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Porto is Portugal’s second city and it has everything you could want from a vacation. Delicious cuisine, a beautiful old town with plenty of historical and cultural attractions, and for the wine connoisseurs among you, a whole riverbank dedicated to port bodegas!
However, even the most inviting and interesting cities can begin to go stale after a few days. So, how do you keep the excitement levels up on your vacation?
That’s where we come in. Our team of expert travel writers have been perusing the best day trips from Porto, to help you easily plan your break. We’ve come up with 15 of the best day trips from Porto, including historic cities, beautiful national parks, and vibrant vineyards. Yes, of course, we’ve only picked ones where you can do tastings!
The list is full of places suited to different budgets, travel styles, and interest. So, let’s get to it and check out the 15 best day trips from Porto!
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Finding a room on a budget can be tricky if you don’t want to stay in a hostel. Check out Moov Hotel Porto Norte – a practical option with a TV and soundproofing in every room. So, you’ll be entertained before a good night’s sleep! For an extra fee, you can enjoy an excellent buffet breakfast.
If you want to be in the centre of Porto and are looking somewhere between budget and luxury, then check this out. The Holiday Inn Express Porto City Centre benefits from a great location just a stone’s throw from Bolhao Market. Holiday Inn is a reliable hotel chain with hotels all around the world, so you know that you’ll get a clean and comfortable stay!
If you want to be right in the centre of the action in Porto, this five star luxury hotel is your best option. It’s within a hop, skip, and a jump of some of Porto’s most notable attractions. These include the Torre dos Clerigos and the Bolhao Market. There are plenty of facilities too, and the spa might be just what you need after a day of seeing the sights!
Best Day Trip from Porto by Train – Braga
Best Romantic Day Trip from Porto for Couples – Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, River Cruise, and Lunch
Best Day Trip from Porto with Kids – Aveiro
Not only one of the easiest day trips from Porto, but one of the best. Just over an hour by train, you’ll find yourself in the historical city of Braga, home to the oldest cathedral in Braga. A little way out of the centre, the Bom Jesus do Monte is just as impressive as the Baroque stairway that leads up to it.
Portugal isn’t renowned for its big cities, and you may be surprised to learn that only Lisbon and Porto are bigger than Braga. It’s home to the largest university in Porto, and this gives it a vibrant and buzzing atmosphere. In fact, it was the European Youth Capital in 2012.
Spend your day in the city meandering through the streets and stopping off in cafes. You’re sure to find one with a view of a square or a church without too much trouble!
If you’re interested in history, you can’t visit Porto without taking a trip to Guimarães! The Castle on the Hill is where the first King of Portugal, Afonso I lived, along with many subsequent Portuguese monarchs.
It’s not just the castle though, there are a number of medieval landmarks scattered throughout the city that are well worth your time! It’s hardly surprising that this place was named a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. The city is very easy to discover on foot thanks to its compact size and relatively flat historical centre.
Because it’s so close to Braga, many people chose to combine both cities into one day trip. This is especially good if you’re short on time. However, there’s definitely enough to keep you entertained in Guimarães for a day!
Like our previous two entries, Coimbra is roughly an hour from Porto. However, this one is to the south. It’s one of the best day trips from Porto if you’re interested in history. Coimbra is home to the oldest university in Europe, and it was the Medieval Capital of Portugal in the 12th century.
The centre winds its way around a hill and has excellent views of the Rio Mondego. It’s probably best to start at the top and work your way down!
If you are happy to get the last train back, don’t miss a traditional fado show. This genre of music often consists of a solo singer performing melancholy and haunting melodies, while accompanied by mandolins or guitars.
Fátima is located in Central Portugal and is around 2 hours south of Porto by car. In the early 20th century, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared here. There are a number of important religious sites to visit here, including the Basílica de Nossa Senhora do Rosario and the Igreja da Santíssima Trinidade. You can also see a number of religious artefacts at the Museu de Arte Sacra e Etnologia.
This one isn’t as close to Porto as some of the others on our list. However, plenty of other people will have spent days, months, even weeks getting to Fátima. That’s because it’s one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Portugal, and possibly even Europe!
It probably won’t be the first idea on many tourists’ itineraries if they’re travelling to Porto. However, don’t discount visiting Portugal’s capital for a day! You’ll have to get up early and be prepared for a late return, but visiting this incredible city is well worth your time!
One of the easiest ways to see the best Lisbon has to offer is on a vintage tram. Specifically, Tram 28. The journey begins at Martin Moniz Square and passes viewpoints in Graça and Alfama before taking in the Cathedral. The last stop is at the oddly named Cemetery of Pleasures!
Lisbon is one of the coolest cities in Portugal, so don’t miss your chance to spend a day there from Porto!
Will you also visit Lisbon? We know great places to stay in Lisbon too!
With Spain being so close to Porto, it would be rude not to pop over the border and get to know one of the country’s wildest regions. You can get to Vigo, Galicia’s largest city, in just 2 hours by train. It’s one of the world’s largest ports and a great spot for trying traditional Galician cuisine. It’s very seafood-heavy – give pulpo a la gallega a try!
If you want an island escape, take the ferry out to the Islas Cíes. They form a national park and nature reserve, and they’re the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life!
It may be a stretch exploring both Vigo and the nearby Islas Cíes in one day, and it might be best picking one or the other. Whichever one you go for; you won’t be disappointed!
Lisbon is amazing! And these great hotels will blow your mind!
Big cities in Portugal such as Porto and Lisbon have lower crime rates than other Western European large cities, which is a good start. Although Porto is generally very safe and you’re unlikely to be a victim of crime, there are still ways to minimise the risk. Don’t flash any expensive possessions or cash, and always be aware of your surroundings and valuables. Especially in busy tourist areas! Also, if you’ve had a few too many port tastings, take a taxi home rather than walking!
