Built on the hillsides of the Douro river, Porto is famous for its Port Wines, charming riverfront, and its UNESCO heritage center. It is no wonder why Portugal’s second largest city was elected European best destination to visit in 2017.
With Port wine cellars to visit, inviting cafes to enjoy petiscos, a unique gastronomy, Porto has much to offer culinary explorers.
The tourism board of Porto invited us to discover and taste Porto with their 3-day Porto Card. With the Porto Card in hand, we were ready to walk, eat and drink our way through Porto in 72 hours.
What Is the Porto Card?
The Porto Card is an official city pass that offers benefits and discount for over 170 attractions and cultural sites in Porto and the region.
Among others, you have access to:
- Free entrance to 9 museums
- Free public transportations (only for the transport option card, tramways not included)
- 10 to 50% discount to 21 other museums and monuments
- 10% to 40% discount on Port wine cellars, wineries and wine tasting.
- 10% to 15% discount on local restaurants.
- 10% to 15% discount in various Portuguese, traditional gourmet shops and wine stores.
- 10% to 25% discount on tours and cruises.
- Complimentary booket and map.
We were pleasantly surprised to read that the Porto Card offers many benefits beyond the traditional cultural attractions. With discount for wineries, gourmet stores and restaurants, we were hooked!
Types of Porto Cards
There are two Porto Card available: the Walker option or the Transport option.
Both cards are available in 1, 2, 3, 4 consecutive days options.
The costs for the respective travel cards are as follows:
- 1 day Porto Card Walking/Transport: € 6/13
- 2 days Porto Card Walking/Transport: € 10/20
- 3 days Porto Card Walking/Transport: € 13/24.99
- 4 days Porto Card Walking/Transport: € 15/33
You can purchase your Porto Card in advance directly on the Visit Porto and the North tourism board website. The card’s validity starts from the date you write on the back of the card or when you pick it up at the tourist office.
With our 3 day Walking Porto Card and so many options to choose from, we decided to focus on the culinary experiences.
Top Spots for Culinary Explorers with a 72 Hours Porto Card
Discover Porto and the Wines
Porto has been at the center of wine commerce since the 18th century, creating the first demarcated wine region in the world.
To better understand the history and taste Port wines, here are three places worth visiting.
Instituto Do Vinho
Start at the Instituto do Vinho which has a small museum with a detailed exhibition about how Port wines are made. This is a great way to start your journey to Port Wines including Douro Valley wines.
After seeing the exhibit, taste unique Port Wines. The Porto Card give you a 25% discount on the tasting of Port Wines and anything you purchase in the store.
Address: Rua de Ferreira Borges 27, Porto.
Hours: Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Porto Card discount: 25% off on any Port Tasting (between €2 and €6 per tasting)
Palácio Da Bolsa Y Sala De Provas Vinhos De Portugal
After the visit to the formal Instituto do Vinho, head to the Palácio da Bolsa, one of the most visited monuments in northern Portugal.
Formerly, the stock exchange of Porto, this historic building is home to the Commercial Association of Porto. This multi-purpose building is used as a museum, restaurant, tasting room as well as for wine auctions.
Don’t miss the highlight of the visit, the Arab Room. Built with Moorish decor of the 19th century, find beautifully stained glass and intricate designs. This room was used as a reception hall by the Nobless and it is still used for official events and dignitaries visiting Porto.
At the end of your visit, taste of the wines from the Douro Valley at the Sala de Provas Vinhos de Portugal. The Porto Card offers you a 25% discount on any wine tasting.
Address: Rua de Ferreira Borges, Porto, Portugal
Hours: Everyday from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm, except from November to March 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm. Guided tours duration: 45 mins
Porto Card discount: 50% off on the €9 entrance fees
Pro tip: The Palácio da Bolsa can only be visited with guided tours. Tours are offered in different languages on the hour. Best is to head over to the Palacio da Bolsa first to book your tour for the day. If your tour is not scheduled right away, you can go visit the Instituto do Vinho first and come back to the Palacio after.
Museu Do Vinho Do Porto
With a rich history in wines, Porto has a Port Wine Museum called the Museu do Vinho do Porto.
On our first day with our Porto Card, we were eager to visit this museum which includes a free entrance for Porto Card holders.
Unfortunately, the museum was closed at the time of our visit. The only indication on the door mentioned that the museum will be relocated to a different building and re-opening sometime in 2018.
Ideally, we would recommend starting at the wine museum before visiting the Port Cellars. Check with the tourist office and find out if the museum has reopened yet.
Address: Closed at time of visit. Re-opening and new location to be announced in 2018.
Porto Card discount: Free
Taste Porto’s Local Specialties
To taste the local flavors of Porto, the Porto card offers a selection of restaurants at different price points and experiences.
While there are several options to choose from, the following are popular spots to taste some specialties from the region.
Mercearia Mosaico de Sabores
This traditional grocery store has over 500 craft products that showcase the best of Portugal. In addition to local cheeses, sausages, wines, olive oil and cod, it’s also great place to pick up gifts for your friends back home.
You can also sample petiscos, Portuguese small bites served with local wines and beers.
Address: Mercearia Mosaico de Sabores, Praça Guilherme Gomes Fernandes ,67, Porto
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10:00 am – 8:00 pm; Sunday, 2:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Porto Card discount: 15% off any purchase
With its beautiful terrace right next to the Douro River, this French named restaurant serves local Portuguese food. You’ll find local specialties like bacalhau a lagareiro (cod with potatoes), sardines, octopus and beef medallions cooked with port wine.
Request a waterfront table and enjoy amazing port wines while taking in the magnificent views. If you plan to have dinner, book a reservation in advance.
