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Porto is a worthy destination for any traveler, with its winding, hilly streets, riverside ambiance, azuelo-adorned buildings, and delicious food and wine to savor. If you’re visiting this northern Portuguese city for a few days or a few weeks and want to discover what lies outside the city limits, these incredible day trips from Porto will not disappoint.
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This picture-perfect lagoon-side city is often called the ‘Venice of Portugal’ thanks to its tiny network of canals. The city is easily recognized by its iconic bright, striped buildings and abundance of Instagram-worthy photo ops. There are plenty of things to do in Aveiro, making it a worthy contender for a day trip from Porto.
Take a ride on a moliceiro, a Portuguese-style gondola, through the canals and explore the colorful neighborhood of Costa Nova.
There are frequent trains departing from São Bento Train Station as well as Campanhã Train Station, so you can take either depending on where you are based in Porto. The train departs almost hourly and takes roughly forty five minutes.
Braga is one of the oldest cities in Portugal and one of the most popular day trips to take from Porto. The city is renowned throughout the country for its religious heritage and events. At over 2,000 years old, Braga showcases a gorgeous collection of architectural styles, a walkable city center filled with quaint streets and Baroque churches, and highlights such as Sé de Braga and Bom Jesus do Monte.
Sé de Braga, aka Braga Cathedral, is one of the city’s most beloved treasures. It’s the oldest cathedral in the nation – construction actually began before Portugal was established as a country! Visitors can tour the cathedral for just €2.
To visit UNESCO World Heritage Site Bom Jesus do Monte, you’ll have to make your way to the base of Mount Espinho via bus or Bolt/Uber. From there, the ascent takes just under 600 steps. If you have mobility restrictions or just want to conserve your energy, there is also a cable car available.
A trip to Braga from Porto takes less than an hour by train, making it one of the easiest day trips from Porto. The ride costs roughly €7 for an adult ticket, one-way.
Contribution: Izzy & Phil, The Gap Decaders
The medieval capital city of Portugal is a revelation and is a perfect stop on a Portugal road trip, or as a day trip from Porto. Coimbra rises loftily above huge Rio Mondego and celebrates a rich history. The city is home to the country’s oldest university but the students of today bring a lively and modern feel to this ancient capital.
The historic centre is stacked in a jumble of Moorish architecture above the river and has a majestic cathedral and lots of atmospheric squares, alleys and staircases to explore. Known for its live music, including guitarra (Portuguese guitar) and the haunting sounds of Fado, this is a perfect city to enjoy the sounds of the country in one of the many of the bars and restaurants in the old town.
You can easily spend your day wandering, soaking up the lively nature of this university town, in stark contrast to its historic heart. Don’t miss the baroque Biblioteca Joanina and the Botanical Gardens, both reflective of the nature of this wonderful city.
You can visit Coimbra from Porto by train, it takes around two hours and twenty minutes to get there. Or, explore organized day trips where you’ll enjoy the benefit of a guide as well.
4. douro river valley
The Douro River Valley of Northern Portugal is without-a-doubt among the top day trips from Porto. The area boasts the title of oldest demarcated wine region in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The area is home to some of the best wine making in the country, for Vinho Verde as well as Port. The landscape makes it particularly amenable to grape growing, with its distinguished steep hills and tiered structure. Take a ride on a rabelo, enjoy the surroundings, and sample local offerings. In addition to wine, the region is also famous for producing olive oil, honey, and almonds.
Considering this a day trip largely focused on having plenty of wine, you may want to skip the rental car and opt instead for public transportation or guided tour. That being said, you can still enjoy the beauty of the area and the richness of the culture without imbibing! The scenery alone is worth a visit.
Contribution: Jorge & Claudia, Travel Drafts
Guimarães is one of Portugal’s most important cities – after all, it is the birthplace of Portugal. This charming city is located in northern Portugal, only 55 km from Porto, taking 40 minutes to reach the city by car. It is also easily accessible by train, which you can catch in Porto’s central station, making it an ideal day trip from Porto.
