Porto is a fascinating city for your mind, eyes, and tastebuds; rain or shine! In this post, I’ve rounded up our favorite kid-friendly activities for a 3 Day Porto Itinerary so you’re prepared no matter what the weather throws your way!
Some advice: We found the “YR” Weather App to be especially reliable and detailed for helping us plan around coastal weather patterns in Europe. Make sure to download this app!
Now, without further preamble, here is our suggested 3 Day Porto Itinerary with Kids including bonus content for your stay in Portugal!
Included in our 3 Day Porto Itinerary with Kids:
Day 1 – Walking Tour of Porto with Kids
I cannot recommend walking tours enough on one of your first days in any large, historic city.
Covering a lot of ground early on helps you get oriented to the city’s footprint. On guided tours you get to interact with a local, you gain an understanding into history, traditions, and personalities.
On top of all that, you’ll leave with new inspiration on how to fine tune your 3 Day Porto Itinerary with Kids.
Make sure to check out our full kid-friendly full walking tour route which includes snack break spots, public restrooms, and energy busting playgrounds and several more highlights.
Below are our top, can’t miss sites. Many of them have indoor spaces to explore, but I suggest saving these for another day unless it is raining. Day 1 is focused on covering a lot of ground and getting familiar with the city.
Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas
These conjoined churches were built in the 17th century. Carmelites for the poor, Carmo for aristocrats. Both are called golden churches. They are ornately decorated with wooden carvings covered in gold leaf. In the Church of Carmelites, 400 kg of gold decorates the interior. One unique feature you’ll find in Portuguese churches is to see Jesus portrayed lying in a coffin.
Since Monks and Nuns should not meet each other or talk to each other, they’re separated by a shockingly narrow house. Today in Portugal, there is still a common rule, two churches should never share one common wall.
In the basement of the Church of Carmo, there are mummies, bones, and skulls in their catacombs. The rich who paid to be buried in the church were only given the space for four years before they were relocated to a cemetery.
Perhaps the most famous feature of the churches is the azulejo tile covering the façade. Ten thousand tiles that make up the art piece that took 5 years to complete. They would have been painted, numbered 1-10,000 and then baked before placement onto the building.
In addition to serving as decoration, the tiles (seen all over Portugal) served to protect from humidity. Many old homes in the center of the city are without heating. It becomes very moist and mildewy as a result in the winter.
Museu Da Cidade – Bank of Materials
A historical preservation service runs this free museum. When a building is being demolished or remodeled, the service will come and collect any historical tiles, door knobs, and stucco and store it in this unique “Bank.”
Anyone who is restoring a home or building in Porto to preserve historic appearance can come to the bank to find suitable pieces to decorate the interior and exterior.
This tower is central to so many stops on our walking tour, it cannot be missed. You’ll be back on Day 3 though to check out the interior.
Sao Bento Train Station
Twenty-five thousand tiles decorate the walls of the train station’s lobby, which is acclaimed as the 2nd most beautiful in Europe.
The art depicts the evolution of transportation as well as typical life in Portugal during the early 1900s.
At the far left of the wall where the doorways open up to the trains, look for a place where the artist made a major mistake in the tiles. He used the wrong stencil and placed men’s faces onto girls’ bodies!
The riverfront area of the Ribeira district was once the main port for trade. As boats were built bigger and bigger, the port moved oceanside. This area remains lively and the most popular tourist area of the city.
Restaurants line the riverfront walkway. Make sure to stop in to Nata Sweet Nata for an espresso and Nata pick me up.
In the river, you’ll notice flat boats with long oars quietly anchored. These are Rabelo Boats, once used to carry wine barrels between the vineyards and cellars.
Day 2 – Cross the Douro River & Discover Gaia
Your visit to Porto isn’t complete without admiring it from across the river. This is the best vantage point to soak in the view of Old Town Porto climbing the hillside.
Walk the High Deck of the Luís I Bridge
Make a grand entrance into Gaia by crossing the river on the top level’s walkway. Our kids loved experiencing these heights especially because every few minutes, a train would cross the bridge just a few feet from where we stood.
The bottom deck has a walking path as well, and once construction is complete, the road for automobiles will reopen.
Sample Port Wine and Tour a Cellar
You can order Port off of any restaurant’s menu, but if you want to learn more about the significance of port and how it is made, tour one of the Cellars.
Cálem was recommended to us as the most interactive of the Port Cellars, making it a good kid friendly option. A tour and taste costs €15 per adult, €7 for kids 6-17 (no taste of course), and is free for 5 and under.
We didn’t tour Burmester, but sampled their delicious Port and it is one of the most popular.
WOW Porto Complex
Learn about Porto’s traditions and predominant exports at WOW Porto.
There are 7 beautifully curated museums with exhibits in English and Portuguese. (Wine, Cork, Across the Ages, Chocolate, Bridges, Fashion & Fabric, and the Pink Palace.)
