Day Trips from Porto
There are many great day trips from Porto you can take, making it a great base when exploring Northern Portugal. Porto’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent decades, with a huge influx of visitors passing through this beautiful and historic city each year. However, many miss out on the gorgeous towns surrounding Porto. Indeed, there are many brilliant day excursions to be enjoyed just a stone’s throw away. Here are 7 of the best.
Whether you are a nature or beach lover, wine enthusiast, or simply interested in traditional Portuguese towns and their culture, there are day trips for everyone here! Here are seven of the best day trips from Porto that you should add to your travel itinerary. If you prefer independent travel you can explore using trains and buses from São Bento Train Station.
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Braga is a popular day trip from Porto and one of the most famous, historical, and oldest cities in Northern Portugal. You can easily reach Braga from Porto by public transport in a little over an hour.
Braga was the site of the Roman City of Bracara Augusta.
Portugal’s third-largest city is also officially its oldest! Braga was discovered over 2000 years ago and has a deep Roman and Celtic background. This ancient city boasts well-preserved architecture, impressive churches, and a lovely, surrounding Peneda Gerês National Park.
You can visit the Sé de Braga- Portugal’s oldest cathedral. There are also several baroque churches and sanctuaries to visit, such as Bom Jesus do Monte, with panoramic views of the entire city at the top.
Bom Jesus Sanctuary is the oldest church in Portugal.
However, the atmosphere in Braga feels far from old! It is one of Portugal’s most youthful, university-orientated cities and there is a lively nightlife scene here. There are many great restaurants, bars and clubs which come alive most evenings and particularly at the weekend.
During the university months, you can walk around the city center and soak up the pleasant and lively atmosphere. And while you’re at it, try some of Braga’s special dishes, such as its delicious codfish and pastries. It’s a great day trip to consider when you visit Porto.
How to Get to Braga
Car: 54km on toll roads or 70km if you prefer to avoid tolls
Public Transport: It’s about one hour from Porto to Braga by bus or direct train.
Join a Tour to Braga
- From Porto: Braga and Guimarães Full-Day Tour with Lunch – on this trip you travel through the beautiful Minho region and explore the historical center of, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of central Guimarães then travel to Braga, visiting 2 of the most important sanctuaries. Lunch is a traditional Portuguese lunch in a local restaurant. Book this tour early as it sells out fast.
- Porto: Braga & Guimarães FD Tour – Be led by an art historian guide on this 8-hour private group tour of the towers and churches of Braga and the castles, palaces, and churches of Guimarães.
Located in the district of Braga, Guimarães is another top-quality destination that is certainly one of the best day trips from Porto. It is a relatively quick train journey from Porto’s São Bento Station.
Guimarães is one of Portugal’s most important historical cities, famous for being the birthplace of Afonso Henriques- the first-ever Portuguese king. Walking around the walled, historic center and admiring the well-preserved architecture is an excellent experience. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its narrow cobbled streets make you feel like you are traveling back to the medieval era!
A day trip to Guimarães is definitely sufficient; it is a small, compact city with not an overwhelming number of sights. However, there is plenty of sightseeing to be enjoyed. You can explore ancient palaces and visit the old fortress that is Guimarães Castle- which was the seat of the famous King Alfonso in the 12th Century.
As well as the ancient landmarks, there are several interesting museums to visit, and you can even enjoy spectacular panoramic views from Monte da Penha. Take the cable car up the hill for the best views of the city and beyond.
How to Get to Guimarães
Car: 55km with Tolls and 75km without
Public Transport: 1hr and 10 minutes by direct train from Campanha
Tours: they often combine tours to with a visit to Braga
Situated in Central Portugal, Fátima is the perfect destination for religious travelers, or simply those interested in Portuguese religious culture. Although it is located roughly two hours south of Porto by bus, just a day trip to Fátima is definitely enough, given its small size. There are not many things to do, but there is certainly high quality in this compact little city.
