing city.
You can witness so much of the city’s culture and history making your short visit worthwhile.Before we begin, we would like to share some general advice for those who want to make the most out their visit to Porto for a few hours:

  • The airport is 25 / 30 minutes away from Porto’s historic centre, taking an transfer is your best time-saving transportation method to/from the airport. You can either get a private transfer from Porto’s airport (~25€) or get a shared transfer from Porto’s airport (~10€).
  • When you’re exploring Porto’s center, it’s advisable that you walk everywhere on foot or if needed, use the metro. You’ll lose some precious time in Ubers, taxis and buses due to the annoying downtown traffic.
  • If you’re thinking about accommodation, the closer you are to the historic downtown, the better. For more information, read our best neighborhoods in Porto guide.
  • Make your bookings in advance (online or by phone) and that includes monument/museum visits and restaurant reservations.
  • You can join us on a private tour to make the most out of your stay in Porto. We know the shortcuts, hidden spots and secrets. You won’t have to deal with getting lost, waiting lines, or language barriers – and you’ll have a lot of fun! 🙂

These are my suggestions on what to do in Porto for a few hours:

Take the 6 Bridges cruise & visit a Port wine lodge

Several locations | Porto
six bridges cruise porto
© Porto Moments

If you are only staying in Porto for a few hours, then the smartest thing to do is to choose activities that will allow you to get an quick overview of the city, for the lowest possible price.
You can get the ticket to the Hop On Hop Off bus in Porto, but if you want to make a smart choice you buy the combo ticket to the Hop On Hop Off bus in Porto, 6 Bridges Cruise and Port wine cellar as it allows you to save a lot more money than if you purchased each activity separately.
If you are not so fond of the Hop On Hop Off buses you can replace it with a charming city train – you can simply buy the online ticket to the city train, 6 Bridges Cruise and Port wine cellar.

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Admire the São Bento train station’s azulejo tiles

Praça Almeida Garrett | Porto
sao bento station tiles
© Portugal Glorioso

This might be redundant, but we can’t recommend visiting the São Bento station enough even if you’re in Porto for a few hours. Don’t be surprised if you take too long staring at the stunning 20,000 blue azulejo tiles on the interior walls. But the station is more than just aesthetic, it holds an important part of Porto’s story.
When visiting the station, you’ll be close to Porto’s cathedral, Rua das Flores street (gift stores, bookstores, restaurants, bars…etc), the beautiful Clérigos Tower, the astonishing twin churches (Carmo and Carmelitas) and much more. You’ll also be close to the Praça da Batalha, a square surrounded by amazing architecture.
How to get there: it is INSIDE São Bento train station 🙂

Watch a Fado show

Several locations | Porto

casa guitarra cheap fado show porto
Fado is the traditional music style of Portugal and you may not understand a word of it, but it will surely touch your heart 🙂
The traditional Fado shows are quite expensive(~30 / 40€) as they take place during dinner. But most recently some music venues started to offer Fado shows in Porto for very accessible prices (~15€).
One such place is Casa da Guitarra, a lovely music store dedicated to traditional Portuguese instruments, that provides a traditional 1h Fado show.
Another option is to combine the Fado show with a visit & tasting at a Port wine cellar. If you like this idea, don’t forget to buy the ticket to listen to Fado at Cálem’s Port wine cellar. You are saving a lot of money with this combo ticket, as you would pay twice if you bought the activities separately.

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Enjoy the best view of Porto

Rua de São Filipe de Nery | Porto
clerigos tower viewpoint porto

My favourite view of Porto is undoubtedly the one from the top of the Clérigos tower, one of the most famous churches in Porto. You have to face 225 to get there but oh boy, it is totally worth it! As it is a very popular spot, it is wise to get the online ticket to the Clérigos tower.

Nearby you can also enjoy Miradouro da Vitória. (the view is not nearly as incredible, but it is free of charge).

Both spots are near the Stock Exchange Palace, the stunning gothic church of São Francisco, São Bento station and many other important monuments.

How to get there: the subway station São Bento is a 10 minutes walking distance.

Dive into the coffee culture at the most famous avenue in Porto

Avenida dos Aliados, 85-89 | Porto

history famous cafe guarany porto
If you’re a coffee lover like us, you don’t want to miss the opportunity of immersing yourself in the local culture where people sit down, take a moment and truly enjoy their coffee.
But don’t fall right into the charming, yet expensive trap of the Majestic Café, head out to Café Guarany instead. This historic Café which opened in 1933 was frequented by businessmen and liberal professionals at the time thanks to its privileged location at the Avenida dos Aliados, the most important avenue in the city. There, you’ll find the Liberdade Square which has the King Pedro IV monument, an important figure in Porto during the civil war. There is also the stunning City Hall building and many art deco architecture to admire.
How to get there: the subway station Aliados is a 1 minute walking distance.

Have some cheese assortment

Rua Santo Ildefonso,190 | Porto
cheese store porto almada
© Queijaria do Almada

A common regret among our friend travelers is that they wish they brought more cheese from Portugal. So save up some luggage space and prepare your taste buds for the deliciousness that is Portuguese cheese. You can visit one of the Portuguese grocery stores in the city where you can shop for cheese, jam, sausages…etc. But if you’re staying in Porto for a few hours, go to Queijaria do Almada, otherwise known as “the cheese’s paradise” to discover more than 50 types of cheese!
Nearby the cheese store, you’ll get to see the garden dedicated to the women of Porto, Rua de Santa Catarina street (for endless shopping), the stunning blue-tiled church of Santo Ildefonso and more.
How to get there: the subway station Aliados is a 5 minutes walking distance.

