Porto Travel Guide: Plan Perfect Porto Trip

Located along the Douro River, Porto is home to the famous port wine. If you’re planning to visit Porto, check out my Porto travel guide for useful information.

How to Get to Porto

Getting to Porto is straightforward, whether you’re soaring in by plane, riding the scenic bus routes, or catching a train.

By Plane

If you’re flying internationally, you’ll likely arrive at Porto Airport (Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport), one of Portugal’s major airports.

Porto airport is conveniently located approximately 15 kilometers from the bustling city center.

Once you’ve landed, you have several choices to reach the heart of the city.

  • For a quick and budget-friendly option, the metro offers a 25-minute ride for about €2.50.
  • If you prefer the comfort of a car, a taxi ride will cost you around €25.
  • Alternatively, the Aerobus service provides a direct link for roughly €4.
Porto train.

By train or bus

Porto’s extensive bus network or the scenic train rides leading to Campanhã station and São Bento station are your direct line.

If you arrive at Campanhã, a quick connection to São Bento is included in your ticket, so make the most of it!

Getting Around Porto

Once you’re in Porto, navigating the city is a joy in itself.

Porto is a walkable city, perfect for those who love to discover hidden gems on foot.

But, when you’re ready to venture further, Porto’s public transport won’t disappoint.

Buses and metros cover the city extensively, but don’t miss out on the unique experiences—like the heritage trams and the funicular—that turn a simple commute into a scenic joyride.

And for those postcard-perfect city views, take a leisurely ride on the cable car in Vila Nova de Gaia, because seeing Porto from above is something you just can’t miss.

Where to Stay in Porto

Choosing where to stay in Porto is like selecting a fine port wine – there’s a perfect match for every taste and budget.

For as little as €20 to €35 per night, you can snag a cozy bed in places like Gallery Hostel and The Passenger Hostel. These Porto hostels offer not only a restful sleep but also amenities like free breakfast and communal kitchens.

If a dash of luxury sounds like you, boutique hotels such as Eurostars Porto Douro offer river views that will have you gazing out your window all day.

Best things to do in Porto

Porto is a treasure trove of cultural delights and architectural wonders.

Make your way to the Luis I Bridge and take in the sweeping views of the city—it’s an absolute must-do.

As you wander into the heart of Porto, the Ribeira area awaits with its vibrant street life and riverside buzz.

Don’t miss Livraria Lello, a bookstore so exquisite it seems plucked from a literary dream.

Livraria Lello stairs Portugal
Livraria Lello centerpiece – A spiral staircase with carmine red steps leads to the upper floor.

Next, step into the spiritual serenity of the Church of São Francisco or admire the beautiful Azulejos at São Bento Station.

Sao Bento station drawings Porto Portugal.
Azulejos at São Bento Station, Porto.

Porto is about savoring the experience, so why not indulge in a port wine tasting, hop on the vintage trolley, or relax on a sunny beach?

Read next: Best things to do in Porto

When to Visit Porto

If you’re wondering when’s the best time to visit, aim for May to mid-June or September to October

The weather is just right—warm enough to bask in the sun, cool enough to stroll without breaking a sweat.

Sure, the summer months can get hot, and winter can be pretty cold, but Porto always has something special to offer, no matter the season.

How Long Should You Stay in Porto?

You’re likely asking, “How much time do I need to visit Porto?”

Well, if you’re tight on time, a single day could cover the highlights.

But why rush? Give yourself two days, and you’ll explore Porto without haste.

Spend your first day exploring the city center and the lively Ribeira district. On your second day, let the sea air lead you to the beaches and museums. 

What to pack for Porto

Packing for Porto, with its cobblestone streets and a mix of Atlantic breezes and Iberian sun, requires a bit of forethought. Here’s your packing checklist:

  • Comfortable Footwear: Porto is a city of hills and beautiful, albeit uneven, cobblestones. Bring sturdy, comfortable shoes for walking and exploring.
  • Layers, Layers, Layers: The weather in Porto can be changeable. Lightweight, breathable clothing is perfect for sunny days, while a warm jumper or cardigan is essential for cooler evenings.
  • Waterproof Jacket or Umbrella: Porto experiences rainfall throughout the year. Having waterproof gear will keep you dry during those sudden showers.
  • Casual Chic Attire: Porto is laid-back yet stylish. Pack clothes that are smart-casual for evenings out — a nice top with jeans or a casual dress will blend right in.
  • Portable Charger: With all the pictures you’ll be taking and maps you’ll be using, a portable charger is a must to keep your phone charged throughout the day.
  • Sun Protection: Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat are advisable, especially if you’re visiting during the sunnier and warmer months.
  • Power Adapter: Portugal uses the European standard electrical outlets, so bring an adapter if you’re coming from outside Europe.
  • Essential Documents: Keep your passport, ID, travel insurance, and any other travel documents secure and handy.
  • Personal Items: Include your usual toiletries, prescription medication, and a first-aid kit. Pharmacies are widely available, but it’s always best to have your essentials.
  • Light Backpack or Day Bag: Perfect for day trips, carrying your purchases, and keeping your travel essentials while on the go.

