Porto on a budget: 7 travel hacks to save on your trip
If you're planning a trip to Portugal's second-biggest city after Lisbon, Porto, and need to stick to a strict budget, don't worry. There are still so many things that you can do all over this lovely city, even if you need to save some money while you visit. This is a very walkable city, and you will find that the city center is a great place to see things like UNESCO world heritage site locations, as well as free attractions. You can also eat and drink in this city on a budget if you know where to go. There are many budget-friendly things that you can enjoy when you visit Porto, and this guide will help you see and do it all while sticking to your travel budget.
When you head to places like downtown Porto or you want to visit a location like the Port Wine Museum, you won't have as much fun if you're carrying a bunch of bags. With a Bounce luggage storage center in Porto, you can drop everything off and wander around this intriguing city unencumbered. That way, saving on things like taxis, rideshares, and even public transport will be easy since walking won't be difficult at all.
Cheap places to stay in Porto
Your hotel room is likely to be one of your biggest costs when you stay in Porto. The closer that you are to the Port Wine district, such as areas like Vila Nova de Gaia, the more expensive your stay will be. Most travel guides will tell you to stay in the area of Vila Nova de Gaia, but this does not consider the cost. If you want to know which neighborhoods in Porto are right for you, check out our guide to the best neighborhoods in Porto for your trip. Below are a few accommodation options ideal for staying in Porto on a budget.
The Passenger Hostel
This hip and very cool hostel actually offers twin-bed dorms that share a common bathroom. This can be the right compromise between bunkbed-type dorms and expensive regular hotel stays. You will spend about $70 a night to stay here, and you will be located a few minutes from public transport. There are many famous churches in the area, such as the Igreja Paroquial de Santo Ildefonso, and you can easily walk down to the Douro River if you want to enjoy some sightseeing.
The Poets Inn
This charming little guesthouse offers you access to cute private rooms and an included breakfast for just $50 a night. You will be treated like family here, and the location is close to Clerigos Church's bell tower, as well as numerous of the best museums in the city. The train station is about six minutes away, and you will love wandering the old-fashioned cobbled streets of the town as you explore Porto. This is one of the most authentic and charming locations to stay in all of Porto, and you should consider this choice for your accommodation.
If you do want to stay in the Port Wine area, you will need to check out Park Hotel. Located in Vila Nova de Gaia, this lovely hotel starts out at a reasonable $45 a night. You will be treated to a simple and quiet room that offers all the right amenities, and you can easily enjoy port wine tastings and more in this part of the city. The Jardins do Palácio de Cristal is nearby, and its walking trails and beautiful views are definitely worth a visit. You will also be a short walk from a train station at this hotel.
Cheap things to do in Porto
Walk Across Dom Luís I
This iconic bridge crosses the Douro River and links the city center to Vila Nova de Gaia. The view from the middle of the bridge is impressive, and it is at its absolute best at sunset. If you want to close out a romantic evening with spectacular views, this is the place to do it. Best of all, this location is free unless you choose to ride the tram to cross from one side of the river to the other.
Port Cellar Wine Tour
This tourist attraction is worth the cost. You will spend around $5-$10 to join a wine tour, and you might even get to try some wines for that price. And if you time it right, on some days of the week, some of these tours are free. The port wine that is made in this city is world-famous, which makes this one of the experiences that are worthy of even a very limited travel budget.
Port Wine Museum
If you would rather learn about port and Porto itself than taste it or see how it's made, you should head to the Port Wine Museum. This will cost you about $2.50, which is well worth the cost. You can easily spend a few hours here learning about how this fortified wine is made and the impact of the port business on the city itself. You will also gather important information about Porto while you wander through the museum.
Cheap places to eat in Porto
There are many great places to eat on a budget in this city, but the charming food stall vendors all over the city are one of the best ways to get good cuisine at a great price. After trying some of the best street food in Porto, check out these restaurants for something a little different:
Trigo de Cantos
This delightful eatery offers you access to a menu with lots of options on it, many of them delicious sandwiches. You can eat for under $8 here and still get plenty of food. Try the traditional prosciutto and DOP cheese sandwich for $5, or pick from some of the larger and more hearty traditional dishes for just under $10.
