Itinerary to one day in Downtown Porto, Portugal

Porto (sometimes in English Oporto, but we really dislike it, so PORTO it is) is our hometown, we lived, studied, and worked in Porto most of our lives! So, we wanted o help you make the most of your trip, creating an itinerary to spend one day in downtown Porto.

Twenty years ago, Porto was dying, now, the city is full of people and alive like never before. Porto is trending! It has been awarded the best European destination several times, and it’s been a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage since 1996.

As locals, we are inspired by this revolution and want to share it with you! What better way of encouraging someone to travel than showing them the attractions, the culture, the food…? And who is better than the locals to do the job? This is a one-day downtown Porto itinerary made by locals to foreign travelers. We want to inspire you to visit Porto!

Downtown porto
View of the Porto downtown

Porto’s downtown is relatively small, and everything is very close to each other. We propose a walking tour with 11 stops and only roughly 5 km! We will start with one of Porto’s main train stations, where most of us arrive and leave the city!

One-day Downtown Porto itinerary

Estação de São Bento (S. Bento Station)

S. Bento is the perfect place to start the tour because it’s central, easy to access, and a city attraction. In S. Bento you will find an excellent example of “azulejos.” A very traditional Portuguese art of blue-painted titles constitutes a significant aspect of Portuguese architecture as they are applied on walls, floors, and even ceilings.

In S. Bento train station, there are 20 000 “azulejos” illustrating the transport evolution and events of Portuguese history and life.

Porto itinerary - S. Bento
Inside the train station of Porto in downtown Porto

Rua Santa Catarina (Santa Catarina Street) with a stop in the Majestic

We go from São Bento to Santa Catarina Street, the main shopping street in Porto. This is where we have a typical Portuguese morning coffee. An espresso! The Portuguese love their coffee, but only espressos! If you want to go, complete Portuguese, have an espresso and a custard tart!

You will have it in style in the Majestic, but in our experience, neither the coffee nor the tarts are the best in Porto. However, this is the most beautiful coffee shop in Porto and is sometimes referred to as one of the most beautiful in the world!

Visit Cafe Majestic Porto Portugal
Cafe Majestic in Downtown Porto

Mercado do Bolhão (Bolhão Market)

After the typical Portuguese coffee, we are ready to walk up Santa Catarina Street and turn left into Bolhão Market. This is the most symbolic market in Porto. The market has two floors, and it’s a neoclassic building.

However, the most exciting thing about it is walking around and checking everything sold in it, both inside and outside. One “funny” thing about the market is that since the ’90s have been discussions and projects to renew it, and only in 2023 has it been completed.

In front of Bolhão, there’s another historic pastry shop called Confeitaria do Bolhão. It has some delicious Portuguese sweets.

Top things to do in Porto
Bolhão market in Downtown Porto


Aliados is the main avenue of the city of Porto. In the main square, the buildings around it make a beautiful skyline with domes and pinnacles, with the city hall as the central feature of the square. It is marked by a large main square completely paved with granite cobblestones.

This is where people from the city gather to celebrate, manifest, or riot. It’s the authentic city center.

One day in Porto
Porto’s city hall in Aliados in downtown Porto

Livraria Lello (Lello Bookstore)

After Walking through Aliados, we head to one of the most exciting attractions of Porto’s downtown: a Lello bookstore, nowadays also known as the Harry Potter bookstore. This bookstore inspired J. K. Rowling, and you can easily imagine how if you have seen the movies.

Lello Bookstore was built in 1906, and it’s a sumptuous and magical building. It is considered an Art Nouveau gem and a must-visit Porto to any traveler, especially to Harry Potter fans.

Things to do in Porto
Lello bookstore in Downtown Porto

Torre dos Clérigos (Clérigos Tower)

Very close to Lello Bookstore, it’s the Clérigos Tower. Built in the XVIII century, the Clérigos Tower is a major baroque building. Curiously it was supposed to be two towers, but the second was never built.

The tower is 76 meters high, and it is possible to climb 240 stairs almost to the top. From the top, you can see the amazing panoramic view of Porto’s landscape. This is one of Porto’s most striking attractions and one of Portugal’s most famous landmarks.

Opposite the tower are Cordoaria Gardens and an imposing Neoclassical and Pombaline building that used to be a prison. The gardens are a great place to rest after climbing and descending all those stairs.

Things to do in Porto in one day
Clerigos Tower in Porto center

Rua das Flores (Flores street)

Flores Street is an excellent example of how tourism can benefit a city! It was a dead street until 2010, and now it’s full of stores, coffee shops, and restaurants. It’s very touristy, but locals also love it.

Flores Street is always full of people and has become one of the most lively places in the city. We are going down the street into the Stock Exchange Palace. This is an excellent place to have lunch.

Porto points of Interest one day
Buildings in Flores Street in Downtown Porto

Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace)

Built in the Stock Exchange Palace of Porto is a cultural and conference center in the heart of the city center. It is ideal for concerts, fashion shows, commercial exhibitions, auctions, and other events.

