24 Hours in Porto

24 Hours in Porto

Porto, Lisbon’s seriously enchanting second city, is currently sitting at a magical confluence: it flies just far enough under the radar that it still feels local and traditional, but is popular enough to have an exciting buzz of activity everywhere you look. On top of that, its compact size is conducive to a whistle-stop city break – but do be warned: your quads will need a good bout of rest after hitting those hills. From breakfast on the iconic riverside promenade to dinner in the historic neighbourhood of Gaia, we’ve got you covered for how to spend an epic 24 hours in Porto.


  1. Early Morning
  2. Late Morning
  3. Lunchtime
  4. Afternoon
  5. Evening


Early Morning

Breakfast on the Ribeira Waterfront

Okay, I know we said Porto isn’t too touristy (and it isn’t compared to Lisbon) but you’re still in one of Portugal’s most iconic cities, so waking up early to beat the crowds to the must-visit sites is essential. This is why our 24 hours in Porto starts bright and early with breakfast in the city’s most popular neighbourhood: Ribeira. Start in the main square of Praça de Ribeira to admire the quintessential pastel-coloured townhouses before taking a stroll down Cais de Ribeira, the postcard-perfect riverfront promenade. Here you’ll find a dizzying array of terraced cafes from which you can admire the hum of morning activity that surrounds you – captains setting up their barcos rabelos (flat-bottomed boats), hard-working locals organising their warehouses and wine-makers bringing their precious produce into the city across the huge Dom Luís I Bridge. Most cafes along the promenade are of the more traditional variety, so make sure to tuck into their specialities – a warm ham and cheese croissant, milky coffee and freshly-squeezed orange juice is the local go-to breakfast. For an extra indulgent breakfast make sure to ask for a pastel de nata (a small custard tart) on the side.


Late Morning

Sightseeing in the Old Town

Once you’ve filled up on local delicacies, it’s time to tick off some of the city’s top sites. And luckily, the vast majority of historic gems are concentrated right where you are in beautiful Ribeira. From the waterfront, you can wind your way up the hill to the seriously grand Palácio de Bolsa (the Stock Exchange Palace), the ancient Sé do Porto (Porto Cathedral) and São Bento Station, which is undeniably the most beautiful in Portugal with its quintessential blue-and-white, hand-illustrated tiled murals that depict the nation’s history. If you keep heading up the hill, you’ll soon reach Livraria Lello, a bookstore whose antique winding staircases and ornate ceilings were said to have inspired J.K. Rowling’s vision of Hogwarts. From here you can enjoy a leisurely walk back down the hill to start your next adventure: riding the tram. Hop on to Line 1 at the Infante station, in front of the São Francisco Church, and trundle your way along the azure coastline to the neighbourhood of Foz do Douro, which sits at the confluence of the Douro River and the Atlantic Ocean.



Enjoy a Long Lunch in Foz do Douro

Formerly a small fishing town disconnected from the hustle and bustle of Porto, Foz do Douro has since transformed into one of the city’s most affluent neighbourhoods, complete with sandy beaches, stylish restaurants and buzzing bars. The beachside avenue of Avenida do Brasil is the centre of all the action and the perfect place to settle in for a long, lazy lunch with views of the crashing waves. Make sure to opt for some classic seafood – be that tuna tartare at Cafeína, traditional grilled cod at Casa Vasco or ultra-fresh sashimi at Wish Restaurant. Walk off your meal with a stroll down the seafront, dipping your toes into the salty shore, before hopping back onto the tram and enjoying the coastal views on the way back to central Porto.



Explore Lesser-Known Porto with a Local

By the afternoon, you’ll have already admired the oldest, most historic parts of the city, making it high time to check out Porto’s lesser-known neighbourhoods. And what better way to do so than with one of our know-how local guides? The walk is fuss-free and spontaneous, meaning you can go wherever the wind blows you. We’d recommend a stroll through the overlapping neighbourhoods of Cedofeita (known for its street art) and Miragaia (a medieval Jewish Quarter) enjoying life as a local. Browse for one-of-a-kind pieces of artwork, snap shots of unimaginably skinny alleys bordered by emblematic houses and round off your afternoon with another glass of wine in one of the many traditional tascas (taverns).



Wine and Dine in Vila Nova de Gaia

Once you’re at the bridge you’re just a ten-minute walk across the river to the charming neighbourhood of Vila Nova de Gaia (or simply ‘Gaia’) – the city’s historic linchpin of port-wine production. The riverside promenade is home to a great mixture of wining and dining options, as are the picturesque, cobbled streets climbing up the hillside. The star of the show is certainly the Yeatman, a two-star Michelin restaurant which aims to showcase Portugal’s diversity of produce and regional specialities. It also has a rooftop terrace with panoramic views across the river to Ribeira. Once your full to the brim on the finest local delicacies, it’s time to close out your epic 24 hours in Porto in true Portuguese fashion: catching a spot of live fado back in Ribeira, a Portuguese style of music that’s centres around melancholic stories of life, love and loss.