At the front desk’s recommendation, we picked the two most hands-on museums to keep the kids engaged while we absorbed as much information as possible. These were Planet Cork and The Chocolate Story. If you buy multi-museum passes, you’ll save a bit of money.
I enjoyed Planet Cork most of all because the information was all so new to me. I had no idea how cork was harvested, rated, and the innovative ways it is used today.
For family friendly dining within the WOW Complex, check out Pip. The fare was superb and the prices fair. If you’re there on a nice day, it dons an incredible view of Porto from the patio.
Our kids devoured their pizza. I appreciated the family restrooms and the immaculately clean highchairs.
Indulge at Mercado Beira-Rio Food Hall in Gaia
Looking for a more informal lunch setting? Check out Mercado Beira-Rio where everyone can grab exactly what they’re craving. Super Bock has a self serve automated bar in the center which immediately reeled in my husband. I grabbed a glass of red from the wine bar while I waited for my lunch to be ready. I ordered a lovely sandwich and crostini from Piadina Mia.
Mercado Beira-Rio is a good spot to grab local favorites like the codfish and franscesinha.
Want something adventurous? Try the fresh octopus at More Sea.
Dine Along the Waterfront
As a third Gaia dining option, I highly recommend Taberninha do Manel.
They were very accommodating to our stroller yielding family even though the tables were tightly packed together. The restaurant was recommended to use by a local guide and it did not disappoint. They had many of the local dishes that we had hoped to try; including the codfish cakes and Francesinha.
For kids, they have a “tiny hot dog” on the menu. My son loved it even though it was quite different than what an American would call a hot dog.
Perhaps the best part was their gentle dog, “Manelito,” who instantly took a liking to our 4 year old.
Ride the Cable Car
Once you’ve finished your time in Gaia, consider taking the Cable car from Gaia cable car’s Cais de Gaia station to get you back to the top of the bridge.
The kids will love the unfamiliarity of this type of transportation and it is just a few euros per person.
Note: The cable cars do not run on windy days.
Day 3 – Dive Deeper into Porto
Day 1 and Day 2 of our 3 Day Porto Itinerary with kids provided a nice sampler platter of the neighbor cities, Porto and Gaia. Spend Day 3 diving deeper into a favorite area, trying some of the local delicacies you haven’t yet, and touring inside some of the landmarks.
Step Inside The World’s Most Beautiful Bookstore, Livraria Lello
For €5 per ticket, you can pre-purchase a timed entry ticket online (ticket required for ages 4+). If you have young kids (under 4), upon arrival you can skip the line and bring your digital tickets straight to the door.
If you have a stroller they will park it in a side entrance. Once inside, each €5 ticket will count toward a credit off one book. They had ample options for English books.
No matter when you visit, there will be a line down the street to get in. This store gained tremendous popularity when rumors spread that J.K. Rowling gained inspiration from Livraria Lello’s interior for the Hogwarts Library. She refuses having ever visited, yet swarms of people still come year round.
Catch the Daily Pipe Organ Performance at Clérigos Church and Climb the Tower
Every day at noon, the organist puts on a free 20 minute performance. It is very casual, so people can come and go throughout the concert which is helpful when traveling with tiny humans.
While you’re here, if your kids get enthused about conquering towers, consider climbing the 200 steps to the top of the adjacent tower that dominates the Porto skyline.
Tour the Church of Carmo’s Narrow House and Catacombs
I wanted to go back and do this without the kids, I just didn’t get the opportunity. It is free to peek inside the church, but for the narrow house museum and catacombs there is a 5 euro admission fee.
Take a Boat Tour
There are boat tours that last anywhere from 1 hour to half day wine tours on the Douro. I don’t know about you, but one hour is about the max I’d want to be confined on a riverboat with my two high energy kids.
The one hour Six Bridges Tour takes you to the mouth of the river and under, you guessed it, 6 bridges. The going rate is between €15-20.
Or, if you just want to give your kids the novelty of a boat ride, consider crossing the river on the water taxi for about €4 each. Look for the dock with the signage boasting, “The Fastest Way”
Ways to Spend a Rainy Day In Porto, Portugal
If rain is in the forecast, don’t fret. There is a good chance you’ll steal plenty of sun-shiny moments between the raindrops. Rearrange the above 3 Day Porto Itinerary with Kids as needed to fit the weather during your stay.
Here are 11 things you can do in Porto when it rains. (It rained 6 days in a row on our recent stay. We found numerous places to duck inside and dodge the raindrops.)
