Goodbye Lisbon, and hello Porto! Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal and it offers all the fun and beautiful culture that Lisbon has for a better price. So if you are looking for a nice city trip but are on a tight (student) budget, Porto is your place to be!
Strolling around Porto
No need to spend unnecessary money on a bus or whatever, because Porto can easily be explored by foot! It is not the biggest city on earth, but there is plenty to see while still having the opportunity to have a relaxed city trip. Ribeira is the oldest part of Porto, and it is listed on the World Heritage list. You will get a taste of the true authentic Portuguese culture, with loads of tiny streets filled with colorful houses. Just walk around and enjoy the culture! It is also fun to cross the bridge to the other side of Porto. The very beautiful bridge Ponte Dom Luís was designed and built by an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel. You can chose to take the easy way and take the low pass (where the cars drive) or go die-hard and climb 44 meters higher and take the high pass (make sure to bring water, I almost died). When on the other side, make sure to check out one of the porto wine cellars, just say you are a student and you will get a great discount.
Other great spots that you can visit for free are the Cathedral, the extremely beautiful train station, and the bookshop Lello. Lello should definitely be on your to do list, it is truly one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever visited.
Going clockwise; Ponte Dom Luís, bookshop Lello, view over Ribeira, the trainstation
Food, food, food
Porto is a great place to visit if you love food. There are many tiny restaurants that will serve you a great meal for a small price. With great I mean great as in amazing, but also great as in big. I have never seen plates so big in my entire life. Moreover the wine doesn’t cost anything in restaurants, you will pay about 5 euros for a whole bottle (yes I am saying for a whole bottle). Many restaurants can be found around the street “Galaria de Paris”.
If your budget isn’t big enough to go to a restaurant, just make a nice meal in your hostel/hotel/apartment and eat it outside! There are plenty of nice parks or go to the Douro and enjoy your dinner at the waterside. Make sure to also stack up on some wine while doing groceries, the locally made wines, the vinhos verdes, are the best and cost around 1 euro in the supermarket. Beer lovers don’t worry, the beer is cheap as well. But I would definitely recommend to drink wine!
My favorite restaurant in Porto is “as 7 maravilhas”, a small home-style restaurant. Their menu changes daily and they only have about 7 tables. They also have a nice “living room” area where you can have some drinks after you are done eating. If you just want a quick lunch or a drink, make sure to go to “Cafe Majestic”. This restaurant was build in 1921 and stepping inside feels like stepping into a time machine. The interior is kept intact and you feel like royalty! And the best thing? The prices are still budget friendly!
For a great night out
Porto is filled with students and great bars and clubs. The best place to go party is around the street “Galaria de Paris”. There are several small streets that are absolutely packed with terraces, bars and small clubs. Don’t worry about your budget, almost all of them do not have an entrance fee and the drinks are cheap! Ribeira is also fun to visit at night since there are many bars here as well, but at “Galarias Paris” more students and youngsters can be found. If you want to go to big clubs you will have to take a taxi, since most are located a bit outside of the center. The top club of Porto is Industria, but you do have to count on higher prices.
Where to stay?
Actually anywhere close to the city center of Porto is nice to stay. The hotels, hostels and apartments located in the center are also budget friendly, a bit further away might save you a little but you will have to travel more to reach the center. I would recommend to try to book a place that is close to Palaca de Bolsa, since you are close to everything if you stay here.
I hope I’ve convinced you that Porto is a nice place for a city trip when on a budget! If you have any tips yourself, please share!