15 Amazing Day Trips From Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal‘s second-largest city, offers visitors a unique blend of old-world charm and modern vibrancy. But beyond the city’s limits lies a world of breathtaking scenery, quaint villages, and historical sites waiting to be discovered.
In this article, I share a list of the best day trips from Porto, taking you on a journey of exploration and discovery. Whether you’re a foodie, history buff, or outdoor enthusiast, there’s something on this list for everyone. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to explore the beauty of Portugal.
How to get around for Porto day trips
I highly recommend renting a car in Porto, as it gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace and discover hidden gems off the beaten path. You can visit many places near Porto’s beautiful coastline on four wheels.
However, if you prefer not to drive, public transportation is also a viable option, with buses and trains connecting Porto to nearby towns and cities.
If you want a more organized experience, there are also several day tours available that cover popular destinations such as the Douro Valley or the medieval town of Guimarães. These tours often provide insightful commentary and take care of all transportation, making it a hassle-free experience.
Best day trips from Porto, Portugal
Porto is a vibrant city brimming with culture, history, and incredible attractions. But there are also plenty of road trips that you can take to explore the rest of Portugal! From coastal towns to mountain hikes, here are some of the best day trips from Porto:
The Douro Valley is renowned for its incredible beauty and stunning landscapes, making it one of the most picturesque destinations in Portugal.
As you wind your way along the Douro River, you’ll be surrounded by terraced vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see, with the river snaking its way through the valley below.
The region’s rolling hills are covered in lush greenery, dotted with charming villages and historic towns that offer a glimpse into the local culture and traditions.
I highly recommend taking a scenic boat ride along the river to enjoy the stunning landscapes and learn about the region’s history.
Another popular activity is visiting one of the many wineries in the area to taste the famous Port wine and learn about the wine-making process. You can also explore the quaint towns and villages nestled among the hills, such as Pinhão and Peso da Régua, which offer charming cafes, restaurants, and shops.
How to get to Duoro Valley
To get to the Douro Valley from Porto, take a scenic train ride from São Bento Station or book a guided tour that includes transportation.
Known as the “Venice of Portugal,” Aveiro is famous for its picturesque canals, colorful Moliceiro boats, and stunning architecture.
Besides, Aveiro also boasts several historic landmarks and cultural attractions, including the Aveiro Cathedral, the Art Nouveau Museum, and the Mercado do Peixe fish market. You can also explore the town’s stunning beaches, such as Praia da Barra and Costa Nova, which are famous for their colorful striped houses.
When visiting Aveiro, be sure to sample the town’s famous delicacies, such as Ovos Moles, a sweet egg-yolk pastry, and the fresh seafood caught daily from the nearby Atlantic Ocean.
How to get to Aveiro
To get to Aveiro from Porto, you can take a train from São Bento Station, with a journey time of approximately one hour.
Alternatively, you can book a guided tour that includes transportation and a visit to other nearby attractions.
Arouca Suspension Bridge & Paiva Walkways (Passadiços do Paiva)
Arouca Suspension Bridge, which spans the Paiva River, offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, while the walkways take you on a thrilling journey through stunning landscapes, including waterfalls, rock formations, and lush forests.
Along the walkway, there are some places to stop and take in the views, including lookout points and resting areas.
For the more adventurous, there are also opportunities to go rafting or kayaking on the river. In addition to the bridge and walkways, Arouca is also home to several other attractions, including the Arouca Geopark, which offers a range of outdoor activities such as hiking and mountain biking, as well as the Santa Maria de Arouca Monastery, a stunning 12th-century building with a rich history.
How to get there
To get to Arouca from Porto, you can either rent a car in Porto or take a bus from Porto’s São Bento Station. If you choose to drive, you’ll enjoy the scenic journey through the countryside and mountains, while the bus ride takes approximately one hour.
You can also sign up for a combined tour of both Paiva Walkways and Arouca 516 Suspension Bridge.
Braga, also known as the “Rome of Portugal”, is a beautiful city located just a short distance from Porto. The city is known for its historic landmarks, including the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary, which offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside from its hilltop location.
In addition to its religious landmarks, Braga is also home to many museums, gardens, parks, and a lively food and shopping scene. Some of the must-visit attractions include the Braga Cathedral, the Biscainhos Museum, and the São Frutuoso Chapel.
How to get to Braga
To get to Braga from Porto, you can take a train from São Bento Station or a bus from the Bolhão Bus Station. The journey takes approximately one hour by train or bus and offers stunning views of the Portuguese countryside along the way.
You can also take a Braga and Guimaraes day tour from Porto, so it’s hassle-free!
Guimares is a charming and picturesque city in northern Portugal that I highly recommend visiting. Its historic center, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a true gem with narrow streets, old buildings, and beautiful squares that will transport you to medieval times.