This is a family-owned Portuguese restaurant that hasn't changed much in the last 20 years. You will feel like family here and be treated to a large and filling meal for under $10. This is not a fancy place, and you won't find any white tablecloths, but you will get hearty and filling traditional meals. Bring your translator app to help with communication since the staff doesn't typically speak much English. The traditional fish dishes here are excellent, but nearly everything on the menu will be satisfying and cost $5 or less.
Restaurante Beira Rio
For a fancier meal that won't break the bank, head to this lovely restaurant near the river. You will enjoy a cozy table with comfortable chairs, affordable starters, and delicious fusion food offerings as well as classic local dishes. Plan to spend about $30 a person, including wine, or skip the wine and get down to about $20 a person.
Cheap bars in Porto
Heading on vacation on a small budget can make you feel like you might miss out on some nightlife. Thankfully, when you visit Porto, there is no shortage of affordable places to go for a drink (or three). From dance club locations to quiet and intimate bars and cafes, you will have no trouble finding an affordable place to enjoy a night out on the town in Porto.
This adorable local cafe and bar offers outdoor seating on the cobbles, twinkling lights, and friendly service. Wine, sangria, and Moscatel are on offer here, but they also mix up cocktails and have some local beers for you to try. You will need about $5 a drink here, but there are drink specials, and the locals are so friendly that they might want to buy you a round or two and get to know you.
For an affordable night out with a view, head to Ferro, where you can watch the sunset from their rooftop terrace. Featuring a relatively young crowd, dance music, and really affordable drinks, you can do a lot worse than here. DJ nights are hosted most evenings, and drinks are about $3-$5. You can even get cocktails for this price. This is more of a party location than some of the other bars in town, but don't let that convince you not to go.
Easy at Selina
This speakeasy offers indoor and outdoor seating, a lovely wine menu, and mixed drinks. You are never made to feel like you should leave your seat here, and many people come in the late afternoon and stay until the atmosphere gets quite lively. This is a charming and cozy place that also offers up some great dining options if you decide to stay through the dinner hour.
Bonus budget tips for Porto
Use public transportation
The public transport in Porto is excellent and easily accessible in most parts of the city. Locations like the São Bento Train Station offer you access to day trip opportunities and other budget-friendly things that are not right in the city center. There is also really affordable bus transportation, trams, and funiculars all across the city. This is one of the best cities to head to if you want to enjoy a fantastic destination without having to walk absolutely everywhere or rent a car.
Use the off-season to your advantage
Shoulder season, which is October to April, can be the best time to head to this part of Western Europe. You will avoid crowds, and you will save on your hotel room and your food. This is also a great time to be in this city if you want to access museums and some of the other attractions for reduced rates or even free of charge. This season can be ideal for those planning day trip activities as well since the crowds will be much lighter.
Lunch is usually the most affordable meal in Porto, so if you want to have a filling meal, make lunch your big meal of the day. You can also usually take leftovers back to your hotel room, meaning you might get two meals from your large lunch. Eateries will tend to be less crowded at midday as well, compared to the busy evening hours.
There are so many things to do when you visit Porto that are probably within easy walking distance of your hotel. Depending on where you stay, whether you are in the city center or just outside of town, you can stay in Porto on a budget and still see all the things that make this part of the world special. Make the most of the many free things to do in Porto, and your budget will thank you. It's easy to fill up your days with affordable food, exciting activities, and vibrant nightlife - you just have to know where to look.
No matter what compromises you make to visit Porto on a budget, you won't have to compromise on fun. There are lots of ways to make the city center, as well as the areas outside of town, accessible to you and your family or friends, even if you need to save some money. This city offers lots of great budget-friendly things to do and see, and you will have an amazing time visiting Porto no matter what your budget might be.