Starting your Camino in Porto: What to do and where to stay before you start

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starting your camino in porto

If you’ve visiting Porto and have a really short time there before you start your Camino in Porto, here’s what to do and see in Porto in 24 hours!

We recently walked the Portuguese route of the Camino de Santiago and we started from Porto! Land of Port, the Douro river and where JK Rowling allegedly wrote the first three chapters of Harry Potter.

This was a short hop through Porto for us on this occasion but we will be back.

If you’re also starting your Camino in Porto, or stopping by for the weekend, we thought our guide to what to do and see in Porto if you have only 24 hours may be useful!

Taste Port In Porto

Port, or Vinho do Porto, has to be this city’s most famous export. On the South side of the river Douro there are a number of Port Lodges where you can sample various different types of Port, from White, Tawny to Ruby. We visited Cockburns (pronounced Coh-burn) and were impressed by the staff expertise (and how much we actually enjoyed the Port we tried). But there are lots of other lodges were you can try small glasses with snacks.

Walk along the Douro river

On a sunny day, it’s hard to beat the feeling of joy created by taking a stroll along the River Douro in Porto. The North side of the river is lined with restaurants and bars, musicians and street performers and features a regular throng of tourists. The South side is where you will find the Port Lodges and other bars specialising in serving Port samples. As the sun sets, you’ll find courting couples gazing out to the river and enjoying the pink tinge of the sun settling on the water. If you follow the river long enough West, you’ll find the Atlantic coast.

How to cross the river? There are lots of options, either one of the large bridges, water taxi or the cable car.

Nibble some Portuguese food

When it comes to what you must see and do in Porto, food is a big part! Portugal has a lot of famous foods, in Porto, we really enjoyed:

  • Pastel de Nata (of course): bought anywhere in cafes or Pastelerias for around 1 Euro
  • Fried salt cod fritter (Pasteis de Bacalhau): tapas type snacks that can be found in restaurants served with a glass of wine
  • Ham and cheese brioche sandwiches: at cafes and sandwich shops for 2 Euro approx. So delicious for breakfast or a late night snack
  • Franceshina: A sandwich made of white bread, sausage, steak, cheese and topped with gravy like sauce. Erm, hello!

Visit the train station in Porto

The train station Sao Bento is in central Porto. It was built in 1877 and remains to this day a stunning building. It’s free to enter and have a quick look around, even just 2 minutes to witness the splendor of the tiled walls and high ceilings. Well worth your time!

Visit the sardine shops in Porto

Sardines are synonymous with Portugal, throughout the city you’ll find stores displaying sardines like candy. Granted, they are tourist traps and charge more than a supermarket would. But, it’s worth a look because they are all so pretty!

Take the tram from Porto to the coast

Of course, there is lots to do and see in Porto centre, but if you want to explore the area this is a great way to do it.

We love a tram! And what’s better than a tram that pootles out of Porto and to the beach?! Nothing I say. Take the tram “Line one” from Porto to the Foz district. It will cost you 3 Euro each way, but you could spend hours enjoying the beach, looking at lighthouses or watching fisherman making their catches of the day. There is a path along the coast if you want to keep walking and exploring the beaches, which become even more deserted as you head North.

Here are some of the best activities to consider while in Porto.

Coffee and people watching in Porto’s cafes

Porto has some incredible coffee shops. Whether you’re looking for stunning traditional cafes or hipster joints to enjoy a flat white, Porto has it all. Nothing is better than spending a few hours drinking coffee and taking in your surroundings. We loved all the cafes on Rue Das Flores and some of the smaller coffee places on the stairs from the River back up to town.

Visit the chocolate shop and a wine tasting room

Enjoy a tasting experience! Chocolotaria Equador is a Porto must visit, there are a few different stores throughout the city. You can enjoy delicious chocolate on its own, pure decadence. Or up the ante and try some port with it too!

Some activities to consider while in Porto itself:

Take in the Porto Cathedral

The 12th Century Cathedral in central Porto offers spectacular views of the city and is free to enter. For anyone starting their Camino in Porto, this is also where you collect your credential and officially start your route!

Our final advice, do NOT take the funicular in Porto. It is pricey and an incredibly short ride. Not worth your money!

Where to stay before you start the Camino in Porto?

There is a municipal albergue in Porto, but you may wish to start off with a private hostel before you set off to start your Camino in Porto. If so, Porto spoils you for choice of hostels.

Porto Lounge Hostel is a plush and contemporary pad with a great garden. What’s more, it is also one of the most environmentally friendly hostels in Portugal. Gallery Hostel Porto is an art themed hostel with a distinctive style as well as an upmarket bar and terrace.

Across the river, The House of Sandeman is such a great concept. Here you can kill two birds with one stone and enjoy a great place to stay, whilst visiting a Port Lodge. The hostel is completely port themed, with beds made to look like barrels! A fun way to start your Camino in Porto.

Cats Hostel (actual cats not welcome) is one of the best if you want a location right next to Porto Cathedral (which is where you will collect your credential). A fun and stylish option with great outdoor space. Speaking of outdoor space, Urban Garden Central Hostel takes things to a new level. There’s a large rooftop garden complete with BBQ and chill out space.

Finally, Lost Inn Porto is a great choice if you’re looking for a cozy and sophisticated space. One of the best for comfy beds to rest before you start the Camino in Poro.

For more information on the Portuguese route, you can find our guide here.

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