Considering a day trip to Porto from Lisbon? This guide details everything you need to know for a successful trip including how to get to Porto from Lisbon, what to do when you get there, and what order to do it all in!
My first trip Portugal, I chose to spend 4 nights in Lisbon and save Porto for a second trip to Portugal. Long story short, after 3 days in Lisbon, Jake and I had our fill of the city and decided last minute to do a day trip to Porto from Lisbon.
We hadn't originally planned on doing this as it's a three hour journey by train (or bus) each way. That seems like a long time sitting just to get a sneak peak of another city.
I was nervous we would spend hours traveling and the experience would be so so. Well, both Jake and I concluded our day trip to Porto was more than worthwhile.
Porto is very different than Lisbon. It's smaller, 100% walkable, boasts gorgeous views, has a wonderful restaurant and coffee shop scene, is home to the famous Harry Potteresque bookshop, and let's not forget about the Port tasting rooms.
Since we had already spent 3 days in Lisbon, we were ready for a change in scenery...Porto delivered.
If you're in Lisbon and ready for something different, or you know from the start you want to see Porto but aren't able to spend the night there, this Porto itinerary is made for you.
I'll detail everything you need to know to have a successful day trip to Porto from Lisbon including how to get there, what to do while you're there, and what order to do it all in.
This map shows everything listed in my Lisbon to Porto day trip guide. Click the top left button (in the blue bar) to see a list view of each pinned location or the top right button to enlarge the map.
- Blue - bus and train stations
- Red - things to do in Porto
- Purple - restaurants and Port lodges
How to get to Porto from Lisbon
Traveling to/from Lisbon to Porto: bus
Jake and I opted for the bus as it was the same amount of travel time, the bus stations we chose were more convenient than the train stations, and it was considerably cheaper. If you book tickets in advance you can find them for around $5 each way.
We took the earliest bus at 6:30 am and arrived at 9:45 am. Going back to Lisbon we took one of the latest buses at 7:50 pm and arrived in Lisbon at 11:05 pm. That gave us a solid 9.5 hours to explore the city including time traveling to and from the bus station.
Several bus companies run a Lisbon/Porto route including Flixbus and Rede Expressos. I've used both companies and found them to be comfortable, reliable, and cheap. The bus journey takes about 3 hours 15 minutes.
I typically use Busbud to search for bus routes and prices.
Traveling to/from Lisbon to Porto: train
The fastest trains will get you to Porto in 2 hours and 50 minutes. Keep in mind that train stations are usually further away from the city center when compared to the bus stations.
The train is also more expensive at around $20 to $30 each way.
How to choose between the bus and train?
I look at a couple things. First I figure out which train station/bus is closest to my hotel in Lisbon. Then I look at the distance of the train station/bus stop from the Porto city center.
The Porto Camelias bus stop is the most convenient as its right in the city center. Campo 24 de Agosto is a 20 minute walk to get to the very center of the city, which isn't bad.
The main train station in Porto is the Campanha station. It's a 35 minute walk to the city center from here or a 10 minute Uber.
For Porto, the bus stop is an easy win when it comes to convenience and walkability.
You'll have to map where you hotel is to determine which Lisbon train station or bus stop will work for you.
A day in Porto - itinerary for what to do once you arrive
Harry Potter fans will want to make a beeline for Livraria Lello. JK Rowling spent two years in Porto and frequently visited this bookstore. She says it served as inspiration for the Hogwarts library.
Though the bookstore is now crowded with tourists, it’s magical to visit...even for non Harry Potter fans.
You must book your €5 ticket in advance. You choose the date and the ticket is good for any time that day. I suggest arriving the moment you arrive in Porto. Livraria Lello opens at 9:30 am and the line usually starts queuing around 9:00 am. You can use your €5 ticket value towards the purchase of book.
Tour: walking, e-Bike, food
When you're short on time, joining a tour is a great way to make sure you see all the musts without wasting time getting lost or the risk of missing something.
A private tour is ideal. You won't spend time getting the group checked in and you'll have flexibility on when to start your tour. Group tours usually have just two or three start times.
Highlights & Hidden Gems of Porto: Private City Tour is three hours and lead by a local. The price isn't bad for a private tour either. Two people is $85, four is $100...it becomes cheaper per person the larger the group gets.
Those comfortable on a bike and hoping to see more of the city in a three hour span should consider an E-Bike tour (Porto is very hilly, so an E-Bike is a must). 3-Hour of Porto Highlights on an Electric Bike - Guided Tour is a great option.
Foodies who are more interested in the local cuisine than making sure they see each sight will love this 3-Hour Food and Wine Tasting Tour. It's guided by a local and you can choose a private experience or group tour.
If you choose to do your own thing I recommend buying Rick Steve's Portugal guide and following his Porto walk. This will make sure you hit all the top sights and do it in a logical order. Below are the musts for your Porto itinerary:
- Igreja do Carmo - baroque-styled church
- Bolsa Palace
- Church of São Francisco
- Stroll Cais da Ribeira - river side street with bars, shops, and tiny homes stacked on top of each other
- Luís I Bridge - two level bridge (cross on the upper level for incredible views)
- Praça de Lisboa - park
- Clérigos Tower - climb the tower for views of the city
- Sao Bento station - train station with beautiful tile
- Rua das Flores - popular street
- Avenida dos Aliados - popular street
Coffee break at Majestic Cafe
Ranked in the 10 most beautiful cafes in the world, a coffee break at Majestic Cafe is a must...even if it's crowded and overpriced. Expect to pay €5 to €7 for a coffee/tea/cappuccino. But hey, it's not often you get to visit one of the most beautiful cafes in the world and pay less than $10.
Shop along Rua de Santa Catarina
Majestic Cafe is ideally located at the start of the most popular shopping street in Porto. It's usually packed in the late afternoon and early evening with shoppers (both local and tourists). Even if you're not in the shopping mood, it's still fun to walk down for a block or two.
Stop at Fabrica da Nata to try the bite-sized custard pastry Portugal is famous for...the Pastéis de Nata. They are addicting and one is never enough.
Port lodges and Cais de Gaia
Cross the river into the city of Gaia. I love this area for many reasons. It's where many of the Port lodges are, the main street along the river (Cais de Gaia) is always lively with restaurants, sunny terraces, and tasting rooms, and the views are incredible as you're looking over the river to Porto.
A day trip to Porto is not complete without visiting a Port lodge. This is the birthplace of Port after all! Even if you aren't into Port, it's still worth a tasting or two. I recommend the below places:
- The Yeatman Hotel - the terrace offers incredible views (stunning at sunset). Stick with wine/Port, skip the cocktails as they aren't great, and expect service to be slow. I only recommend this place if you're looking for the best views. Head elsewhere for a combination of good views, great service, and quality cocktails.
- Angel's Share at Wow Porto - great views (through floor to ceiling windows) and a full cocktail, Port, and wine list. This is a great option for groups that have a variety of preferences or you're tired of Port.
- Graham's Port Lodge - beautiful terrace with views.
- Taylor's Port - charming courtyard and our favorite Port tasting.
- Enoteca 17•56 - new to the scene and technically a restaurant. Sit on the patio/terrace for views of Porto. It has a very "posh" vibe and a great cocktail menu along with wine, Port, snacks, etc.