Go to a restaurant that serves great Port wine

Rua de Miguel Bombarda, 282

oficina restaurant porto intimate room
If you’re visiting Porto for a few hours, going to a restaurant with a great wine menu will save you the hassle of visiting wine cellars or bars for tastings. One of the best restaurants in Porto is Oficina, a restaurant situated in the heart of Porto’s art district. Oficina serves delicious food which is perfectly paired with wine.
Right in front of the restaurant, you’ll find Centro Comercial Miguel Bombarda which has little stores that sells unique items ideal for gifts or souvenirs (jewelry, azulejos tiles, etc).
You can also stop by interesting streets nearby like Rua do Rosário where you’ll see cute local stores with unique stock (like CRU Cowork and Patch Lifestyle Concept Store). There’s also Rua de Cedofeita street where you’ll find Gelataria do Porto, one of the best ice creams in Porto.
How to get there: the subway station Aliados is a 15 minutes walking distance.

Stop for some quick gift shopping

Rua da Conceição | Travessa de Cedofeita | Rua de Miguel Bombarda

coracao alecrim vintage shop-porto
When you’re in Porto for a few hours, getting gifts at the airport is tempting, but there are better options to save time and money. One example is Rua da Conceição street where you can find a wine store (Universo Carmim), a record store (Porto Calling) and a clothing store with decor & accessories store (Mercado 28).
I also recommend you stop at Rua de Miguel Bombarda to check out stores like Collectiva (contemporary jewelry), Ó! Galería (art) and Materia Prima (record store).
But it doesn’t stop there, you have Travessa de Cedofeita street with more shops including Coração Alecrim (environmentally-cautious clothing), Adorna Corações (photography and contemporary jewelry) and Collectus (vintage things including games, photos, decor items…etc).
How to get there: the subway station Lapa is a 15 minutes walking distance. from all these stores.

Drink a Portuguese craft beer

Rua de Cedofeita, 256 | Porto
porto few hours craft beer
© Catraio

If you’re more of a beer-person, head out to one of the best craft beer pubs in Porto where you’ll have a great selection of Portuguese beers. Luckily, you won’t go too far to find Catraio, a craft beer pub, because it’s located in one of the most famous streets in Porto. They have more than 130 beer varieties with Portuguese beers like Sovina, Burguesa, Letra, Passarola and Mirandum.
In the vicinity, you’ll find the Carlos Alberto Square (named after an Italian king who was exiled to Porto) with a beautiful monument dedicated to the Portuguese troops killed in WWI. You’ll also be close to Avenida dos Aliados and the Lion Fountain in front of the Rectory of the University of Porto – a perfect scene for a panoramic photo.
How to get there: the subway station Lapa is a 5 minutes walking distance.

Visit the Crystal Palace gardens

Rua de Dom Manuel II | Porto
crystal palace garden autumn porto
© Lonely Planet

If you love nature, but you’re only in Porto for a few hours, you can visit one of the best gardens in Porto. Our recommendation is the Crystal Palace gardens, which might be a bit of a walk, but it’s worth it. Inside, you’ll see a great view of the river. There is also water streams, fountains and beautiful greenery.
You won’t be too far from the Lello Library (13 minutes walking distance), Clérigos Tower, the twin churches (Carmo and Carmelitas), São Bento station and more.
How to get there: the subway station Casa da Música is a 20 minutes walking distance. There are also many buses that stop right in front of these gardens, such as 507 and 601.

Walk on the riverside

Cais da Estiva | Cais de Gaia
ribeira sqaure river douro
© Pedro Paulo Palazzo

If you’re only in Porto for a few hours, you may not have time for a boat cruise or a wine cellar visit, but you must see the Ribeira area and the Gaia’s pier! So we recommend you take a walk in the Ribeira area where you’ll find street performers and vendors. Then you can cross the breathtaking Luiz I bridge to Gaia. There, you get to enjoy the amazing view of Porto and see the rabelo boats which were used for wine transportation.
This is a good opportunity to take the Gaia cable car. The trip is around 5 minutes long and with a distance of 600 meters, the view of Porto is unforgettable.
How to get there: the subway station Jardim do Morro is a 1 minute walking distance.

Try traditional desserts in front of the ocean

Rua da Senhora da Luz, 363 | Porto
best places late breakfast porto confeitaria tavi
Some Portuguese goodness waiting for you at Confeitaria Tavi.

When you’re in Porto for a few hours and you wish to be near the beach, you should visit the Foz neighborhood where Tavi is located. Tavi is a bakery that serves a great selection of traditional desserts with a great view of the Atlantic ocean.
In Foz, you can also take a romantic walk along the seashore, try some delicious caipirinha from CaipiCompany or ride the historic tram which will take you back to Porto in no time (just pay attention to the schedule so you’re not stuck waiting). This is the furthest point we’ve mentioned. To get there faster, take tram Line 1 from in front of the Stock Exchange Palace.
How to get there: take the tram 1 or the bus 500.

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