Getting from Lisbon to Porto is affordable and fast making it a great bonus stop for those visiting Portugal.
With historic wine cellars, riverside cafes, and beautiful buildings, Porto is easily one of my favourite cities in Europe. Still, it’s often overshadowed by Lisbon and the Algarve. Let’s fix that.
If you’re visiting Lisbon I highly recommend tacking on a side trip to Porto, arguably Portugal’s prettiest city. Here’s how to do just that.
How to Travel From Lisbon to Porto?
Although Porto is located over 300 kilometres north of Lisbon, getting between the two largest cities in Portugal is very easy.
Driving will take you around three hours and flying takes an hour. That said, I recommend taking a train from Lisbon to Porto. This removes the need to deal with getting to/from the airports (which adds several hours) as well the stress of driving through the narrow streets of Porto’s old town or worrying about parking.
There are 17 trains between Lisbon and Port each day with the faster taking three hours and 15 minutes. Taking the train is by far the most scenic and comfortable way to travel as well. With both of the city’s train stations being centrally located, getting around is very easy.
What to See and Do in Porto?
Now that you have your tickets booked, it’s time to see the sights. Here are my favourite areas in Porto along with some notable highlights.
Tip: Before you head out to explore these sites, make sure you have cell service and data coverage. Companies like Simify offer travel SIM cards that make navigating Porto’s windy streets that much easier.
On the south side of the Douro River is the neighbourhood of Gaia, my favourite area in Porto. There you will find plenty of great riverside restaurants and cafes with the added bonus of looking towards Riberia. On top of that, Gaia is also where you will find many of the city’s famous Port cellars. I recommend touring Ferreira Cellars before making your way to the Mercado Beira-Rio.
From there you can patio hop towards the famous Dom Luís I Bridge and either take the cable car or stairs up to the top for one of the most incredible sunsets you will ever see.
Get Lost in Riberia
Porto’s most popular tourist area is Riberia, and with good reason. Colourful buildings line the hill side and among them are a high concentration of restaurants, shops, and wine bars. You can spend hours exploring the small laneways and alleys, discovering new things at every turn.
Explore a Book Store Straight out of Hogwarts
In the shadows of the Torre dos Clérigos you’ll find one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores, or so says one JK Rowling. While living in Porto, she would often visit Livraria Lello and used it as inspiration for her Harry Potter series. Due to this simple fact, access to the bookstore is so popular that there is an admission charge just to get in. On the plus side, the ticket cost can be put towards a purchase in the store.
If you are looking for more Harry Potter tidbits from the formattable year’s Rowling spent in Porto, head to Majestic Cafe. It is said that Rowling often scribbled down ideas for her books on napkins while enjoying a coffee and the eclectic design.
Check Out the Train Station
Porto is known for its beautiful Azulejo blue tiles. You will find some of the best-preserved ones in the historic São Bento railway station. Inside you will find 20,000+ tiles depicting Portugal’s history.
Created by Jorge Colaço between 1905 and 1916, his work easily lands this train station as one of the most beautiful in Europe, if not the world.
Cruise the Douro River
The Douro River played a vital role in transporting barrels of wine from the Douro Valley to the cellars in Gaia. This is evident by the traditional Rabelo boats dotting the shorelines.
Although no longer used to transport wine, you can take a river cruise on the Douro to get a sense of what life was like shipping barrels downstream. I took a short one-hour cruise with Roto do Douro and highly recommend them!
What to Eat in Porto?
When a type of wine is named after a city it should come as no surprise its food is on point. Here are some of my favourite dishes to be had in Porto:
- Caldo Verde – local green soup made with kale, potatoes, and bits of chorizo. Best enjoyed at a riverside cafe on a cool night.
- Francesinha – open-face sandwich packed with sausage, roast beef, and ham then covered in cheese and swimming in a thick beer gravy.
- Bacalhau com Natas – fried ball of of cod, potatoes, and cream sauce. Head to Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau to sample one for yourself.
- Pastel de nata – sweet egg tart found in every bakery in the city. Although not specific to Porto itself, for a little more of a regional flair there are variations that incorporate Port Wine.
Where to Stay in Porto
Porto has no shortage of accommodation options to fit your budget or style. Riberia is the most popular tourist location with many hotels. That said, it can be very crowded, touristy, and expensive. Instead, I suggest staying on the Gaia side where it is quieter, cheaper, and has better views of the city. Added bonus – you will be within stumbling distance from the wine cellars 😉
On my trip from Lisbon to Porto, I stayed at the hip 7G Roasters. This was the perfect place to explore the city with the added bonus of the hotel being attached to a coffee roaster. I LOVED this property and can’t wait to return.
So Much to Explore
As you can see, there is plenty to see, do, eat and drink in Portugal’s prettiest city. If you are travelling from Lisbon to Porto and back you will have no issue filling a weekend with wine, great food, and fun. For those spending more time in the area, I suggest taking the street car to the coast or visiting the Super Bock brewery to sample Portugal’s favourite beer straight from the source.
What say you?
Thoughts on this Lisbon to Porto Guide?
Let’s hear it!