How To Spend One Day in Porto

Even if you have only one day in Porto you will still have time to discover its charm. From its panoramic riverside landscape to its world-class wine and cultural sights, there is no wonder that this gorgeous city has experienced a tourism boom in recent decades.

One day in Porto
If you love European cities, you simply have to visit Porto!

Although a major tourist destination in Portugal and indeed Europe, one day in Porto is definitely enough to get an overview of this magical city. Its major attractions are all pretty much located within a walking distance of the city center and there is a great a public transport system that includes an excellent metro line should you want to travel further.

Even if you don’t take a train, pop into the Sao Bento train station, which is an attraction itself, with its stunning tiled walls. With train stations that look like this, it’s easy to see why Porto is one of the most romantic cities in Europe.

Some travelers like to relax and stay a little longer here, but one day in Porto will definitely make you feel satisfied.

Porto is a beautiful city that is perfect for a range of travelers. This includes solo backpackers, couples, and even cruise ship travelers. You can learn so much about Portuguese history and culture, taste some authentic local cuisine or simply relax and cruise around the city’s river.

Here are eight great things to do on a perfect day-in-Porto itinerary.  

Admire The Views From The Dom Luis Bridge

It is no exaggeration to say that the views from Dom Luis Bridge will take your breath away! Named after Luis I and standing at an impressive 45 meters tall, this 19th-century bridge is filled with tourists all day long.

Dom Luis Bridge

This famous double-decker bridge is ideally located very close to the city center and the famous São Bento Train Station- Porto’s main train station. Instagram lovers will be in their element in this picturesque location! You can admire scenic views of the river and Porto’s skyline.

It is a brilliant viewpoint all day, but sunset has to be the best. Watching the sun go down here is certainly an unforgettable experience!

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Take a Cruise Along The Douro River

Why not head down and take a boat ride along Porto’s touristy river strip as part of your day in Porto itinerary?

River Douro and the riverbank of Ribeira District in Porto, Portugal
Douro River cruise

There are two main options: a whole day cruise out to the Douro Valley or a one-hour Douro River Cruise (known as the Six Bridges Cruise). Naturally, most travelers just here for the day will go for the one-hour option. Especially as the full-day cruise goes outside of the city and into the surrounding region.

The views are brilliant on the Six Bridges Cruise, passing through Porto’s six famous bridges along the Douro river.

Wander Around The Ribeira Neighbourhood

Whilst visiting Porto, you will notice the down-to-earth, working-class nature of the city. Nothing reflects this more than the Ribeira Neighborhood. The neighborhood is the center of walking tours and travelers exploring Porto. It is not to be missed, along with its Cais da Ribeira promenade.

Ribera neighborhood

On the banks of the River Douro, the Ribeira Neighbourhood is one of the oldest and most traditional neighborhoods in Porto. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its historic buildings and narrow, cobbled streets. You will encounter friendly locals and the iconic washing hanging down from the ramshackle houses.

Visit The Harry Potter Bookstore

The Livraria Library is actually one of Porto’s most popular attractions. This seemingly inconspicuous bookshop is famous for a variety of reasons.

Its beautiful, well-crafted interior leaves tourists in awe! The library is perhaps most famous for its association with J.K Rowling. The famous Harry Potter author was said to have visited the library many times. It even inspired her novels!

Livraria library (Lello bookstore)

These days, the Livraria Library is a brilliant bookshop that serves as a tourist attraction. There is just a €5 entrance fee which is fully discountable against the purchase of a book.

Admire Porto Cathedral, Igreja de Santo Ildefonso and Carmo Church

Porto Cathedral (known as the Sé) is the city’s main historical landmark and one of its most ancient buildings. Enjoying a prime location in the Old City Centre, Porto Cathedral boasts impressive, very traditional architecture and an extremely well-crafted interior. You can gaze in awe at the Baroque/ Gothic interior for free.

Igreja do Carmo

There is a €3 fee to access certain parts of the Cathedral’s interior and the floor above. Here, you can also go onto the cathedral terrace for panoramic views of the city. 

Two other beautiful Porto churches are Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, an enormous church with impressively beautiful architecture, and Carmo Church (Igreja do Carmo) whose exquisite azulejos tiles cover the facade. You’ll find them both near Batalha Square.

Go on a Port Wine Tasting Tour

Naturally, you can’t spend a day in Porto without at least tasting its rich, homemade Port Wine! Many restaurants serve delicious local delicacies, but why not go even better and take a port tasting tour?

For the best port wine, head to Vila Nova de Gaia. This is actually a separate little town just south of the Douro in the Porto Metropolitan Area.

Porto Wine Cellar Tour
A port wine tasting at Vila Nova de Gaia is a great thing to do on your day in Porto

Vila Nova de Gaia is renowned for its many port wine cellars, which can be visited as part of organized tours. A Porto tasting is a great excuse to drink delicious, sweet wine whilst meeting other travelers.

Wine connoisseurs can arrange to have any purchases shipped to their hometown in Europe or beyond.

Enjoy Porto’s Fresh Produce

Porto has some delicious local specialties available in cafes and restaurants in the historic center and beyond.

Probably the most famous is an incredibly filling ‘sandwich’ known as ‘Francesinha’. The reality is that this is far from a sandwich- you will be full for the rest of the day after eating this. A Francesinha often contains various types of meat, eggs, cheese, and salad. (link to the article on the Francesinha)

francesinha typical porto sandwich food with lots of calories
Francesinha, a Porto original specialty!

You could also have lunch at one of the many seafood restaurants by the waterfront. Other Porto specialties include the delicious ‘Pastel de Nata’, fresh seafood, and much more delicious Portuguese cuisine.

Visit Some Local Beaches

As well as being a major port city, Porto has some beautiful beaches ideal for day trips. Cruise travelers stopping off for a day in Porto often love just to relax on one of these pristine Portuguese beaches with splendid views of the Atlantic Ocean.

You can take a short day trip out of the city to Praia dos Ingleses with its lovely seafront promenade. Or why not head to Praia de Matosinhos? This is actually the largest beach in the region. You can relax in the sun or even have a go at surfing. The waves are big enough!

Matosinhos beach

There are many more cultural sights and brilliant things to do in Porto. However, a one-day Porto itinerary is certainly enough to enjoy the city whilst ticking off a bucket list city.

With its historic charm, riverside views, excellent gastronomic and wine experiences, it is no wonder that Porto has transformed from one of the world’s hidden gems into a tourist hotspot in Western Europe. One day in Porto never disappoints and you will definitely want to buy a postcard to send home.

Save Our Porto Map for Your Visit

You might like to consider a Porto Card, which includes free public transportation including:

  • Free Metro Do Porto (all lines)
  • Free Bus STCP (all lines)
  • Free Train CP Porto (Urbanos Valongo, Trofa, Espinho)

It also includes free entry to a number of museums and sites.