- WOW Porto
- Explore inside Livraria Lello (advanced booking recommended)
- Listen to the pipe organ performance, daily at noon inside Clérigos Church and Climb the Tower
- Hop into a café for a Nata treat
- Stroll a traditional Market like the central Bolhão
- Dine in a Food Hall. In Gaia, try Mercado Beira-Rio or “Market by the River”
- Tour the Narrow House Museum and Catacombs of the Church of Carmo
- Admire the treasures inside the free Bank of Materials (learn more in our Walking Tour post)
- Ride the Cable Car
- Ride the Funicular
- Ride the tram (as of November 2022 the trams are not running due to construction downtown.)
Local Favorites: Try these Kid-Approved Foods
Bacalhau Cod Fish
Bacalhau fish got its name from the island from which it is caught and shipped to Portugal’s mainland. This island was previously owned by Portugal, but is now part of Newfoundland and belongs to Canada.
Because of the great distance between Portugal and this island, the fish would have to be heavily salted to preserve it for the journey. When it arrives to Portugal, the cook would have to soak it in water for several days to attempt to restore its natural taste, but you’ll still taste the salt. The most popular way to eat this it for visitors is as a Codfish cake where it is mixed in with potato purée. You can order it with or without the goat cheese filling as well. For adults, it is commonly paired with a white port wine and makes for a wonderful snack or appetizer. It will easily be found at restaurants int he Starter menu.
For a more touristic tasting experience, visit one of the many locations of Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau. The atmosphere is fun and lively for kids and while you’ll pay more for the specialty than at a traditional restaurant, the taste is excellent and authentic.
Shown above behind my cod plate, is the famous Portuguese Francesinha, meaning “Little Frenchie.”
It is Portugal’s take on the croque madame. A tasty meat-filled sandwich is covered in melted cheese, a spiced tomato sauce and sometimes topped with a fried egg.
Whenever we travel abroad, we love to meander through markets looking for fruits we don’t recognize to have as an afternoon snack. In Porto we tried three fruits for the first time:
Blanco Melon – It is like a cross between a pear and a honeydew melon. This was one of my 4-year-old’s favorites in Portugal, right up there with the Nata.
Mini Kiwi – My personal favorite, teensy little kiwis that are perfectly ripe and can be popped in your mouth peel and all.
Hawthorn – Tart berries loaded with antioxidants. It was alright.
We were told that only 5 people in the world know the secret behind this 180 year old recipe. It is a caramelized custard (think crème brûlée) inside a flaky crust and it is available at almost every bakery you pass. Usually it is offered for 2-3 euros paired with an espresso. Our two favorite Nata stops were Nata Sweet Nata right next to the bridge in the Ribeira district and Manteigaria which has locations near Clérigos Tower and the Bolhão market.
Portugal is one of the most affordable countries we’ve visited in Western Europe. So much so, that we kept asking ourselves, could we move abroad with kids?
Frequently Asked Questions About Portugal with Kids
Should I Bring a Stroller?
Navigating Lisbon is very difficult with an umbrella stroller as you’ll quite often need to remove your child to cross rough cobblestone, tram tracks, and stairs. Our recommendation, skip the stroller and opt for a backpack carrier in Lisbon.
We found Porto to be much more stroller friendly even though there were still plenty of times we had to carry the stroller up and down stairwells.
A Stroller is also useful in Porto, Aveiro, Costa Nova, Braga, and most of Coimbra.
Should I rent car in Portugal?
As an American driver, we found Portugal very easy to navigate the roadways between Lisbon and Porto and various day trip locales. Car rentals are so affordable that you’ll likely spend more on tolls and gas in a week than the rental itself. The A1 from Lisbon to Porto will run you about €25 in tolls each way. A tank of gas for a a mid-size car ran us about $20 more than in the US.
If you are flying into and staying in Lisbon, you will not need a rental car as the public transport is highly efficient and affordable. Plus a daily/weekly pass will include rides on the famous Santa Justa Lift Elevator and the iconic trams. There’s a train from the airport, but we opted for an Uber with our luggage and littles which was only $18.
How can I get cellular data on my phone while in Portugal?
Before leaving home, check with your phone plan provider to see how much they’ll charge to add international calling and data. If it is more than $25, you can probably get a better deal with an eSIM (new phones) or by purchasing a physical sim card locally.
In the Lisbon airport, you can find Vodaphone which sells 5GB data, 500 min talk, 500 SMS for 30 day time period for 20 euros. If you get into downtown Lisbon you’ll find several Lycamobile desks which have nearly the same plan for 10 euros.
Are there any special services for families?
YES! Portugal is very family friendly.
Arriving at Lisbon Airport on an International Flight: If you are traveling with young children, you’ll be pointed toward the priority passport control line.
Departing from Lisbon Airport: Head towards the “Fast Track” line. It appears as if you had to pre-purchase this expedited screening lane, but it is offered for families with young children for free!
Rideshares: We found that XL Ubers often had 1 child booster seat available to use.
Save for later! 3 Day Porto Itinerary with Kids
If Lisbon is included in your Portugal adventure, check out our post on Kid Friendly Lisbon!