Are you ready for an unforgettable 48 hours in Porto? We found our escape to one of Europe’s most captivating cities to be endearing. Both the city and the people welcome you with open arms, promising that you will enjoy a blend of rich history, delicious cuisine, and breathtaking views. In this whirlwind journey of Porto, I’ll explain everything you need to make the most of your short but sweet stay in this charming city.
If your stay includes visiting Lisbon, be sure to read my article on 48 hours in Lisbon
Where to Stay
For an authentic Porto experience, consider staying in a traditional Portuguese guesthouse or a cozy Airbnb. Areas like Ribeira and Baixa offer charming options that immerse you in the city’s culture.
- Gallery Hostel: This is a budget-friendly hostel in Porto known for its clean and comfortable dormitory-style rooms. It’s also a great place to meet fellow travelers and has a friendly atmosphere.
- Residencial Monte Carlo: This is a simple and affordable hotel located in the city center. It offers clean rooms and basic amenities, making it a good choice for budget-conscious travelers.
- Hotel Brasília: Another budget-friendly option, Hotel Brasília is located near the Campanhã train station, making it convenient for travelers arriving by train. It offers comfortable rooms at reasonable rates.
- Hotel Dom Henrique – Downtown: This hotel is centrally located in Porto and offers comfortable rooms with modern amenities. It’s a midrange option that provides a good balance between price and quality.
- Hotel Teatro: Hotel Teatro is a stylish and well-rated midrange hotel located near major attractions like the Clérigos Tower and Livraria Lello. It’s known for its unique design and excellent service.
- PortoBay Flores: PortoBay Flores is a boutique hotel in the heart of Porto. It offers a combination of modern comfort and historic charm. While it’s more expensive than budget options, it’s still considered midrange.
- The Yeatman: This luxurious wine-themed hotel offers stunning views of Porto and the Douro River. It’s known for its Michelin-starred restaurant and extensive wine cellar, making it a top choice for wine enthusiasts.
- InterContinental Porto – Palacio das Cardosas: Housed in a historic building, this upscale hotel is located in the city center, near landmarks like São Bento Train Station and Porto Cathedral. It offers luxurious rooms and top-notch amenities.
- Pestana Palácio do Freixo: Situated in a beautiful 18th-century palace on the banks of the Douro River, this five-star hotel offers a tranquil and luxurious retreat just outside the city center.
We stayed at the beautiful Se Catedral Hotel Porto, Tapestry Collection by Hilton. It is located next to Porto Cathedral, with views of the Porto downtown area. We used mileage points which made it quite affordable.
From the moment I arrived, we loved the hotel’s charming ambiance, which perfectly complements Porto’s rich history. The staff is warm and attentive and we felt very welcomed. Our room was not only impeccably clean but also thoughtfully designed, with modern amenities that ensured a comfortable stay – and had a great view of the city. The hotel’s central location near Porto’s iconic cathedral and other attractions made exploring the city a breeze.
Se Catedral Hotel Porto exceeded my expectations in every way, and I can’t wait to return. It’s a perfect choice for anyone seeking a blend of luxury, history, and hospitality in this beautiful Portuguese city.
Taste Porto: Culinary Delights
Porto’s gastronomy is a journey in itself. Start your day with a “pastel de nata” and strong Portuguese coffee. Explore local markets like Mercado do Bolhão, where you can sample fresh produce and regional specialties.
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You will find so many restaurants to dine at. Here are some of my favorites:
Adega de Sao Nicolau: Known for its excellent Portuguese cuisine and warm ambiance, they offer a range of affordable dishes, including traditional Portuguese tapas. It’s often praised for its friendly service and cozy atmosphere.
Cozina Cabral: This charming little restaurant is a local favorite, offering delicious Portuguese cuisine at reasonable prices. It’s known for its seafood dishes and cozy, welcoming atmosphere.
Floresta Cafe By Hungry Biker If you’re looking for a mouthwatering breakfast, this is the place to go. They are famous for their generous portions. It’s a budget-friendly option and has rave reviews on TripAdvisor.
O Buraco: Located in the heart of Porto, O Buraco is known for its traditional Portuguese cuisine. It’s a small, family-owned restaurant with a warm and friendly atmosphere. Their daily specials often provide affordable and delicious options.
Cafeína: While not the absolute cheapest option, Cafeína is known for its high-quality food and pleasant dining experience. It offers a diverse menu with both Portuguese and international dishes, and lunchtime menus can be more budget-friendly compared to dinner.
What Dishes to Eat In Porto
Exploring the Sights: A Visual Feast
Porto is a treasure trove of architectural wonders. Begin at the Ribeira District, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and marvel at the colorful buildings that line the riverbanks. Cross the Dom Luís Bridge for panoramic views of the city.