The prize attraction of Fátima is, without doubt, its pilgrimage site. The immaculate Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima (also known as the Shrine of Fátima) is a peaceful and pretty pilgrimage site where you can watch many devoted pilgrims praying or even take part yourself.
As well as the Sanctuary, the other standout sight is the brilliant Basilica de Nossa Senhora de Rósario. This striking monument looks just as impressive from the outside as it does on the inside, with its impressively complex interior.
Aside from the religious monuments and culture, Fátima is home to some excellent museums, including the Museu Interativo, which gives an in-depth account of the city’s rich history. After all the sightseeing, you can enjoy some authentic Portuguese cuisine here at a very fair price; Fátima is a fairly inexpensive destination.
Take a Tour to Fatima
How to Get to Fatima
Car: Travelling outside peak hours by leaving Porto early can shave almost half an hour off this trip. The journey takes between 1hr 30 mins and 2 hours 10 minutes.
Public Transport: There is a direct bus from Porto that takes approx 2 hours to reach Fatima. If you only have one day we highly recommend you take a tour.
Without a doubt, one of the most popular day trips from Porto (if not the most popular) is to the vibrant student city of Coimbra. Coimbra lies ideally in the middle of Porto and Lisbon. However, there is no need to stay the night here as it makes for a fantastic day trip from Porto- the journey takes just over an hour.
Coimbra is most famous for its Velha Universidade de Coimbra. This is Portugal’s oldest university and actually one of the oldest in the whole of Europe! Naturally, then, it is a buzzing university town during the academic year (even more so than Braga) with many lively bars and restaurants and busy foot traffic. While gardeners will enjoy the Botanical Garden.
The university itself is home to one of the city’s best attractions- the 18th century Biblioteca Joanina, with its vast collection of medieval literature. At the university, you can also visit the Capela de São Miguel (Sao Miguel Chapel) and climb the university tower for the best Coimbra panorama.
Away from the university, Coimbra is home to several nice churches, including Sé Velha and Sé Nova. Coimbra is also on the banks of the River Mondego, and you can enjoy a really pleasant river cruise here.
Take a Tour to Coimbra
Choose from one of these quality private tours of Coimbra.
How to Get to Coimbra
Car: Coimbra is located 125km south of Porto, the journey to Coimbra takes 70-90 minutes.
Public Transport: The journey takes 70-90 minutes by bus or train.
Dubbed the ‘Venice of Portugal’ with its canals and picturesque houses, Aveiro is one of the best day trips to make when in Northern Portugal. Its location less than an hour from Porto by train makes it a logical day trip to make whilst staying in Porto itself.
Aveiro appeals to relaxed travelers who enjoy pretty views and quieter cities. Without a doubt, the most popular activity when in Aveiro is to take a canal tour along the Rio de Aveiro- the city’s river. Tours are reasonably priced, and you ride on what are known as Moliceiros boats. These are the traditional, local boats of the region and are beautifully colored and decorated.
After taking the canal cruise, there is nothing better than taking a leisurely stroll around the city whilst admiring the colorful houses and riverside views. Sipping coffee or enjoying Portuguese cuisine with canal views is a must!
If you get up early for this day trip, it is also possible to head 5 kilometers out of the city center to visit Costa Nova and relax on its beautiful beaches. This beach town comes alive during the summer months, filled with locals and tourists lazing on its sandy beaches.
Take a Small Group Tour to Aveiro
- Take a traditional boat tour or a half-day tour from Porto
- Aveiro: Traditional Moliceiro Boat Tour – Enjoy a 45-minute ride onboard a traditional Moliceiro boat on this tour through the canals of Aveiro.
- Aveiro Half-day Tour from Porto with Cruise – Beginning and ending at the Fish market, this tour includes a one-hour cruise through Aveiro’s canals in a traditional Moliceiro boat and then a walk around the colorful Costa Nova neighborhood.
How to Get to Averio
Car: Aveiro is 70km south of Porto and a typical journey takes 50 minutes.