Address: Chez Lapin, Rua Canastreios 40-42, Porto
Hours: Daily: 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm and 7:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Porto Card discount: 10% off cash payment or 5% off credit card payment
DOP by Rui Paula
If you are looking for a high end restaurant serving modern Portuguese cuisine, look no further than DOP, by Michelin Starred Chef, Rui Paula.
Located in the historic Palace of Arts building, expect to find a contemporary twist on traditional Portuguese dishes with an emphasis on fish and seafood.
While we didn’t eat at DOP, we recommend taking advantage of their “executive” lunch menu, where you can get three courses for €20. This offer is available only on weekdays and reservations are highly recommended.
Address: DOP, Largo São Domingos 18, 4050-292, Porto
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm and 7:30 pm – 11:00 pm, Closed on Sunday
Porto Card discount: 10% off only for lunch
Visit the Port Lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia
Porto is synonymous with Port wines, and learning more about the wines and visiting the port lodges is a must do.
The Porto card offers discounts to several Port lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia, which is right across the Douro River from Porto city.
We visited the following Port lodges and could have visited more if we had more time.
Real Companhia Velha – Oldest Port House
Founded by the King of Portugal and the Prime Minister, Marques de Pombal, in 1756 this historic port house is worth visiting. It’s a little off the beaten path, but the intimate tours and tastings makes it worth the visit.
With the Porto Card, your tour and tasting is free. Take advantage and visit this historic port wine cellar.
Address: Real Campanhia Velha, 4431-952, R. Azevedo Magalhães 314, Vila Nova de Gaia
Hours: Tours offered Monday – Friday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Porto Card discount: Free tour and tasting with your Porto Card
Cálem – Easily Accessible Port House
You’ll not miss the huge Cálem sign as you make your way across the Douro River. This popular port house offers organized tours for up to of 40 people at at time offered in different languages.
Despite the massive operation, Cálem has wonderful small and interactive museum that shows each step of the Port wine making process.
With the Porto Card you get a 20% off discount on certain tours and products. Take your time at the museum and enjoy the port tastings at the end.
Address: Cálem, Av. Diogo Leite 344, Vila Nova de Gaia
Hours: Tours offered daily: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Porto Card discount: 20% off discount from November to March on select visits and products
Espaço Porto Cruz – Interactive Experience
For great views overlooking the Douro River, and a sampling of different Port wines paired with cheese or charcuterie, relax at Espaco Porto Cruz.
This multimedia center offers a variety ways to experience Port wines and the region. Find a wonderful combination of art and interactive presentations that introduce you to the region. The 360-virtual reality tour of the Douro Valley is not to be missed.
The Porto Card gets you 2 for 1 Port based cocktails, which are very popular in Portugal.
Address: Espaço Porto Cruz, Largo Miguel Bombarda 23, Vila Nova de Gaia
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 pm – 11:30 pm, Sunday, 10:00 am – 7:00 pm, Closed on Monday
Porto Card discount: 2 for 1 cocktails
What Else Does the Porto Card Include?
With the Porto Card, we hit a few cultural sites including Casa do Infante Museu which was used as a custom and mint house. It is said to be the birthplace of Prince Henry the Navigator, famous for his role in building the Portuguese Empire in the 15th century.
There are other museums which you can visit for free, however, most of the main cultural sites are offered with a 10% to 50% discount with the Porto Card.
If you haven’t had the chance to see a Fado show, discounts are offered at several venues including Casa Da Guitarra. Great for music lovers, this music store sells guitars including handmade traditional Portuguese guitars.
Guided Walking Tours and a sightseeing bus are also available at a discounted price. One famous stop is at the Livraria Lello, one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal. Besides being one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, it is also where J.K Rowling got inspiration for the Harry Potter series.
If you are a beer enthusiast, you might want to visit the Casa da Cerveja where a 50% off discount is offered on the visit with the tasting included.
Additional visit and tastings to other wine cellars are also offered at a discount. You can also get discounts for visits to wineries in the Douro Valley.
Keep in mind that the discounts are more significant during the off-peak season typically between November and March.
So, in the nutshell, is the Porto Card worth it? The Porto Card is relatively inexpensive though it offers limited free sites to visit. What’s impressive is that it can be used at many different kinds of venues including museums, wineries and restaurants, tours and more.
If you combine free visits to the museums with discounted prices at stores, restaurants, and wineries, it can be advantageous and you will definitely save a few euros.
From all the wineries visit combined, we saved about €16. To make the most of the card, we recommend planning your 72 hours itinerary in advance and check to see if the places you want to visit are included in the Porto Card guide.
Keep in mind that overall, the attractions in Porto are quite inexpensive as well as public transportation. Choose wisely when it comes to which places to visit with the card versus without.
That said, 72 hours in Porto with the Porto Card offers plenty of opportunities to indulge in local Port wines and taste the local specialties. Meanwhile, you also get an understanding of the historical and cultural background of this charming city.
Where to Stay in Porto
With a walking Porto Card, you want to stay at a convenient location close to the main attractions. Casas do Teatro has apartments and studios within walking distance from the beautifully tiled São Bento Train Station, the cathedral, and other monuments.
With equipped kitchenettes, you can brew your own coffee in the morning or snack on local Portuguese treats in the comfort on your space.
Savor The Adventure!
Disclosure: Our Porto Cards were provided by the Porto Northern Portugal Tourism Board. The opinions expressed in this article are always our own. Full bellies and happy taste buds too.
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Claire is a culinary explorer and the engineer brain behind Authentic Food Quest. Together with her partner, Rosemary, they created Authentic Food Quest to inspire people to travel deeper through authentic food. Through food, they believe, people can have more meaningful connections on their travels. Take the quiz and find out your Food Traveler Profile.