Local Insight: Porto’s historic center is a maze of narrow streets and staircases. Take your time to get lost in its charm; you might discover hidden gems!
Immerse in Culture: Traditions and Customs
Customs: Porto is a city that deeply values tradition. You’ll often find locals engaging in “fado” music, a soulful Portuguese genre that tells stories of love and longing.
FAQ: Q: What’s the best time to experience “fado” in Porto? A: Many restaurants in Ribeira offer live “fado” performances in the evening. It’s the perfect way to soak up the city’s atmosphere. See a very helpful list here.
Cultural Gem: Visit the São Bento Railway Station to admire its stunning azulejo tilework, depicting Portugal’s history.
A Waterfront Sunset: Magic on the Douro
As the sun begins its descent, make your way to the banks of the Douro River. Porto’s sunset is legendary, casting a warm glow over the city’s skyline. This is where you ponder life’s mysteries and the beauty of travel.
Question for You: What is your favorite way to capture a beautiful sunset – photographs or simply savoring the moment?
Nature Escape: The Douro Valley
Excursion: Join a wine tour to the Douro Valley, Portugal’s renowned wine region. Sip on the finest wines and witness the terraced vineyards that cling to the hillsides.
Local Insight: The Douro Valley is not only famous for its wine but also for its breathtaking landscapes. Don’t forget your camera!
Travel Essentials: Getting to Porto
Before I dive into the heart of Porto, let’s get you here hassle-free. Whether you’re arriving by air, train, or bus, Porto is well-connected. The Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, just a short ride from the city center, makes it convenient for international travelers.
- By Air:
- Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO): Porto’s international airport, also known as OPO, is the primary gateway to the city. It’s well-connected to major cities in Europe and other international destinations. From the airport, you can easily reach the city center by taxi, metro, or bus.
- By Train:
- CP (Comboios de Portugal): Portugal’s national railway company operates train services to Porto from major cities within Portugal, including Lisbon and Braga, as well as from international destinations like Vigo in Spain. The main train station in Porto is São Bento Station, known for its stunning tilework.
- By Bus:
- Rede Expressos: This is the main long-distance bus company in Portugal, offering connections to Porto from various cities in Portugal and even some international destinations.
- By Car:
- If you’re traveling within Portugal or from neighboring countries, you can reach Porto by car. The city is well-connected to major highways and roads.
- By Boat:
- Porto has a well-equipped harbor, so it’s possible to arrive by boat or cruise ship. The Port of Leixões is the main port in the region, and it’s about 4 kilometers from Porto city center.
- By Metro and Public Transportation:
- Once you’re in Porto, you can easily get around the city using its efficient public transportation system, including the metro, buses, and trams.
Pro Tip: Book your flights and accommodations in advance to secure the best deals for your 48-hour adventure.
Travel Essentials: Getting from Lisbon to Porto
Getting from Lisbon to Porto is relatively straightforward, and you have several transportation options to choose from depending on your preferences and schedule. Here are the most common ways to travel between these two cities:
- The train journey between Lisbon and Porto is one of the most popular and convenient options. You can take a train from Porto’s main train station, São Bento, or Campanhã, to Lisbon’s main station, Santa Apolónia.
- Several bus companies operate services between Lisbon and Porto. The journey takes longer than the train, typically around 3.5 to 4.5 hours, depending on traffic and stops.
- If you prefer driving, you can rent a car in Lisbon and take the A1 highway to Porto. The journey takes around 3 to 4 hours, depending on traffic and stops along the way.
- Remember to factor in toll costs and parking fees if you choose this option.
- While it might seem counterintuitive, there are also flights available between Lisbon and Porto. However, this is usually the least practical option, considering the time it takes to get to and from the airports, security checks, and potential delays.
Porto’s Endless Charm
As your 48 hours in Porto come to an end, you’ll find that this city has woven its magic into your heart. From the mesmerizing architecture to the sumptuous cuisine and the warm embrace of its people, Porto is a place where memories are made.
In just two days, you’ve scratched the surface of this enchanting city, leaving you with a longing to return. Porto’s allure is timeless, and no matter how brief your visit is, it will leave an indelible mark on your travel memories. So, when will you plan your next Porto adventure?
Don’t wait too long. Porto awaits, ready to welcome you back with open arms.
Optimize Your Experience: Remember to book your flights and accommodations early, embrace the local culture, and savor the culinary delights – all key ingredients for an unforgettable 48 hours in Porto. If you are planning on visiting Porto, be sure to visit Lisbon which is so close and offers a different experience to Porto.