It is even possible to rent these rooms for private ceremonies privately. Here we have to highlight the fascinating Arabian Room. Alhambra Palace inspired it in Spain and has unbelievable detail and beauty.

Reasons to visit Porto in one day
Arabian Room in Palácio da Bolsa in Downtown Porto

Igreja de São Francisco (S. Francisco Church)

Right next to the Stock Exchange Palace is S. Francisco Church. It was built in the XIV century in a Gothic style, but the inside of the church is one of the most important works of the Baroque, of its gilded interior from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

This decorative richness is the most notable feature, covering the roofs of the aisles, pillars, window frames, and chapels.

Visit Porto in a day
S. Francisco Church- Porto downtown itinerary


After these stunning buildings, we head down to Ribeira, aka the riverside of the Douro River. From here, you can see Gaia and the caves on the other side of the river and the D. Luis I Bridge (and the other Douro Bridges) connecting the cities. It’s a fantastic view, so we urge you to sit, rest, and have a nice cold drink. You can visit the “Casa do Infante” if you are into more culture and history.

We are now very close to the end of the tour, and we will have to climb some stairs and head to D. Luis I Bridge upper deck.

how to visit Porto
Ribeira and D. Luis Bridge in Downtown Porto

Ponte D. Luis I (D. Luis I Bridge)

D. Luis I Bridge was inaugurated in 1886, comprising two overlapping iron decks. The bridge is 395 meters long and 8 meters wide, and its arch is still considered the world’s biggest one in forged iron.

It was designed by Teófilo Seyrig, a disciple of Eiffel, and we can see the similarity in style with the Eiffel Tower. From the bridge’s upper deck, we have a fantastic view of both cities (Porto and Gaia) and the Douro River!

Therefore we finish this tour with probably the best lookout in Porto!

Bridge of D Luis I in Downtown Porto Itinerary to one day in Downtown Porto, Portugal
The superior deck of D. Luis I Bridge in Downtown Porto

If you have time and energy, you can easily add a few more Porto downtown destinations to this script:

  • Se (Cathedral of Porto) – From the D. Luis I Bridge to the Cathedral is just 200 meters, so you can add it easily. It is one of the city’s oldest monuments (construction began in 1110) and one of the most important monuments. It’s also architecturally heterogeneous, featuring a Baroque porch and a beautiful Romanesque rose window under a crenelated arch, giving the impression of a fortified church.
  • Carmo Church – considered to be one of the most remarkable rococo buildings of Porto and with beautiful tiles (Azulejos) on the lateral;
  • Church of Santo Ildefonso – an XVIII century church with a façade decorated with Portuguese tiles;
  • Casa do Infante – The birthplace of Infante D. Henrique, the Navigator, and a Museum about Prince Henry the Navigator and the New Worlds. It’s in Ribeira, so it’s easy to go there during this downtown Porto itinerary.
Best things to do in Downtown Porto
Se (Cathedral of Porto) in Downtown Porto

Where to stay in Porto?

If you only have one day or night in Porto, we strongly suggest staying in the Porto center and, mainly, in Ribeira, the most traditional area of Porto. It’s close to everything, and at night you can go for a walk and even explore more the city center.

One of the best hotels in Ribeira is Pestana Vintage Porto Hotel & World Heritage Site. It is a 5-star hotel in a 16th-century building in Praça da Ribeira facing the Douro with an outstanding view…! It’s obviously pricey but well worth it if you can afford it. You can book it here.

The Ribeira do Porto Hotel is cheaper but still comfortable and well-situated. It has a nice breakfast and good value for money. Check if it is still available here.

There are also many apartments for short-term rentals in the area if you prefer to have a house instead of only a room. One of our suggestions is Ribeira Cinemas Apartments, which is excellent for families and groups of up to 4 people. Reserve here.

Local’s Travel Guide to Downtown Porto, Portugal
One day in Downtown Porto

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12 thoughts on “Itinerary to one day in Downtown Porto, Portugal”

  1. Brilliant post, quite comprehensive! I will be travelling to Portugal – and yes, Porto as well – in mid-Sept, therefore your post is really useful 🙂

  2. Oh Amigo Jorge, I just spent my 10 mins swaying around Porto, your awe-inspiring town.

    It’s like you physically showed me around from Bento Station, Santa Catarina to Flores Street down to San Francisco street oh dear life.

    To be honest, Porto is one of the places I want to visit before I perish. Santa Catarina and the Flores street are awesome to me of course the Porto as a whole.

    Gracias for sharing this. Love from the Philippines, Lance

  3. I have never been to Portugal, much less Porto! I still have alot of Europe to explore. But this seems to have aeverything I like about aEuropean city, walking around, cathedrals and coffee!!!!

  4. omg! Portugal! <3 I have a friend who lives in Portugal and she says nothing but GREAT things about it! I hope to finally visit this place as well. I LOVEEEE your photos! <3

  5. wow! I really love the architectural designs of the places you have been to in Portugal. I would really love to visit this place also. Thank you for giving me insights about the beauty of Portugal. Will definitely visit this soon.

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