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1 Week in Porto

Porto is an extraordinary city that has all of the ingredients to deliver a memorable holiday. The historic centre proudly boasts traditional architecture, astounding buildings and winding streets; crammed with hidden gems, whilst modern Porto delivers a vibrant culture and daring cuisine.

Porto

This picturesque city is also ideally situated near fine beaches, Portuguese heritage sites and historical towns, making it a perfect destination for those, young and old, looking for a stand-out break. This guide will provide a flexible itinerary for a 1 week holiday to Porto. It has been designed for visitors without a rental car as all of the daytrips can be easily reached by inexpensive public transport.

Overview: One week in Porto Itinerary

Day 1 – Explore Porto
Day 2 - Vila Nova de Gaia and Port tasting
Day 3 – Beach day at Espinho
Day 4 – Day trip to Guimarães
Day 5 – Day trip to Braga
Day 6 - Day trip to Aveiro
Day 7 – River cruise or Matosinhos Beach

Day 1 – Discovering Porto

To get a real taste of Porto, it is recommended to spend the first day exploring the city centre and historic Ribeira District. Porto is a compact city and is easy to explore on foot. All sites are well signposted but it is recommended to get a map of the city to make sure that the top attractions are not missed!

Clérigos tower Porto

The view from the Clérigos tower

The main tourist office, based along Rua Clube dos Fenianos (on the west side of Porto City Hall), is a perfect spot to grab a map and start a day’s tour of Porto. From here it is easy to take in the top sights, which include; the view from Clérigos Church and Tower, mystical Lello bookshop, ancient Porto Cathedral and grand Avenue of the Allies.

The Sé cathedral

The Sé cathedral

The latter part of the day should be spent down by the river front in the Ribeira District. This is the oldest section of the city and is a charming warren of narrow streets, home of many fine restaurants and bars. The district also provides great views over the iconic Ponte Luís I Bridge and Douro River.

 

 

Day 2 Vila Nova de Gaia and Port tasting

Vila Nova de Gaia city, situated on the southern banks of the Dourio River, is the renowned home of Port. Whilst the city is equally as picturesque as Porto, the real tourist highlight is taking one of the many Port tasting tours.

 

Port tasting: All of the major Port produces offer tours of their Port cellars and the tours include Port tasting at the end. These tours are surprisingly cheap (starting from €6) and the price is based upon number and quality of drinks tasted. To become a real connoisseur, it is recommended to join multiple tours; just check the times of English tours at the start of the day. Two currently top rated tours are historical Ferreira cellar (€6 per person) and swanky Espaço Porto Cruz (€5 per person).

Vila Nova de Gaia

The water front of Vila Nova de Gaia

Boat cruise: Tourists can join a one hour cruise along the Douro River from Vila Nova de Gaia that pass under all of the iconic bridges of Porto (the full day tour is suggested for day 7). Passengers should also try spotting the bridge built by Gustave Eiffel. Prices start from €12.5 per adult and children are normally free.

cable-car of Vila Nova de Gaia

The cable-car of Vila Nova de Gaia

Cable car to Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar: The Vila Nova de Gaia cable car connects the banks of the river to the vantage point of the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar. The cable car costs €4.50 single ride and cars run daily from 10:00 to 20:00.Vila Nova de Gaia offers many fine restaurants and an enjoyable evening can be spent in the bars of the city. For more information on the sights of Porto please click here

Day 3 – Espinho Beach Day

It is often a surprise to visitors to learn that Porto is surrounded by a beautiful coastline, which has some fine, sandy beaches; perfect for a day’s relaxing.

Espinho beach

The colourful fishing boats at Espinho

Espinho Beach: Amongst these, the resort town of Espinho has one of the finest surfing beaches, which is situated along a 17km stretch of shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean. Surf equipment can also be rented at a reasonable price.

Espinho Casino

Espinho Casino

For those who get bored of the beach: The town is a traditional fishing settlement with its own fleet that land their colourful boats on the beach. At the centre of the town is the largest casino of northern Portugal, and there are many great restaurants and bars, too. For the more energetic tourists, there is also a scenic cycle path and hiking route that follows the coastline.