Public Transport: Trains to Aveiro stop at Campanhã Train Station and Sao Bento station. The journey takes 50-70 minutes depending on which service you choose.
The Douro River valley is another popular day trip from Porto and one that you shouldn’t miss out on! Famous for its port wine, terraced vineyards, and green river valley views, this area certainly doesn’t disappoint. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The valley offers something for a wide range of travelers; whether you love wine, wandering in the countryside, or even exploring some pretty little towns. There are several ways to reach the Douro Valley. One of the most popular is the day cruise along the Douro River from Porto, where you can enjoy the stunning scenery and wine tasting on this guided tour. You can also get there by road and even train; it is very well-connected to Porto.
One of the most popular destinations to start with is the Vila Nova de Gaia- famous for its port wine cellars, which you can visit on a guided tour. Or if you are a nature lover, head straight to Parque Natural do Douro International. Douro’s international park is breathtaking; you can enjoy walks in the beautiful countryside landscape. The river that flows through the park actually goes all the way across the Spanish border.
If you want to visit wine estates, especially if you hope to cover several in one day, it’s best to choose a specific wine tour. Take a boat ride down the river all the way to the Douro Valley.
Recommended Tours of the Douro Valley
- From Porto: Douro Valley w/ Boat Tour, Wine Tasting & Lunch – With over 3,000 highly positive reviews, this is a popular and high-quality tour by boat of vineyards along the Douro river.
- Full-Day Douro Wine Tour with Lunch and River Cruise – On this tour, you visit 2 wineries, enjoy 6 different wine tastings and a typical Portuguese lunch with DOC Douro wine and take a river cruise through the Douro Valley.
How to Get to Douro Valley
Car: About 200km west of Porto (The journey is as wonderful as the destination!)
Public Transport: Douro Valley is difficult to reach by public transport
A final day trip from Porto to add to your itinerary is the charming town of Amarante. Located in the Minho Region, just over a half hour’s drive from Porto, Amarante is famous for its surrounding rolling green hills and marvelous mountainous landscape. The surrounding Serra do Marão provides great photos for Instagram lovers, as well as the Tâmega River, which flows through the town.
Walking around this ancient town, you will come to a fabulous viewpoint that characterizes the town: Ponte de São Gonçalo. This riverside bridge is a picturesque spot and in the backdrop, you can see the impressive Igreja de São Gonçalo. It is well worth entering this church to admire the interior.
Amarante is famous for Penis Shaped cakes, one of the best known local food treats in the area.
If you have a lot of time in the day, there are many hiking trails around Amarante in the Serra do Marão, each with spectacular views from above. Or if you would prefer to stay closer to the town, you can take a stroll in nature in the Parque Florestal de Amarante- a beautiful park with flora and fauna, as well as the river flowing through.
For those who love history and culture, Amarante hosts the Festa de São Gonçalo each year in January-a lively and colorful festival to celebrate this patron saint.
Recommended Tours of Amarante
- From Porto: Douro Valley Private Tour – This tour takes in four locations, the first of which is the historical center and main sights of Amarante. The palace of Mateus, Pinhao Train Station, and a winery reached by boat are the other highlights of this interesting tour.
How to Get to Amarante
Car: 60km west of Porto, the trip usually takes between 40-75 minutes
Public Transport: Public Transport: It takes about 90 minutes to get to Amarante and may require a change of transport halfway.
Map of Our Favorite Day Trips from Porto
Not sure where these places are? This map might help.
What more day trips from Porto?
Consider one of the following:
- Vila Do Conde – A small fishing town with wonderful beaches.
- Ponte de Lima – On the banks of the River Lima – jump on one of the four daily bus services.
- Hike the Paiva Walkways – 8 kilometers of wooden walkways in Aveiro beside the Paiva River.
- Matosinhos – A major port but most famous for its beautiful beach and many fish restaurants.
- Santiago de Compostela – Soak up the atmosphere in this town where the Camino Pilgrims end their walk.