10 Fantastic Day Trips From Porto

You can go on many excellent day trips from Porto.

The second largest city in Portugal, Porto has a lot to offer to visitors and you can spend days taking in all the sights and art; gorging on all the fantastic food; drinking all the port wine; and simply having a fabulous time. 

The good news is that you can easily use Porto as a base to explore many other places; and there are many day trips from Porto you can go on – either independently by car or bus; or on guided tours. 

Continue reading to discover all the incredible places you can visit on a day trip from Porto.

day trips from Porto

The Best Day Trips From Porto

Douro Valley

If you have time to just do a day trip from Porto, then go to the Douro Valley. The beautiful vineyards on the terraced hills on the shores of the Douro River are simply a must see – and the good news is that they are incredibly easy to reach.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: You are definitely better off exploring the Douro Valley by car, so that you can reach the smaller vineyards that are harder to reach by public transportation. If you are concerned about having a glass of wine too many, or just don’t have a budget, you can take a combination of bus and train from Porto to one of the small towns scattered on the valley, such as Régua, Pinhão, Pocinho or Barca d’Alva. You can then take a boat on the way back. 

Alternatively, you can opt for one of the many guided day trips from Porto to the Douro valley. They usually stop in several vineyards, include wine tasting and even a boat trip. I recommend this one.

Day trips from Porto

Coimbra

Another excellent Porto day trip Coimbra, located approximately 75 minutes (120km) by car from Porto. Coimbra is a beautiful city, home to the oldest university in the country and a must-visit on any Portugal itinerary.  

The University of Coimbra was established in 1290 and to this day attracts many Portuguese as well as international students. The large number of students living in Coimbra, about one-third of its population, gives the city a youthful vibe.

There are many worthwhile sights on the premises of the University of Coimbra. You can climb the 18th century Torre da Universidade for a beautiful view over the city. Visit the Paço das Escolas to see the Sala dos Capelos where traditional academic ceremonies are held until this day.

Don’t skip the Capela de São Miguel, with its colorful ceiling paintings and impressive organs with 2000 pipes. However, the undeniable highlight of the University of Coimbra is the Biblioteca Joanina. Here thousands of old books are carefully preserved and there is even a bat colony living in the library to eat any insects that could damage the books.  

Other worthwhile places in Coimbra are the Old Cathedral (Sé Velha) and the New Cathedral (Sé Nova), the Botanical Garden and Portugal dos Pequenitos where you can find miniature versions of Portuguese monuments and landmarks. An excellent place to eat in Coimbra is Oh Burrito, a tiny restaurant with just three tables where they serve the most delicious (vegan) burritos and homemade nachos.  

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: You can easily get to Coimbra by car or by bus from Porto. Alternatively, you can opt for a guided tour that also goes to Fatima, such as this one, or to Aveiro, such as this one.

Portugal attractions

Aveiro

Located in the region of the Beira Litoral and sitting on a number of lagoons and canals, it’s little wonder that Aveiro is known as the “Venice of Portugal.”

This charming city is famous for the many Art Nouveau buildings. A walk around the canals will be a good way of spotting the scenic barcos moliceiros – the local version of Venetian gondolas. Make sure to also visit the Museu Arte Nova (entirely dedicated to Art Nouveau) and the Museu de Aveiro, set in the 15th century Convento de Jesus – it has a collection centered around the life of Santa Joana, who lived in the convent until her death in 1489.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Aveiro is located at around 50 minutes drive south of Porto. You can easily get there by car or bus or else you can visit it on day trips such as this one – it lasts 4 full hours and includes a boat ride along the river.

Peneda-Gerês National Park

Peneda-Gerês National Park

The only national park in Portugal is Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês in the northeast Minho region close to the border with Spain. If you are looking for a nature escape out of Porto, this is ideal as you will find an abundance of vegetation, lakes with clear waters and waterfalls that are perfect swimming spots, lots of wildlife – including wolves and wild boars, as well as golden eagles – and lots of scenic villages. It’s an incredible hiking destination too!

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Public transportation really isn’t an option to visit Peneda-Gerês National Park. The best way to get there is by car – it takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes to drive. Alternatively, you can go on day trips from Porto such as this one or this one.

things to do in Portugal

Braga

Braga is the oldest city in Portugal and one of the easiest day trips from Porto. Its gorgeous historic center is home to mansions and churches such as the 11th century cathedral and – the most notable one – the 18th century sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Another place to visit there is the lovely main square, where you’ll find a number of cafés under the arcades and the 14th century Torre de Menagem.

