Porto has become a more popular tourist destination every year, and with its UNESCO’s World Heritage historic city center, its nostalgic and romantic vibe, and its eclectic flavors, it has become a fair competitor to Lisbon when deciding where to go on a Portuguese vacation.
Now that you have your travel tickets booked, and a bed at the best hostel in town sorted out, it’s time for a little research on things to know before your arrival.
We are here to save you some time, so we’ve compiled a list of tips to travel to Porto!
Bring comfortable shoes
Hills, and as beautiful as it looks like in the pictures, you’ll walk a lot and make an effort sometimes – not to mention that it gets harder if it’s rainy and slippery!
Bring an SOS jacket
Make sure you check the weather before packing! During winter, there are some rainy and cloudy days, so you may need a warm coat, a raincoat, and an umbrella! But during summer, it’s really hot during the day. The best weather is between May and October, but always bring an SOS jacket – you know, the ones that are thin and small, making it easy to pack and bring with you in case of an emergency! Even in summer because, although it’s really hot during the day, the nights and first hours of the mornings tend to be a bit cold.
During spring and summer months, bring sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen. Especially if you wanna visit Ribeira area, the bridge, Palacio de Cristal and the other side of the river (Gaia). You’ll be walking for a while and these are open spaces without shade. We tend to think, oh, this is nothing, oh yayyy it’s sunny, and then we come back to the hostel all burnt!
Bring nausea pills
You will want to do a boat tour in the beautiful “Rio Douro,” so if you’re the kind of person who feels sick on trips, pack your pills ‘cause you may feel nauseous during the tour!
Be prepared with local currency
The currency in Porto is the euro, if you don’t have euros you can get some at the currency exchange at the airport. You can also get money from the “multibanco” but avoid Euronet ATM because they have very high fees. Also, before you travel, make sure your bank card has been authorized for international use – we know you’re a very smart human being and probably have this sorted out, but we prefer to make the point since some of ours guest didn’t know! ?
Shift time forward
Shift time forward by 1 hour if you’re coming from Central Europe (CET) as Porto has the Western European Time Zone. (WET) – or check according from where you’re coming from – you won’t like to be confused!
Get an Andante Card
You can buy your unlimited access to public transport online, with promotions and offers, so you can use it directly upon arrival. But the city is easy to walk on foot, especially if you sleep in the city center. Anyways, if you arrive to the airport, you’ll need to get an Andante Card to use the metro and reach the city center. This can be bought at the station for €0.60 and you can reuse it for the rest of your trip. It can’t be used for this tram though! Another ticket is needed here, but you can pay inside.
Try local food
On Sunday you can go for a brunch. We know you’ll party till late on Saturday at Galerias de Paris, which is the area of Porto with more bars per square meter. Most people go there, but if you want some cool clubs or bars where locals go, ask in the reception and we will secretly tell you… you know, we don’t want everybody to know the best spots in this city!
Make sure you prepare your stomach to our typical food! Try “francesinha”, “Tripas à moda do Porto”, “Bacalhau” and other typical dishes. Prepare to unbutton your pants!
Tips are not expected, but they are very appreciated! Normally a 5%/10% tip is acceptable, if you really enjoyed the service!
Make sure you eat well before going to the wine cellars to taste one of the best signatures of Porto, our magnificent wine! Food is not included -unless you book a specific tour with food-, and the wines are as delicious as they are strong! You may not be able to walk straight after that…
Looking for fresh fish? Visit Matosinhos and have lunch or dinner there. Here you’ll find the best fresh fish restaurants near the beach. Then, take a walk on the beachside ‘till Foz do Douro! You will love the landscapes.
Eat local breakfast
Make sure you try a traditional Portuguese breakfast with fresh bread and pastry. Sure, we also have a buffet or English breakfast, but, if you want to do something very typical, go to a pastry shop. We are known for the diversity and beauty of our pastries, so, if you come to Porto, you should visit one of the thousands we have!
Be mindful of our eating times! Breakfast is normally from 8:30 am to 10:00 am. The lunchtime is from noon to 3:00 pm, and the dinner is from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. But there are a lot of restaurants that are opened all day long and offer late lunch and early dinner.
In some places like small pastry shops and local stores they may not accept credit cards, so it’s a good idea to bring some cash with you!
Enjoy your stay!
If you are staying for a short time, make sure you plan your days with a good itinerary cause there are a lot of things to see and visit! There are a lot of passeios a pé you can join, that are tip-based. It’s the best option to see a lot in a short time and learn from local guides. If you prefer to visit on your own… wake up early! It seems like a tiny city, but honestly, there’s a lot to do and see!
We hope we made things a bit clearer for you, but of course, while you are in Porto, you can always come to reception and ask us anything that’s on your mind. We’ll be happy to help!