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3 Days in Porto, Portugal (including the Douro Valley!)

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Porto is no longer a hidden gem in Portugal – its charm has made it a popular destination.  However, Porto is still a smaller city (population 250,000) and there are plenty of quiet streets to wander where only the locals are.

Three days in Porto (with a day spent in the Douro Valley) is perfect for a sampling of activities. Our focus was on tasting local food specialties, seeing the gorgeous buildings (those blue tiles!), and learning about Port wine’s history. I found food options a bit limited as a mostly-vegetarian but my husband loved trying all of the local meat specialties. Instead, I enjoyed tons of Natas – the local pastry specialty 😊

The locals were incredibly friendly and willing to engage in conversations – the best way to learn about what life is really like.  For example, we quickly learned how much of a rivalry exists between Lisbon and Porto – so be careful who you tell which city is your favorite to!

What to Know

  • If arriving at the Porto airport, you can take the purple line into the city center (approx. €3 per person).  If possible, buy tickets individually as the system does not allow multiple tickets to be purchased in one transaction – we learned the hard way but it was a fairly cheap mistake to make). Save your ticket if you’d like to load up the card for additional metro trips around the city.  We walked everywhere for the duration of our stay so did not find this necessary.
  • Everything is within a ~45 minute walk
  • Currency:                          Euro
  • Language(s):                   Portuguese, English
  • Year Established:         1123 (but people were living here way earlier)
  • Drive/Walk on:               Right side

First Day: Exploring Porto

Assuming you arrive to Porto mid-morning:

Morning

Visit the Sao Bento Train Station to see the gorgeous tilework (and purchase your train tickets to/from the Douro Valley if you plan to go on Day Two per below)

Afternoon

Lunch: Cervejaria Brasão (reserve in advance). Order the francesinha (try to guess the secret sauce!

Walk across the beautiful Dom Luís I Bridge

Hike up for great views from Serra da Pilar

Evening

Dinner: Churrasqueira Rotunda Boavista (try the bacalhau!)

Take a Wine Cellar Tour w/ a Chocolate Tasting: Taylor’s  (reserve in advance)

Day Two: Day Trip to Douro Valley

Note: The plan listed below is how we maximized our visit without a car – we walked everywhere

The Douro Valley is the oldest wine region in the world so this is a very special day trip!

Morning

Depart early morning from Sao Bento Train Station in Porto and arrive mid-morning at Pinhao in the Douro Valley (2.5 hr journey). We purchased tickets at the station for less than €20 each, which was cheaper than the price I had seen online!

Tour Quinta da Roeda – great to see the actual vineyards and learn about the grapes and history of the region (reserve in advance)

Take a Boat tour on the Douro River – it’s the perfect way to see the rolling hill scenery. Boat tours leave every hour – just show up down by the river and pay directly (cash only)

Afternoon

Lunch: Segredos Do Douro – nice for a simple, inexpensive local lunch.  Great service.

After lunch, tour Quinta do Bomfim – more factory-like than Roeda but we learned a lot about the wine-making process. This company supplies a lot of the Port wine made. Perfect way to end the day – sampling Port wines (try the one they make by stomping grapes with their bare feet!) and watching the sunset over the river.

Keep track of train times and when you need to be back at the station!   The train sometimes departs Pinhao early, so arrive a little early. Don’t forget to admire the tiles at the train station in Pinhao before heading back on the train!

Evening

Dinner (back in Porto): Marisqueira for great seafood

Third Day: Exploring Porto

Morning:

Breakfast: Bakery delicacies at Confeitaria do Bolhao – order a sampling of items. Don’t miss the ones behind the counter and don’t be overwhelmed by all the Porto locals who know exactly how the ordering/paying at the door process works and will be bustling around you! One of the workers spotted us completely dazed and helped us through the whole experience.

Walk around the Jardim das Virtudes – very peaceful.  Try to find the resident peacocks!

Sit down for a drink at Café Douro – a bit touristy but historic.

Check out the Livraria Lello – J.K. Rowling spent time here writing some of her HP books. Gorgeous bookstore! We just peeked in which was enough to get the feel without paying.

Walk around the Aliados area and then along the Rua das Carmelitas to Igreja do Carmo (more of those gorgeous tile facades)

Check out the Miradouro Area

Afternoon

Lunch: try a local café on Miguel Bombarda Street or grab a hot dog at Gazela

Head back to your accommodation to pack up and get ready to depart Porto for your next destination!

For more Europe travel inspiration, check out my guides here.

Happy Planning!

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