Porto: What to do in one day

Porto: What to do in one day

One day to visit Porto. For backpackers traveling around the world, people in need of a short escape, cheap flights that even allow you to go and come back on the same day, a one day trip is always a good way to experience a place

So, if that is your case and you decided to visit Porto while having just one day to do and see all the main attractions of the city will not be an easy task, we know, but with a little bit of help, it is possible.

Porto is a beautiful little city, in the north of Portugal. By little we mean, New York is 20 times bigger and Madrid is almost 15 times bigger.  

We’re talking about 41 km2 of paradise with its colorful houses, lovable people, great food, and wine. In Porto, there’s a river and there’s an ocean. There’s an industry and there are rural places. Therefore an infinite list of things to do and see. 

Check here what to do in Porto in one day!

So, you’re in Porto’s downtown and you want to spend your day walking around.

Let’s start with what is, for most of the visitors, the central point of Porto.

1. Aliados Avenue - Praça da Liberdade

To be in Porto only for one day and to do most of the things that are required for any visitor, we’ll recommend you to start your walk around 9 a.m. 

You’re right now at the main avenue of the city (it dates the early 1900’s), starting from top to bottom:
  • At the top, you can see the beautiful City Hall of Porto inaugurated in 1957. 
  • Left and right you can see several buildings that are currently banks, hotels, offices, and restaurants.
  • At the bottom eastern side, you have what has been considered in 2013, the most beautiful McDonald’s in the world. You’re probably asking yourself what could be interesting about a McDonald’s? The interior design is Art Nouveau and was one of the most iconic coffee shops of the 1920s. 
  • At the bottom part of the Avenue you have the Praça da Liberdade (Liberty Square) and after the Palácio das Cardosas and Intercontinental Hotel. Here’s also where you can find the Free Tours of City Lovers Porto.

Aliados Avenue - Praça da Liberdade

Just walk by, take a quick view of Praça da Liberdade and go straight ahead to Santa Catarina Street.

2. Capela das Almas - Chapel of the Souls

(Time to Spend: 15min. to 30min.) 

Spending only one day in Porto will compel you to make some smart decisions. Like this one: this is a beautiful chapel all covered on the outside with blue and white tiles in the middle of one of the busiest streets of Porto: Santa Catarina Street. 

The original building dates to the late 18th century, but the tiles were added in the 1920s. The Cult in this chapel is to São Francisco (San Francisco) and Santa Catarina (Saint Catherine). The interior architecture is Neoclassic and it has several altars and a stained glass that represents the souls.

  • Schedule:
    • Monday to Saturday:
      • 7H30 a.m. - 1H00 p.m. and 3H30 p.m. - 7H00 p.m
    • Sunday: 
      • 7H30 a.m. - 1H00 p.m. and 6H00 p.m. - 7H00 p.m.
  • Address: 
    • Rua de Santa Catarina 428, Porto

Capela das Almas

3. Santa Catarina Street and Majestic Café

(Time to Spend: 30mins)

If you are feeling like having a small coffee break this would be a wonderful spot.

The Majestic Café was built in the 1920s with a beautiful interior design of Art Nouveau. Resembling the Venice Coffee Shops, it has stained glasses, crystal chandeliers, and spiral staircases.
Originally had a different name: Elite Café.

Nowadays it is quite known for being the place where J.K. Rowling would have her own coffee breaks and write about Harry Potter. Try to spend a maximum of half an hour here cause we still have a lot to do!

  • Schedule: 
    • Everyday 24/7h
  • Address:
    • Praça de Almeida Garrett, Porto

Majestic Cafe

4. São Bento Train Station

(Time to Spend: 30mins)

What time is it? Late morning? Well, you just had your coffee break, let’s see one of the most hidden treasures of the city: for free! The São Bento Train Station.

The train station was opened in 1916, with Art Nouveau style, similar to King’s Cross in London, but this one has around twenty thousand blue tiles inside, from Jorge Colaço. Those tiles show some of the most important Portuguese Historical Events and Portuguese Traditions.
Leaving the station you will see one street that goes up. Take that street to the Cathedral.
  • Schedule: 
    • Everyday 24/7h
  • Address:
    • Praça de Almeida Garrett, Porto

São Bento Train Station - Blue Tiles

5. Cathedral - Sé do Porto 

(Time to Spend: 30mins to 2H)

Walking up the street until the end and on your right side, you will see our Cathedral - Sé. 

It was built in the 12th Century and suffered a few architectural interventions throughout the centuries. 

Nowadays it has three different styles: Romanesque, Late Gothic, and Baroque. It’s composed of different elements: the Church, the Cloisters, and the Treasury. 

If you continue walking forward you will get to the famous iron bridge of Porto - Luís I bridge - the upper deck. Our recommendation is to choose the Cathedral’s path first. You’ll have time to see the bridge afterward. 

To visit the Cathedral, unless it's a mass day, has a cost, so it might be a good option for those who have a little more time than you. 
  • Schedule:
    • Summer (Apr./Oct.): 
      • 9H00 a.m. - 6H30 p.m.
    • Winter (Nov./Mar.):  
      • 9h00 a.m. - 5H30 p.m.
  • Pricing:
  • Address:
    • Terreiro da Sé, Porto

Porto's Cathedral

Let’s go down to the river.
On the way down, check some restaurants, and let's have lunch. 

