This time we want to help you to plan your trip to Porto on a budget. This unique city in Portugal offers so much, so the big problem visitors have is deciding what to see in the first place. Let us give you some ultimate tips on how to spend one day in Porto and enjoy it to the fullest. Prepare yourself for 24 hours of fun without straining your wallet!
Porto on a budget: basic information
How many days in Porto is enough?
We spent in Porto a one day, and we saw the majority (if not all) the most famous city attractions, tasted the local cuisine, bought a Port wine (although you can buy in all the parts of Portugal, including Algarve) and felt the atmosphere of the city. However, the only condition is a good plan ahead. Although Porto is not a big city, and the majority of the top things are concentrated within walking distance of the old town, be prepared for a day full of walking. In conclusion, yes, you can enjoy Porto in one day!
How to get to Porto
International airport is located 10 km north of the center of Porto. It is well-connected to the world with frequent, low-cost flights to Europe. There is a metro from Porto airport to the city (line E runs every 20/30 minutes).
Take Lisbon to Porto train and reach your destination in 2h 40minutes. Distance from Lisbon to Porto main train station is 170 miles (ca. 274 km). Cost: around €25 for an adult single ticket.
The most frequent route is the one between Lisbon and Porto. A journey from Lisbon to Porto bus station costs around €17 for an adult single. Tour lasts around 3h 30minutes – 4h. Another option is the bus from Santiago de Compostela. You will get to Porto in 3h15minutes (tickets from €27) or 4h50minutes (tickets from €34).
Getting around Porto
On your feet
We are visiting Porto on a budget so this is the best way to get to know the city and save some euros. You can start at the Sao Bento railway station and head towards the Dom Luis bridge. Then follow our itinerary, and after a whole day of walking, you will know Porto like your pocket.
You can choose between metro (6 lines, 81 stations), buses, trams or Funicular dos Guindais. A single ticket for the metro and bus costs €1.2, however, Andante Card /Porto Card gives you free and unlimited access.
Andante Tour Card grants unlimited use of the metro, bus and some trains around the city. You can use them for 24 hours (Andante Tour 1 – €7) or 72 hours (Andante Tour 3 – €15). It is valid for all zones of Porto and you can buy it in the railway stations, tourist offices and the Andante shops.
Our tip: before you purchase the Andante Card check if you really need it. Also, the Porto Card covers metro and bus connections.
Funicular dos Guindais – connects the Ribeira neighborhood, therefore, it will save you from walking up the steep hill on the river bank area. One way ticket: €2.5
Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
If you are not a fan of walking, try Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour. You can choose between a 1 or 2-day tour. Two routes are covering more than 50 stops! Also, there is a free visit to one of Porto’s most famous wine cellars, and you may pick one of three wine cellars. Ticket price: €15/€20 (1 or 2 days)
Prices in Porto
Portugal, in general, is one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe. Let’s have a look at the price list to give you an idea: (prices as per December 2019).
- A meal in the inexpensive restaurant: €8-€10
- Beer 0.5 liter in a restaurant: €1.5
- Water 1.5 liter in the market: €0.5
- Cappuccino: €1.3
- Local transport – one-way ticket: €1.5
- Gasoline 1 liter: €1.5
- Cigarettes 20 pack: €5
Our one day in Porto itinerary does not require buying Porto card however the cost of one day pass is €13 and includes unlimited use of Porto public transport, free admission to 11 sights and museums and a lot of discounts.
We were in Porto three times, and every time it was raining. However, the best months to visit Porto for good weather are from May to mid-September. Summer in Porto is hot, autumn and spring warm and mild, but in winter you can expect abundant rainfall.
What to see in Porto on a budget
There is a vast variety of things to see in Porto on a budget. We shortlisted the best, free things in Porto. Portugal is waiting for us so let’s start our self-guided Porto on a budget walking tour!
Get lost in the Ribeira district
The time you can spend here: 2h-3h
Put the map in your pocket and go through the narrow streets that sometimes seem to run through the middle of someone’s apartment. A walk in this historic center of Porto may end up with shortness of breath – the road is dotted with stairs up and down. In the early morning, when there are not many tourists, you can take beautiful pictures and feel for a moment like in another world.
Begin from the Se Cathedral then head down. Finish the walk close to the Douro river as there are plenty of pubs, cozy restaurants, and beautiful views. If you have more time and enjoy long walks, we recommend the route along the river (towards the Dom Luis bridge), up to the edge of the ocean!