How much to budget for a Porto trip?

The first question popping into your mind might be, “How much should I budget for a Porto trip?”

Porto is renowned not only for its delectable Port wine and stately bridges but also for being significantly more affordable than many Western European cities. Yet, prices have been on the rise, so careful planning is key.

Accommodation: A night in a hostel dorm can cost around €20-€35. If you prefer privacy, a budget hotel room ranges from €50 to €80 per night for a double room, while a more upscale hotel can run €100-€150 or more.

Food: You can enjoy a hearty meal at a budget-friendly eatery for about €7-€10. A three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant can set you back around €20-€30 per person. Don’t forget to try a Francesinha – a local sandwich specialty!

Transportation: Public transportation is quite affordable. A single metro or bus ticket costs about €1.20-€2. A day pass, which offers unlimited travel in the city, is around €4-€6. Taxis and rideshares are also available but will increase your budget accordingly.

Ponte Luis bridge Porto Portugal

Entertainment: Porto offers numerous attractions, from its historic Ribeira district to its famous wine cellars. Many museums and cellars charge entry fees of around €5-€15. Consider getting a Porto Card, offering free or discounted access to many sites, along with free public transportation.

Drinks: A cup of coffee is typically around €1-€1.5, and you can savor a glass of Port wine or a beer for about €2-€5 in most bars.

Miscellaneous: Allocate funds for extras like souvenirs or spontaneous tours. Setting aside €15-€25 per day should suffice.

In summary, plan for about €50-€70 per day if you’re a frugal traveler, around €70-€120 for a mid-range experience, and €120 or more for a touch of luxury.

Is it safe to visit Porto?

I traveled solo to Porto, and I felt completely safe when I was there.

However, like any big city in Europe, Porto also suffers from thieves and scams. Most of them are petty thieves, such as pickpockets in tourist areas.

Be aware of thieves in São Bento train station, and keep your eyes on your belongings. Also, count your change carefully when taking any cab in Porto.

Read more: Check my tips on how to avoid thieves and stay safe when traveling.

Is Porto or Lisbon better?

It isn’t easy to choose because I love both of the cities. Porto feels younger and more energetic, while Lisbon is enriched with history and culture. 

If you only have a few days in Portugal, probably Lisbon is a better choice. 

Where to have the best views in Porto

You can enjoy beautiful views along the Ribeira riverfront embankment, but they’re even better from across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia (looking back toward Porto).

For the best experience, consider taking the cable car or visiting Porto Cruz’s rooftop bar.

The public garden next to Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar is also an excellent place for soaking in Porto’s view.

You can also enjoy the views from the top of the Clérigos Tower or the terrace next to the cathedral.

Rabelos boats.
A beautiful view along Duoro River.

Best day trips from Porto

Here are some of the top day trips from Porto, each providing a unique glimpse into the heart of Portugal:

  • Douro Valley: An enchanting region under two hours away, known for its terraced vineyards, Port wine tastings, and river cruises.
  • Braga: An hour’s journey brings you to a city filled with religious history, featuring the majestic Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary.
  • Guimarães: Discover Portugal’s medieval roots in this historic city with its castle and the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza, just under an hour from Porto.
  • Aveiro: Often dubbed the “Venice of Portugal,” this charming town is about an hour’s drive and delights with its canals and Art Nouveau architecture.
  • Coimbra: Home to a venerable university and the ornate Joanina Library, Coimbra offers a rich cultural tapestry about 1.5 hours by train.
  • Amarante: A quaint town an hour away, known for its picturesque bridge, church of São Gonçalo, and delightful local sweets and wine.

Languages ​​in Porto

Like many other tourist destinations in the world, English is a common language used in all communication and commercial activities here.

You can use English anywhere, such as bus stations, railway stations, airports, restaurants, cafes, and bars, without worrying about language barriers.

However, if you know a few Portuguese words, your trip will be much more fun.

Some basic words that you should know are:

  • Hello: Olá
  • Yes/ No: Sim / Não
  • Thank you: Obrigado. If you are a woman, you should say “Obrigada,” but it’s not important at all.
  • Please: Por favor
  • Excuse me/ Sorry: Desculpe
  • Goodbye: Adeus / Ciao

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