Very close to Porto’s Cathedral, you’ll find these small museums:
  • Casa Museu Guerra Junqueiro (optional)
  • São Lourenço’s Church (optional)

But, then again, you don’t have much time so you might have to skip these. Check our list of Museums of Porto for another visit in the future.

6. Palácio da Bolsa - Stock Exchange Building (optional)

(Time to Spend: 1H)

Like the museums mentioned before, for us, the visit to Palácio da Bolsa is optional, because of the time available. You can have a tour inside the Palácio.

It has a gorgeous Arabic room all adorned in gold.

It has a restaurant called “O Comércio” where you can have lunch close to the river.

On the left side of the Palácio, if you are facing it, you have the San Francisco Church.

This whole area is called Miragaia, and it has further south, a very wonderful view of the Douro river and Gaia, the city across.

Curiosity: Miragaia can be split into 2 words: Mira and Gaia, which literally translates to “look at Gaia”.
  • Schedule: 
    • Nov. - Mar.: 
      • 9H00 a.m. - 1H00 p.m. and 2H00 p.m. - 5H30 p.m.
    • Apr. - Oct. 
      • 9H00 a.m. - 6H30 p.m.
  • Pricing of the tours inside: 
    • Individual: 11€
    • Students/Senior: 7,5 €
    • Children up to 12 YO: Free
  • Address: 
    • R. de Ferreira Borges, Porto

Palácio da Bolsa

7. São Francisco Church 

(Time to Spend: 1H to 2H)

We like to think that this is one of the top 5 places you’ll have to visit if you’re in Porto for one day. 

See our post about the Museums of Porto
To visit the Church you will have to pay for the entrance, but it’s completely worth the price. 

You will be able to visit the Church which has a Gothic style architecture but it is adorned with approximately 200 up to 400 Kg of gold in gold leaf. 

You will also be able to visit their Museum and also the Catacombs. 
  • Schedule: 
    • Nov. to Feb. 
      • 9H00 a.m. - 5H30 p.m.
    • Mar. to Jun. and Oct. 
      • 9H00 a.m. - 7H00 p.m.
    • Jul. to Set. 
      • 9H00 a.m. - 8H00 p.m.
  • Pricing: 
  • Address:
    • Rua do Infante D. Henrique, Porto

São Francisco Church

8. Riverside - Ribeira

Walk along the riverside, the area of Porto known as Ribeira. You will see that it has a lot of restaurants and a lot of street performers. If you go through the arcades you can see the Varina (Ladies who sell the fish in the streets) selling their fish like old days. 

Ribeira Porto
Cruises along the River
(Time to Spend: 1H)
Here is where you can go on a riverboat to see the six bridges of Porto and the mouth of the river. 

The schedules and prices vary accordingly to the company but overall they are around:
  • Schedule: 
    • everyday:
      • 10H00 a.m. to 6H00 p.m.
  • Pricing: 
    • 15€
  • Address: 
    • Cais da Ribeira, Porto

9. Luís I. Bridge 

(Time to Spend: 15min. to 30 min.)

Finally, the river and the famous bridge.

Contrary to the common belief the Bridge was not built by Gustave Eiffel, but by his pupil Théofile Seyrig. It was built in 1886. 

If you get to the middle of the bridge and look to your left (east side) You will be able to see another bridge made of metal. That one was the one built by Gustave Eiffel in 1866 and it is called Maria Pia Bridge.
  • Schedule: 
  • open space
  • Pricing: 
  • Free
  • Address: 

  • Ponte. Luiz I, Porto

Luis I Bridge

10. Port Wine Cellars 

(Time to Spend: 1H to 2H)

If you’re a wine lover, even if you just have one day in Porto, let’s spend some time here. 

The visits to the cellars usually have a duration of 30 mins, if they are guided by a person, and 1h30min if they are audio-guided. 

The price to visit the cellars will vary depending on different factors: the number of tastings, quality of the tastings, audio/live guide, etc. Usually between 14€ up to 20€.

Cellars like Taylor’s, Grahams, or Ferreira are most recommended and they’ll give you a good idea of how we produce and age the Port Wine.

There are some amazing ways to combine the Port Wine Cellars and other tastings, like this Wine Tour Porto (Click Here).

If you rather have a glass of Port Wine back downtown and skip the wine cellar experience, you might like the suggestions we have here for you.

11. Flores Street

You’ve been wandering in the riverside, taken some pictures of those (so typical) colorful houses, of the tiles, of the Varina and you’ve felt you just traveled in time. 

But the clock is ticking and it's time to get back. Climb one of the streets from the Ribeira towards the Aliados Avenue until you get to Flowers Street and just walk by. 

This street is, as the riverside, filled with street performers, some wine bars, shops, and restaurants.

We know Porto is not an easy city with all of these ups and downs, but well, it’s part of the experience. And we go up again. You want to make your way up until you reach the Clérigos Church (the Church that has the big Clérigos Tower behind). You can visit the Church, it is an oval-shaped Church, Baroque style and it is free. 

