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7 Best Day Trips from Porto

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Porto is a beautiful city well worth several days exploring, but it’s equally viable as a base to use for Portugal day trips.

Because it’s located in the far north of the country, the options for day trips from Porto are vastly different than the options for Lisbon. From the wine region of the Douro Valley where Portugal’s best wines are made to the peaceful towns of Northern Portugal’s Minho region to the pilgrimage city of Fátima, there are countless places to visit using Porto as a base.

Here are some of the best day trips from Porto you can take!

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Are you going to visit Porto, Portugal's second largest city? While it's hard to run out of things to do in Porto, it also makes a great base for Portugal road trips! Here are some of the best places to visit in Portugal and Spain on day trips from Porto. These Porto day trips include the UNESCO-listed Douro Valley wine region, the pilgrimage site of Fatima, the university city of Coimbra, and so much more!
Are you going to visit Porto, Portugal's second largest city? While it's hard to run out of things to do in Porto, it also makes a great base for Portugal road trips! Here are some of the best places to visit in Portugal and Spain on day trips from Porto. These Porto day trips include the UNESCO-listed Douro Valley wine region, the pilgrimage site of Fatima, the university city of Coimbra, and so much more!

Douro Valley

Contributed by Stephanie Craig of History Fangirl

If you love wine (or if you just love checking off UNESCO World Heritage Sites), then a visit to northern Portugal’s Douro Valley is an absolute must.

Connected by a river, there are multiple ways to visit Douro from Porto. The most delightful might just be to take a cruise up the river, watching the beautiful scenery unfold as you go,

This spectacular wine region is home to Portugal’s most famous wine – port! While you can certainly tipple port to your heart’s content in Porto, in Douro you can visit the individual quintas (porthouses) where it is produced.

Besides visiting as many quintas as you can fit into your day, leave plenty of time to appreciate the views here! There are many lookout points to stop at. If you’re interested in the history of Port production, you can also visit the Douro Museum.

How to Get There: I chose to rent a car in Porto and drive, as its a truly breathtaking scenic route high in the hills above the valley. The drive is a little under four hours, so if you get up early you’ll have plenty of time to hit a few quintas before you return to Porto at night. Just make sure to plan who will be driving so you don’t overindulge while here!

Another option is to take a scenic train ride from Porto, leaving from the city’s famous Sao Bento station. The train goes right along the river, and it takes less than three hours each way. This is a great option for solo travelers and groups who are all keen to taste as much as possible.

If you do choose to go by train, I would suggest having a tour guide meet you in Douro so that you can easily get between the Quintas. Public transportation is not available to many of the places you will want to visit.

Perhaps the best way to visit is on a guided tour, as it makes visiting the quintas quite simple and means no one has to worry about being the designated driver. This tour includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, transfers from Porto to Douro, visiting an olive oil producer, visiting two wineries and sampling 8+ wines, a typical Portuguese lunch, and a one-hour river cruise. Check out more details on the itinerary, prices, and availability here.

Guimarães

Contributed by Fiona Maclean of London-Unattached

Guimarães the birthplace of Portugal is a charming and well-preserved UNESCO listed medieval town. It’s called the birthplace of Portugal as nearby is the site of the Battle of São Mamede, from which Portugal was founded and because the first-ever King of Portugal, Afonso Henriques was born in the town. 

Today, apart from visiting some of the key buildings, you can wander through well preserved medieval streets and browse some of the charming artisan shops, before reaching one of the main squares, Largo da Oliveira and Santiago, where you’ll find plenty of cafes to enjoy a coffee or glass of wine. 

Make sure you do visit the hilltop Guimarães Castle, the birthplace of Afonso Henriques. Built during the 10th century, it was restored in the 20th century and the grounds and part of the castle are now open to the public.  

Be sure to spend time exploring the splendid Dukes of Bragança Palace. Originally built in 1420 by Afonso, Duke of Bragança, it was modified in the 16th century before being abandoned. It wasn’t until the 1930s that renovation started and controversially, the restored Palace now replicates a 17th century French Chateau. Worth a visit though, there’s a museum showcasing furniture, tapestries, and weapons.

If you have time, then take the cable car to the Monte da Penha, the highest point in Guimarães to enjoy spectacular views across the city as far as the sea on a clear day. Do also visit the stunning Pousada Mosteiro de Guimarães, which like many of the pousadas, was once a Monastery.  In the grand dining hall, you can feast on traditional Northern Portuguese dishes like caldo verde or black pork (porco preto).

You’ll feel as if you’ve taken a step back in time when you visit Guimarães.

How to Get There: From Porto, it’s an easy train journey. The local service takes around an hour and a half while a direct train will take just over an hour. Better yet, take a guided tour that combines Guimarães and Braga (below) – check prices, itinerary, and availability here.

Braga

Contributed by Jodie Dewberry of Alajode

Braga is a compact town that’s full of life. The center is packed with cute cafés that serve a mix of traditional dishes from Northern Portugal and fusion creations, so make sure you arrive hungry! For a traditional dinner that won’t disappoint, Cozinha da Sé is one of the best restaurants in town and popular with both locals and tourists alike.

Don’t miss Braga’s many churches and cathedrals, all of which offer an insight into Portuguese architecture. A one-day pass for the hop-on/hop-off bus costs less than $12 USD and will be a worthy investment if you want to head out to the Bom Jesus de Monte historic funicular and take in the city from above.

