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Despite how many things there are to see and do in Porto, it would be a shame to miss its surroundings. Northern Portugal is an underrated part of Europe with sweeping valleys, historical towns and unique dishes and drinks to try.
Even if you’re spending just 3 days in Porto, I’d recommend taking at least one day trip into the surrounding region. In this guide, I’ll share my suggested day trips from Porto including wine tours, hiking, UNESCO Heritage Sites.
After living in beautiful Porto from 2021-2022, I’ve been lucky enough to take most of these wonderful day trips myself so I can personally vouch for them. Enjoy!
Mid-length Porto day trips (1-2 hours away)
These are the day trips I’d really recommend: you can do justice to the destinations during one day (unlike some of the further away cities/regions that I’d suggest spending 2-3 days exploring instead). They’ll also keep you occupied for the whole day rather than just a few hours.
Here are a few of the best mid-length day trips from Porto…
1. Douro Valley – the most beautiful day trip from Porto (1-2 hours journey time)
Let’s go straight in with the winner, shall we? There’s no day trip from Porto more beautiful than the Douro Valley. This captivating wine region in Portugal takes between 1-2 hours to reach depending which part you visit and whether you take the highway or scenic route.
This UNESCO-protected wine region is one of the world’s oldest, responsible for the delectable beverage that is port wine. Distilled grape spirit (such as brandy) is added to the wine, giving it a sweet and strong flavour that grows on you the more you drink it.
The main thing to do in the Douro Valley is tour hilltop wineries, learning how port wine is produced and tasting the various whites and reds. Many of the wineries also make olive oil and syrupy grape desserts.
Other things to do during a Douro Valley day trip from Porto include taking a boat cruise or kayak ride down the Douro River (boat trips in Pinhão are particularly popular) and exploring some of the small scenic towns.
Related read: all the best Porto dishes & drinks to try
How to visit Douro Valley as a day trip from Porto
By car: For maximum flexibility (but minimum wine consumption), hire a car in Porto. The highway will bring you to the Douro Valley within an hour but it’s worth taking the longer, more scenic N222 in at least one direction. With your own vehicle, you can stop at scenic viewpoints, restaurants, wineries and small towns at your leisure.
Car hire starts from €30 per day. Factor in the cost of gas, plus your transport to collect & return it from the airport or out-of-town rental agency (Rua Engenheiro Ferreira Dias, approximately €8 in an Uber). Use Rentalcars.com to book.
By organised day tour: If you’re travelling in a group of less than three people, it’s cost-effective to take a day tour rather than driving. These trips depart Porto in the morning and visit multiple wineries during the day before dropping you home. Book one including a traditional Portuguese lunch and a boat ride for €80.
By train or bus: Trains and buses departing Porto arrive into various Douro Valley towns for around €10 each way. From here, organise a taxi ride to one of the wineries. If taking this option, don’t try to squeeze in too much. It’s best to pick one place and make the most of it.
Here are 2 suggestions for Douro Valley day trips from Porto by public transport…
2. Douro Valley day trip #2 – Lamego (2 hour journey time)
Lamego was my favourite Douro Valley town mainly due to Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, a beautiful chapel reached by an enormous flight of stairs decorated with blue and white tiles. The views from the top are well worth the climb.
In Lamego, there are a couple of other religious houses worth visiting including Lamego Cathedral, as well as Lamego Museum, telling tales of Douro history from inside a gold-laden repurposed chapel.
Getting to Lamego from Porto: Rede Expressos buses (€12 each way) take 2 hours, the first departing at 10.30am from Porto Campo 24 Agosta in Bonfim. Book on the Busbud website.
3. Douro Valley day trip #3 – Vila Real (2 hour journey time)
The largest town in the Tras-o-Montes province is Vila Real. It’s easy to reach as a day trip from Porto and has several sites of interest including Casa de Mateus (featured on Mateus Rose wine bottles).
Take a guided tour around this masterpiece designed by the famous Italian architect who designed half of Porto, Nicolau Nasoni. It was previously used by the Portuguese royal family as a summer home.
Later, explore more of Vila Real including UTAD Botanical Garden and Capela Nova (chapel). A nearby winery you could drive or take a taxi to is Adega Vila Real.
Getting to Vila Real from Porto: Rede Expressos buses depart regularly costing €10 each way and taking 1 hour 20 minutes. Book using Busbud.
4. Braga (1 hour journey time)
With 2000 years of history, it’s thought Braga is Portugal’s oldest city. Unsurprisingly, it’s a favourite with history lovers who come to tour the many churches and excavation sites.