Easily visited on day trips from Porto (for the ), Braga is one of the best places to visit in Portugal. The city features a gorgeous historic center with beautiful mansions and churches, the most important of which is the 11th century cathedral.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: You can reach Braga by train from Porto – it takes about one hour and there are trains departing from São Bento or Campanhã stations. Alternatively, the best guided tour is this one which also goes to Guimarães and Guimarães Castle.

GOOD TO KNOW: At about 30 minutes drive from Braga, Esposende is a fabulous beach. If you are traveling independently by car, you may want to add it to your itinerary on the way back to Porto.

Amarante

A great place to visit on day trips from Porto, Amarante is a lovely small town that is most famous for being the hometown of São Gonçalo (Portugal’s St Valentine). The best souvenir you can possibly get from there is a cake in the shape of a penis – yes, I am serious! – sold in shops around town. Amarante is also where the famous green wine – the vinho verde – of Portugal is produced – so one more reason to go.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: You can get to Amarante by bus from Porto. Buses depart every two hours and take about 50 minutes. Alternatively, you can take a guided tour such as this one that also goes to Vila Real and stops at Mateus Palace, as well as to a local wine cellar.

Guimarães

Guimarães

Guimarães was the first capital of Portugal. A university town and City of European Culture in 2012, it is the birthplace of King Alfonso Henriques (the first independent King of Portugal).

The historical significance of Guimarães is such that in 2001 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its main landmark is the 15th century castle and the royal palace (Paço dos Duques). Other places to visit are the main square; the 14th century shrine of the Padrão do Salado; and the Museu de Alberto Sampaio, located in the Romanesque cloister of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Guimarães can be easily visited on day trips from Porto. You can get there by train from either São Bento or Campanhã train station. The journey takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can take a guided tour that also goes to Braga. For more information, click here.

Galicia

Santiago de Compostela

One of the most famous cities in the north of Spain and the final point of the Camino de Santiago, Santiago de Compostela is the main city in Galicia and actually a great place to visit on a day trip from Porto. UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, the main landmark you won’t want to miss is the Cathedral, where the Crypt of St. James is located. The view of of Obradoiro square from the Cathedral museum is stunning.

Other places of interest are the Hostal de Los Reyes Católicos, a lodging for pilgrims since the 15th century, the Parador Santiago de Compostela, a stunning five-star hotel with a gorgeous lobby, and the Mercado de Abastos.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Since the bus journey would take too long, Santiago de Compostela is best reached by car from Porto – it takes around 2.5 hours drive. Alternatively, you can take a guided tour such as this one which also includes transportation, lunch, all entrance fees and a guide.

TIP: If you are visiting Santiago de Compostela independently, you may want to stop by Vigo, a nice old town right across the border from Portugal where you’ll find a fantastic selection of seafood restaurants.

Serra da Estrela

Serra da Estrela

It may not be the closes place to visit from Porto, but it surely is one of the most scenic ones. The Serra da Estrela is where the highest mountains in Portugal are located, and it is scattered with lovely villages such as Linhares and Valezim and a multitude of great hiking trails. If you visit Portugal in the winter, you may even be able to go ski there. 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Serra da Estrela is perfect for a road trip. If you don’t have a car, and you are visiting in the winter months, you may want to opt for a day ski-trip from Porto such as this one.

Porto day trips

Matosinhos

Matosinhos is one of the best day trips from Porto in the summer months. When temperatures become unbearable in the city, head there to enjoy the beautiful beach of golden sand and the waves that are perfect for surfing (consider taking surf lessons such as this one if you are still learning). The colorful buildings, the fish market and the many fish restaurants definitely add to the experience.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The best way to get to Matosinhos from Porto is by bus – number 500 takes about 40 minutes to get there. You can also walk or bike there – it will take you about one hour of walking along Avenida Boavista, then through the Parque da Cidade do Porto to get to the Praia do Matosinhos. This biking tour of Porto also goes there.

Further readings

Planning a trip to Portugal? Make sure to check out my posts:

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Read about the best day trips from Porto - via @clautavani

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