Spending 2 days in Porto is just enough time to see the city. Of course more time is always better to delve further into the secret spots and hidden corners, but for now, 2 days is just enough. Porto is just as beautiful, historical and exciting as Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city. However, many people leave it out of their Portugal travel itinerary.
This is great news for all of us! Exploring such an underrated city full stunning architecture, port wine cellars, the Douro river cruise, and the historic center is better when fewer people are around. The city has such a magical and alive vibe that will suck you in.
Porto is also a very interesting travel destination if you are a Harry Potter Fan. Because J.K Rowling lived here for a short while when she was writing Harry Potter and much of the buildings and surroundings of Porto inspired the books! You will be absolutely spellbound after your 2 days in Porto and already planning for your return.
Ultimately, you will be surprised by how much you can do in just 2 days in Porto! And luckily for you, I have made this 2 day Porto itinerary packed full of exciting things to do in the city. Let’s get into it!
2 Days in Porto
In This Post
Day 1: Harry Potter & Churches
As you can see on the map, all the things to do during day one are in close proximity and within walking distance of one another. I made it this way so that you can walk to each attraction and take in the beautiful buildings, antique shops, and other sites along the way.
Start the day at Majestic Cafe
Majestic Cafe is the perfect place to start your Porto adventures. Pick up a coffee and treat so you are well fueled for your first of 2 days in Porto. Majestic Cafe is over one hundred years old and is still one of the most beautiful cafes in the world. It was actually destroyed after World War 2 but reconstructed post-war to restore its beauty.
The best part about heading to this cafe is that it is rumored to be the cafe where J.K Rowling wrote the first two chapters of Harry Potter! Majestic Cafe still remains a top tourist attraction in Porto that should not be overlooked.
Igreja Paroquial De Santo Ildefonso
Porto is full of stunning picturesque churches, therefore, the first attraction on your journey will be one of the most beautiful in the whole city. This church is called Igreja Paroquial de Santo Ildefonso. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but you will be awe-struck by this 18th-century beauty.
The buildings and churches are decorated in a very unique fashion in Porto, where azulejo tiles are the star of the decor. This church is decked out with 2000 of these tiles making it look like no other church in the world. As a result, this has become one of the most instagramable spots in the city and a must-see attraction during your 2 days in Porto.
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Admire The Sao Bento Train Station
If you thought the church was beautifully decorated just wait until you arrive at this train station. The Sāo Bento train station was built in the 20th century and is one of the most beautiful in the world. Going into a train station without the intention of taking a train may seem odd but it is one of the biggest attractions in Porto and its beauty should not be missed.
The whole station is decorated in azulejo tiles much like the Igreja Paroquial de Santo Ildefonso church. However, the station has over 20,000 tiles compared to the churches 2,000. The tiles within the station beautifully depict Portugal’s history. Even if you arrive or leave from this train station it is nice to take some time during your 2 days in Porto to walk around the station and take it in.
Check Out The Clerigos Church & Tower
The Clergios Church is yet another stunning church you will see during your 2 days in Porto, however, this church is different from the rest. It is located on top of a hill and is not decorated with tiles like the others. It also comes with an added bonus! Attached to the church is the Clerigos Tower that extends far into the sky well above the other buildings in the city.
Heading up the Clerigos Tower and seeing the panoramic views of Porto from above is a great way to see the city from a new perspective. Due to the stunning views, this attraction can get quite busy in the summer months and there is sometimes a line to go up. But don’t sweat it, find a cafe close by, get a glass of port wine, and wait for your turn. This could turn into a break that was much-needed.
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Explore Livraria Lello
If you are a lover of Harry Potter, books or architecture this is an attraction you must go to. Livraria Lello is a huge library that is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. However, it is no ordinary book store. It has a very unique atmosphere with a winding staircase and dark wood accents.
What’s even better is that this is the library that J.K Rowling created Flourish and Blotts – Diagon Alley’s premium bookstore! If you love Harry Potter and want to feel a part of the magic wizard world this is one of the best places to go to.
More so, if you are a book lover and want to take home a unique souvenir this is a great option. Or if you want to admire the architecture it is also nice to visit.
However, Livraria Lello has become overcome with tourists. So much so, that it costs 5 euros to enter and is very crowded. If you really want to see it without a rush of people, try heading here early in the morning or 30 minutes before closing to beat the crowds.