The most popular site in Braga is Bom Jesus do Monte, a Catholic shrine with a winding staircase of 577 steps – similar to the one in Lamego – leading up to it. This is slightly outside of Braga in Tenõe but can easily be reached by local bus (#2) or taxi.
Other things to do in Braga include touring the Cathedral and other churches, spotting blue azulejos (tiles) at Raio Palace and eating bacalhau a Braga, a regional fish dish fried with thick, sliced potatoes.
Getting to Braga as a Porto day trip
Take a train from São Bento or Campanhã for €7 return. No pre-booking is required; just purchase your ticket at the counter. Journies take as little as 55 minutes.
Alternatively, if you’re short of time and want to combine two Porto day trips, small group tours visit Braga and Guimarães during the same day (more about Guimarães coming up).
5. Aveiro (1 hour journey time)
The quaint fishing settlement of Aveiro makes for an easy and enjoyable day trip from Porto. When you arrive into Aveiro station after an hour’s train ride, you’re just a short walk from the city centre and the scenic canals that put this small coastal city on the map.
Things to do in Aveiro during a Porto day trip:
- Take a ride on a moliceiro, one of the colourful gondola-style boats (€5-10 per ride)
- Eat ovos mole, a typical dessert made with sweetened egg yolk and sugar. A famous place to try them is Confeitaria Peixinho, a grand cafe serving them since 1856. Although I’m always keen to try new desserts, they couldn’t complete with Porto’s pasteis de natas.
- Take a 15-minute taxi or 45-minute bus ride to Costa Nova, a coastal area with colourful beach huts and a sandy beach
- Eat fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants. I can vouch for the stuffed squid at Faros Gourmet.
Getting to Aveiro as a Porto day trip
The train journey takes 1 hour 20 minutes from São Bento station or 1 hour 10 minutes from Campanhã station. These depart hourly (the schedule can be seen on Google Maps). Buy a return ticket at the counter for €7.
If you plan to see Costa Nova as well as Aveiro, I’d recommend calling a taxi as soon as you arrive at Aveiro station. After seeing the colourful beach town in the morning, arrive back into Aveiro for afternoon sightseeing.
6. Coimbra (1 hour 20 minutes journey time)
Portugal’s sixth-largest city is known not for its 100,000 permanent residents but its temporary residents: the students. Or rather, the UNESCO Heritage University of Coimbra which is one of the oldest universities in the world.
This charming, historical city makes a great – and easy – day trip from Porto. You could stay overnight to see everything in-depth but it’s easy enough to explore the key sights on foot during one day.
The old part of the University can be found perched on top of the hill that originally housed the Royal Palace. Admire the complex for free (with spectacular river views) from Patio das Escolas or pay €12.50 to go inside Bibleoteca Joanina, an impressive baroque library.
Other Coimbra attractions include Coimbra Botanical Garden, Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro (home to Roman antiquities and religious art), Santa Clara-a-Nova Monastery, Sé Velha (Coimbra Cathedral) and Santa Cruz Church with its Neo-Manueline-style cafe boasting stained glass windows and fado performances.
Getting to Coimbra
Trains are slightly more expensive than those to Braga, Aveiro and Guimarães. Taking around 1 hour 15 minutes from São Bento / Campanhã, they cost €7-18 each way depending on the service.
The other option is the Flixbus (1 hour 20 minutes from Porto Camelias) from €2.99 each way. Book your tickets here.
Note – the bus arrives into Rua do Padrao which is quite a walk from town; you may wish to call a taxi using Uber, Bolt or FREENOW.
7. Peneda-Gerês National Park (1.5 hours journey time)
Spread between Trás-os-Montes and Minho provinces, Peneda-Gerês National Park measures a mighty 72,290 hectares. From traditional mountain towns to wild horses, roaring waterfalls and rolling landscapes, it’s one of Northern Portugal’s natural gems.
Explore quaint towns like Soajo, Peneda and Castro Laboreiro or, if nature is more your bag, soak up the scenery from Vale da Peneda viewpoint or swim in Portela do Homem waterfall. Another option is a trip to Termas do Gerês, a thermal town where the waters are thought to ease all kinds of ailments.
How to take this trip
A day trip to Peneda-Gerês is best taken by car (use Rentalcars.com to hire one in Porto) for the flexibility it will afford you. The small towns and natural attractions are not connected by public transport.
Alternatively, several day trips will take you. Book a small-group Peneda-Gerês tour by 4×4 with lunch (€80).
8. Guimarães (1 hour journey time)
Another easy day trip from Porto is to Guimarães, a medieval city with sweeping panoramic views from the hilltops.