Flores Street

12. Clérigos Tower

(Time to Spend: 1H to 2H - including the museum and Church)

The Clérgios Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks of Porto, and it was built in the late 18th century. 

It has 75.6m and it was the highest building in Porto when it was built. 

Again, you can spend some time here, buy your ticket and climb the 240 steps to the top. The view is breathtaking for sure: it’s 360 degrees of Porto and Atlantic Ocean (a very good alternative is to climb the tower during sunset!).
  • Schedule:
    • Everyday: 
      • 9H00 a.m. - 7H00 p.m.
    • Nocturnal: 
      • 7H00 p.m. - 11H00 p.m. (Special periods of the year)
  • Pricing:
    • Individual: 6€
    • Children up to 10 YO: free
  • Address: 
    • R. de São Filipe de Nery, Porto

Bonus: You’re now in one of the popular neighborhoods of Porto: all around you there’s so much to see: 

13. Old Jail - Portuguese Center of Photography

(Time to Spend: 30min to 1H)

The yellow building you see close to the tower is the old jail of the city and it's filled with some of the most bizarre stories of Porto. It’s free to visit and they preserved the building as the prison was.

See our post about the Museums of Porto

Keep in mind that some of the photographic expositions might be charged, if that’s the case, it is only the room of the exhibit. The rest is still free.
  • Schedule:
    • From Tuesday to Friday
      • 10H a.m. - 6H p.m.
    • Saturday and Sunday
      • 10H a.m. - 7H p.m.
  • Pricing:
    • Free 
  • Address: 
    • Largo Amor de Perdição, Porto

Old Jail - Portuguese Centre of Photography

14. Miradouro São Bento da Vitória
(Time to Spend: 15mins)

That narrow street you see on the left side of the old jail is part of the old Jewish neighborhood. It’s a long street that leads you to one of the most beautiful point views of the city: Vitória’s viewpoint. 
  • Schedule:
    • Everyday: 
      • 9H00 a.m. - 9H00 p.m.
  • Pricing:
    • Free
  • Address: 
    • R. de São Bento da Vitória 11, Porto
View from Vitória

15. Carmo’s Church (optional)

(Time to Spend: 15mins to 1H)

Carmo’s Church is a building from the 18th Century and it is quite gorgeous on the outside with it’s blue and white tile work on the side façade.
Together with the Carmelitas’ Church shares the narrowest house in Portugal between them.
In our opinion, the entry is optional because you can go for free but only allows you to see a little bit of the Church. To see the whole Church and the private areas you have to buy the ticket and do the tour in the little house between the Churches.
  • Schedule:
    • Monday 
      • 12H00 p.m. - 6H00 p.m.
    • Tuesday to Sunday: 
      • 10H00 a.m. - 6H00 p.m.
  • Pricing:
    • Individual: 3,5€
  • Address: 
    • R. do Carmo, Porto

16. Livraria Lello

(Time to Spend: 30min. to 1H - without counting the queue time)

It’s right across the street if you’re in Clérigos Tower, which helps you to make some decisions. If you're a Harry Potter fan and you’ve been looking forward to this moment, well, this is mandatory. Although it might remind you of Hogwarts or any other Harry Potter scenario, J.K. Rowling has confirmed that she was not influenced by this bookstore. It's beautiful, anyway!
We would recommend leaving this one to the end of the day because it’s easier to manage the queue (fewer people). Lello bookstore is a place to check if you’re in Porto for one day. 
  • Schedule:
    • Everyday: 
      • 9H30 a.m. - 7H00 p.m.
  • Pricing (deductible on the price of a book):
    • Individual: 5€ 
  • Address:
    • R. das Carmelitas 144, Porto

Lello's Bookstore
Instead, if you want to skip the Lello Bookstore, as explained before, there’s still a lot to see around you. 

Like, having a beer in:

17. Virtudes

This is another viewpoint.
Usually crowded with people around sunset that just hang out there with their group of friends, having a beer and enjoying the company and view.

View from Virtudes

18. Galeria de Paris

(Time to Spend: 1H)
The Galeria de Paris Street and all around is a good area to have dinner since there’s a lot of restaurants and bars if you want to take a glance at the nightlife of Porto.
These three parallel streets are filled with bars with different moods and music styles for every taste.

The bar Galeria de Paris has Fado Show every day at 6 p.m., it might be a good suggestion if you’re looking for this experience in your one day in Porto.
  • Schedule:
    • Sun. to Mon.: 
      • 10H00 a.m. - 3H00 a.m.
    • Fri. and Sat.: 
      • 10H00 a.m. - 4H00 a.m.
  • Pricing for the Fado show:
    • Individual: 15€ 
  • Address: 
    • R. da Galeria de Paris 56, Porto

Galeria de Paris Bar
An alternative to all of this might be taking a Free Walking Tour Porto with City Lovers Tours. In two free tours, these local guides cover pretty much everything and you have the chance to meet people from all over the world.

Free Tour Porto with City Lovers Tours

So, this is what you can do in one day in Porto. 
We hope to see you around.


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