How to get to Espinho: The town is located 20km to the south of Porto and connected by the Porto–Aveiro railway, which departs from Porto’s Sao Bento Train Station. For an in-depth guide to Espinho Beach please click here.

Day 4 – Day trip to Guimarães

Guimarães is a historically significant city, where Portugal is considered to have been founded. It was also the birth place of the first king of Portugal and was the original capital city. The centre is exceptionally preserved and brimming with historical and architectural wonders; most of which were built before Portuguese independence. For an in-depth guide to a day trip to Guimarães, please click here.

Praça de Santiago Guimarães

The Praça de Santiago in central Guimarães

Top attractions not to be missed include; Guimarães Castle, Palace of the Dukes of Braganza, Olive square and Misericórdia convent. It is also recommended to spend time roaming the traditional winding streets to discover other hidden gems. Tourists should also take the cable car to Penha Hill, which provides fantastic views of the city and has enjoyable hiking trails.

How to get to Guimarães: The city is connected to Porto via a direct train that departs from Porto’s Sao Bento Train Station.

 

 

Day 5 – Day trip to Braga

Braga is a historic yet cosmopolitan city that offers visitors numerous interesting attractions. It is also the religious centre of Portugal and the city contains more churches per square kilometre than any other Portuguese settlement.

Top attractions not to be missed include; Braga boasts the oldest cathedral of Portugal, but this is equally balanced against the students of the Universidade do Minho, who bring energy to this city. Braga is centred around the beautiful Praça da República with the famed fountains, while the Raio Palace is a fine example of baroque architecture.

Bom Jesus do Monte church

The Bom Jesus do Monte church

Braga contains one of the most iconic monuments of northern Portugal; the Bom Jesús do Monte church. The church is located at the top of a steep hill with a decorative baroque staircases lead up, while for the less energetic, the world’s oldest water powered funicular transports visitors up the hill. It is also worth visiting the colossal Sé Cathedral. For a guide to a day trip to Braga please click here.

How to get Braga: Braga is connected to Porto by a direct train service that departs from the Porto’s Sao Bento Train Station.

Matosinhos beach porto

The wide golden sands of Matosinhos beach

Alternative option for Day 5: If churches are not of particular interest, it is worth considering a day on Matosinhos beach, the closest beach to Porto, with a return trip via the coast and tram. For a guide to Matosinhos beach please click here.

Day 6 - Day trip to Aveiro

Aveiro is a pretty city that is located on the edge of the Ria de Aveiro Lagoon, close to the beautiful beaches of the Silver Coast. Aveiro is crossed by multiple canals and a popular activity is riding one of the “moliceiros”, gondola-like boats that glide through the city.

canals of Aveiro

A gondola passing along the canals of Aveiro

Close to Aveiro is the picturesque resort town of Costa Nova, which is famed for the striped summer houses that line the beachfront. Combined, Aveiro and Costa Nova make for a pleasant and relaxed day trip from Porto.

How to get to Aveiro: There is a direct train from Porto to Aveiro, which leaves from Sao Bento Train Station. This is the same service as that to Espinho Beach. For a guide to a day trip to Aveiro day trip to Aveiro please click here.

Day 7 – Douro Valley and River Cruise

As a memorable last day in Porto, it is suggested to take a relaxing cruise up stream on the Douro River. This picturesque guided trip takes guests along the terraced vineyards of grapes, used to produce Port. There are many variations of these river tours available; most travel up (or down) the river in one direction and return via train. Prices of tours vary dependent on food options and comfort level, ranging between € 35-75.

Peso da Régua

The terraced vineyards close to Peso da Régua

Another much cheaper option is to catch the train from Porto (Sao Bento Train Station) to Pocinho. The scenery between the towns of Pinhão and Pocinho is beautiful, but unfortunately there is not much to see in Pocinho. The towns of Peso da Régua and Pinhão are much more interesting and worthy of a stop on the return train journey.

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1 Week in Porto

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1 Week in Porto

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Porto is a great alternative holiday destination, see why!

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2 days is the ideal length
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1 Week in Porto

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Porto is a great alternative holiday destination, see why!

2 Days in Porto

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2 days is the ideal length
to discover Porto