Like many of the smaller cities in Northern Portugal, it’s not awash with entertainment. I confess I found Guimarães ever so slightly boring. But so long as you set your expectations and prepare for a quaint, historical city, you’ll enjoy a leisurely day out here.
Spend the morning exploring 10th-century Guimarães Castle then stop for lunch. The medieval square is the most atmospheric place to eat but prepare for increased prices. Step into the side streets for affordable, authentic fare.
For the afternoon, take Teleférico de Guimarães up Penha mountain. This costs €7 return and will gain you spectacular views both from the cable car and the mirador at the top.
Getting to Guimarães as a Porto day trip
The quickest way is by train. Visit São Bento or Campanhã station and buy your tickets at the counter. I’m not sure how much they cost individually as my friends and I were offered a family ticket for four of us (return) for €13. Absolute bargain!
Visit Braga and Guimarães during the same day with a guided tour from Porto.
Closeby day trips from Porto (30 minutes or less)
If you don’t fancy a long train or bus ride, there are few locations close to Porto where you can spend a day.
These day trips from Porto are ideal places to explore once you’ve ticked off the sights in the city centre and Ribeira.
9. Foz do Douro
Technically still a district of Porto, this coastal suburb feels distinct. Foz do Douro is an upmarket area, as you’ll notice when you see the impressive houses!
Visit Farol de Felgueiras (Felgueiras Lighthouse) and wander through the arched promenade walkway that is Pérgola da Foz while soaking up coastal views. Don’t miss Mercado da Foz do Douro, a covered market selling seasonal produce.
Where to eat and drink in Foz: For cupcakes and other desserts, pay a visit to A Bolacheira. Another lovely cafe closer to the waterfront is Mademoiselle. For veggie or meaty francesinhas and tasty rissóis, head straight to Brasão. Finally, Restaurante Bocca is a cosy eatery with excellent Italian food.
How to take this day trip from Porto
To take the scenic route, catch Tram Line 1. This 1930s tram is maintained as a tourist attraction, transporting visitors between Ribeira and Foz for €3 each way.
If you’re on a budget (or don’t fancy the crowded, touristic tram), catch the 500 bus instead for €1.50. Alternatively, call a taxi (Uber, Bolt or FREENOW) for around €7.
Since Foz alone probably won’t take up a whole day, you have a few options:
- Serralves – visit this contemporary art museum, pink Art Deco house and park with treetop walkway. Entry costs €20 and you can easily spend half a day before or after visiting Foz. Walk there in 20 minutes or take a 5-minute drive/10-minute bus.
- Coastal walk to Matashinos Beach – combine two destinations and a scenic walk (more about Matashinos next).
The closest beach to Porto is Matosinhos. Although it’s technically its own city, it can be reached easily from Porto by Metro. The appeal of visiting Matashinos as a day trip from Porto is largely tied to the spectacular seafood: there are over 200 restaurants specialising in freshly caught fish.
Things to do in Matashinos:
- Castelo do Queijo (Cheese Castle) – if there was a contest for the most disappointingly-named venue, it’s the cheeseless ‘cheese castle’. Named after the texture of the stone below it, this impressive fortress can be toured for just 50c.
- Surf – hire a board or take a lesson at Onda Pura.
- Eat seafood – it can be hard to pick from so many restaurants but Tito II is an absolute gem.
- Hang out at a beach bar – grab a cold drink at Lais de Guia.
- Go for brunch – at Breathe Brunch Feel or Chelo. Don’t miss my Porto brunch guide for more suggestions.
- Rotunda da Anémona – admire this impressive modern art sculpture by artist, Janet Echelman.
- Walk to Foz – take the 30-minute coastal walk at sunset, admiring the views or stopping for a sundowner.
Read next: the best sunset spots in Porto
How to visit Matashinos as a day trip from Porto
Catch the Metro (blue line A) the whole way. From Bolhão, it takes 45 minutes and costs €1.60. Pick up an Andante card and purchase a zone 3 ticket on the station machines. The closest station to Matashinos Beach is Matashinos Sul.
Alternatively, catch bus 500 or 502 between Porto and Matashinos. The 500 follows the coast so is slightly more atmospheric than the 502. Tickets cost €2 in cash or €1.60 with an Andante card.
Finally, you can call an Uber, Bolt or FREENOW taxi for as little as €8.
11. Senhor de Pedra (take this Porto day trip by bike!)
This easy day trip from Porto could probably be condensed into a half-day trip if you start early. However, I enjoyed taking a full day to enjoy it at my leisure and make several stops along the coast.