Guimarães is a charismatic city with several historic points of interest, the most important being the Castle and the palace of the Dukes.
The Castle of Guimarães was built in the 10th century to defend the city from attacks by the Moors and Norsemen. In front of the castle, there is a statue in homage to Afonso Henriques, the first Portuguese king. The Castle is very well preserved and an ideal place to learn about Portugal’s history and its origin.
Next to the castle, you will find the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança – a 15th-century imposing manor house with majestic rooms. It is also the official residence of the President of the Republic when he’s in the north of Portugal.
The city also has a beautiful and well preserved old town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001. The old town is full of cobbled streets, medieval buildings, churches, and restaurants filled squares, where you can try traditional Portuguese food. It is just a lovely old town to roam around the streets and discover its old secrets.
Contribution: Venaugh, Venaugh
The great thing about Porto is its central location to go to several different areas in Portugal, one of which is the city of Lisbon. It’s only 3 hours away by car or 313km (195miles). There are other options of transport such as the bus, which costs about €9, train, which costs about €15, or plane, which costs about €20.
Lisbon, being the capital of Portugal, is full of life, amazing architecture, great sites, and delicious food. There are countless sites to see in Lisbon, like the Boca de Inferno, Tower of Belem, and Ponte 25 de Abril. At the San Justa Lift, you can get a great view of the city. Not too far from here is the Praça do Comércio which is an enormous plaza with lots of stores and restaurants. A short walk further, and the sea will be at your feet. Another site to see is Roca da Cabo, which is European continent’s westernmost point.
Lisbon is also known for great food and its endless pastries. A restaurant with a great view and great food close to Roca da Cabo is Moinho Dom. Pastelerias are very common and at almost every turn. Some of the pastries to enjoy are the pastel de nata, pastel de belem, and travesseiros. Lisbon is known for its variations of salted cod and sardines. All of this and so much more, makes Lisbon one of the most incredible day trips from Porto.
Matosinhos is a short distance away from Porto and the perfect escape from the city during the summer months. This small fishing city offers some of the best seafood you’ve ever tasted, authentic Portuguese vibes (particularly when compared with the more tourist-oriented Porto), and a burgeoning surf culture.
Spend some time exploring the local fish markets, take in the up-and-coming arts scene, or take a leisurely stroll down the long stretches of golden sand. You could even take surfing lessons!
Given its close proximity, getting to Matosinhos for a day trip from Porto is super-easy. Take the 500 bus and the ride takes around 40 minutes. Alternatively, if you’re looking to exert some energy or have some time to kill, there’s also a pedestrian/bike path that stretches between the two cities along the river.
Contribution: Victoria, Guide Your Travel
Nazaré is the perfect day-trip destination from Porto. You can reach this little fishing village in about two hours from Porto either by car or bus. Nazaré might not be the largest Portuguese town but it’s well-worth a visit if you’re looking for a great beach escape or the next stop on your Portugal road trip.
What makes Nazaré famous are its incredible waves and unique surfing conditions. Because of an underground canyon, Nazaré actually has some of the largest waves in the world and probably the most famous surf break in all of Europe. During the colder months only pro surfers surf here and compete regularly. In the summer, however, waves are low and even those with less experience can surf. The main beach of Nazaré is a lot more sheltered and popular for swimming and other water sports.
Nazaré has a beautiful little beach promenade with shops, cafes and restaurants. Come here for a little lunch break after a long day at the beach. You absolutely need to take the funicular up to Nazaré’s lookout point. Here you’ll find a little surf museum, lighthouse and a beautiful view. You’ll get to see both of Nazaré’s beaches so definitely make sure to pack your camera. If you’re trying to get away from the city Nazaré is the place to go.
Peneda-Gerês National Park is Portugal’s only national park and a sight to behold for lovers of nature. Apart from admiring the stunning natural beauty, here you can also explore the local biodiversity, go bird watching, swim in turquoise lagoons, try canyoning, explore old architecture, local heritage, and walking trails.
