Ribeira on Duoro River_3 Days in Porto

3 Days in Porto Itinerary for First Time Travel

UPDATED 5/8/24

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Porto’s city center and surrounding area is a must visit. Situated on the Douro River, the Atlantic coast, and not far from the Douro Valley, another UNESCO World Heritage site, you must carve out at least 3 days in Porto on your Portugal solo travel, and use my tried-and-true Porto itinerary. It has all you need to plan and book the best 3 days (or 4) in Porto for your first time Porto visit.

As you’ll notice from the tips throughout, this perfect Porto itinerary is intentionally written for the first time Porto solo traveler and/or older traveler (I am over 50 and have been traveling solo FOREVER). Yet, anyone can use this travel itinerary it to plan and book 3 to 4 days in Porto.

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All You Need for This 3 Day Porto Itinerary

Here are all of the sites you need to successfully book these perfect 3 days in Porto, Portugal.

I even give you my suggested Porto hostel as a budget friendly and centrally-located stay in Baixa, an ideal location for Porto solo travel on foot.

I recommend you bookmark and use these sites early to lock in your Porto 3 days itinerary and get the best Porto travel deals.

The Ultimate Porto Travel Guide & Video

Don’t forget to use the Ultimate Porto Solo Travel Guide to plan your three days in Porto, Portugal. It is the ultimate one-stop-shop guide for all you need to know to plan Porto solo travel with:

  • Best Time to Visit Porto
  • Getting to Porto
  • How to Get Around Porto
  • Porto Solo Travel Safety
  • Packing Essentials for Porto
  • Best Places to Stay in Porto Solo
  • Best Things to See and Do in Porto
  • Porto Dining, Nightlife and Shopping
  • Best Booking Sites for Porto Travel
  • Top Porto Budget and Ecotourism Travel Tips

Want to see the ultimate Porto Travel Guide instead? Discover Porto visually while learning the top 15 things to know before you go to Porto, from getting there, getting around, where to stay, top things to do in Porto, eco travel tips, what to bring, and more to plan your first time in Porto.

If you’re a first-time traveler to Portugal, also use my Ultimate Portugal Solo Travel Guide full of tips on culture, entry requirements, currency, tipping, using electronics, safety, and a lot more to plan solo travel in Portugal.

Porto and Douro River from behind Calem sign Portugal
Porto and Douro River

Book Your Flight to Porto Early to Save Money

The Porto Card

Buying the Porto Card is not a requirement for this Porto 3 day itinerary. It does cover up to 150 discounts on Porto museums and attractions, including a discount on a port wine cellar, unlimited free local CP trains, public bus and metro transportation – ideal for getting from the Porto Airport to the city center – and can be purchased for increments of 1, 2, 3 or 4 days.

Research the Porto Card to see if it is right for you while seeing Porto in 3 days. I did not opt for the Porto Card on this particular itinerary mainly because I traveled to Porto in the off-season. I opted to buy my itinerary tickets individually, which I’ll show you below.

Still, if you are traveling to Porto during peak season it may help you financially and save time.

The Porto Card Could Save Money and Time

5 MUST DOs in Porto

Yes, you will get to do all of these top Porto things to do in this 3 days in Porto itinerary. Inspired yet?

3 Days in Porto Itinerary

This Porto itinerary provides some of best and free things to do in Porto in 3 days. This uniquely well-preserved and historical city on the Douro River is has just about everything you can think of to do, indoors and out. The city center being a UNESCO World Heritage site further lends to its cache as a top Portugal travel destination.

You’ll be walking leisurely about the city center hills, strolling along the riverside, sipping port, exploring more UNESCO sites and more during these 3 days in Porto Portugal. After your visit to Porto, you may consider Porto your favorite large city in Portugal instead of Lisbon, like me.

Porto 3 Day Itinerary Tips

  • This itinerary assumes staying in Baixa, Porto within Porto’s city center, such as my suggested Porto hostel, or at any of the best hotels or hostels noted above. You can also refer to the ‘Best Area to Stay’ accommodations in the Porto Solo Travel Guide.
  • This itinerary starts the day after arrival to Porto assuming to allow for a full 3 days in and around Porto.
  • Travel in the shoulder season for good weather, long daylight hours, less tourists, and lower costs. Consult the Porto Solo Travel Guide for events in Porto you may wish to attend (or avoid).
  • This Porto itinerary is covered by walking. Porto is very hilly so ensure to wear comfortable walking shoes.
  • Dress in layers to allow for changes in weather if traveling in the off season.
  • Walking, sunshine and drinking port (or wine) in Porto definitely calls for sunscreen and staying hydrated. Be eco-friendly and bring your own travel water bottle, bottle sling for easy carry, and environmentally safe sunscreen.