The main reason to visit Senhor da Pedra beach is to see Capela do Senhor da Pedra, a chapel beside the ocean. Visually, it doesn’t look like a Christan worship site, nor is the ocean setting typical. The explanation? It was originally a pagan worship site, transformed during the mass Chriantisation of Europe.
It doesn’t take long to tour the chapel but you can relax on the beach and make several stops on the coastal journey from Porto by bike. The first stop of interest after departing Porto is Afurada, a charming fishing village with colourful houses and a bunch of friendly, elderly locals.
Next, you’ll pass Douro Estuary Nature Reserve where you can spot birds and admire coastal views.
The best thing about this day trip from Porto is that the cycle path follows the coast the whole way and is totally flat. The ride couldn’t be easier, even if you’re not an experienced cyclist.
There are several beach clubs along the coast where you can enjoy world cuisine with coffee or cocktails. Many have tables on the sand with spectacular views. Visit Daikiri Lounge Bar for smoothie bowls and egg brunch dishes. Alternatively, do what I did and save money by eating a local meal at one of the modest restaurants near Senhor da Pedra chapel. You won’t pay more than a few Euros for lunch.
How to take this day trip from Porto
Head to Porto Rent a Bike on the Riberia waterfront. Cross the lower level of Luís I Bridge bridge, turn right and follow the coast. The ride to the chapel can take as little as 1.5 hours depending how fast you cycle and how often you stop.
I paid €12 for a full day’s bike rental but it will be cheaper if you return it in less time. Remember to have your passport/other ID details handy as the rental will ask for them. They’ll also put a €50 charge on your card which is returned when you bring back the bike, so make sure to bring a bank card with sufficient funds.
12. Vila Nova de Gaia
Known simply as Gaia by the locals, this city is connected to Porto by Luis | Bridge. Cross the lower level to experience the beverage that puts Gaia on the map: port wine!
With so many port-related experiences to be had, as well as plenty of places to eat and a few other attractions, it’s easy to spend a half-day or full-day in Gaia.
Gaia’s best port experiences:
- Tasting packages at Graham’s Port Lodge – book in advance as it’s by appointment only.
- An atmospheric cellar tour and tasting at Caves Cálem.
- Wine museums, schools and other interactive experiences at WOW (World of Wine).
- Sampling port and cheeseboards and visiting the rooftop bar at Espaço Porto Cruz.
- Cheap and cheerful tasting (5 port wines for €5) at Bar Soares.
Other things to do in Gaia include shopping for artisan products at the open-air market running along Avenue de Ramos Pinto, finding the famous Bordalo-II half rabbit (one of my favourite pieces of Porto street art) eating at stylish Beira-Rio Market and sipping speciality Porto coffee at 7G Roasters.
For sunset, walk up the steep hill or catch Gaia cable car to Jardim do Morro. Watch sunset here or climb slightly higher to the Monastery of Serra do Pilar. The views of Porto from this point are unrivalled.
The far-afield Porto day trips (2+ hours)
Honest disclaimer: unless I was unbelievably pushed for time, I wouldn’t visit the following places as a day trip. I’m a slow traveller who hates being rushed and gets FOMO about missing things.
While I’d prefer to visit for 2-3 days, there’s no wrong way to travel (well, unless you’re hurting local people or wildlife, of course!) so, if you don’t mind the journey, here are a few further-afield day trips from Porto…
13. Lisbon (journey time: 3 hours)
Although I think 3 days in Lisbon is a better amount of time to spend (add an extra one for Sintra), I know many people who have taken a Lisbon day trip from Porto. I loved my solo trip to Lisbon so much I came back for a week at a later date.
With one day in Lisbon, you could tour São Jorge Castle and explore the winding backstreets of charming Alfama, finishing with a sunset view from Miradouro da Senhora do Monte.
Alternatively, focus on the city centre: ride Santa Justa lift to Carmo Convent, sip cherry liquor at A Ginjinha then ride Gloria funicular to São Pedro de Alcântara viewpoint. Stroll through trendy Bairro Alto and Bica neighbourhoods before finishing your day with fantastic food at the Time Out Market in Cais do Sodré.
In the summer months, you may wish to dodge the big name attractions and get off the beaten path in Lisbon.
14. Sintra (journey time: 3 hours)
If you’re relying on public transport, I’d advise visiting Sintra as a day trip from Lisbon, not Porto. But if you have a car and don’t mind the three-hour drive, it’s possible from Porto.
