Many people ask about planning a Porto day trip from Lisbon. In all honesty, I wouldn’t try to do Porto as a day trip from Lisbon – it’s too far and there is too much to fit in. I would recommend that you take at least a weekend to see Porto, or even 3-4 days to truly embrace and enjoy it. Porto is one of my favourite cities in Portugal. The reason why it is very difficult to do independently as a day trip because the train is 3 and a half hours – best to see Porto in a weekend from Lisbon, but if you are really pushed for time and want to do a day trip here’s how.
What to pack for a Porto day trip from Lisbon
What should you wear/pack for a Porto day trip from Lisbon? Good walking boots are essential as Porto is very hilly. Jeans are great for walking around the city. Light walking trousers and T shirts are also good. Consider shorts if it’s the summer months and you are comfortable in them. Remember to take a rain jacket in case the weather turns (it can rain in Northern Portugal).
Transport – how to get to Porto from Lisbon
You can consider traveling to Porto from Lisbon by train, taxi or bus. How long does it take and how can you book?
Driving or transfer
If you can drive or book a transfer and travel before rush hour, you should be able to get to Porto in 3 hours. However, I wouldn’t recommend that you drive there and back in the same day due to the length of the journey and tiredness.
Trains from Lisbon to Porto
The train is a good direct and easy way to get to Lisbon. You want to arrive in Sao Bento if possible as it is more central, but the train to Campanha may be a bit quicker. If you do arrive at Campanha – consider booking an Uber to get you to the main sites. If you can take a car or book a driver, it is possible to get from Lisbon to Porto in around 3 hours.
You can book your train on cp.pt. You may be asked for the number of your passport ID – this is normal. Remember to travel with your passport. Conductors in Portugal do check that the correct named passenger is travelling.
Considering the amount of time it takes to get to Porto from Lisbon, you will need to set out as early as possible to make it worthwhile. A 6.30am start from Lisbon will get you to Porto for around 10am. Have at least 4 hours in Porto and set out to get back to Lisbon at 5pm at the latest. Get a great deal of sleep the night before and grab some sleep on the train too!
Buses from Lisbon to Porto
You can also book a bus from Lisbon to Porto on https://rede-expressos.pt/. The bus is cheaper than the train and still takes around 3 and a half hours, but delays are more likely on the bus because of the chances of getting stuck in traffic. The buses usually arrive at Porto (Campo 24 de Agosto) – just a 15-20 minute walk into the old town, but again to save energy and time consider a taxi.
Taxis in Porto
You can flag the black cabs in Porto and ask the driver to put the meter on or give you an estimate. Most taxi drivers in Porto speak English. However, I prefer to use the apps such as Uber and Bolt because you can pay by card and know what you are getting. Bolt is the European alternative to Uber and is popular and cheap in Portugal.
Consider paying a driver or tour guide
Taking a guided tour is a good option as you will save time on public transport and also trying to find the main sites.
What to see and do in a day in Porto
Note: Currently (as of summer 2022) they are building another metro station at Liberdade square, which may block the path and cause a few diversions in your walking or driving route!
If you have just one day in Porto it is still possible to see the following main sites – the city is very walkable.
- Clerigos Tower – This church is famous for it’s tower and one of the best known landmarks of Porto. Clerigos is the tallest campanile in Portugal and gives a fantastic view of the city if you have time to go up.
- Carmo Church – Beautiful Church with a blue tiled facade
- Sao Bento station – Main central train station with beautiful blue azulejos interior
- Se Cathedral – Main Cathedral
- Cafe Majestic – Famous cafe frequented by popular authors and musicians
- Palacao de Bolsa – Bolsa Palace was the stock exchange and has a beautiful interior including the famous Golden Arabic room.
- Ribeira – The area along the Duoro river with beautiful tall tiled houses and restaurants. Full of tourists and street entertainers.
- Gaia Port houses – Cross over the river via the Dom Luis bridge and enjoy a glass of port in one of the many port houses in Gaia.
Remember that in just one day time may restrict you and so it might not be possible to go inside all of these attractions, but there will be enough time to explore the UNESCO world heritage site.
Ways to see Porto quickly
When time is tight it’s often a good idea to book a tour or hire a local guide. The best ways to see Porto quickly are taking a walking tour, the open top bus, a tuk-tuk tour and even booking a vintage car! Book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Walking tours of Porto – There are walking tours in several languages including English and Spanish, meet at the city hall at 10am or Clerigos tower at 11am (Sandemans).
Open top bus tours – We took the red bus (there is also a yellow bus tour too so make sure that you are using tickets for the right one!). There is a red and a blue line (for the red bus tour!) – the red line goes around the city centre including Se Cathedral and Clerigos tower. The blue line goes over the river to Gaia. If you only have one day it would be best to do the red line.
Tuk-Tuk tour of Porto – A tuk-tuk tour of Porto is a good option to save time and see more of the city – this will allow you to go down to Foz and over the river to Serra de Pillar monastery. You can take a tuk-tuk from Se Cathedral or Clerigos. Many tuk-tuk tours end with a celebratory glass of port!
Also consider booking a vintage car!
Where to eat in Porto
If you are looking for great places to eat in Porto, I recommend a visit to Santa Francesinha if you would like to try one of Porto’s famous Francesinha sandwiches in beer sauce. You can also head to Casa Guedes for their famous Pork sandwiches or Goats cheese with Pumkin chutney (abobaba). If you don’t mind splashing out a little, enjoy a lunch or dinner at the world famous Cafe Majestic on Rua Santa Catarina. The beef steak and duck in Port sauce are both amazing mains!
Top tips for Porto in a day
- Get up early for your Porto day trip from Lisbon – you want to be leaving Lisbon by 8am at the latest.
- Download the following apps on your phone – Rede Expressos (bus), cp.pt (train), Uber, Bolt.
- Take the train to Sao Bento or if you arrive in Campanha or Campo 24 do Agosto just into an Uber to the main sites.
- Food in Porto is amazing, but taking a packed lunch will save some time and money!
- Don’t leave Porto without trying a Franscesinha and a Pasteis da Nata from ‘Manteigaria’
- Consider staying over just one night if you can – Porto is a long way from Lisbon and there really is too much to see in just one day.
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