Options for day trips from Porto are plentiful and offer something for every type of traveller. The charming Northern city offers enough activities to keep you occupied for a day or two.
However, it is the charming medieval towns, villages, and natural attractions nearby that steal the show for most people. Fortunately, many of these idyllic spots are just a stone’s throw away from the historic centre.
- 1 Day Trips from Porto
- 1.1 Braga
- 1.2 Guimarães
- 1.3 Vila Nova de Gaia
- 1.4 Afurada Fishing Village
- 1.5 Lisbon
- 1.6 Aveiro
- 1.7 Wine Tasting in the Douro Valley
- 1.8 Matosinhos
- 1.9 Coimbra
- 1.10 Santiago (Spain)
- 1.11 Beaches of Northern Portugal
- 1.12 Vinho Verde Wine Region
- 1.13 Peneda-Gerês National Park
- 1.14 Fátima Pilgrimage Site
- 1.15 Bridge Walk
- 1.16 Viseu
- 1.17 Ponte de Lima
- 1.18 Melissa Douglas
Day Trips from Porto
A selection of the best day trips from Porto are detailed below. Most of these places are easily accessible by public transport. Portugal is a small country, and the sites and towns listed below can be reached within just a few hours of travel.
Braga is the oldest city in Portugal as well as the most religious. The Roman city of Bracara Augusta once stood here. Braga’s history dates back more than 2000 years and as a result, there are sunbleached ruins and historic structures at every turn.
The city is a mishmash of architectural types. Here, narrow cobbled streets twist and turn to reveal crowded piazzas filled with imposing gothic churches and opulent baroque buildings. You could spend hours getting lost in the quaint backstreets of Braga.
Visitors to Northern Portugal often combine a trip here with an exploration of nearby Guimarães. However, Braga alone is certainly worthy of a full day’s attention.
Don’t miss the Bom Jesus do Monte. This is the city’s most well-known tourist site that is renowned for its higgledy-piggledy baroque staircase.
Traditionally, pilgrims would ascend these stairs on their knees. The views over Braga from the church at the top of the hill are astounding.
Getting to Braga
Trains from Porto to Braga depart at regular intervals from both São Bento and Campanhã station. The journey takes just over an hour and a return ticket costs €7.
Beautiful Guimarães is a perfect example of a traditional Portuguese city. This is often referred to as being the “birthplace of Portugal”. This is on account of the fact that the very first King of Portugal (Afonso Henriques) was born here.
The castles and fortresses of Guimarães make the city appear almost frozen in time. Guimarães is small, so you really only need to dedicate half a day to this trip. It is often paired with Braga for a cultural day trip from Porto.
Getting to Guimarães
Trains run regularly from Porto to Guimarães. You can board the train at São Bento,Campanhã, and Rio Tinto stations. The journey takes just over an hour and a return ticket costs €7.
Braga and Guimarães are relatively close to each other (25km distance). An hourly bus makes the journey each day. It takes approximately 20 minutes to get from Braga to Guimarães.
Vila Nova de Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia sits across the Douro River from downtown Porto. This is the hub of the port wine scene and you will find a plethora of wine cellars here offering tastings and tours.
The Port Wineries of Gaia
Grahams, Ramos Pintos, and Sandeman are some of the most reputable wineries in the region. Calling ahead and booking a tour provides a unique glimpse into the history and production of port wine, and how this drink has come to be the city’s most beloved beverage.
Additional Gaia Attractions
Port wine aside, charming Gaia has plenty to offer. You can reach Gaia by crossing the Pont Luis I bridge. Dozens of quaint, ramshackle stores and restaurants line the waterfront promenade of the Cais de Gaia.
Sample local delicacies alfresco style here as you gaze across the Douro and admire the Porto skyline. The views are especially beautiful at sunset.
Afurada Fishing Village
Strolling west along the Cais de Gaia brings you to Afurada fishing village. This is a charming seafront settlement that has remained largely undiscovered by tourists, despite being just a short walk away from downtown Porto.
Afurada is a fishing village so it should come as no surprise that there are a wealth of restaurants here serving seafood delicacies. You will often see people grilling fish out in the open on the streets here. Cod, shad, sea bass, and other fresh catches are grilled beneath the sun and sold to passer’s by.
To gain a glimpse of local life, visit the Interpretive Center of Afurada. This is a small museum that pays homage to Alfurada’s cultural heritage and discusses the various crafts of people that have resided in this little village.