There are various places to visit from Sintra town, the main one being Pena Palace in the Sintra Mountains. This colourful Romanticist castle steals the show but it’s also worth visiting nearby Quinta da Regaleira, an impressive estate with gardens home to the famous Initiation Well.
15. Nazaré (journey time: 2 hours)
On Portugal’s west coast, an hour’s drive past Coimbra, lies Nazaré. This is your best bet if you’re staying in Porto and want to surf without travelling to the Algarve.
Nazaré is routinely listed as one of Portugal’s top surf spots. Europe’s largest underwater canyon pushes up skyscraper-high waves, earning Nazaré international acclaim for its ‘big wave surf’. While Nazaré surfing isn’t suitable for beginners, it’s thrilling for those with experience.
Non-surfers can visit to admire the crashing waves and explore the chill fishing village. Praia do Norte, Praia do Nazare and Praia do Sul are three of the best surf beaches.
When to take this day trip from Porto? April to October is for pro surfers only. Intermediate surfers can visit in the summer months when the waves die down.
Getting to Nazaré from Porto
This day trip is best taken by car; it’s a 2-hour drive from Porto.
Alternatively, there’s a daily Flixbus from Porto to Nazaré at 7.45am and a return one from Nazaré to Porto at 6.50pm (taking 2 hours 40 minutes each way). It drops you on Avenida do Municipio near Praia Nazare. Book your tickets here.
16. Santiago de Compostela, Spain (journey time: 2.5 hours)
Although most of Spain sits to the east of Portugal, the northern Portuguese border leads to several places of interest including Spanish cities, Vigo and Santiago de Compostela.
Either can be visited from Porto as a day trip (ideally by car) but Santiago de Compostela, known as the end destination of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, has abundant religious heritage sites. The main one is the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, thought to be the burial site of St. James, the Biblical apostle.
Although the city has just 100,000 permanent residents, another 40,000 students join during term time, then there are the pilgrimage walkers who arrive after their trek. The mix of people, creative energy and impressive Romanesque architecture make the city worthy of a visit.
For a day sightseeing in Santiago de Compostela, wander through Zona Vella (the Old Town) and Alameda Park before trying typical dishes at Mercado de Abastos (the main food market) and sipping wine on Rúa do Franco. Don’t forget to try the octopus: it’s a classic from Galicia state!
Getting from Porto to Santiago de Compostela
Driving is the fastest option at 2 hours 20 minutes. The Flixbus departs regularly (€12 each way) but requires a stop in Vigo, meaning the total journey time is around 4 hours. If public transport is your only option, it’s recommended to stay overnight.
Final thoughts – best Porto day trips by public transport
If, like me, you’re not a driver, the easiest trips are:
- All 3 can be visited for €7 return on the train (no pre-booking required) in 1 hour 20 minutes.
What is the BEST day trip from Porto?
For me, it was the Douro Valley, hands down. It’s one of the most naturally beautiful places I’ve been, plus I loved visiting the wineries.
It’s not the most easily accessed by public transport so, if you’re not hiring a car, it’s probably best to take a day tour. In an ideal world, I’d do things independently rather than on a tour schedule but, since the public transport is limited in this region, it was worth it here to see and do a lot in a day.
Thanks for reading!
Read my other Porto blogs:
- The ultimate 3 day Porto itinerary
- What to eat in Porto
- Finding the best pastel de nata in Porto
- The best cafes & coffee shops in Porto
- Where to eat vegan in Porto
- Area guide to Bonfim, Porto
- The best cocktail bars in Porto
- Where to find street art in Porto
- The best places for sunset in Porto
- ‘Taste Porto’ food tour review
More Portugal posts you might like
- The ultimate 3 day Lisbon itinerary
- Solo female travel to Lisbon
- Hidden gems in Lisbon
- Lisbon food tour review
- 20 things to do in Aveiro, a canal city in Northern Portugal
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TRUSTED RESOURCES FOR VISITING PORTUGAL
Getting there by air – I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates. You can also use the ‘to anywhere’ feature if you’re flexible on where you’re going.
Driving in Europe – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals in European countries (and all around the world).
Confused about visas? I use iVisa to check visa requirements and apply for visas online.
For trains, I use Omio. The search feature allows you to compare prices, and they show live departure times on the website. This is also a handy tool to compare trains and buses in one search.
For buses, I use FlixBus. Find journeys between European countries from €1!
For hotels and self-catering apartments, I use Booking.com. You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.com.
Browse tours and activities on GetYourGuide.
Need travel insurance? I use World Nomads. They cover 150 countries and have 24-hour emergency assistance.
Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and budget tips from my 10+ years on the road!