The 4-day Porto itinerary was about a long weekend trip around my birthday. Since this was our first trip to Portugal, we planned to see other places near Porto as well. Therefore, we took two more days off and made a 4-day trip to Porto.
Porto is bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. The coastal city in northwest Portugal is famous for its stately bridges and port wine production. As a port wine lover, I was so excited of the journey and made detail planning long before our trip.
Where we stayed
We redeemed a discount coupon from Accor Hotel chain and booked the Novotel in Vila do Conde. Nowadays, the hotel has changed its status and become Axis Vermar. The hotel is at the north of Vila do Conde in Póvoa de Varzim, a sandy coastal plain and a well-known beach resort for over three centuries.
If you only want to spend a weekend in Porto only, I would recommend to book a hotel in Porto. The night view in Porto is impressive and the nightlife in Porto old city is something you should experience. You will find hotels right in the city centre, for example, check Pao de Acucar Hotel, which offers art déco-style interiors. The famous Sao Bento Railway Station is 500 metres away, and Douro River is 15 minutes’ walk.
Rent a car or use public transportation
We have put the city of Porto, the Douro Valley and north area of Portugal on our Porto itinerary. In Porto, tourists can buy a type of Porto transportation card which is valid for 1 to 4 days. It has benefits of using the public transport system, having more than a hundred of discounts, including free access to several museums and discount on a visit to a port wine cellar.
Having analyzed the distance and the public connection, we opted for renting a car for our weekend trip to Porto. The cost to rented a car in Porto is reasonable.
After our trip, we were happy of having a car to get around. First of all, as our hotel was in a small town where the public transportation was not so frequent. Then, we stopped at many places when the views were nice without the dependency of the local public transportation. Lastly, the parking in those places were very easy and the parking fee was very low as well. If we took the public transportation, we would have paid triple and perhaps wouldn’t make to all the sites.
The details of our Porto itinerary
Our final Porto itinerary included eight places. The 4-day Porto itinerary was:
- Arrived at Porto, visited and dined at Vila do Conde
- Made a day trip to Porto and did wine tasting
- Douro Valley, Amarante, Pinhão, and the Mateus Palace near Vile Real
- Went to the north of Porto, Ponte de Lima, the Spanish town TUI, and Valenca
We should have spent more time in places such as Ponte de Lima or Pinhão to really enjoy the authenticate feelings.
Cruise and train are the best alternative to explore the area. Take a look at the following tours:
Arrived at Porto, visited and dined at Vila do Conde
We arrived at Porto in the afternoon and headed to our hotel in Vila do Conde. After checked in, we went to the town to look for a place for dinner. But the town was surprisingly attractive to many sites. Therefore we roamed around the area for two hours before our dinner.
In the heart of the town stands the church Igreja Matriz. Not far from the Igreja Matriz, the Monastery of Santa Clara dominates the skyline of Vila do Conde. However, in a hurry, we missed the visit to the second largest Portuguese aqueduct system.
Related post: Vila do Conde, an unexpected visit to the coastal town
Made a day trip to Porto and did wine tasting
The Douro River goes through the city of Porto. The famous bridge Ponte Dom Luís I links the old city centre and the new part, Vila Nova de Gaia.
We did not follow a special route described in many travel guides. Our walking trail through the city mainly included the following highlights:
- Igreja dos Carmelitas and Igreja do Carmo, the churches for monks and nuns
- The University of Porto, the second-largest Portuguese university
- Livraria Lello, the bookstore with iconic red stairway
- Clérigos Church and Tower with panoramic views
- Avenida dos Aliados, a grandiose avenue,
- Igreja de Santo António dos Congregados with azulejo tiled facade
- São Bento Station with 20,000 tiles depicting the historical scenes
- Palácio da Bolsa with a hall that attempts to copy Grenada’s Alhambra Palace
- Praça da Ribeira, the true heart of the old city
- Dom Luís I Bridge, a double-deck metal arch bridge
- Scenic riverside road Cais de Gaia
- Wine tasting in Calem
Related post: Porto, the Port Wine Town and Beyond
Drove to Douro Valley, Amarante, Pinhão, and the Mateus Palace near Vile Real
A trip to the Douro valley is a must for wine lovers. Being the oldest demarcated wine region in the world, Douro Valley is listed as a UNESCO site.
Our Douro Valley journey included these places:
- Amarante, a sleepy village with an old arched bridge
- Pinhão, a wine town encircled by terraced hills
- The Mateus Palace, a Baroque architecture near Vila Real
Related post: Douro Valley, the Perfect Port Wine Region
Went to the north of Porto, Ponte de Lima, the Spanish town TUI, and Valenca
North of Porto is remote and breathtaking. The Minho shoreline, home to vast sandy beaches, and quiet fishing villages have rich green landscapes. The day trip included four places:
- Ponte de Lima, a charming town of northern Portugal
- TUI, a Spanish border town
- The Inland village Valenca
- Amorosa Beach near Anha
Related post: A Day trip to the Remote North of Porto
How to get to Porto
Porto’s Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO) is an international airport situated 11km northwest of the centre. A few low-cost carriers are flying into Porto, such as EasyJet, Ryanair, and the Portuguese national carrier TAP. We took Lufthansa from Frankfurt am Main and landed in Porto after two hours.
From the Airport, you can arrange a private transfer to Porto city at a budget price.
Porto has national and international rail links, with two main train stations in the city.
Some local and regional trains departing form other cities within Porto districts stop at the impressive São Bento Station. The interregional and international trains stop at Campanhã Train Station, a few kilometres east of the centre. For more information, please visit the national train service website.
Highways run into Porto from the north, south, and east. From Lisbon, the driving time to Porto is around three hours.