You can also consider renting a bicycle here and cycling to the Capela do Senhor da Pedra – a mysterious church with Pagan roots. The church is quite unlike any other, as it has been built atop craggy rocks on a local beach.
The Portuguese capital of Lisbon is a highlight of any Portugal itinerary. The journey from Porto to Lisbon takes approximately 2.5 hours by train.
Ideally, you would have the flexibility in your schedule to be able to stay overnight. However, you can still get a feel for Lisbon, its personality, and its highlights in just a day or two.
Be sure to take the time to hike to the hilltop Castelo de São Jorge for breathtaking panoramas of the city. The views are particularly spectacular at sunset as the sloes are illuminated with hues of red and orange.
Aveiro is an idyllic seaside town that is often referred to as the “Venice of Portugal”. The town is situated alongside the lagoon of Ria de Aveiro.
Colourful narrow boats called moliceiros sail through the network of water canals. You can board one of these boats and tour around the Aveiro canals as you would a Venetian gondola.
Many beautiful Art Nouveau style buildings are scattered throughout Aveiro and well-worth exploring. However, the sight that steals the show for most visitors to Aveiro is the stripey fisherman’s houses. These colourful buildings line the river in the nearby beach town of Costa Nova do Prado.
Ovs moles (“soft eggs”) are a famous regional dessert in Aveiro. They are made from egg yolk and sugar, and shaped to look like clams. Head to Oficina do Doce Oficina do Doce or Confeitaria Peixinho to try the best in town.
Getting to Aveiro from Porto
Aveiro makes a great day trip from Porto. Trains depart hourly from Porto’s São Bento station and the journey takes around an hour and fifteen minutes.
A single ticket from Porto to Aveiro costs €3.55. Meanwhile, a return ticket costs €7.10.
Wine Tasting in the Douro Valley
Going wine tasting in the Douro valley is one of the most popular day trips from Porto. This is Portugal’s premier wine region, and the area is particularly renowned for its sweet red port wine production.
The landscapes in the Douro Valley are breathtaking. Here, terraced vineyards and rolling green hills extend out as far as the eye can see.
The Douro Valley has been producing wines for more than 2,000 years. Thus, it is one of the oldest winemaking regions in the world. Considering the almost ethereal ambiance, it may also be one of the most beautiful winemaking regions.
Douro Valley Tours
A popular way to visit the Douro Valley is to do so on a wine tasting tour like this one. These tours combine a visit to the picturesque villages of the Douro Valley (Pinhão, Peso da Régua, etc), with tasting and tours at several wineries.
Douro Valley tours include pickup and dropoff in Porto. As such, you don’t have to worry about driving or taking transport after a few glasses of wine.
Getting to the Douro Valley by Rental Car
If you have a designated driver, you can consider renting a car in Porto and driving to the Douro Valley. The drive takes between 60 and 90 minutes and the scenery along the way is stunning.
Driving gives you the flexibility to stop at some of the Douro Valley towns that are not well-serviced by public transport. For instance, the various viewpoints over the Douro river, and the villages of Lamego and Peso da Régua are impossible to reach without a car.
Several reputable car rental companies operate in Porto – including Sixt, Avis, and TurisCar. You can also opt to stay overnight at Pinhão or Peso da Régua if you wish to break up your journey.
Getting to the Douro Valley by Train
You can take the train from Porto to Pinhão in order to explore the Douro Valley. Trains depart at regular intervals throughout the day, and the journey takes approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Considering the journey time, it may be preferable to stay overnight in Pinhão or Peso da Régua. If you choose to do so, you will not be short of accommodation options.
Matosinhos is a bustling port town that sits just north of Porto. The two settlements blend into each other so seamlessly that it is hard to tell where Porto ends and Matosinhos begins!
Many Porto locals venture to Matosinhos to eat fresh seafood at one of its many fish restaurants. The fish grilled and served here are caught locally each day.
Matosinhos eateries offer some of the best quality for miles around. Yet, even if you don’t consider yourself a seafood aficionado, Matosinhos is worth visiting.
The Matosinhos beach (Praia de Matosinhos) offers clear waters, sandy shores, and respite from the heat and humidity during the summer months. The oddly named “cheese castle” (Castelo do Queijo) was awarded its title on account of the piece of rock that the castle is perched on which resembles a piece of cheese!
Getting to Matosinhos
It is easy to reach Matosinhos via bus or subway from downtown Porto. Matosinhos is just 10km away from the city centre, and the journey takes approximately 25 minutes.