Visit The Fonte Dos Leões
Once you exit Livraria Lello you will see The Fonte Dos Leões – the fountain of lions – right across the street. The fountain itself is quite grand and lovely to look at with its four huge lions on it, but it is thought to have a secret meaning. The lions aren’t just regular lions they have wings which make them look more like griffons.
This has lead people to believe that this fountain gave the inspiration for Gryffindor! Harry Potter’s house in the infamous novels. In addition, this fountain is located right beside the very old and traditional University of Porto which upholds various traditions such as school uniforms. The uniforms are uncannily similar to those in Harry Potter with their white shirts, ties, skirts, leather cases, and most importantly black cloaks.
A stop at The Fonte Dos Leos is like stepping into the mind of J.K Rowling when Hogwarts was created.
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Look at Carmo and Carmelitas churches
Carmo and Carmelita are two churches located directly beside one another. Carmo was built in the 17th century and Carmelitas was built in the 16th century. The interesting thing about this church is that it looks like they are connected but they are not. They are separated by the most narrow house in Porto called Casa Escondida.
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Day 2: Cultural Porto
Once again all sights and attractions to see during day two are in a close vicinity making walking to each one easy and enjoyable. Be sure to stop along the way if you see something that looks interesting or stands out to you!
Stroll Along The River At Ribeira Square
Start your day off with a bang once again with a walk in one of the most beautiful areas of Porto – Ribeira. This stunning area is full of restaurants, street vendors, and stunning views. It has also been UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
This is Porto’s most picturesque area and the plethora of restaurants with outdoor terraces make sitting and enjoying it very easy. Walking along here and taking some photos is a must. Moreover, ordering a strong Portuguese coffee and pastry while sitting on a terrace is sure to put you in a positive mood.
Walk Across Luis I Bridge
While exploring the Ribeira square you will most definitely see The Luis I Bridge. This is the most iconic and recognizable Porto attraction and the next stop on your journey. The bridge was actually designed by a student of Gustav Eiffel and this is not very surprising once you look at its metal design work.
The best part about this bridge is that you are able to walk across the whole thing. This offers stunning views of Porto and the Douro River from above. Although, you must be careful up here because the train tracks on the bridge are still in use and metro trains regularly speed by.
Viewing The Luis I Bridge from a distance and walking across offer ample photo opportunities that are all absolutely beautiful. Be sure to take some time to soak in the city from above, it is magnificent.
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Check out Porto Cathedral
The Porto Cathedral is a very important building in Porto, that looks more like a fortified castle than a cathedral. It was built between the 12th and 13th century and its stunning roman / gothic architecture makes it a must-see for all visitors of the city.
However, one of the main reasons visitors flock to this Porto attraction is for the view. From the terrace outside the cathedral, you are treated to a stunning view of Porto’s cityscapes from above! With just 2 days in Porto, this is an activity you should not miss out on.
Go on a Douro Porto River Cruise
The Douro River is a stunning river that bisects Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. The river has beautiful sights to see on both sides and six gorgeous bridges crossing over it, one of which is the Luis I Bridge.
Exploring the city of Porto by a river cruise is one of the best ways to discover the city. A Douro River Cruise is very inexpensive and brings its passengers on a 50-minute tour of the whole river. The tour brings you past all the picturesque houses and bridges while giving you useful information about the city.
You can do this tour in either a traditional boat or a modern boat, but I think the traditional boat is best for a more authentic experience.
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Go on a Port Wine Cellar Tour
Porto is famous for three things: Harry Potter, Churches and Port Wine. Out of these three options, the one that has yet to be explored is the Port Wine. That is why the next stop is a Porto Wine Tour!
Drinking the famous port wine in the cellars that it was created in is a surreal experience, to say the least. If you are a wine lover this will probably be one of your favorite experiences in Porto. The combination of the old cellars and drinking a unique wine where it was invented is amazing!
Even if you are not a huge wine lover this is a really fun adventure to go on to learn about Port wine and try some out, who knows, maybe you will become a wine lover.
There are a ton of wine tours that will bring you into the cellars and give you some information while letting you taste the infamous wine. It is a good idea to go on one of these to get the most out of the experience.
Delve into the Historic Centre
Although much of day one was spent exploring Porto’s historic centre, there is always more time that could be spent there. The center is quite big and there’s more to see and do than just the churches and attractions. In fact, Porto’s historic center has been recognized by UNESCO as a cultural heritage site.
