Imagine walking through colorful alleys, your nose lured by the fresh smell of Portuguese pastries, your smile aimed at the blue sky. The only thing missing is a glass of wine. Oh wait, it’s already awaiting you on a terrace by the river just around the corner. Welcome to your long weekend in Porto!

The city of Porto has extremely gained popularity among travelers within the last few years. And there are solid reasons for this. Even though it’s Portugal’s second-biggest city, just after the country’s capital Lisbon, colorful Porto allures with a charming, local atmosphere. It spreads a more relaxed vibe than its bigger sister, while there is no lack of astonishing views, entertaining activities, and culinary options. Thus, a long weekend in Porto is the perfect city break to experience Portuguese flair. So let’s start with this Porto travel guide.

Porto travel guide – What you shouldn’t miss on your long weekend in Porto

Stroll around Ribeira neighborhood

In my opinion, Ribeira is the cutest and most picturesque neighborhood in Porto. It reaches down till the Duoro river.
Just by wandering through the cute, narrow streets, you’ll encounter numerous photogenic spots.

Among my favorite areas are the small alleys around Largo da Pena Ventosa and Rua dos Caldeideiros. When strolling around these steep alleys you can soak up true Portuguese vibes. In some corners, it even feels like you’re walking through any small town in Portugal.
Allow yourself some time for a stop at one of the small local restaurants around that area to taste some authentic Portuguese food or simply a glass of typical Green wine or Port wine.
During your weekend in Porto you should stroll along the colorful houses at Largo da Pena Ventosa

Largo da Pena Ventosa | Porto travel guide

Swing by the train station São Bento

Besides, don’t miss throwing a glance into the train station São Bento. It’s one of Porto’s main train stations and a truly picturesque one. The entrance hall is decorated with more than 20.000 painted tiles. These typical Portuguese azulejos narrate some of the most important scenes of Portuguese history in blue and white.

Weekend in Porto Staedtetrip Reisetipps

Station São Bento | Porto travel guide

Visit Livraria Lello

Worth a stop is also the old library Livraria Lello which obtains a stunningly beautiful ceiling and antique interior. Its magnificent wooden staircase makes you feel like you walked right into Hogwarts.
But be aware, you won’t have it for yourself. Inside it gets crowded quite fast and there might even be a queue. So the best is to get there early in the morning. Also, it costs 5 Euros to enter.

Peek into Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto)

Even if you’re not the biggest fan of visiting churches, a peek into Porto Cathedral is definitely worth it. Just as São Bento, its courtyard is covered in the typical blue and white azulejos (Portuguese tiles) making it another scenic spot on your weekend in Porto.
The Cathedral is in fact one of the city’s oldest buildings and offers amazing views as well.

Walk across Ponte Dom Luís I

One thing you can’t miss during your weekend in Porto is walking over the bridge Ponte Dom Luís I. You won’t be disappointed by the panoramic view from the top. No Porto travel guide would be complete without it.

Crossing the bridge you reach the other side of Duoro River: Vila Nova de Gaia, which is actually a different city. While it belongs to a different municipality, it only takes you a few minutes on foot to reach the spot with the most iconic view on Porto’s colorful riverfront.

When you take a closer look at the bridge’s structure, does a similarity to another impressive metal building pop into your mind? Yep, the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The reason behind this is that Ponte Dom Luís I was designed by one of Eiffel’s students. Already learned something!
Weekend in Porto Staedtetrip Reisetipps

Ponte Dom Luís I Porto

Visit Vila Nova de Gaia during your weekend in Porto

Enjoy the view from Mirador do Serra do Pilar

After crossing the stunning bridge, you’re already in Vila Nova de Gaia – officially a different municipality.

From here you have a fantastic view of Porto’s colorful riverfront and plenty of traditional port boats. Make your way up the hill to Mirador do Serra do Pilar for iconic views on Porto.

Take part in a Port wine tour in one of the Port wine cellars

What would be a Porto travel guide without Port wine tasting? Along the riverfront in Vila Nova de Gaia, you can find lots of options for visiting Port wine cellars. Here you shouldn’t miss enjoying a tour and, as a matter of course, taking part in a Port wine tasting.

There are plenty of varying options. You can join an affordable tour around the cellars where you learn some facts about the history and process of producing port wine, followed by a tasting of two glasses of wine (already starting at around 15 Euros per person). Needless to say, there are diverse offers of more extensive tours with an advanced selection of wines to try as well, such as:
Weekend in Porto Staedtetrip Reisetipps

Port wine tasting | Porto travel guide

Walk the Barredo stairs

Being one of Porto’s oldest neighborhoods, Barredo is where you can experience the authentic side of old Porto.

Between colorful doors and small alleys, you can get a feeling of the everyday lives of Porto’s inhabitants. The Barredo stairs are the connection between Porto’s upper part and the Ribeira area and definitely worth a walk.

Join a free walking tour

In Porto, you can find different operators of Free Walking Tours – a concept I truly appreciate.
We joined a tour with Porto Walkers, which is a locally run operator with local guides. Our guide Sergio was not only extremely knowledgeable and entertaining. He also gave us lots of tips about local restaurants to support.
If you enjoy free walking tours, just do a short research online and you’ll find several operators with various kinds of tours and starting times.
Another sustainable and fun thing to do in Porto is an Electric bike tour through the city.