You can board the purple line metro at Trindade station and ride the train until Matosinhos. Alternatively, take the bus from outside Estação de São Bento. The journey takes approximately the same amount of time whichever option you choose.
Coimbra is a riverfront city in central Portugal. The pastel-coloured houses of the city cascade down the hilltops beside the Rio Mondego creating one of the most beautiful settlements in central Portugal.
The ramshackle buildings of Coimbra are perched on hilly streets and dark, cobbled alleyways. There are few things more pleasant than eating al fresco style outside of a traditional Portuguese restaurant in Coimbra. Here you can dine to the backing of sound of fado singers and guitarra – the Portuguese guitar.
The University in Coimbra is the oldest in Portugal and one of the oldest in Europe. Coimbra was Portugal’s medieval capital for more than 100 years and as such, there are a plethora of historic sites here.
Modern Coimbra is one of Portugal’s most important student towns. Today, the city sits at an interesting juxtaposition of ancient tradition meets contemporary living.
Getting to Coimbra
Trains from Porto to Coimbra depart at regular intervals throughout the day. The journey takes approximately one hour, and tickets cost €8.
The Santiago de Compostela is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Europe. Every year, thousands of devotees follow the footpaths of the Camino walking trail on their way to Catholic mass at Santiago.
One of the camino trails starts in Porto. The “Portuguese way” of the camino de Santiago takes approximately two weeks to complete.
If you don’t want to hike, or don’t have the time available to dedicate to doing so, it is possible to visit the beautiful pilgrim city of Santiago de Compostela on a day trip from Porto. Many tour companies service this route.
Getting to Santiago de Compostela
Various tour companies like this one offer day trips to Santiago de Compostela. This may be the easiest way of reaching the pilgrimage site if you don’t have your own transport.
Buses from Porto to Santiago only run every four hours. The journey from Porto to Santiago de Compostela via bus takes four hours and ten minutes. Tickets cost €15 – €18 each way.
If you wish to take the train from Porto, you can board the train at São Bento and change at Vigo Guixar and Vigo Urzaiz. The train journey takes approximately four and a half hours. If you wish to stay overnight at Santiago, there are plenty of hotels in the area.
Beaches of Northern Portugal
The Algarve in southern Portugal may be known for boasting some of the best white sand beaches in Europe, but the northern part of the country has pristine coastlines all of its own. In the summer months, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful beaches to visit from Porto.
The Best Beaches Close to Porto
Northern Portugal has something for everyone. You will find your idea of beach paradise whether you prefer secluded coves and isolated spots away from the tourists, or serviced beaches with all the amenities.
If you want magnificent scenery, head to Praia de Moledo. This beach sits at the mouth of the Minho River, just a stone’s throw away from the Spanish border.
A small pine forest runs parallel to the shoreline. Mount Santa Tecla offers a dramatic backdrop up ahead.
If it’s a serviced beach with all of the amenities that you are looking for, add Gaia’s Praia do Senhor da Pedro beach to your radar. This beach offers sunbed rentals, ice cream stores, and cafes. It is a perfect choice for families.
Getting to the Beaches of Northern Portugal
There are countless beaches in Northern Portugal, all at varying distances from Porto. The Praia do Senhor da Pedro beach can be reached by boarding a train from Porto to Miramar.
There are also numerous beaches close to Gaia and Matosinhos that can be reached by public transport. Beaches a little farther afield and close to the Spanish border require your own transport.
Vinho Verde Wine Region
The Douro Valley may well be the most well-known wine region in Northern Portugal but it certainly isn’t the only one. Vinho Verde is a Portuguese wine region awarded its name on account of the lush greenery that encompasses the vineyards.
Reds, whites, and rose wines are produced in the Vinho Verde region, and the beverages tend to be sweet and sparkling. If you find yourself travelling through the Minho region of Portugal, a bottle of Vinho Verde wine is a popular addition at the dinner table.
Vinho Verde Vineyards
There are countless reputable wineries in the Vinho Verde region. Quinta de Soalheiro is a beloved local vineyard that sits close to the Spanish border. The vineyard was a pioneer in creating the Alvarinho wine in Melgaço. The
Quinta do Ameal Wine & Tourism Terroir is another popular nearby spot. It also boasts a hotel where you can break up your day trip from Porto by staying overnight.
Getting to the Vinho Verde Wine Region
It can be tricky to access the Vinho Verde wine region unless you have your own transport. Not to mention, even if you do have your own transport, you cannot drive back after the tastings unless you have a designated driver. Vinho Verde wine tasting tours like this one offer collection and drop off from Porto. They take you to several family-owned vineyards in the region and the price includes tastings of local wines and food delicacies.
