In 2017 Porto was elected the best Europe destination; until just a few years ago it played a secondary role in the Portuguese tourism industry, but today it is a real star with a strong identity and numerous attractions to visit.
You can visit Porto in a weekend, but it is a very charming city that deserves much more time. Follow our one week itinerary in Porto and its surroundings to make the most out of Northern Portugal in seven days.
Elegant palaces decorated with azulejos, evocative bridges, baroque churches and old monasteries, fine sandy beaches and wild waves; these are just few of the wonders you will find during your holiday.
The main highlight of the itinerary is the famous Porto wine, which made this region famous all over the world; we have included a visit to the famous Vila Nova de Gala cellars, as well as a charming cruise along the Douro river that allows you to admire the terraced slopes.
Here comes the map of the one week itinerary around Porto and surroundings. We recommend to move by car; you can rent a car at Porto airport.
Itinerary: 450 km | Duration: 1 week |Best Time: from May to November
The first day is all about discovering the city of Porto. Despite the ups and downs, the city center can be visited on foot and this is definitely the best way to explore its quaint streets, lanes, and squares.
Among the attractions that you can’t miss in Porto there is the São Bento Station, decorated with white and blue azulejos; the Cathedral from the 12th century, the Clerigos Tower, one of the symbols of Porto. Not too far from the center there is the Casa do Musica, an unmissable building for all music lovers.
Harry Potter’s Library
If you are into Harry Potter visit Lello Library, which became so famous that it is required an entrance ticket in order to visit it. The wood staircase inside the library inspired J.K.Rowling to create the scenographic staircase of Hogwarts.
After trying the francesinha for lunch, a typical Porto sandwich that will fill your belly for hours – it is totally forbidden to vegetarians! – keep exploring the city center and just before the sunset reach the Dom Luis I bridge, a real architectonic masterpiece designed by Gustave Eiffel, who designed the famous Eiffel Tower.
It is by far the most famous and most photographed bridges in Porto; walk across it on its upper lever to enjoy a better view. Once you have reached the other side of the bridge take a seat and enjoy the sunset.
Go back to the other side of the Douro river and dine at one of the many restaurants in the Ribeira district, a picturesque riverside district. Have a romantic walk observing the lights of the city reflecting on the surface of the river.
Spend your second morning visiting Vila Nova de Gaia, which is now considered part of the city of Porto, even though it is a different municipality.
Here there are several Porto cellars, where the wine made with the grapes grown in the Douro valley is kept here to mature for years: there are about twenty cellars and almost all of them offer the opportunity to attend a guided tour that includes some wine tasting. It would be great to visit more than one cellar, maybe alternating world famous brands like Sandeman to smaller producers like Poças Junior.
After spending so much time going through some wine tasting, maybe it is time to take a break. There is nothing better than the beaches of Porto that can be easily reached by local buses leaving from the other side of the bridge.
If you are lazy you can pick one beach, maybe Matosinhos or Molhe, and spend the day sunbathing. If you feel more active instead, you can walk along the 11 kilometers promenade from where you can admire all the city beaches and the river estuary.
On your third day get ready to live an unforgettable experience, a one day cruise along the Douro river. After a few hours of sailing you will reach the top of the valley and you will sail across suggestive bridges and dams. In front of your eyes you will see a very charming landscape made of terraced vineyards, those same vineyards where Porto wine grapes are grown.
During the cruise you will have the opportunity to admire Peso do Regua and Pinhão; the first one is an important hub for commercial trades from the city to the valley, and the second one is a lovely little town embraced by cultivated terraces.
Cruises along the Douro usually leave around 8-9 am and return to the city around 7pm. One way (generally the way to the valley) is by boat, while the return way is by bus or train. Prices change according to the itinerary and the services offered.
Tips on the Porto itinerary
Do you want to study an alternative 3 days itinerary in Porto? Follow the one recommended on the two weeks itinerary in Portugal page.
To have more information to plan your visit to Porto, click on the links below.
On your fourth day leave the city of Porto by renting a car and go explore its surroundings; on the first day stop at Barcelos, Braga and Guimarães, three villages full of history.
Have a quick visit around Barcelos and then head towards Braga, an important religious site and university city. Here you will have the opportunity to admire some majestic churches and baroque buildings.
At night reach Guimarães, which is considered the cradle of Portugal, as Alfonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, was born here.
The fifth day is dedicated to the exploration of two medieval towns which are still unknown to mass tourism and for this reason they are particularly charming; Amarante and Lamego.
Amarante is a quiet village surrounded by a spectacular natural landscape, boarded by the majestic Serra do Madrao mountain range, and crossed by the Tâmega river, one of the most important tributary of the Douro. Famous for being the birthplace of San Gonzalo, here there are a couple of interesting churches and a medieval bridge.
The main Lamego‘s attraction is the Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios; in order to access to the church it is necessary to go up a very steep baroque staircase. The city is also famous for the raposeira, a type of white wine that will give you a small break from all the porto wine you have been drinking. Its surroundings are filled with ancient monasteries, chapels, and other ruins dating back to the time of the Visigoths.
Leave early in the morning as it takes about two hours drive to reach Aveiro, your next stop along your itinerary.
Located between the sea and the lagoon and crossed by three canals, Aveiro is famous for its moliceiros, a traditional type of boats that remind of Venetian gondolas.
Having a whole day to look around you can visit the old town of Aveiro and admire its elegant art nouveau palaces, visit its two museums, check the fish market, and go on a river cruise on a colorful moliceiro.
You will also have some time left to enjoy some relax at one of the two beaches located about ten kilometers from the city; choose between Costa Nova, famous for its characteristic striped colored wooden houses, and Praia de Barra, where it is possible to admire the tallest lighthouse of Portugal.
On your last day, according to the time of your flight back home, you can choose between going back to Porto or make a stop in Espinho, a picturesque seaside village.
The beach of Espinho, which is considered one of the most beautiful beaches around this area of Portugal, is a long slope of sand and the perfect place to have a nice walk and admire the colourful fisherman’s boats. If you arrive here before 9am you could also see the fishermen’s wives selling the fish just caught by their husbands.
If you want to make your way back straight to Porto, or if you still have some free time, you can enjoy some shopping on Rua Santa Caterina, the main shopping area of the city and have a break at the very elegant Caffè Majestic.