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Excursions from Porto -Barcos - Aveiro

Day-tours in the surroundings of Porto

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If you’re staying in Porto long enough, be sure to explore the surroundings of the city: you’ll find plenty to do around Porto!

What to the best day tours in Northern Portugal? Here are the Captain’s favourites!

💡 The Captain’s tip 💡
Want to know more about the history of Porto? Captain Ulysses warmly recommends this free guided tour of the city. It’s up to you to choose how much you wish to tip the tour guide!

Aveiro (+ Matosinhos)

75 kilometers south of Porto, Aveiro is a picture-postcard town which the Captain definitely recommends visiting! Nestled in a lagoon by the ocean, the city is mostly known for its picturesque canals, its barcos moliceiros (rowboats), its Art Nouveau buildings and its colorful houses.

Gourmets will also seize the occasion to taste the local specialty: ovos moles, a delicious dessert made with eggs and sugar.

If you are staying a few days in the region of Porto, Captain Ulysses can only recommend taking some time to explore Aveiro.

And if you’re planning on driving to Aveiro or taking the train, the Captain recommends stopping at Matosinhos on the way back to have a walk on the beach and, why not, treat yourself to a short surf session!

💡 Practical information 💡
To get to Aveiro, several possibilities:
• taking the train, it is the cheapest option
• renting a car. The Captain warmly recommends Rentalcars to find the best deal.
• opting for an organized day trip, so as not to miss any of the treasures of Aveiro. The Captain recommends two day trips in particular: a 4-hour day trip (perfect if you’re running on a tight budget) / a 10-hour day tour (Aveiro, Paiva Walkways and Arouca 516 Footbridge) .

Sao Jacinto Natural Reserve

Nestled at the end of the peninsula formed by the Ria de Aveiro, west of Aveiro, the Sao Jacinto Natural Reserve is heaven on earth for nature lovers!

With their white sand beaches, dunes, pine forests and marshes, the landscapes are quite simply spectacular. Four trails ( 40-minute to 3-hour hikes) start from the interpretation centre. In the reserve, you’ll find observation specifically platforms designed for bird watching.

Sao Jacinto is also one of Portugal’s hotspots for surfing enthusiasts.

💡 Practical information 💡
The easiest way to get to Sao Jacinto Dunes Natural Reserve is renting a car for the day: you’ll be able to explore Aveiro, Sao Jacinto and Matosinhos. Otherwise, you will have to take the train to Porto + the ferry to Aveiro + walk 4km or rent a bike to get to the reserve.

👉 Find out more in the Captain’s dedicated article: Sao Jacinto nature reserve

The Douro Valley

Attention, nature lovers and wine enthusiasts! You’ve visited the Port wine cellars in Porto? To complete the visit, nothing beats a trip to the Douro Valley, where the vines are grown and the grapes are vinified before being transported to Vila Nova de Gaia to continue aging.

You’ll be able to visit quintas (farms) and explore the local vineyards, which are cultivated on steep slopes! The Captain also recommends embarking on a cruise on the Douro river: from the boat, the view of the landscapes of the Douro Valley is quite simply spectacular!

💡 Practical information 💡
To explore the Douro Valley, you can either:
• rent a car if you’d rather be free to stop whenever/wherever you want
• opt for an organized day tour, which includes a cruise on the Douro. The Captain particularly recommends this day tour (which includes transport by minivan, visit to 2 quintas, wine and port tasting, lunch & cruise).

Braga & Guimaraes

Both located 55 kilometers north of Porto (and 25 kilometers from each other), Guimarães and Braga are lovely historic towns which are definitely worth visiting if you have time enough!

In Braga, be sure to visit the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte as well as the cathedral, both of which are absolutely spectacular! In Guimarães, the Castle as well as the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza are both well worth visiting! And take the time to stroll through the lively historic centers of both Braga and Guimaraes!

💡 Practical information 💡
Again, to explore Braga and Guimarães from Porto, you can:
• rent a car for the day
• take the train: very affordable regular connections between the center of Porto, Guimarães and Braga. Be careful though, the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sameiro are located outside the city: you will therefore have to take a bus if you want to visit these attractions.
• book an organized day tour: Captain Ulysses recommends one in particular: day-tour to Braga and Guimarães (including pick-up at your hotel, transport by minibus, services of a guide, entrance fees and meals).


While the Captain recommends spending more than just a day in Coimbra, you can always opt for a day tour from Porto if you don’t have time enough to spend the night. One of the Coimbra’s top tourist attractions is undoubtedly its university, one of the oldest in Europe! The city also counts beautiful churches and monasteries, as well as a very fine museum, the Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro.

The city center, with its steep and winding alleys, is really quite charming! Coimbra is one of the Captain’s favorites in Portugal and is well worth a visit!

💡 Practical information 💡
To get to Coimbra from Porto, several options:
• renting a car
• taking the train
• booking an day tour: the Captain recommends this day tour, which also stops at Fatima, a mythical sanctuary where the Virgin Mary supposedly appeared to three young shepherds in 1917. The day tour from Porto includes pick-up at your hotel, transport by minibus, the services of an English-speaking guide and lunch.

👉 Looking for tips to plan your vacation in Porto? You might find these articles of interest:

👉 Skip the lines: book your tickets and visits in advance!

Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all the Captain’s suggestions in Porto!

🛏️ Accommodation: to book your accommodation in Porto, Captain Ulysses warmly recommends Booking.com. From youth hostels to luxury boutique hotels: there’s plenty to choose from. The Captain particularly recommends:
– youth hostels: The Passenger Hostel and Urban Garden Porto Central Hostel
– budget and mid-range hotels: Decanting Porto House and Porto Charming Hotel
– high-end hotels: NH Porto Jardim and The Yeatman.

🎟️ Activities: museums, monuments, guided tours, boat tours, excursions… there’s plenty to do in Porto! To avoid wasting time in endless queues, especially during high season, the Captain strongly recommends that you opt for skip-the-line tickets and book your activities in advance. You can book all your tickets and tourist activities on GetYourGuide and Civitatis.

Cruises: Porto is undoubtedly synymous with Douro! It’d be a shame to leave the “Capital of the North” without embarking on a Douro river cruise. If you’re only staying in Porto for a long weekend, the Captain recommends the six bridges cruise. If you have more time, then he highly recommends the Douro Valley cruise with wine tasting & lunch.

🎫 Citypass: valid from 1 to 4 days, the Porto Card includes unlimited access to city transport (including to get to/from the airport), free entry to 6 museums and a selection of discounts in museums, attractions, Port wine cellars and shops.

🚐 Transfers: you can take the metro at the airport to get to the city center (1/2 hour). But if you’d rather avoid public transport, you can also book a private transfer at very reasonable prices.

🚌 Local transport: you’ll probably quickly tire of Porto’s steeply sloping streets and might be tempted to take local transport instead of walking. The public transport network is convenient and easy to navigate. You can buy your tickets directly at metro stations and bus stops (be careful, you will need to take 1 Andante card per person).
You should also know that access to public transport is included in the Porto Card. Otherwise, sightseeing bus tours are great options to explore the city. You can also opt for a pass including access to hop-on hop-off buses, the funicular as well as tramways.
When it comes to getting around Porto, you have plenty of other options: bikes, electric bikes, segway, tuk-tuk, train… 

✈️ Flights: to book your flights to Porto, Captain Ulysses warmly recommends Skyscanner. You’ll be able to compare countless offers to find the best deal. If your dates are flexible, you can also compare prices over several months to find the cheapest flights possible.

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