If you enjoy the odd glass of wine, you won’t want to miss a trip into the Douro Valley. There are plenty of options for the best ways to do it too! You can take a cruise straight from downtown Porto. Or, if you want a little more freedom, it’s easy to drive out. Although, you will have to watch your intake of wine!
The rolling green hills are adorned with vineyards and one of the most evocative sights in Portugal. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. To be honest, you will only just scratch the surface with a day trip. However, that’s better than nothing, and cruising back towards Porto and the sunset will be a romantic moment you’ll never forget!
Not yet booked? Take a look at our favorite hotels in Porto!
Our second stop in Spain is another of the best day trips from Porto. It’ll feel like stepping back in time! Santiago de Compostela is supposedly the burial site of the Biblical apostle St. James.
Many pilgrims complete the Camino de Santiago each year, one of which begins in Portugal. The cathedral is the end point of the camino (though some people continue to Finisterre). This gives the place a magical atmosphere as you stroll through the Old Town!
A word of warning. It’s best to either book a tour from Porto to Santiago or take your own transport. You’ll have to change at Vigo and buses and trains are infrequent. You could end up just having a couple of hours to explore this magnificent city, which isn’t enough!
The Serralves Museum and Gardens are located to the west of the city centre and provide one of the most romantic day trips from Porto without having to properly leave the city!
It’s an absolute must for art lovers, as this is considered the top contemporary art museum in all of Portugal. The building itself is pretty impressive too – it’s pink and in the art deco style!
Once you’ve been through the museum, don’t miss the landscaped gardens. They’re one of the most relaxing places to visit near Porto!
Do you have an open schedule? Figure the best things to do in Lisbon before you visit!
It’s hard to believe that a beautiful country like Portugal only has one national park, but that’s the way it is. Luckily, it’s located in the north, so it’s the best day trip from Porto for outdoor enthusiasts!
There are so many different ways to see the National Park and the medieval remnants that are scattered through it too! Want to try horse-riding? Trek through the park on foot, take a horseback ride or tackle it with a mountain bike. If you’d prefer to get a bit wet, you can also try canyoning and kayaking in the national park too! You don’t have to get your heart racing to enjoy cool water-based activities though. There are some cool waterfalls to visit, as well as swimming spots.
This is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. A day trip not to be missed!
Porto is well known for its port, a fortified wine. However, many people don’t know about another famous Northern Portuguese wine, vinho verde. This is sometimes known as young wine, as it’s made with young grapes giving it a slight fizz!
Even if you’re unsure now, once you’ve tried a couple of glasses when you arrive in Porto, you’ll be eager to learn (and try) more of the stuff! A trip to the charming ancient town of Amarante is the perfect chance to do that.
As well as being wowed by the São Gonçalo bridge and church by the Tâmega Valley, you can head out into wine country and sample some of these delicious wines. You’re likely to come back from Porto with a new favourite drink… just not the one you expected!
If you’re travelling with kids, you don’t want to take a day trip that’s miles and hours away. Everyone will get cranky and the day can turn into a nightmare! Luckily, Aveiro is just an hour away, and there’s fun for the whole family here.
Aveiro’s centre is in a shallow coastal lagoon and is famed for its traditional boats and many canals. Does it sound familiar at all? It may do, as Aveiro is often called “The Portuguese Venice”. Brightly coloured moliceiros will give you a different perspective on the city, and the kids are sure to love them.
Of course, the town is also a lovely place to wander around too or use one of the free bikes! It’s pretty flat so no-one will get too tired out. Make sure you stop off to sample ovos moles – a traditional egg sweet.
Technically, the Estadio Dragão is still in the city. It’s definitely one of the best tours in Porto with kids – especially if they’re football mad. The interactive museum takes you through the history of the regular Portuguese League winners. They’re the most successful Portuguese football team, and even won the Champions League back in 2004 under Jose Mourinho!
Not only will you be able to visit the museum but walk around the stadium too. You can also get guided tours if you want the visit to really come alive.
If you enjoy the stadium tour and museum visit, it might be a good idea to check FC Porto’s fixture list. If there’s a game on when you’re in town, it’s bound to be an unforgettable experience. Especially if it’s an evening game in the Europa League or Champions League!
If you’re travelling with kids, one of the things they’ll probably be expecting is some time at the beach. That’s exactly what they’ll get a Viana do Castelo, but with a cool and intriguing town thrown in too.
They’ll be mesmerised (as you will be) by the architecture of the Santa Luzia Temple, easily the most popular landmark in town. When it comes to dinner time, there are a wealth of choices at this fishing port. You’ll find some of the best seafood in Portugal here, and you won’t want to miss out!
Our last choice is absolutely one of the best day trips from Porto by car. Esposende is a gorgeous and rather quiet beach. The perfect place to relax or have a family picnic, while sunbathing and catching up with a book. You might even get the chance for a game of frisbee or football on the beach!
The coast in this area has a number of blue flag beaches, and if you’re feeling brave you could try a surf camp… Or send the kids to one if you want to relax. One thing’s for sure, you’ll be able to disconnect from real life in the shadow of Esposende’s imposing sand dunes!
If you do feel like leaving Porto, there’s no shortage of fascinating and enjoyable options nearby. In whichever direction you head from this charming city, you’re bound to find traditional small Portuguese towns, beautiful beaches, and plenty of places to sample the nation’s fine gastronomy.
If you’re a train traveller, you’ll be happy to know that as Portugal’s second city, Porto is well connected. Not only to the capital Lisbon and nearby towns but over the border into Spain’s Vigo, too!
Whichever way you travel and whoever you travel with, you’ll find the perfect day trip from Porto for you.
If you think we’ve missed anywhere off, leave it in the comments below!
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Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!