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Jan 11, 2023

Porto on a Budget

Porto is one of the leading travel destinations in Europe, but it’s also one of the most budget-friendly destinations too. Portugal’s second-largest city—with a population of around 230,000 people—is famous for its UNESCOLink opens in a new tab World Heritage Site center, exquisite wine, and stunning architecture. 


In addition, Porto has some of Europe’s most delicious—and somewhat under-rated—local cuisine. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll love Porto’s gorgeous surroundings, including the Douro River and stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. 


Here’s how you explore Porto on a budget:

1. Wander Around the Ribeira District

The Ribeira District, which runs through the Douro ValleyLink opens in a new tab, is one of the best districts in Porto for budget travelers. The Ribeira District is a UNESCO World Heritage site, offering an endless array of cafes, bars, and restaurants for travelers of all budgets. Cruising through the Ribeira District is one of the most enjoyable activities in Porto. 


In addition, check out the views from the river’s banks. You’ll see fishing boats riding on the water, stunning Portuguese architecture, and fascinating city views. The Elevador da Ribeira is another amazing way to experience the city. Although it’s a method of public transport, it’s an excellent source of fun for visitors. 


Address: Ribeira, Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal, Riberia old town cityscape and the Douro River with traditional Rabelo boats

2. Enjoy São Bento Train Station

Europe has many stunning train stations, but São Bento train station is up there with the best. You’ll find thousands of blue-white painted Portuguese tiles covering the stunning entrance halls. The art tells an important story of the history of Porto and Portugal. 


You must enter the entrance hall to admire the art. But here’s the good news: you don’t have to buy a ticket; it’s one of the best free things to do in Porto. The building first opened in 1916 and is within the historic center of Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Address: Praça de Almeida Garrett, 4000-069 Porto, Portugal

3. Visit the Port Wine Museum

A trip to Porto wouldn’t be a proper trip without tasting the excellent local wineLink opens in a new tab. However, the best place to learn about the wine industry is the Port Wine Museum. Situated within an 18th-century warehouse on the banks of the Duoro River, the museum is a tribute to the long tradition of port wine in the area. 


You’ll find old wine bottles on display, advertising images from previous decades, photographs, and information on the history of port wine. Entry to the museum only costs 2.50€, but it's free with the Porto CardLink opens in a new tab, making it ideal for budget travelers. 



Address: Rua da Reboleira 37, 4050-492 Porto, Portugal

4. Check out the Museu Serralves

Museu Serralves is the number one contemporary art museum in Portugal. Situated on the gorgeous grounds of the Serralves Estate, Museu SerralvesLink opens in a new tab has a huge collection of temporary exhibitions, education programs, and national and international collaborations. The goal of the museum is to strengthen ties with the local community through the appreciation of local art and culture. 


In addition, the museum has a dynamic program of music and performance, contemporary dance, and cinema. Check out the museum library for lectures and conversations where the public can debate serious local and international issues. The entry fee is only 21.20€, but you can enter for free on Sundays before 2 pm. 



Address: R. Dom João de Castro 210, 4150-417 Porto, Portugal

5. Enjoy the Views from Torre Clérigos

There’s no better way to enjoy a city than via its finest viewpoints. If you want exquisite views of Porto, check out the marvelous views from Torre Clérigos. Construction of this iconic church began in 1754 before being completed in 1763. The top of the tower is 75 meters high, providing marvelous views. 


However, you’ll have to climb 240 steps to reach the top of its six floors. Until 2015, the church only opened its doors during the day; however, you can now enter at night to see the city views. The church was also one of the first in Portugal to adopt a Baroque style of architecture. Tickets to the topLink opens in a new tab of the tower cost only 6€. 



Address: R. de São Filipe de Nery, 4050-546 Porto, Portugal

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6. Birdwatch at Ribeira da Granja Observatory Centre

Due to its location by the Atlantic Ocean, you can see some incredible and often weird wildlife in Porto. The Ribeira da Granja Observatory Centre that’s situated right next to the river is ideal for spotting Porto’s incredible biodiversity without spending a cent. 


You can find the observatory by looking for signs with giant silhouettes. Behind it, you’ll see binoculars and a panel stating all the local species. It’s possible to spot grey herons, great cormorants, and ruddy turnstones, to name a few. 


Address: Rua das Sobreiras: Lordelo do Ouro: Porto: 4150-713

7. Walk Across the Luís I Bridge

The Luís I Bridge is the most iconic symbol of Porto and an icon of 19th-century engineering. Designed by German architect Téophile Seyrig—a business partner to Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (Eifell Tower Architect)—built the bridge in 1886. Upon completion, it was the largest span of any metal bridge worldwide. 


You can find incredible views of the city as you walk across the bridge or stand near Jardim do Morro metro station. You can also access the bridge from the Sao Bento Station along Avenida de Dom Afonso Henriques. 


Address: Pte. Luiz I, Porto, Portugal

8. Visit the Porto Cathedral

Located in the historic city center of Porto, the Porto Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Church with a stunning mixture of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architecture. The church dates back to 1110 when locals started construction, but it wasn’t fully completed until 1737. 


Today, it’s the most important religious symbol in Porto. One of the focal points of the cathedral is the cloister which dates back to the 14th century. It has scenes of the Bible painted along the tiles. 


Address: Terreiro da Sé, 4050-573 Porto, Portugal

Porto: One of Europe’s Leading City Destinations

Porto is one of Europe’s most beautiful—yet highly affordable—city destinations. Although it's not as famous as Paris, London, Berlin, or Lisbon, it’s still an excellent city with countless attractions. 


And, most importantly, it’s affordable for anyone traveling on a budget. 


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