Arriving Baixa, Porto

I flew from Madrid into the Porto Airport to start my Portugal travel in Porto before spending a day in Coimbra followed by 4 days in Lisbon. It was beneficial to spend 4 nights in Porto to get relax and get oriented before 3 days of sightseeing.

From the Porto Airport you can take the train to arrive Baixa either at the Trindade or Sao Bento station. Ask your hotel or hostel which is closest and more convenient for walking the least amount of hills. Your Porto accommodations should be within a 10 minute walk of either station.

Arriving by dinner time allows you plenty of time to check-in, freshen up, and take in Porto’s city center, dining options, and finding spots for incredible sunset views over the Douro River.

Sunset over Baixa Porto Portugal
Sunset in Baixa

Stick to the Baixa, Bolhão or Sé districts, which are conveniently full of dining options and shops to keep you occupied for a lazy evening.

For casual, inexpensive dining on the east side of Praça da Liberdade (Liberdade Square) in Baixa, try Casa Guides Tradicional on Praça dos Poveiros near the Jardim Marques de Oliveira, which is full of tulips in bloom in the spring. Eat a traditional sanduíche de pernil with a cold, Super Bock lager (or stout) on their rooftop bar over looking the Praça dos Poveiros, which could be lively depending on the night or time of year. Get there early for a good spot.

Sanduíche de pernil sign at Casa Guides Porto Portugal
Casa Guides

Explore as much, or as little, of the Baixa, Bolhão and Sé districts after dinner, but save up your energy for walking the hills of Porto tomorrow.

Day 1 – Baixa, Ribeira & Vila Nova de Gaia

There’s no rush to get up super early for this Porto 3 day itinerary. Breakfast in hotels and hotels start later in the morning (8 – 8:30am) in Portugal than most other European countries.

Partake in your hotel breakfast (or elsewhere), and then be out and about for a self-guided tour of Porto city center, starting in Baixa, which holds many of Porto’s historic landmarks.

Starting on the northern end, take in the expansive Liberdade Square (hopefully construction in this area is completed by now). The rest of the morning will be walking downhill towards the Rio Douro making your walking tour all the easier.

Liberdade Square-Avenida dos Aliados
Liberdade Square

After the plaza, head west towards the baroque Igreja do Carmo (Church of Our Lady of Carmo) to admire the blue-tiled facade and open space of the Praça de Lisboa. From the plaza walk around to tour the Jardim da Cordoaria and Portuguese Centre of Photography.

Portuguese Centre of Photography
Portuguese Centre of Photography

Then go east to pass the Clérigos Church (you can’t miss the bell tower) towards the São Bento railway station. At the busy intersection turn south to walk downhill on Rua das Flores.

Don’t worry. You’ll have time to see Clérigos and the São Bento station later in your 3 days in Porto, I promise.

Take your time strolling the iconic Rua das Flores, lined with restaurants and shops. Window shop or buy souvenirs, and dine here if you want.

Make your way to the open Jardim do Infante Dom Henriquet lined by the distinctly red Mercado Ferreira Borges and the historic Bolsa Palace, the Stock Exchange Palace, where you can take a short, half-hour guided tour if you wish (access only allowed with a guide).

Rua das Flores Porto Portugal
Rua das Flores

After your Bolsa Palace tour, finish your stroll down at the old town Ribeira waterfront. The Cais da Ribeira (riverfront promenade) is known for its own shopping, restaurants, bars, and nightlife.

Find an outdoor spot for dining and people watching. Enjoy the scenic Gaia across the river with the ever-present traversing boats. From the Cais da Ribeira is where you can also do a 50-minute Douro River cruise after lunch so you can absorb fantastic views of Porto and the 6 bridges that cross the Douro River.

