Best Day Trips from Porto

June 12, 2024

Portugal is currently one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Travelers who like to backpack or are looking for a little more comfort often visit Porto and Lisbon, which are the most visited cities in Portugal. Each city offers countless attractions, beautiful landscapes, great museums, and restaurants. However, an itinerary for traveling in Portugal should go beyond these two cities or the magnificent beaches of the Algarve or the stunning natural landscapes of the Azores and Madeira islands. It should include the north of Portugal, rich in culture, history, traditions, and the traditional gastronomy that appeals to everyone.


Let's start with Guimarães, a city with a rich history, often referred to as "The Cradle of the Portuguese Nation" because of its association with the foundation of Portuguese nationality and identity. It was even declared the European Capital of Culture back in 2012. If you plan to visit Guimarães, there are several attractions you shouldn't miss. The historic center of the city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is definitely worth exploring, the iconic Castelo de Guimarães, which is a symbol of the nation and dates back to the 10th century, the Igreja de São Miguel do Castelo, a Romanesque church from the 13th century, and the Paços dos Duques de Bragança, a 15th-century palace considered a masterpiece of the Renaissance. Finally, if you want to enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the city, be sure to visit the famous Santuário da Penha, which sits atop a hill. To get to Guimarães, you can take the train from São Bento or Campanhã Station, which takes about 1 hour and 17 minutes. Alternatively, you can take the A7 highway, which takes approximately 1 hour and 8 minutes.

A view of the historic center of Guimarães, showcasing its charming old buildings and cobblestone streets.

The historic center of Guimarães, known as "The Cradle of the Portuguese Nation," with its charming old buildings and cobblestone streets.


Our next stop is the city of Braga, which dates back more than 2,000 years and is recognized as one of the oldest cities in Portugal. Originally founded as Bracara Augusta during Roman times, Braga has a rich cultural heritage and was named European Youth Capital in 2012 and European City of Sport in 2018. Its most emblematic site is the Santuário do Bom Jesus do Monte, known for its spectacular baroque staircase, fountains and ornate gardens and classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During our visit to Braga, we will have the opportunity to admire several other important landmarks, including the Santuário da Nossa Senhora do Sameiro, another important religious shrine, a popular pilgrimage destination and located on a hill offering a panoramic view over the city. In addition, you can visit the Sé Catedral, which is one of the oldest cathedrals in Portugal, and explore Braga's historic center and the Palácio do Raio, which features impressive Baroque architecture. Finally, we'll visit the famous Biscainhos Museum, which is housed in a 16th-century palace and provides an insight into aristocratic life in 16th-century Portugal. To get to Braga, you can take the train from São Bento or Campanhã station, which takes approximately one hour and four minutes. Alternatively, you can take the A3 highway, which takes an hour and five minutes.

The baroque staircase of Bom Jesus de Braga, surrounded by lush greenery and ornate gardens.

The stunning baroque staircase of Bom Jesus de Braga, a must-see landmark in one of Portugal's oldest cities.


Aveiro is is the next destination on our list, a must-visit destination known as the Venice of Portugal, which can be easily reached by an hour's train ride from Porto. This city is famous for its canals, and you can explore them by hopping on one of the moliceiros boats while enjoying the traditional architecture and enchanting landscape of Aveiro. Additionally, Aveiro is home to several popular attractions, including the famous Fábrica de Porcelana da Vista Alegre, the Salinas de Aveiro, the Praça do Peixe with numerous restaurants to choose from, the Universidade de Aveiro, and the Costa Nova beach, where you can see the typical colorful wooden houses and enjoy the golden sands. You can reach Aveiro via train or car by using the A29 highway.

A traditional moliceiro boat floating on Aveiro's canal, with colorful buildings in the background.

A traditional moliceiro boat on Aveiro's canal, offering picturesque views of the "Venice of Portugal."


Coimbra, a city located in central Portugal between Lisbon and Porto, is in fourth place on our list of historically renowned cities. The city is home to one of the oldest and largest universities in Europe, the Universidade de Coimbra. Due to its historical significance and privileged geographical position, Coimbra is considered one of the most important cities in Portugal. The city boasts several landmarks, including the Biblioteca Joanina, renowned for its collection of rare books and stunning architecture, the Sé Velha de Coimbra, one of Portugal's oldest cathedrals built in the 12th century, the convents of Santa Clara-a-Velha and Santa Cruz, and the Jardim Botânico da Universidade de Coimbra, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, founded in 1772. To reach Coimbra, you can take the train from São Bento or Campanhã Station, which takes approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, or take the A1 highway, which also takes 1 hour and 20 minutes.

The historic building of the University of Coimbra, one of the oldest universities in Europe.

The historic University of Coimbra, a center of learning and culture since the 13th century.

Pinhão, Douro

And finally, we have Pinhão. a charming town situated in the heart of the Alto Douro Wine Region, which is considered one of the most beautiful places in Portugal. The town's picturesque streets by the riverside and the stunning landscape of terraced vineyards along the steep banks of the river make it a popular tourist destination. Pinhão has a rich history that revolves around grapes, the grape harvest, the Douro River, and Port wine - Portugal's most famous wine. The town is also known for its excellent gastronomy, cultural heritage, and traditional practices. Visitors can take guided tours of the vineyards and cellars of the various estates surrounding Pinhão, such as Quinta de La Rosa, Quinta do Seixo, and Quinta das Carvalhas, among others. The Casal de Loivos viewpoint, located just 5 km from the center of Pinhão, offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding region. You can travel to Pinhão by car, taking the N 222 road, which is one of the most beautiful roads in the world. Alternatively, you can also travel by boat, with cruises departing from Porto and Peso da Régua. Another memorable way to reach Pinhão is by train, taking the historic Douro Line from Régua to Pocinho, stopping at Pinhão. Regardless of the method of transportation you choose, you will have access to stunning views of one of Portugal's most beautiful regions.

The terraced vineyards of the Douro Valley near Pinhão, with the river flowing below.

The terraced vineyards of the Douro Valley near Pinhão, renowned for producing world-class Port wine.

Day Tours from Porto - Cooltour Oporto

If you're planning to travel around Portugal and explore the various cities mentioned in this article, you might consider checking out the tours available on Cooltour Oporto’s website. Our team of experts can help you better explore these cities with our daily and private tours, catering to the needs of all types of travelers. Don't hesitate to visit Cooltour Oporto’s website and discover the exciting experiences that await you. It's a safe and relaxed way to travel around Portugal and create unforgettable memories.