How to explore Porto in 48 hours

Travel is a massive part of my life and it’s been far too long since Richard and my last trip abroad – we had a trip to Ibiza, Spain in June 2019 and have spent the months since then overrun with work and other such life experiences. In December, because of the amazing Black Friday flight sales, Richard and I managed to get flights to visit a brand new city for £20 all in – £10 return each. There were a few cities that I fancied the look of but none caught my eye in the way that Porto did – and after spending just over 48 hours in this beautiful city, I can confirm it was a choice well made, especially considering all I knew about Porto before going was that they’re renowned for beautiful azulejos tiles and port wine. Otherwise? Clueless. Read on for our little Porto travel guide on how best to spend see as much of Porto in 48 hours as possible.

Explore Porto, Portugal in 2020

How many days in Porto?

Porto is a stunning city that can be easily explored in a small period of time. I did wonder whether 2 full days in Porto would be enough time to spend there and manage to see everything we intended on seeing – luckily, it was the perfect amount of time to see everything that we wanted to but I can say that I’m already planning a trip back there in months where the climate is that little bit more suited to our needs – maybe even with a trip to Lisbon thrown in for good measure. Taking the train from Lisbon to Porto is easy enough and we all know how much I enjoy a rail holiday.

How to Spend 2 days in Porto – Porto in 48 hours

Porto in 48 hours, in January? Surely the weather won’t be much better than the UK? – you may ask. You’d be right – it absolutely honked it down for the entire time we were there. Luckily, there are lots of incredible things to do in Porto that even the horrendous weather couldn’t spoil the amazing time we had there. I tried to be more spontaneous on this trip and play things by ear rather than meticulously planning every aspect of the trip like I normally do – in hindsight, the weather did make spontaneity a little bit harder than I’d anticipated but it was nice to let loose and wander around the beautiful city of Porto without having to stick rigorously to a schedule.

If you’re arriving in Porto by plane like we did, the airport is only a handy metro ride away from the city centre itself and costs only a few euros each way. It was incredibly easy to navigate our way to the city from the airport (unlike was the case on my trip to Bergerac, a few years ago!). We also found that Uber was really reasonably priced in Porto compared to the UK – an uber to the airport on our return journey cost us just over 15€ and another ride we took when the rain was at it’s worst was a mere 4€.

Piles of tiles in Porto, Portugal

What to do in Porto

Porto is perfect if you’re interested in walking around and experiencing the city slowly – our travel book had some recommended walking tours included in it and these tours were absolutely perfect in terms of seeing everything that I had on my list. 25,000 steps later and it’s fair to see that we got a really good overview of a stunning and culture-rich city.

Cais da Ribeira

Cais da Ribeira

The stunning facade of Porto on the river front is an image imprinted in my mind – and for all the right reasons. We took a stroll all the way across the front and then crossed the bridge to get to the other side of the river – there were numerous wine tours on offer to tourists who fancied a sophisticated tipple. I’m not the biggest drinker so a tour like this would have been wasted on me – instead, Rich and I chose to take a cable cart from one side of the river to the other. We had the best view of Porto and saved ourselves the journey of walking all the way back up the steep hill.

Exploring the Cais da Ribeira

Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas

Churches in Porto, PortugalTwo churches that appear as one, these Churches are probably etched in your mind if you’re anything like me and love a geo-tag. I had to go and get a picture here and as you can see above, it really was a stunning sight. The entire city was clad in the most beautiful combinations of tiles and colours that really satisfied my need for beautiful architecture.

Sé do Porto, Porto Cathedral

We discovered the depths of Porto Cathedral, Sé do Porto, whilst hiding from the rain. and it truly was spectacularly gothic. Photos are prohibited on the inside but it was nice to take a moment to reflect and think about life in a stunning backdrop.

Visit the azulejo at Sao Bento train station, Porto

Sao Bento Train Station

Another amazing hotspot for those beautiful azulejos – the entire train station is enveloped in beautiful tiles, forming the most spectacular of images. Definitely a tourist site in its own right. 2 days in Porto doesn’t have to be a massive rush – most of the most spectacular of sites are things that you can see and take in in ten minutes or less! Definitely something to visit if you only have 48 hours in Porto and want to see as much as humanely possible.

Where to Eat and Drink in Porto

In Porto food is definitely an important part of life and arguably my favourite part about discovering a new city is exploring the food that the city has to offer – I did a lot of research prior to arriving in Porto with regards to the best places to eat in the city and my research definitely paid off. When we arrived into the city we were hungry and unable to check into our hotel for a few hours so we made the excellent decision to grab a bite to eat and dry off – the rain had already started at this point. We wanted something that would fill us up until our meal in the evening which I’d booked ahead of time and chose Curb, which is ranked #9 of all the restaurants in Porto. There was a wait for a table as the restaurant itself is only small but the burgers we ordered were well worth the wait – I’d even go as far as to say that they were some of the best burgers I’ve tasted in a long time. I decided to go for the BEC – Bacon egg and cheeseburger- and it was absolutely spot on. All of their burgers come as doubles as standard and also have a veggie option for those that don’t eat meat. Richard was equally as impressed with his spicy burger – it had jalapeños and spicy mayo and he absolutely devoured it. Prices were incredibly good – we got 2 double cheeseburgers, 2 portions of fries with dip and 2 ice teas for 20€.

Delicious burgers at Curb, PortoI’d also booked us a restaurant for our evening meal on our first night in Porto. My absolute favourite type of food is tapas so going to a tapas restaurant whilst in Porto was a bit of a no-brainer. I chose Tabua Rasa, a small yet elegant restaurant that served a variety of fish tapas dishes and charcuterie boards. Richard and I ordered a cheese and cured meat board for 2 as well as Atum em Azeite com Molho Cru, an absolutely SPECTACULAR tuna dish and some of the traditional Portuguese sausage called Alheira. The food was absolutely divine and I would go back there in a heartbeat to eat their cheese board alone again.

Charcuterie at Tabua Rasa, PortoCharcuterie at Tabua Rasa, PortoIf you’re looking for something a little less Portuguese inspired then Farinha may well be your best bet. Traditional Italian food in a stunning Portuguese backdrop is my idea of heaven – and the food was definitely that. In dire need of a filling lunch after a morning of exploring the city, Farinha gave me the carbs I needed to power through the rest of the afternoon. Their pizzas were absolutely out of this world and they also offer a variety of pasta dishes as specials. Again, the food was excellently priced and tasted fantastic. Food in Porto truly was turning out to be some of the most fantastic I’ve had whilst abroad. Exploring food in Porto in 48 hours was a bit of a challenge, considering the amazing food on offer elsewhere as well as the places we chose but we’ve just got all the more reason to return, now.

Excellent Pizza at Farinha, Porto

Where to Stay in Porto

I always find that finding a place to stay that is both affordable and central to be a bit of a challenge. Asking for modern and contemporary on top of that you may find it entirely impossible. Nations Porto II was the perfect place to unwind after a long day of walking around the city – and the price definitely was not reflective of the high quality studio room we stayed on. Frankly, it was an absolute steal at £35 a night. Conveniently located just a fifteen minute walk from the vast majority of the bars and restaurants, it was in the perfect location and had the perfect amenities – our last evening in Porto involved an Uber Eats to the room and FRIENDS in bed because of the torrential downpour and having the facilities that it did really made the room all the better for such an occasion.

Grab a guide book, learn a few key phrases of Portuguese to help you get by and explore arguably one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting in El Porto. Porto in 48 hours? Completed it.

How to Spend 48 Hours in Porto