If you love stunning sunsets, ornate tile work, Harry Potter, or wine tasting, you should definitely consider adding Porto, Portugal to your bucket list. The second largest city in Portugal, Porto was the second stop on our Portugal trip. With its narrow alleys and dilapidated buildings, Porto reminded me of Diagon Alley—I can definitely see how living in Porto inspired J.K. Rowling to dream up the settings of Harry Potter. Even if you’re short on time, keep reading to find out how to pack the best of Porto into your 36-hour visit!
Be sure to check out my other Portugal blog posts to help you plan your trip!
- 4 Days in Lisbon, Portugal: Long Weekend Itinerary & Travel Guide
- How to Plan a Day Trip to Sintra, Portugal
Day 1 Evening: Miradouro Serra do Pilar and Dinner at Puro 4050
Having started off our Portugal trip in Lisbon, the easiest way to get to Porto was by train. We took the train from Santa Apolonia Station in Lisbon in the early afternoon, and arrived at Porto Campanha station about 3 hours later. Tip: if you’re under 25, you can get a 25% off discount on your train ticket! Tickets are normally 31 euros, but we got ours for 23.50. From Porto Campanha, we took a 15 minute Uber ride for 4 euros to our AirBnB in central Porto.
After settling into our AirBnB, we took a leisurely stroll through town and across the top level of the Ponte Luis I bridge. From Ponte Luis I, you can catch some of the most stunning views of Porto and the Douro River. We then crossed over to the Vila Nova de Gaia side of the river to find a spot at Miradouro Serra do Pilar to watch the sunset. After the sun went down, we crossed back over the river to Puro 4050 for dinner.
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Image courtesy of Torel Avantgarde
Day 2 Morning: Livraria Lello and Breakfast at Zenith
We started off the morning with a visit to Livraria Lello, a bookstore known for its Harry Potter-esque stairway and interior. Although we showed up at 9:30am right at opening and had bought our tickets online, there was already a massive crowd lined up. This was definitely an “Instagram vs. reality” moment—it was so crowded inside that it was hard to enjoy the bookstore. Don’t be fooled by this photo without anyone on the staircase, I was standing there for a while to get an empty shot. I recommend trying to visit around closing time instead, as it may be less crowded than right around opening.
Once we’d had enough of the crowds at Livraria Lello, we went to check out the famous blue tile wall at Igreja do Carmo. Located about a block up the street, Igreja do Carmo was much quieter than Livraria Lello. There was practically nobody else on the side street with the blue tile wall, and snapping a photo was totally free!
Our next stop was brunch at Zenith, which conveniently is located just across from Igreja do Carmo. The pancake and eggs benedict options at Zenith are well worth a visit!
Day 2 Afternoon: Majestic Cafe and Port Wine Tasting
After brunch at Zenith, we made our way over to Majestic Cafe for some post-brunch mimosas. We really just needed an excuse to check out the cafe J.K. Rowling used to write in when she lived in Porto. Although it was definitely a touristy spot, Majestic Cafe was fun to visit (and less crowded than Livraria Lello).
After relaxing at Majestic Cafe, we spent some time wandering around the city. A spot worth checking out is Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, another stunning blue-tiled church.
We eventually wandered across the Ponte Luis I to the Vila Nova de Gaia side of the Douro River to check out the famous Port wine houses. There are so many options that it was a bit overwhelming to choose, but we ultimately decided to go for Calem Port House. Our Port wine tasting session was easily one of our favorite activities in Porto.
Day 2 Evening: Dinner at Cantina 32
After wine tasting, we spent a few hours at Combi Coffee to get some work done. If you’re looking for a coffee shop in Porto with fast wifi, Combi is your spot! Combi has two locations in Porto—the location we picked turned out to be inside of a clothes store, but it got the job done. We also made a stop at Cremosi for some delicious ice cream.
Before sunset, I did some wandering to look for more photo spots. My first attempt was a bit of a dud—I had high expectations for Miradouro da Vitoria as it had been recommended by our AirBnB host, but it turned out to look more like an [eerily deserted] abandoned lot. My next attempt was more successful: I came across a super cute alley located behind Igreja de São Lourenço, pictured below.
After a long day of exploring, we ended the evening with dinner at Cantina 32. I went for the francesinha sandwich, a Porto specialty that is definitely worth trying before you leave the city.
Although 36 hours in Porto certainly did not do the city justice, if you’re tight on time, I hope you find this jam-packed itinerary helpful in planning your Porto trip! And in case you haven’t already, be sure to also check out my Lisbon Travel Guide and Sintra Day Trip Itinerary. Happy travels!
Through Kelsey’s Lens
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