Porto is Portugal’s second largest city and the Ribeira district is its world heritage zone of winding streets and churches and has maintained that old-world feeling. The waterfront area is also very beautiful and while Porto lacked the same “wow!” factor Lisbon had, I thought it was a beautiful riverside city filled with lots of good food and wine, which considering the region is the birthplace of Port wine makes total sense.
- Hostel Prices: Dorm rooms cost $16 and a private room starts at $35.
- Budget Hotel Prices: Prices start from $40 USD per night.
- Average Cost of Food: You can find snacks in bakeries for around $3, light meals and sandwiches for around $8, and fast food for around the the same price. If you want sit down meal with drinks, you’re looking at spending closer to $25 or more per a meal. Groceries will cost around $40 for a week’s worth of food. Prices tend to be higher than in other cities.
- Transportation Costs: A metro ticket costs $2.30, while buses cost $2 for a single journey ticket.
Top Things to Do
- Stock Exchange Palace – Construction began in 1842 and took three decades to complete. The palace and its cathedral showcase the Neoclassical style of architecture. You will find lots of commemorations of Prince Henry the navigator in Portugal and this is no exception where you can see a statue of the prince of Portugal during 1300s and 1400s.
- Vila Nova de Gaia – Porto is the home of port wine and a visit here would not be complete without visiting the port wine lodges at Vila Nova de Gaia. You can learn about the history of port wine and its impact on the city in the Port Wine Museum.
- Fundação Serralves - This is a contemporary art museum and park. The museum does not have any permanent collections, but several changing exhibitions throughout the year. The rest of the exhibitions can be found in the pink Art Deco “Casa de Serralves” in the grounds.
- Douro River - Take a boat trip up the Douro river, passing under the city’s bridges, from Porto to Regua is an ideal way to do this. It is a 50 minute trip. The boat trips area a relaxing way to see the city.
- Povoa de Varzim – The village of Povoa de Varzim is a small fishing town situated 30km north of Porto. There is a newly-renovated casino in the northern end of the village along with water slides, nightclubs, and beach side cafes.
- Casa da Música – This state of the art concert hall offers a number of performances that include local music and theater. A complete range of classical and jazz events takes place, with most tickets costing under 25 euro and some performances are free.
- Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis - Another impressive art museum housed in the neoclassical Palácio das Carrancas was Portugal’s first national museum. It was transformed into a museum for fine and decorative arts in 1940, its best works date from the 19th century. A permanent collection is the gallery of works by Portuguese sculptor António Soares dos Reis, after whom the museum is named.
- Jardim do Palácio de Cristal - This is free entry, is in the centre of Porto with stunning gardens and features a high-domed pavilion. There is an avenue of lime trees, a pretty river to wander alongside and you might even catch a concert at the pavilion or exhibition at one of the other buildings.
- Mercado do Bolhão – This quirky market is full to bursting with fresh produce including meat, fish, fruit and vegetables and bread. You can also buy flowers and crafts depending on what stall you visit. Its variety makes for a fun morning, even for children.
- Eat Francescinha - These huge filling sandwiches are a Porto specialty and are a real bargain as they cost around $8 USD.
- Avoid the taxis - Taxis are super expensive in Portugal, often adding fees for luggage and airport pick ups. Simply use the metro or bus system to go where you need to.
- Get a metro pass - It’s cheaper to get a day ticket than to buy the metro tickets for a single journey.