One of the must-visit attractions in Guimares is the Castle of Guimares, situated on top of a hill and offers breathtaking city views. Another must-see is the Palace Duques de Bragança, an impressive building showcasing the region’s history and culture.
Make sure to try the famous “Cozido” (a stew made with different meats and vegetables) and the “Vitela Assada” (roast veal), among other dishes.
How to get to Guimares
Getting to Guimares is easy from Porto. You can take a train or a bus from Porto’s city center, which takes around an hour.
You can also join a day tour from Porto that takes you both to Guimares and Braga.
Citania de Briteiros
As you wander through the ancient hilltop settlement of Citania de Briteiros, you will be enchanted by its raw beauty and fascinating history. The stunning views of the surrounding landscape from the hilltop will take your breath away, and the intricate details of the Celtic ruins will transport you back in time.
You can explore the well-preserved houses, cisterns, and religious sanctuaries, while imagining what life was like for the Celtic people who lived here over 2000 years ago.
How to get to Citania de Briteiros
To get to Citania de Briteiros from Porto, you can rent a car and drive for approximately one hour or take a train to Guimarães and then a bus to the site.
Peneda Gerês national park
If you’re looking for a breathtaking escape from the hustle and bustle of Porto, then a day trip to Peneda Gerês National Park is a must-visit destination.
As you make your way to the park, you’ll be greeted with stunning views of Portugal’s countryside, with lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and tranquil lakes. Once you arrive, you’ll be struck by the natural beauty of the park, with its rugged terrain, winding rivers, and breathtaking vistas.
You can spend your day exploring the park’s numerous hiking trails, which will take you through dense forests, past ancient ruins, and up to panoramic viewpoints. You can also take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of one of the park’s many natural pools or simply relax in the shade of a towering oak tree.
How to get to Peneda Gerês National Park
Getting to Peneda Gerês National Park from Porto is relatively straightforward. You can take a bus from the city center to the town of Braga, and from there, transfer to another bus that will take you directly to the park.
Another way is to rent a car from Porto or join a hiking tour. With a knowledgeable guide, you’ll get to explore this natural paradise with all the safety and plenty of fun.
Buçaco National Forest
If you’re looking for a day trip from Porto, then you can’t go wrong with visiting the stunning Buçaco National Forest.
Once you arrive, you’ll love the beauty of the towering trees, vibrant flora, and picturesque landscapes. You can get there by car or public transportation, which takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes from Porto.
Walking through the forest, you’ll discover many trails offering breathtaking views and hidden gems around every turn. There are also several historic buildings within the forest, including the Buçaco Palace Hotel and the Santa Cruz Monastery, which add a touch of elegance and intrigue to the area.
One of the most enjoyable things to do in Buçaco National Forest is to have a picnic or relax with a book while surrounded by the peacefulness of nature. You can also enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and bird-watching.
I love the beauty of Coimbra‘s historic center! It is filled with narrow cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and stunning landmarks like the University of Coimbra and the Old Cathedral. The city also sits on the banks of the Mondego River with spectacular views and a tranquil atmosphere.
There are plenty of things to do near Porto in Coimbra, whether you’re interested in history, art, or food.
You can visit the Biblioteca Joanina, a beautiful baroque library that’s one of the most stunning in the world. Or, you can explore the Machado de Castro National Museum, which features a wide range of art and artifacts throughout Portugal’s history.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Coimbra during the academic year, you can soak up the lively atmosphere of the city’s student population, which is one of the oldest and most prestigious in Europe.
Viana do Castelo
If you’re looking for a charming coastal town to explore, Viana do Castelo is a great day trip destination from Porto.
I love wandering the town’s historic center, filled with colorful buildings, narrow streets, and charming cafes and shops. The town also sits on the banks of the Lima River with stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
One of my favorite spots is the Basilica of Santa Luzia, a stunning hilltop church with panoramic views of the town and the surrounding area. I also enjoy strolling along the Praia do Cabedelo, a beautiful beach popular with surfers and other water sports enthusiasts.
Of course, no visit to Viana do Castelo would be complete without sampling some of the town’s delicious seafood, such as the local specialty, salt cod.
And if you’re lucky enough to be in Viana do Castelo during one of the town’s many festivals, such as the Romaria da Senhora d’Agonia, you can experience the lively and colorful atmosphere of this vibrant community.
Santiago de Compostela (Spain)
Located just about 2.5 hours south of Porto, Santiago de Compostela is known for its stunning cathedral, rich history, and vibrant cultural scene.
The city’s historic center has stunning buildings, narrow streets, and charming cafes and shops. Its centerpiece is the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, a stunning Romanesque cathedral that’s been a pilgrimage site for centuries.