Plaza at Cais da Ribeira Porto Portugal
Cais da Ribeira

If you want, here may be a time where you opt for a walking tour or electric tuk tuk tour. You don’t have to, but here are some Porto tour options that take 1 to 3 hours. If you prefer a tour, my advice would be to forgo the morning portion of this first of 3 days in Porto itinerary.

If you finish by noon or earlier, you will still have time for lunch on the Ribeira and a river cruise. Otherwise, pick up this itinerary for lunch and afternoon in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Guided Tour Options to Fit This Porto Itinerary

Refreshed after lunch and the river cruise, and/or guided tour, walk the east along the promenade to cross the Luis I Bridge to do an afternoon stroll on the Avenida de Ramos Pinto for classic views of Porto and port wine tasting in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Cais da Ribeira & Luis I Bridge Porto solo travel
Cais da Ribeira and Luis I Bridge

Shop the local vendors’ tents that line the Gaia riverside while passing the multiple Gaia port houses across the avenida.

You can pop into any as you please or arrange a port cellar tour and tasting. The rest of the afternoon in Gaia is yours.

Signs on Avenida de Ramos Pinto Gaia Portugal
Avenida de Ramos Pinto

Me? I went off a recommendation of a local to taste at port tasting at Ferreira Cellars and Porto Cruz. I first arrived at Porto Cruz housed in a bright blue tile facade building for a leisurely tasting of 5 ports with food at a reasonable price.

I ended up chatting with others lounging on the outdoor patio setting while watching the pedestrians and river boats linger by while the sun slowly descended casting reddish light on the rooftops of Porto’s city center across the water.

Enjoying the spectacularly warm and sunny October afternoon and conversation so much, the time escaped me. I ended up missing doing a Ferreira Cellars tour and tasting and riding the Teleférico de Gaia (the skyrail stops at 6pm). Still, it was worth the lazy afternoon.

View of Porto from Gaia across Douro River Portugal
Porto from Gaia

With the sun almost set, I walked back across the base of the Luis I Bridge to stairs that took me to the top of the bridge for a beautiful westward view of the river and Gaia before enjoing a light dinner of wine and delicious Caprese salad with salmon at La Ricotta in Baixa. I decided to make it an early evening.

Point is, you have the flexibility on your first day of 3 days in Porto to tour and taste at as many port cellars as you wish. Here are some options for tasting and tours that are inexpensive and last only 45 minutes to an hour and a half to fill your afternoon.

Gaia Port Tasting and Tours for this Porto Itinerary

If you decide to stay in Gaia, save a tour of Cálem Wine Cellars with live Fado music for the end. Tours start at 6 or 6:30pm, depending on time of year you visit Porto.

Dine in Gaia and take an electric tuk tuk back to Baixa if you’re too tired to walk the Porto city center hills.

Teleférico de Gaia over Porto Cruz Gaia Portugal
Teleférico de Gaia and Porto Cruz

Day 2 – Duoro Valley & Baixa

Day 2 is full and fully arranged for you, because you’ll have already reserved your wine trip to Douro Valley for port tasting in this fabulous UNESCO World Heritage region of Portugal.

Your tour will leave early so plan for at least a snack and coffee or arrange an early breakfast before you depart Porto.

Douro Valley river cruise and winery Portugal
Douro Valley river cruise

A Douro Valley day trip from Porto is a must-do day trip. I highly recommend this small group Douro Valley wine tour, full of scenic valley stops, an authentic Portuguese lunch, a stop at the famous Pinhão train station to view the beautiful blue tiles, river cruise, and 2 port tasting stops with tours.

Pinhão train station Portugal
Pinhão train station

It’s a a full day away from Porto, but very worth it. Our guide was fantastic, and I learned a lot, not to mention had a wonderful time with my small group (there were only four of us) eating, cruising, and drinking in unforgettable Portuguese scenery.

Traditional Portuguese lunch Douro Valley day trip
Traditional Portuguese lunch

If this Douro Valley wine tour is booked, here are similar highly rated tours for your review to book in advance.

Top Douro Valley Wine Tours from Porto

You’ll be back in Porto in time for dinner, which is a good time to spend more time exploring the dining and nightlife along the Rua das Flores and Cais da Ribeira.