A day trip to the Duoro Valley

You shouldn’t miss seeing the spectacular Duoro Valley when you spend a long weekend in Porto. It’s the magic place where the grapes for Portuguese wine (mostly the famous Port wine) are grown.
Along the riverbank of the winding Duoro river you can find soft hills strewn with vineyards. One option for a day trip is taking a tour. There are several options for a very special day trip:
I can also recommend a day trip taking a rental car along the road N222 with its scenic part from Peso da Régua to the village Pinhão.
It’s a beautiful winding road along the river with picturesque views of the hills surrounding it.
You should definitely head to one of the viewpoints for a stunning view of the vineyards:
For lunch with a view, there are some great restaurants at the viewpoints overlooking the landscapes. Besides, a scenic lunch spot is the terrace of Veladouro where you can have fresh fish right next to the river.
Weekend in Porto Staedtetrip Reisetipps

Duoro Valley | Porto travel guide

How to move around during your long weekend in Porto

I absolutely love when cities are easily walkable. That’s definitely the best way to stumble upon some hidden spots. Although there are some hills and steps to walk up and down, you can explore Porto fairly easily on foot. Wherever you look, you’ll find pretty houses covered in colorful azulejos (the typical Portuguese tiles inspired by Arabic influences).

Besides, a way of transport worth trying is the city’s historic tram. And here’s one of my highlights in this Porto travel guide: It can even take you all the way to the beach. For just 3,50 Euros you can take a picturesque ride along the river until you reach the ocean. In order to do so, either jump onto tram line no. 1 starting in front of St. Francis church or any of the buses of the lines around 500 (501, 502, etc).

Another option to reach the beach and some cute fishing villages along the river and the coast is by renting a bike. In this way, you’re completely flexible to stop anytime to soak up and take pictures of the beautiful Duoro river.

To reach the city center from the airport is easy and cheap by taking the metro towards Trinidade for only 2 Euros.

Taking the old tram on a long weekend in Porto, Portugal

Taking the old Tram in Porto

Porto’s culinary and sustainable options

Due to its large coast, the Portuguese kitchen is dominated by seafood which you’ll find in any local restaurant. Yet, you’ll find a few vegetarian and sustainable options as well. There are a lot of nice restaurants around Rua das Oliveiras. Some of them even declare themselves as organic or sustainable restaurants.

What I loved: Many restaurants offer free water, often even infused with lemon, cucumber, or mint. So you don’t have to order bottled water and can prevent some waste.

Some of the restaurants I can recommend for a weekend in Porto:

  • Nola Kitchen (no additives and awesome vegetarian options, try their delicious veggie burger)
  • Nicolau (a beautiful spot full of plants and yummy food including vegan and vegetarian dishes)

For Brunch:

  • Mercador Café (amazing vegan sweet and savory breakfast options, also Burgers and Pasta)
  • Zenith Brunch & Cocktails (for vegan options from pancakes to Tapioca, but also for Vegan Shakshuka or Burgers)
Obviously, don’t miss out on trying some Pastel de Nata, the delicious Portuguese egg tarts, which you can buy at any pasteleria (local bakery). Anyone you ask for a culinary Porto travel guide will tell you this.

Additionally, you can stop by one of the many cafes for a short break and a galao (Portuguese cappuccino) or a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
Be aware: While you’ll find fresh orange juice everywhere, they tend to serve juices with a plastic straw. So better just tell them in advance that you don’t need any lid and straw.

Pastel de nata jill on journey

Fancy some delicious Pastel de nata?

Porto Nicolau jill on journey

Where to stay during your long weekend in Porto

There are many accommodations in Porto run by locals – from apartments to local hostels. Those are quite affordable which makes it easy to avoid staying in a big hotel.

  • Apartment recommendation: The stylish Almada Balcony Apartment is super central, so you can easily reach all spots within the historic center on foot. Its highlight is definitely the beautiful balcony!
  • Guesthouse recommendation: Make sure to check out the beautiful Porto Music Guest House, a modern Guesthouse with a focus on sustainability in Porto’s center.
  • Hostel recommendation: If you’re looking for a hostel, I can highly recommend The Passenger Hostel! A super modern hostel in a central location that offers reeeeally good breakfast.

Speaking of accommodations, one of the most interesting facts about sustainable tourism in Porto, I’ve learned from our guide during the walking tour: Porto tries to avoid mass tourism and becoming too crowded with hotels and B&Bs.

While the number of AirBnBs had been rising, at the same time the city was struggling with an extremely high rate of abandoned houses. The result was a lack of affordable homes for residents in certain central areas.
So the city council introduced a new law. Currently, you’re only allowed to open accommodation for short-term stays (this applies to hotels and Airbnbs) when you buy a deserted old building in Porto and renovate it.
In this way, the
city strives to avoid overtourism and enhance more sustainable growth of tourism.

Extend your weekend in Porto and make a road trip through Portugal

One last thought this Porto travel guide can’t leave you without: To make your trip more eco-friendly combine your stay in Porto with a longer journey through Portugal. Don’t just fly to Porto for a few days and head back. While Porto is definitely worth seeing, visiting the city as a short trip is quite unsustainable (especially when flying there).

And believe me, beautiful Portugal has so much more to offer. We fell in love with the country while we cruised along its coast with our windows down and the breeze of the Atlantic ocean around our noses.

weekend in Porto jill on journey

Long weekend in Porto – a wrap-up

Porto in three words: Port wine | steep alleys | azulejos

Did you know? A fun fact I learned in Porto: When you store white wine and red wine for a very long time (apparently more than 40 years), they both end up almost the same yellow color.

Favorite photo spot: Largo da Pena Ventosa

Favorite food: Pastel de Nata from any local bakery / Veggie burger from Nola Kitchen

Can’t miss: trying a glass of port wine

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Long weekend in Porto Pinterest

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