If time permits, heading to the center and exploring freely with no direction is a great idea. This way you can go down hidden side streets and find some local gems of the city. Exploring freely is the best way to see the city in its most authentic state and find things you never would have otherwise.
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Watch the Sunset
Watching the sunset while traveling is one of my favorite things to do. There is something so peaceful about the sun going down that really brings everything into perspective. In Porto, there are two great places to watch the sunset from! If you love sunsets as much as I do, you can head to one of these on day one, and the other on day two.
The first place to watch a sunset in Porto is Vila Nova de Gaia, also called Gaia. This is the area on the other side of the Douro River, across the Luis I Bridge. In Gaia, you can go to a local restaurant along the river and eat some authentic Portuguese food with a glass of Port wine, all while watching the sunset. From across the river, you get a panoramic view of the Riberia District with the sun setting in the distance. This is a magical place to watch the sunset while enjoying all Porto has to offer.
The second place to watch the sunset is a little more private and intimate, and it is on the beaches of Foz do Douro. All you have to do is take the number 1 tram for the whole line from the center of Porto. Then you will arrive at a short walking distance from the beaches. From here you can watch the sun descend into the Atlantic Ocean leaving off an orange glow. Watching the sunset here offers the perfect sunset view and shows you a new spot in Porto.
Other Useful Information
Where to Stay in Porto
Porto is a very spread out city, therefore, I suggest getting accommodation as close to the city center as possible. However, the more in the city you are the more expensive it gets if you are choosing hotels with many amenities. However, Porto does have a good public transportation system so if you do want to save money while being in a nicer hotel, I suggest staying a little bit outside the city center. Some options are as follows:
- The Passenger Hostel – I found the hostels in Portugal to be some of the cleanest and nicest I have ever been too! They are very inexpensive and a nice stay.
- Porto City Hotel – For a hotel experience without the price tag.
- Hotel Carris Porto Ribeira – Very well priced with a stunning view of Riberia square and Luis I Bridge.
- The Artist Porto Hotel & Bistrô – S.Hotels Collection – Central location and beautiful rooms.
- Hotel Dom Henrique – Downtown – Great location and a stunning terrace that overlooks the whole city.
How to Get Around Porto
As mentioned Porto is a pretty spacious city, therefore, you are going to be moving around quite a bit. However, as I had mentioned I made this 2 days in Porto itinerary with this in mind and kept everything in order so it was all within walking distance.
While the city is very hilly, and walking can get tiring, this is the best way to get around.
But, if you are unable to walk for a long time, or require a different way to get around, the city has a great public transportation system. There are trams that can transport you around the whole city and they are quite a nice way to get around. They do require special rechargeable tickets that can be bought for one trip, 24 hours or 72 hours.
When to go to Porto
Porto is a travel destination that is no doubt on the rise, therefore, planning on when is the best time to visit is imperative.
During the summer months (June, July, August) Portugal attracts a plethora of visitors, many of which heading to Porto for a day or two and then down South to a beach town along the water. However, the trough of tourists who come in the summer months mean more crowds and prices of accommodation go up.
Instead of visiting in the summer months it is best to visit right before and after these months (March, April, May, and Septemeber, October). These months are not as busy and crowded as the summer months and the temperatures are less extreme. Therefore, this is the best time to visit Porto, Portugal.
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Porto to Lisbon
After visiting Porto many people like to visit Portugals Capital, Lisbon! Lisbon is just a train ride away and is a stunning location to visit. Spending a few days in Lisbon is highly suggested.
Portugal is a very small country and going on day trips or traveling to other cities is very easy and highly suggested. One stunning area of Portugal that is a top travel location is the Algarve. There is a ton to do in this stunning beachy area and a ton of cute coastal cities to explore such as Laos, Faro, Vilamoura and more!
If you prefer to explore a city with the knowledge and expertise of a guide than you should go on one of Portos many tours! I have put a few below that are great and some of the best Porto tour options:
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As you can see, Porto is an absolutely magical travel destination that is full of surprises and beautiful sights to see. With just 2 days in Porto, you can see the majority of the city and really get a feel of what it is all about. I’m sure after the 2 days you will already be planning for your next trip back.
Porto surely is a travel destination like no other filled with culture, beautiful architecture, Harry Potter attractions, great wine, and nice people. If you are considering taking a trip to Porto I highly suggest it.
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