Porto is a city in the northern region of Portugal. The city is small enough to explore within a couple of days if the trip is planned well. A weekend is not much time when exploring a different country. Focus on one area, and make the most out of your stay. Porto is the perfect place to do this without having too hectic a schedule.

Known for its old-world charm, breathtaking views, and colorful streets, Porto is the perfect destination for those who wish to get away from the rush of city life. Porto itself is already quite modern, but it’s the perfect combination of old and new. If all you have is two days to explore, head to this riverside town for some R&R.

THETRAVEL VIDEO OF THE DAY

Sights to See

The best way to explore the city is by walking. Since Porto is quite compact, visitors need not rent a car to explore. There is no shortage of historical landmarks, activities and food to try. During the daytime, tourists can explore the local landmarks like churches and museums, and in the afternoon and evening, you can enjoy the nightlife and local cuisine.

The Duoro River is the reference point for everything in the city. The river itself can be explored via cable car. Tourists can cross the river by walking on the roof deck of the Dom Luis I Bridge.

RELATED: The Complete Guide To Porto, The City That Inspired The Harry Potter Books

Landmarks

Most of the landmarks in Porto have some historical and religious significance. As a predominantly catholic country, it has its share of churches, cathedrals, and religious monuments. Modern architecture in Porto is focused on maintaining the beautiful traditional structures while incorporating modern technology.

Churches And Cathedrals

A lot of the churches are still being used for church service. Those who wish to take a tour of the churches should come before or after mass so as not to create a disturbance.

  • Porto Cathedral
  • Sao Francisco Church. A landmark that dates back from the Gothic era with Baroque-style interiors / Entrance fee: 4 euros (approx. $4.71) with access to the catacombs and museum
  • Torre dos Clerigos / Entrance fee: 6 euros (approx. $7.06) per person plus access to the museum, 6.5 euros (approx.. $7.65) for access to the museum, church, and tower
  • Igreja do Carmo

Architecture

The architecture of Porto is heavily influenced by the baroque style. The traditional-style buildings and structures are painted in bright colors.

  • Dom Luis I Bridge
  • Sao Bento Station
  • Serralves Museum / Entrance fee: from 12 euros (approx. $14.13)
  • Livraria Lello / Entrance fee: 4 euros (approx. $4.71)

Open Spaces

Porto has a few parks and open spaces where tourists can relax in between destinations.

  • Ribeira Neighborhood (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  • Jardin do Palacio de Cristal
  • Jardim do Morro (Vila Nova de Gaia)
  • Passeio das Virtudes
  • Parque da Cidade

Food And Wine

One cannot go to Porto and not try its signature drink, Port wine, and dish, the Franchesinha. Tourists are encouraged to make reservations for wine-tasting, but a handful of the cellars can accommodate walk-in customers.

  • Port Wine Tasting at Vila Nova de Gaia, the hub port wine
  • Calem / Cost: from 14 euros (approx. $16.48)
  • Sandeman/ Cost: from 13 euros (approx. $15.31)
  • Ferreira / Cost: from 12 euros (approx. $14.13)
  • Café Majestic. A historical café in Porto. It attracts tourists due to its well-made food and art nouveau interior design.
  • Must-Try: Franchesinha sandwich. One cannot leave Porto without trying its signature dish, the Franchesinha. it is made of three kinds of meat: sausage, roast meat or steak, cured ham between two thick slices of bread. Cheese is then placed on top and doused with a sauce made of tomato and beer. It is usually served with French fries. It is said to be inspired by the Croque monsieur.

Where to eat it: 

  • Café Santiago / Cost: from 8.50 euros (approx. $10.01)
  • Lado B / Cost: from 8.75 euros (approx. $10.30)
  • Bufete Fase / Cost: from 9 euros (approx. $10.60)

RELATED: The Best Resorts In Portugal For Sun, Sand, And The Best Of The Beach

BONUS: Day Trip To Guimaraes

Porto can be explored in 2 days, but those who have a day to spare should take a day trip to the city of Guimaraes—a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is highly regarded for being able to preserve the medieval roots while transitioning into a modern era. Here are some spots to check out:

  • Guimaraes Castle / Entrance fee: 2 euros (approx. $2.35)
  • Palace of Dukes de Braganza / Entrance fee: 5 euros (approx. $5.89)
  • Guimaraes Old Town

Where To Stay In Porto

There are hundreds of hotels in Porto. Tourists can easily find one that fits their budget.

  • Vincci Porto / Cost: from $88 per night
  • Hotel Carris Porto Ribeira / Cost: from $160 per night
  • Zero Box Lodge Port / Cost: from $ 65 per night
  • Hotel Internatcional Porto / Cost: from $47 per night
  • Torel Avantgarde / Cost: from $307 per night

Football

The city of Porto is home to FC Porto, a professional football team from the Primeira Liga. The team has won a few titles: UEFA Champions League (1987 and 2004), UEFA Europa League (2003 and 2011), UEFA Super Cup (1987), and Intercontinental Cup (1987 and 2004).

  • Stadium Tour: from 10 euros (approx. $11.77)

Final Thoughts

The charming city of Porto should be included in any traveler’s itinerary. It is a small city, but it has a lot to offer: food and wine, architecture, sports, history, etc. Part of its beauty is that tourists need not rush from one site to the next because there is something to see even in between stops. Best of all, traveling to Porto does not cost an arm and a leg!

NEXT: What It's Like To Spend A Day Exploring Portugal's Algarve