By the Douro River is the historical city of Porto which is known for its merchants and business traders. The city is surrounded by many World Heritage sites and has a rich culture with a large influence of religion.
There are Baroque sanctuaries, medieval castles and narrow streets you can roam around to take in the beauty. There are also modern districts where you can enjoy authentic Portuguese cuisine at the many trendy restaurants and bars.
Other than Porto itself, there are many nearby natural landscapes to enjoy. From mountains to rivers and lagoons to beaches, all are accessible from Porto. The neighbouring Douro Valley is known for its vineyards and port wine cellars and entire wine-tasting trips are available for tourists.
If you’re travelling to Porto (don’t forget to book your airport transfer) and feel like taking a day to get out of the city then check out these best day trips from Porto to make your trip a memorable one.
1. Douro Valley
If you’re staying in Porto then you can take a day trip from Porto to the Douro Valley which is known for its wine production and beautiful landscapes. Day trips from Porto to the Duoro Valley usually start off with a stop at the Peso da Régua viewpoint from where a bird’s eye view of the entire city is visible.
Tours include visits to wine estates where wine tastings along with honey, olive oil, almonds and grape juice are served to the guests. Afterwards, you can take a Douro river cruise on a traditional Rabelo boat followed by lunch at an authentic Portuguese restaurant.
2. Peneda-Gerês National Park
An entire day of exploring the Peneda-Gerês National Park can be planned if you are staying in Porto. A minivan can be arranged to pick you up from your hotel in the morning and transport you to the foot of the Albufeira da Caniçada mountain. From there, visitors can hike to the magnificent Cávado River and admire the true beauty of Mother Nature.
The ancient village of Vilarinho das Furnas that has now been submerged in water is also situated along the way. You can also choose to go to the Mata da Albergaria which is a protected area offering spectacular views and cool lagoons. Or you could make your way to the Tahiti waterfall and splash around in the crystal clear water.
3. Braga and Guimarães
You can make day trips from Porto to the area of Minho which has an extremely rich history. The cities of Braga and Guimarães are nearby so you can visit them and immerse yourself in Portuguese culture. The medieval castle of Guimarães where the first Portuguese king was born is a must-visit UNESCO World Heritage site.
All the monuments and pathways have been well-preserved to make it easy to imagine it in its prime. Braga is another ancient city which houses top sights such as a stunning cathedral, the Sameiro Sanctuary and Bom Jesus do Monte.
4. Horseback Riding in Gerês
Rather than exploring the Peneda-Gerês National Park on foot or vehicle, why not enjoy the breathtaking landscapes on horseback! A Garrano pony can be arranged for anyone between the ages 8 and 75 years old. A small hike of 30 minutes is required to reach the horse stable from where you can continue the mountain journey on your steed.
There are many tasty local treats that you can enjoy on this day trip from Porto and also the chance to visit a waterfall and hot spring for bathing.
5. Porto Lunch and Wine Tasting Tour
Escape city life and take a trip to the northern part of the city where you can literally wine and dine. The vinho verde wine trails are a major tourist attraction in the area and you can take a cab from the city center to the beginning of the route.
There are many culinary flavours to explore and plenty to learn about the wine-making process. A sumptuous lunch can be had in Regua where you can also admire the impressive gothic bridge and convent.
6. Aveiro and Coimbra
An entire day can be spent visiting the beautiful cities of Aveiro and Coimbra. You can stop at the bright colourful fishing town of Costa Nova to see its traditional striped fisherman’s houses and then travel to Aveiro which often gets compared to Venice.
On this day trip from Porto you can enjoy “ovos moles” or soft eggs, listen to the guitars playing on the streets and admire the architecture. This day trip also includes a visit to the historical city of Coimbra which houses one of the oldest universities in the world and plenty of monasteries and convents one can explore.
7. Bike and Boat Self-Guided Tour
One of the best ways of enjoying the city and beyond is by renting a bicycle and heading off on your own. Using a provided map you can follow one of the pre-defined bike paths that allow you to take in the amazing bridges and landscapes of the Porto and Gaia regions.
