Compared to London or New York, Porto is good value. That said, it’s always possible to blow your budget at tourist traps wherever you travel when you don’t know what you’re doing. Follow these budget-friendly tips and you’ll come home without breaking the bank.
Where To Stay
Before you arrive in Porto, be sure to book up a cheap place to lay your head. Yes! Porto Hostel is clean, relaxed and located right in the centre, just a few steps from Torre dos Clérigos and the bustling nightlife. Luxury hostels are trending right now and a great example is the Gallery Hostel. Housed within a restored 18th century villa, the hostel also acts as a gallery for local art. If you’re feeling lazy, they do an excellent dinner for just a €10.
How To Get Around
Porto is made for walking and that is, of course, the cheapest way to get around. For those who don’t like to amble, the city has an excellent transport network of metro, tram, rail and buses. For €7 a day or €15 for three days, you can take unlimited trips on any transport other than the tram – great value if you plan to cross the city often. A word of warning. Ensure that you validate the Andante ticket or you can incur a steep fine, something nobody wants when you’re travelling on a shoestring. The old trams are a beautiful way to travel and see the city. If you prefer to travel by tram, tickets can be bought on board for €2.50 or €8 for a 24-hour period including entrance to the museum.
Where To Eat
There’s no shortage of cheap eats in Porto. Be sure not to miss the Francesinha, a gut-buster of a sandwich with ham, sausage, melted cheese, a fried egg, covered in sauce and served with fries. There’s a messiness with eating Francesinhas (they are often served in a bowl!) which can only be embraced, but it’s probably not the best dish for a first date. You can find them all over the city, but one of our favourites is Café Santiago. They cost around €9, but can easily feed two. Look out for signs that say ‘Prato do Dia’ meaning dish of the day. These local eateries sell set menus starting at €5 or €9 for two courses. If you’d like a glass or two with your meal, stick to vinho verde (green wine) and Douro reds, both of which are phenomenal value.
Where To Drink
When it comes to drinking, those on a real shoestring budget should follow the students. With their own meagre budgets, students have a knack of discovering the cheapest night spots. Adega Leonor, a small tavern, has been a favourite for many years. The drinks are cheap, the atmosphere jovial and you can grab a pretty good value dinner if you’re hungry. For cocktails, head to À Grande e à Francesa, a relatively new bar with a laid-back atmosphere. You can’t go wrong with a visit to the café Piolho. Established in the 1930s, the bar has long been a meeting point for students who could talk in secret, particularly during the dictatorship. The bar claims to be the birthplace of the chiripiti, a shot of bagaço and honey.
What To See
There are plenty of things to do and see in Porto which don’t break the bank. A great way to introduce yourself to the city is via one of Porto’s free walking tours. The tours run every day, whatever the weather and are completely free, other than a small tip for the guide. For €3 you can climb the 240 steps of the Torre dos Clérigos and enjoy spectacular views from its summit. Escape the city’s hot summer weather with a walk up to the Gardens of the Palacio de Cristal which often hosts open air concerts and events. Lello & Irmao bookstore has a gorgeous interior and neo-Gothic façade which is said to be the inspiration behind JK Rowling’s Harry Potter. It used to be free, but there is now a €3 entrance fee which can be redeemed against any book purchases.