Peneda-Gerês National Park
The Peneda Gerês National Park is a perfect place to visit if you enjoy walking. Here you can escape the hustle and bustle of a major city for a few days and get back to nature. Numerous hiking trails lead through the woodlands here.
The Villages and Hiking Trails of Peneda Gerês
The routes of the Peneda Gerês are well-marked and lead past jaw-dropping scenery, beautiful flower gardens, archaeological ruins, and quaint villages. This area is relatively expansive.
Consequently, some advance planning of what you want to see, and which routes you want to follow needs to be done before you venture out to the park.
Nature aside, one of the biggest draws of visiting this region of Portugal is the charming granite villages here which are seemingly frozen in time. Many of the villages that encompass the Peneda Gerês National Park date back to the 12th century and have changed very little since they were constructed.
Getting to Peneda-Gerês National Park
It is tricky to get to the Peneda-Gerês National Park if you do not have your own car. You can take a bus/train from Porto to Braga, and then a bus from Braga to Gerês. However the entire journey takes approximately 3.5 hours.
If you have your own transport, you can drive from Porto. The route will take approximately an hour and a half.
Fátima Pilgrimage Site
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima is the largest pilgrimage site in Portugal. According to local tales, the Virgin Mary appeared as an apparition to three local shepherd children.
Mary predicted several future events – including the Spanish plague, and the end of the First World War. Since then, thousands of pilgrims from across the globe have flocked to the site.
Fátima sits in central Portugal. It is approximately 50 minutes away from Coimbra and two hours away from Porto respectively. Don’t miss the Church of the Apparitions. This is a small chapel constructed on the exact spot where Mary appeared to the shepherds.
Getting to Fátima
An hourly bus departs from Porto to Fátima. Redo Espressos and CitiExpress are two companies which operate along this route. The route takes 2 hours, and tickets cost approximately €11 per person.
Several bridges run across the Douro between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. The Ponte da Arrábida is one of the city’s many bridges. Its construction was completed in 1963.
Today, those looking for a little more adrenaline and adventure during their Portugal trip can consider embarking on a bridge walk.
During the walk, you can also climb over the top of the bridge. At the highest point, this bridge positions you 65 meters above the city of Porto.
From up here, you are at the perfect place to capture photos of city panoramas. However, arguably the adventure is not for the faint of heart.
Viseu is a charming city in central Portugal that has been nominated as the “best place to live in Portugal” over several consecutive years. Despite all of the local hubbub around Viseu, the city remains relatively off-the-beaten-path.
This is particularly the case as far as international tourists are concerned. As a result, Viseu is a great place to visit if you want to explore Portugal outside of the main tourist sites.
The city has a long history that dates all the way back to the Iron Age. Viseu was conquered by the Romans and the Moors, and it survived several attempted raids from the Spanish.
You can easily dedicate an entire day to exploring the churches and historical sites of Viseu. Don’t miss the beautiful 12th-century Viseus Cathedral and the 1916 Grão Vasco National Museum which showcases the works of various Portuguese artists.
Getting to Viseu
It is easy to get to Viseu on a day trip from Porto. Rede Expressos operate a direct bus that runs every four hours. The journey takes approximately an hour and fifteen minutes, and tickets cost approximately €10 per person.
Ponte de Lima
The Ponte de Lima is the oldest vila in Portugal. Today, it is widely regarded as being one of the prettiest towns in the country.
The town sits on the banks of the River Lima. Its long history is easily visible in the hodgepodge of various architectural types and ancient structures here.
Ponte de Lima offers a charming blend of fragrant flower gardens, crowded plazas, ancient houses, and breathtaking natural scenery. It is worth staying overnight in Ponte de Lima as part of a wider Northern Portugal itinerary. However, the town also makes a very worthy day trip from Porto.
Getting to Ponte de Lima
Direct buses run between Porto and Ponte de Lima four times per day. The journey takes approximately 90 minutes, and tickets cost €9 per person.
Do you have any further questions about planning day trips from Porto, or visiting the Northern city of Porto in general? I spent two months based here in early 2020 and I got to know the area pretty well during that time.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to drop me a comment below. Safe travels, obrigada! Melissa xo
Disclaimer: High Heels and a Backpack occasionally uses affiliate links. This means that I may obtain a small amount of commission if you choose to make a purchase through some of the links contained here. This is charged at no extra cost to you. Thanks for understanding.