Peddle along the Douro Estuary and Gaia beaches to breathe in the fresh, salty air and make unforgettable memories. A local lunch, boat cruise and visit to a Port wine cellar with tastings are also included in the tour and the best part is the fact you can enjoy the highlights at your own comfortable pace.
8. Vinho Verde Province
Have you heard of green wine? If not, after a day trip to the historical and lovely wine producing region of Vinho Verde province you’ll know all about it. The most common term used for this type of wine is “young wine” and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to taste it while exploring popular wine estates in the area.
Mountains and forests are to be admired on your way to Amarante, a historical city which dates back to the 4th century B.C. In Amarante, you’ll get the chance to sample even more wine in a beautiful restored manor house.
9. Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
Did you know that Spain is reachable in a day trip from Porto? One of the most popular day trips from Porto is to Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. It’s best to leave Porto early to reach the cathedral in time for the famous 11 am pilgrim mass.
The impressive historical structure is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has been holding proceedings since the Middle Ages. The Fortress of Valença and Galicia city centre are nearby and should not be missed.
10. Hiking in Peneda-Gerês National Park
For the adventure seekers who want to experience nature at its very best a hike in the mountains of the Peneda-Gerês National Park is recommended. The day trip from Porto can be arranged to enjoy the many varied hiking routes that lead to the mountain summit. There are steep valleys, serene meadows, smooth plateaus and wildlife that can be seen on your way to the top.
11. Climbing Bridge Porto
The last bridge on the Douro river is the Ponte da Arrábida which was completed in 1963. It was the longest spanning concrete arch bridge of its time and is now open to bridge climbing enthusiasts for tourists. Climbers are fitted with all the proper gear and attached to a safety line so they can make their way to the top of the arch and enjoy the view of old Porto city. Adventurous stuff!
12. Canyoning Peneda-Gerês National Park
The Peneda-Gerês National Park has so many different ways of exploring the landscapes that you can plan an entire tour enjoying just one. A canyoning day trip from Porto includes various physical activities within the park such as jumping, rock-climbing and abseiling so it’s recommended for the adventure lovers.
You can take in the impressive natural beauty via an expert guided tour of all the natural rock formations. A trained guide with specialised equipment will be with you at all times for your safety. This is a beginner’s level canyoning tour so anyone can join in and enjoy the waterfalls, lagoons and other scenic views.
13. Fátima Private Tour
Even if you do not consider yourself a religious person you can still enjoy a visit to Fátima, a beautiful town which is home to the biggest Catholic pilgrimage site in Portugal, the sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima. This is one of the most interesting day trips from Porto as it allows you to restore and strengthen your Catholic faith.
The Basilica da Santissima Trindade which is a magnificent square with a beautiful church is also covered in this tour of Fátima. Make sure to buy souvenirs and keepsakes from the many small shops surrounding the sanctuary
14. Serralves Museum & Villa
To the west of Porto lies Serralves which has many amazing sights to behold. The most important piece of architecture present here is the pink art deco mansion called Casa de Serralves surrounded by tree-lined avenues, lush green lawns, terraced grounds and pergolas.
On the other end of the park is the Contemporary Art Museum that houses masterpieces from past luminaries as well modern artists. A day trip from Porto city centre can be planned to explore both ends of the park and enjoy the museums completely.
Porto has many beaches which should not be ignored. They have the clear blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean where you can unwind on the sand or ride waves with local surfers. There are at least 10 beaches within easy reach of Porto but the most popular is Matosinhos Beach.
Matosinhos Beach is a few kilometres from the Parque de Cidade and has a massive bay area which seems endless during low-tides. If you do not mind travelling a bit further then take a day trip from Porto to Miramar which has a pleasant rocky beach filled with golden sand and a 17th-century chapel to explore.
16. City Sightseeing Day Trips from Porto
If you don’t feel like leaving Porto, there are plenty of sights and things to do within the city itself.