We seem to say this for every destination here at In Your Pocket, but just 24 hours in Porto? You’re having a giraffe. There is simply no way of getting everything out of the city in a single day, even if you are willing to move at lightning speed and risk cardiac arrhythmia in the process. What to do if you only have 24 hours in Porto? Well, change your schedule, obviously, but sometimes life is not so simple. We’ll do our best.
We’ll start our whistle-stop tour of Portugal’s second largest city at the country’s most beautiful train station — São Bento. The station is famous for the gorgeous aluzejo tiles that fill its interior, a spectacular arrival to a spectacular city. From there walk into the centre towards the Clérigos Church and its monolithic tower, arguably the most iconic of Porto’s attractions. The views from the top are nothing short of stupendous and will give you a great overview of the city you are exploring.
It just so happens that the world’s most beautiful bookshop is just around the corner. Livraria Lello is one big love letter to literature, an aesthetic stunner that brings meticulous design and the written word together like few places on the planet. There will be plenty of people here so expect a rush, but seek out your favourite genre and see if something takes your fancy. Maybe pick up ‘The Book of Disquiet’, ‘The Gospel According to Jesus Christ’ or another Portuguese classic.
Time to head towards the river. The Douro is the very reason for Porto’s existence and the mighty waterway comes to a climax in this city, making for some quite gorgeous images. Few match the majesty of the Luís I Bridge, one of Europe’s great feats of engineering. Once the longest double-deck bridge on the planet, the upper deck is for pedestrians (and trams) and affords some delightful views of the river and the city. We’re all about views with the bridge front and centre though.
With the bridge behind you, continue along the riverside, meandering in and out of the streets that jut off it. You’ll find the Casa do Infante (the birthplace of Henry the Navigator) and the Museum of Port Wine, but be sure to nip in towards the Rue de Ferreira Borges to check out the Palácio da Bolsa, one of Porto’s most delightful pieces of architecture. The fascinating Church of São Francisco is nearby too.
What to do with the evening? You’ll likely be exhausted from all that walking, but that is no excuse — there is dancing to be done. The city is one of the great European party meccas, with something for all tastes and desires. There will inevitably be port, so we recommend crossing the Luís I Bridge and heading towards Espaço Porto Cruz, a five-story church of all things port wine. The rooftop bar is a delight, and the sunsets are every bit as glorious as you presume they will be. Be sure to dress up nice though, no need for scruffs here.
And with the sun down, the night is yours. What to do with it? Meet people, drink all manner of booze, dance and dance some more. There’s plenty more to do tomorrow, when you inevitably cancel whatever plans you have and commit to another day in marvellous Porto.
Put our app in your pocket