Walk through Ponte Dom Luis bridge
The time you can spend here: 30min-1h
Porto must see! It is worth taking a walk through this most famous bridge in Porto. Secondly, go to the other side of the river, to Vila Nova de Gaia, where in one of the coastal pubs, we will be able to disguise a glass of port wine and look at Ribeira on the other side. An interesting fact is that the student Gustave Eiffel designed the bridge, and from the bridge itself you can take a lot of photos with a unique panorama of the city.
São Bento train station
The time you can spend here: 15-20min
Not for nothing called the most beautiful railway station in the world therefore if you are a fan of Portuguese azulejos and want to watch them at its best, the interior of the station will suit you. It is definitely the most famous Porto train station, however not the major one.
Capela das Almas
The time you can spend here: up to 30min
With its blue and white tiles on the exterior part of the building, this church is certainly one of the most Instagram friendly places in Porto. It sits at the top of Rua Da Santa Catarina.
Meet locals at Mercado do Bolhao
The time you can spend here: 30min
This market is a perfect place to meet locals, watch the stalls, and most importantly, taste some new, fresh flavors.
Jardins do Palacio de Cristal
The time you can spend here: up to 1h
Visit this peaceful and small park and enjoy the quiet oasis in Porto. You can also admire the beautiful views of the city — worth the trip.
Ticket attractions in Porto
Igreja de Sao Francisco
The time you can spend here: up to 1h
If you want to visit a sacred building and pay for a ticket, the church Sao Francisco is the best choice. The interior of the church is beautiful and makes a huge impression, especially the baroque design and gilding spilling from every side. Unfortunately, you can not take pictures inside.
Ticket price: €4
Lello bookshop (Livraria Lello)
The time you can spend here: 30min-1h
We tried to enter the bookshop twice, but each time a long queue kept us off. Certainly, it’s worth it, and the admission ticket is a discount for buying a book. Definitely, a must-see for fans of Harry Potter!
Ticket price: €5
Where to eat in Porto on a budget
See below our favorites restaurants in Porto:
Tasty Francesinha – O Forno dos Clerigos
Rua dos Clérigos 64
We recommend trying the famous Francesinha sandwich (meat, meat, and even more meat, bread, lots of melted cheese, a fried egg and beer sauce). In the basic version, you can get it for as little as €6.9. For vegetarians, there will be salads and delicious soups with pods for around €2. In short, you will not leave hungry. Note: they will charge you €1 for bread.
Breakfast with locals – Muralhas Olival
R. Campo dos Mártires da Pátria 117
Very busy in the morning because of tourists squeezing between locals who are busy talking or reading the morning press. Above all, you can enjoy sweet and savory breakfasts at reasonable prices.
Relax in Vila Nova de Gaia – Beira Douro
Av. de Diogo Leite 242
This is a place with affordable prices and with a beautiful view. You can drink here a glass of Porto wine and bite a cod cutlet.
Where to stay in Porto
Let’s have a look at the best places to stay in Porto:
Quarto com 4 camas
Rua de Santos Pousada Nº 389 2 º Andar Habitação Nº 2, Bonfim
Excellent location for an affordable price. A good place to start your Porto in a day trip because it is situated only 1.6 km from the old town. Price for one night in double room €38-€47. Breakfast not included.
R. de Almeiriga Norte 2764, 4455-418 Perafita
Caravela is private accommodation in the city of Perafita. It is about a 10-minute drive from the airport but the owner will provide you a transfer to the door for an additional fee (€5). You can get to Porto by bus for €1.6 one way and the route takes about 40 minutes. Probably this is not the best area to stay in Porto for one day only but the most significant advantage of this place, in addition to delightful owners, is the location right on the shore of the ocean! Price for one night in double room €45. Breakfast not included.
Oporto Trendy Apartments
Rua Doutor Alves da Veiga, 80, União de Freguesias do Centro
Everything is fantastic, and you can feel like home here because of the cozy, modern, and clean apartment and helpful owner. Above all, it is situated in the central location. You will get one bedroom, a private bathroom and one living room with a little kitchen and a balcony. You need to book for a minimum of two nights, so the minimum price is €169 for two nights. Breakfast not included.
Few words from us
We are finally done! We hope that you feel inspired by our choice of top things to do in Porto on a budget and you will spend a wonderful holiday. Let us now in the comment!
Last but not least, don’t miss our Best Minimalist Backpack review!
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