One of my favorite Porto memories is watching a haunting fado performance in an underground cellar while sipping a ruby glass of port wine and being served a flaming Portuguese sausage. This resonant memory perfectly represents how intertwined food and culture are in Porto; food and drink permeate every corner of the city and its surrounds—whether you’re exploring the historic La Ribeira riverfront, feeling the salty ocean breeze at Matosinhos Beach, or feasting on the bounty of the Douro Valley.
Just like its architecture, Porto’s cuisine packs a punch—you won’t find dainty dishes here. Instead, prepare to feast on mega sandwiches, rustic stews, and other hearty dishes that’ll make you feel like you’ve come home. Here’s where to find the best during 3 days in Porto.
Though generally sunny and warm, Porto can be breezy—pack layers and wear plenty of sunscreen.
If you only have time for one thing, make it Bolhão Market to sample a range of local delicacies.
Kickstart your culinary odyssey with a francesinha—a triple-decker sandwich stuffed with wet-cured ham, sausage, and roasted meat and smothered in melted cheese and a spicy sauce—in Cais de Ribeira, a charming riverside stretch and Porto’s oldest neighborhood. Or combine sightseeing and food sampling in Porto’s historical center on a guided tour.
After stopping for a restorative espresso—you’ll need one after that sandwich—take a stroll over the emblematic Luis 1 Bridge (Ponte Luis 1) to the Caves Calem to sample Porto’s most famous export: the ruby port wine. As well as boasting an interactive museum, these cellars also host fado performances.
Rise early and head to Bolhão Market this morning, hailed by locals as the city’s best culinary offering. Wander stalls piled high with fruit, veggies, and fish, and sample local delicacies such as alheira (spicy sausage), prego no pão (steak sandwich), and bifana (steak sandwich)—are you noticing a theme here?
Spend this afternoon wandering down Avenida dos Aliado, Porto’s grandest avenue. Pop inside the world’s most beautiful McDonald’s (housed in the former Imperial Café) before stopping for an espresso and a pastel de nata (sweet custard tart). End the night at Café Guarany for a glass of vino tinto and some live music or hit up some of Porto’s hippest breweries with a local.
No visit to Porto would be complete without exploring the lush landscapes and vineyards of the Douro Valley. Take a cruise on the Douro River, visit wineries to taste locally-grown varietals, and explore the charming riverside village of Pinhão.
Later, head to Matosinhos Beach for a sunset dinner—the ideal way to end your time in Porto. After taking a stroll on the golden sands, visit a waterfront taverna to feast on seafood so fresh it’s still cold from the icy waters of the Atlantic. O Gaveto, O Lusitano, and O Valentim all serve perfectly grilled seafood and hearty cataplana (tomato-based fish stew).