The area’s biodiversity is one of its main draws, with many different species of flora and fauna making their home in this protected area in Northern Portugal. You can see wolves, eagles, or perhaps even the Pyrenean desman! That, coupled with the variations in altitude and the sweeping vistas, make Peneda-Gerês one of the best day trips from Porto.
For lovers of adventure activities, you can hike, climb, canyon, kayak, and more in different locations throughout the park.
Driving takes a little over an hour. Driving is undoubtedly the easiest and most convenient way to access the park. If you’re unsure of where in the park to visit, small group and private tours are available. Oporto Adventure Tours is an excellent option and a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales aid in reforestation efforts in Peneda-Gerês.
10. santiago de compostela (spain)
If you’ve got your own access to a car or a hired driver, why not head over Portugal’s northern border into Spain? Visit Santiago de Compostela, the final destination of the famed Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trek.
Santiago de Compostela is a stunning medieval city that is home to the final resting place of the apostle Saint James. You can also visit the city’s breathtaking cathedral, maze of cobblestone streets (be sure you have appropriate shoes!), and indulge in the local culinary scene.
Driving, the ride takes only two and a half hours. However, if you’re restricted to using public transportation, the trip becomes four and a half hours, making it an overly ambitious option for a day trip from Porto.
Contribution: Carol, Is This Even a Road
Winding through the narrow stone streets of Sintra is like entering a fairy tale village with ancient castle ruins perched on the rolling hillsides.
One must see stop is the colorful 1838 Pena Palace. The bright domes and turrets are reminiscent of a Disney castle. The Moorish Castle, with its snaking stone wall, is a short walk from the lower Pena Park entrance.
It takes about 20 minutes by car, taxi or walking to arrive at Quinta da Regaleira. Explore the grand castle, grottos and well manicured grounds. The most outstanding feature is the hike down spiral stone steps to the bottom of the Initiation Well.
The Fonte da Pipa is just a few minutes walk from Quinta da Regaleira for a quick bite and a drink. Monserrate Palace and gardens and Sintra Palace are also worth a visit.
Head towards the coast to the Cabo da Roca sea cliffs and lighthouse. For a jaw dropping beach view, check out the rock formations at Praia da Ursa.
Sintra is a gorgeous 3 hour drive south down A17 along the rocky Portugal coastline from Porto. Bus options are available although they take a bit longer. It’s one of the most popular day trips from Porto, particularly if you make it a stop along the way to Lisbon (or vice versa).
A day trip to Sintra is an unforgettable highlight of any Portugal itinerary.
12. viana do castelo
Contribution: Jorge & Claudia, Portugal Things
Viana do Castelo is a cute coastal city, with wonderful beaches, panoramic views, and a picturesque historic center. Although it isn’t a tourist city, it is well worth visiting. Plus, its close proximity makes it an excellent day trip from Porto. This coastal city is about 70km from Porto and accessible by train, bus, or car.
Viana do Castelo’s top attraction is the Santa Luzia Basilica with its panoramic views overlooking the city of Viana do Castelo, the Lima river, and the shoreline. The Basilica is located in the outskirts of the city on top of a mountain but you can easily reach it using a funicular from the old town.
Another cool attraction of Viana is the Gil Eanes Hospital Ship – a former hospital ship converted into a museum. It is a very interesting museum that teaches you about Portugal’s brave history in the Cod fishing campaigns.
Besides these top attractions, Viana do Castelo has a picturesque historic city center with old beautiful buildings, cobbled streets, and several beaches nearby.
Amarante is a small, quaint city in the same district as Porto. It is nestled on a hill with views of the river Tamega and the Serra do Marão. Taking a bus or driving are your only options here as there is no train service.
Lamego is a historic city in the Douro River region of Portugal. Here, you can check out the city’s Se (cathedral) as well as the Nossa Senhora dos Remedios. Grab a bite to eat at O Meu Gatinho!
15. vila real
Vila Real is another city in Northern Portugal. Here, you can admire the Solar de Mateus, which is the house depicted on Mateus Rose wine bottles. Take a tour of the interior or enjoy the outdoor café!