Portugal’s second-largest urban area, located along the Douro River, dates back to 300BC and has a rich history, from being an important commercial port during the Roman Empire occupation and passing through a period of Moorish rule before being reconquered by Asturian Christians. The starting point of Prince Henry the Navigator’s explorations, kicking off the Age of Discovery, Porto’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nowadays, it’s well-known for its Port wine and has a thriving international community.
Here’s what you need to know for planning a hassle-free trip to Porto:
ARRIVING in Porto
Realistically, on a short trip from most of Europe, you’ll arrive in Porto by plane. But it’s also reachable by train, bus or car, naturally.
If you arrive by plane, you’ll land at Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO), 16km away from the city center — for this post, Liberdade Square [pt: Praça da Liberdade]. There are some different transport options but the most convenient is definitely the metro.
The line E (purple) starts at the airport and finishes at Trindade station, just 750m walking from Praça da Liberdade. It runs every 30 minutes with a journey time of 26 minutes. Tickets cost €2.00 each way, plus a €0.60 fee for a rechargeable card. You can purchase at automatic machines in every metro station or Pay Shop agents.
The alternative bus routes take way too long and leave you further from the center than the metro. So considering the super affordable metro tickets, it’s not worth even considering for a short trip.
Depending on your schedule, you consider getting the Andante Tour pass, valid for the entire metro network, including the Airport. See the ‘Getting Around‘ section below.
If you’re coming from Portugal or Spain, the train might be a practical way to reach Porto as well. The main terminal is São Bento Rail Station, a stone’s throw from Praça da Liberdade.
Another possible arrival point, if you are coming from Lisbon, for example, is Campanha Rail Station, significantly further but easy to reach: just hop on another InterRegional train for one station further, on any of the Aveiro, Braga, Caide/Marco or Guimarães lines.
There are a few international bus routes to Portugal. But unless you’re coming from other parts of Portugal and some parts of Spain, beware of your fitness to this kind of journey before jumping into the chance to “save time” and take an overnight trip. With this warning in mind, if you decide to go for it, you’ll likely arrive at São Bento Coach Station (next to the aforementioned rail station) or Parque das Camélias, 500m away from São Bento.
GETTING AROUND Porto
The public transport system is a combination of the metro, buses, and three historical tram lines.
It’s important to note that most of the points of interest in Porto are within walking distance but the city is very hilly. So even if you can walk, it will be a good idea to hop on the metro from time to time to get some rest.
The best options, which include unlimited travel in the local network, including the route to the airport, is:
- Andante Tour 1: valid for 24h and costing €7.00;
- Andante Tour 3: valid for 72h and costing €15.00.
Both are valid from the first stamping. You can purchase at the Tourist Desk at the airport, Andante shops and and CP ticket offices.
Beware! You must validate your tickets every time you board, even if it’s just a connection.Porto_Metro-Network
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