Porto skyline at sunset from Porto Cathedral Portugal
Porto skyline at sunset

Day 3 – Braga & Sé / Baixa

Finish your breakfast early to leave for Porto’s oldest church, Sé do Porto (Porto Cathedral) to take in the spectacular view of the river and Gaia below before leaving. In fact, I recommend catching a sunset from here if you can on your first night in Porto.

Enter the cathedral at opening. Truly unique, this church is a mixture of Romanesque, Baroque, and Gothic styles. It is free to enter with entrance to the stunning blue-tiled cloisters only € 3 (get your ticket there).

Porto Cathedral Porto Portugal
Porto Cathedral

After a brief 30-minute visit, make your way down the hill to the São Bento Station. Upon arriving São Bento, take in the intricate artwork within the iconic blue tiled walls. They are stunning also.

Bento Train Station blue tile Porto solo travel
Blue tile of the Bento Train Station

Buy a round trip ticket to Braga and be on your way on a morning train for an hour long ride to Braga (switching trains in Campanhã).

Braga City Sign and Palacio do Raio Braga
Braga City Sign and Palacio do Raio

The Braga city centre is a 5 minute walk from the train station. Soon you’ll be passing through the Porta Nova Arch and immediately fall in love with this quaint Portuguese town.

You can stop at the Braga Tourism Office for a map or explore on your own.

Porta Nova Arch Braga Portugal
Porta Nova Arch, Braga

From the Porta Nova Arch, I recommend a visit to the Biscainhos Museum and Igreja do Pópulo. Then make your way into the city center.

Other top Braga sights to catch are the Ancient Episcopal Palace and Santa Bárbara Garden, Crivos Housem, Raio Palace, and Braga Cathedral.

Ancient Episcopal Palace and Santa Bárbara Garden Braga Portugal
Ancient Episcopal Palace and Santa Bárbara Garden

This is also Vinho Verde wine region so lunch with some crispy Vinho Verde wine (one of my faves) is also a must in Braga. I recommend a late, outdoor lunch with wine at Casa de Pasto Carvalheiras, but get there before they temporarily close in the afternoon.

Lunch at Casa de Pasto Carvalheiras Braga Portugal
Lunch at Casa de Pasto Carvalheiras

Ride an afternoon train back to São Bento (switch in Campanhã) in time to do the last day pass entry to the 18th century baroque Clérigos church and bell tower, ideal for a sunset. I suggest getting your entry ticket in advance.

Clergios Tower and buildings Porto Portugal
Clergios Tower

You’ve had an hour’s rest on the train so you’ll be ready to climb the 225 steps of the bell tower, which is completely worth it. The tower’s skyline of view of Porto’s red roofs and the Douro River before the sun goes down is something you won’t want to miss.

View of Porto from Clérigos Tower Porto Portugal

The Clérigos church is close to University of Porto and the many restaurants and boutique shopping along Rua das Carmelitas and nightlife activity on Rua da Galeria de Paris to live it up a little to end your 3 days in Porto. I hope you enjoyed it.

Day 4 – Porto Itinerary Option

As you can tell from above, 3 days in Porto is enough time to experience the top sights of Porto and its surroundings. Expanding your stay to 4 days in Porto, of course, allows for more day trips from Porto with Porto exploration at night.

The Douro Valley and Braga were top of my list, but if I weren’t already going to Coimbra for a day before 4 days in Lisbon, I would have stayed at least 2 more days in Porto to visit Aveiro, Barcelos, and Guimarães without having to haul my luggage, for sure.

Can you believe that Aveiro, Barcelos, and Guimarães from Porto are only a 40 to 70 minute train or bus ride? Why not take an extra one or two days in Porto to see more of Portugal?

If you don’t want to go alone, here are some highly rated tours from Porto to Aveiro and Guimarães that I would consider doing, plus some other day trip ideas, you may want to reserve for your Porto solo travel.

Top Day Trips from Porto Portugal

Start Planning Your 3 Days in Porto Budget

Let Me Hear From You

I would love to hear how my 3 days in Portugal itinerary worked on your Portugal solo travel. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!

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2 thoughts on “THE 3 Days in Porto Itinerary for First Timers (2024)”

  1. Hello Gewn.
    Nice post, really nice itinerary for Porto.
    And, yes, we had a really wounderfull time at the Vale D’Ouro wine tour.
    Best wishes, Daniel & Daniela

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