How to Get There: Braga is just a 45-minute drive from Porto, which means it’s a perfect stopping point if you’re planning a road trip from Porto. If you don’t have your own wheels, there is an hourly bus that costs 7-9 euros per person or an hourly train that costs 8-10 euros. You can also take a guided tour that includes Guimarães (above) and Braga – check prices, itinerary, and availability here.

Fátima

Contributed by Priyanko Sarkar of Constant Traveller

While I firmly believe that Porto is Portugal’s greatest city (sorry Lisbon), I also believe that Fátima is that rare place that promises to make you slow down. It’s one destination that deserves to be seen on a day trip from Porto.

Fátima is actually one of the great pilgrimage sites in Europe. Barely a few hours from Porto, the place is revered as the place where three little shepherd children saw a vision of Mother Mary in 1917. Ever since, believers have flocked to this place to seek blessings. Simply arriving in Fátima is a lifetime ambition for many Catholics.

The Basilica de Nossa Senhora de Rosario is where you need to first go to pay respects to the grave of two of the shepherd children. It is also the place where they first glimpsed Mother Mary. A large modern crucifix on the other side signals the entry to the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, a more recent basilica with facilities where you can attend readings as per your schedule.

Take your time to visit the rest of the complex that makes up the Sanctuary of Fatima. The scale of this sanctuary is something to behold as you find people of all ages praying fervently. Many of them will walk with single-minded passion on their knees, others will offer large-sized candles while there are readings from the Bible in different languages almost on the hour under a small sheltered space. Being in Fátima and spending time there is one of the best ways to get an alternate perspective of what Portugal is all about.

How to Get There: The best way to get here is by bus companies (Rede Expressos is recommended) for about 20 euros each way. It takes a little over two hours to cover the 195-kilometer distance between the two cities. Alternately, try trains that take about three hours each way between Porto and Fátima. You can also do a guided day trip that combines Fátima and Coimbra – check prices, itinerary, and details here.

Viana do Castelo

Contributed by Halef and Michael of The Round The World Guys

Northern Portugal is like a world of its own. It has a distinctively unique culture from the rest of Portugal – from the unique Northern Portugal wedding, traditional dress, to the dances and music. It is believed that the traditional Portuguese fado music originated here in Northern Portugal’s Minho region.

One of the best places to experience Northern Portugal is the relatively unknown town of Viana do Castelo.

Viana’s old town is centered around Praça da Republica. You can find the charm of the city’s architectural treasures, as well as finding some great restaurants, cafés, and shops. From the town center, you can hop onto the Funicular de Santa Luzia. This incline railway will take you to the top of Monte de Santa Luzia, where you can find the magnificent landmark of Viana do Castelo: Sanctuario de Santa Luzia.

Food-wise, head to A Moda Antiga or Taberna do Valentim for their traditional Caldo Verde – kale and potato soup of the Minho Province. Don’t miss the Pescada a Vianense – a delicacy of cod or other fish – baked in a mixture of potatoes, garlic, onion, and lemon juice.

How to Get There: The town of Viana do Castelo is well connected from Porto, either by an hour bus ride or train ride. It costs less than 10 euros to travel to Viana do Castelo from Porto. You can also go on a guided day trip if you prefer some context and convenience – check prices, availability, and itinerary here.

Coimbra

Contributed by Maria & Rui of Two Find a Way

One of the things that makes Coimbra a great day trip is that it’s easily reachable from Porto using public transportation in about an hour.

Even though there’s plenty to see in Coimbra (which means that one day is not necessarily enough to see everything), the reality is that the city is quite compact, so it’s easy to explore the main sights in just a few hours.

While there, don’t miss the Old Town area, the University of Coimbra (especially the stunning Joanina Library), and the Botanical Garden, a place for tranquility and relaxation. The beautiful riverfront is a great location for a leisurely walk, and a lot less crowded than Porto’s famous Ribeira.

How to Get There: You can either take a train (the fastest ones take around an hour), or the bus (runs almost every hour, and takes 1h25m). You can also do a guided day trip that combines Fátima and Coimbra – check prices, itinerary, and details here.

Vigo & Cies Islands

Contributed by Inma Gregorio of A World to Travel

One of the old continent’s main perks is how easy it is to country hop your way around it. You can visit Spain on a day trip from Porto!

There is a myriad of interesting and fun things to do in Vigo for you to choose from. From flying over the city’s estuary to capture some memorable and Instagram-worthy moments to going for some tapas in the old town or simply enjoying one of the nearby city beaches; this city’s appeals are many.

If I had to pick one, though, that’d be a visit to Cies Islands – part of the Maritime-Terrestrial National Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia. Already showcased in the early 2000s as a true paradise by the British media; during Summer there’s basically no better plan to spend a sunny day in the South of Galicia. You’ll be back in Porto sun-tanned and happy, promised!

How to Get There: Despite being two different countries, it’s easy to visit Vigo on a day trip. Taking advantage of the many – and usually pretty cheap – transport options between them, it is possible to jump from Porto, in Portugal, to Vigo, in Spain, in less than three hours. In fact, a 7€ bus or 12€ train ride will take you from Porto’s city center to Vigo.

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