You can visit the Museum of the Galician People, which features exhibits on the history and culture of the region. Don’t forget to add Alameda Park to your itinerary, a stunning green space that locals and visitors adore.
For an unforgettable experience, plan your visit to Santiago de Compostela in June, when the town comes alive with a myriad of festivals and celebrations, such as the Feast of Saint James. You can immerse yourself in the vibrant and colorful atmosphere of this community and join in the fun with the locals.
Valença do Minho
Valença do Minho is a charming medieval town in northern Portugal, just a stone’s throw away from the Spanish border. It’s famous for its well-preserved fortress, which has protected the town for centuries and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. As you stroll through the town’s cobblestone streets, you’ll be transported back in time to a bygone era.
There are plenty of things to do in Valença do Minho. I love walking along the Minho River, which forms the border between Portugal and Spain.
Another unique experience in Valença do Minho is walking along the top of the town’s fortress walls, offering stunning views of the town and the surrounding countryside.
To get to Valença do Minho from Porto, you can take a train from Porto’s Campanha Station, which takes about 1.5 hours.
Matosinhos is a vibrant coastal city located just a short distance from Porto, famous for its stunning beaches stretching for miles along the Atlantic coast. Whether you’re looking to sunbathe, swim, surf, or just relax and enjoy the scenery, Matosinhos has something for everyone.
There are plenty of things to do in Matosinhos, including visiting the town’s many seafood restaurants for their fresh and delicious seafood dishes. You can also explore the town’s historic center, which has charming cafes, shops, and museums.
And if you’re a fan of contemporary art, you won’t want to miss the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, which features an impressive collection of modern art.
To get to Matosinhos from Porto, you can take the metro from the city center, which takes just 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can take a bus or drive, which takes around the same amount of time.
Ponte de Lima
Ponte de Lima is a charming medieval town located in the heart of Portugal’s stunning Minho region. The town is famous for its beautiful historic center, filled with ancient buildings, narrow streets, and picturesque squares. The Lima River flows through the town, adding to its natural beauty and creating a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.
There are plenty of things to do in Ponte de Lima, including exploring the town’s many historic sites and museums, such as the impressive Parish Church and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
You can also enjoy the town’s many outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and fishing. And if you’re a fan of wine, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to try a wine-tasting tour by visiting the nearby Vinho Verde region, which produces some of Portugal’s finest wines.
To get to Ponte de Lima from Porto, you can take a bus or drive, which takes around an hour.
Amarante is a charming town in the Tâmega Valley, just a short drive from Porto. The town is known for its stunning natural beauty, with the Tâmega River flowing through the center and the surrounding mountains providing a picturesque backdrop.
Amarante is also famous for its historic architecture, including the stunning Ponte de São Gonçalo and the Convent of São Gonçalo.
You can do plenty of things in Amarante, from exploring the town’s historic sites and museums to hiking in the surrounding hills and enjoying the local cuisine.
I enjoy visiting the House Museum of Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, a world-renowned artist, or exploring the ancient Roman ruins at the nearby village of Tongobriga. The town is also famous for its delicious pastries, such as the famous Amarante’s Folar.
To get to Amarante from Porto, you can take a bus or drive, which takes around an hour.
When is the best time to visit Porto and its surroundings?
The best time to visit Porto and its surroundings depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re interested in enjoying the beaches and warm weather, the summer months from June to September are the ideal time to visit. During this time, temperatures can reach 30°C, making it perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and outdoor activities.
However, if you’re interested in exploring the cultural and historical attractions of Porto, I recommend visiting during the spring or fall months from March to May or September to November. During these months, the weather is mild, and the crowds are smaller, allowing you to fully appreciate the city’s charm without the hassle of long lines and big groups.
For wine lovers, the best time to visit is during the grape harvest season from September to October. This is when the Douro Valley is transformed into a sea of vineyards, and you can experience the wine-making process up close.
What to pack for Porto day trips?
When heading out for a day trip from Porto, there are certain items you should definitely pack with you.
First and foremost, remember to bring comfortable shoes! The streets of Porto can be quite uneven and hilly, so make sure your footwear is up to the challenge.
Next, depending on what time of year you’re visiting, it’s important to bring along appropriate clothing. In the summer, shorts and light layers are ideal; in winter, bring heavier sweaters, jackets, and a scarf or two.
You’ll also want to have enough sunscreen if needed – Portugal gets plenty of sunshine! Lastly, don’t forget some snacks or lunch supplies since you will likely be out all day exploring.
To sum up, the best day trips from Porto offer a wealth of opportunities for travelers to explore and experience the beauty and culture of Portugal. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, food, or adventure, there’s a day trip on my list that will cater to your interests.
So, take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life and venture out to discover the charm and diversity of Northern Portugal. These amazing day trips will surely make your visit to Porto memorable!