Travelling time! Now that I am in Porto for more than a month, I have seen the city and it’s time to travel to other places around Portugal. Of course you can always travel anywhere, even though you are not on Erasmus. But you should definitely take advantage of the fact that there are now a lot more cities nearby for you too see, and that you can see a lot of these while making the most out of your money.
Travelling with ESN
To travel to nice places in Portugal without paying much, you may not miss ESN (European Student Network). I mentioned in my first blog that I went to get the ESN card, but didn’t really explain why you would need it. First of all, you get a lot of discounts. Some stores give you discount, in some clubs you get free entrance and they have lots of different events they organize. But the most important, at least for me, they organize really nice trips that are also very cheap. During your semester they will give you many options to travel to different city’s in Portugal. These trips include hotels/hostels, some lunches or dinners and always an organized party.
Travelling with WOP
Another organization that is interesting to check is WOP (Wild Out Porto). This organization helps you with all questions you might have, organizes a lot of party’s, just like ESN, and sometimes they offer you a trip for travelling. This weekend I am going with them to Vila Real and Moncorvo. These are quite small cities, where you would probably never go to as a ‘city-trip’ like you would to Paris or Rome. This is an opportunity you should not miss I think. The rest of your life you will travel a lot to big places, so when you are here on Erasmus I think it’s important to also enjoy the smaller cities nearby so you can really get to know the country you are living in.
Travelling by car
Another great way to travel around Portugal is by car. I once read that Portugal is one of the cheapest country’s in Europe to rent a car. For the Easter holidays I booked a car with three of my friends, to go see a different city around Porto everyday. For 8 days we paid around 120EUR, including the fact that I am an ‘under-aged’ driver (under-aged means you are under 25, so you have to pay an extra insurance tax). Before renting a car it’s important to read the terms and conditions carefully! For example in Portugal is the law that the person that rents the car should also be the owner of the credit card. So make sure you bring your own credit card if you are planning to rent a car!
The trip we are going to make by will include the ‘bigger’ cities Braga and Guimares, but we are also planning to go to smaller places like ‘Ilha de Berlenga’; this is a small Island about 10km from the coast. It looks really amazing, but it is not the kind of destination you will go to for a whole weekend. And this is exactly what we want: see small places that are great to see, but you will probably not book a trip for from you home country just to see that place. That’s why renting a car is a good idea! I am looking forward to see more of Portugal’s nature, countryside and other cities it has to offer!
Travelling by train
Next to seeing Portugal, you might also take the opportunity to travel other country’s. For example, Spain is now really nearby. Flight tickets are cheap and you can even take a train there. Some friends made a trip to Madrid by train and flew back by plane, and told me it was really great to go by train. Obviously it took a lot longer by plane, but it was definitely worth it they told me. “You get beautiful views of the countryside that you will not see when you go by bus, and definitely not when you go by plane. A bus can be good, but you will always be seeing the highway and passing cities. With the train you will also go trough the forest and will see wonderful views.” So that is one to keep in mind: take a long train trip!
Travelling with Student Travellers
But what you might not immediately realize about travelling to other countries: Morocco is also very nearby! Staying in Portugal gives you the opportunity to travel to Morocco by bus, which makes it a lot cheaper. There is an organization that is based at the university in Braganza, that organizes trips to Morocco every month. It seemed pretty awesome to me, so I booked for the end of april to go there!
I am super excited about all the new places I am going to see! For now, this is the last blog I will write. If you have any questions about coming to Porto (for Erasmus), ask me! I might not be an expert, but I am willing to help you!
- To see all the available discounts in Porto using your ESN card: http://www.esnporto.org/?q=discounts
(tip: the card is valid for a year, so after your semester you are also able to use it back at your own country 😉 )
- To see all the events and trips ESN organizes: http://www.esnporto.org/?q=events
- To read more about WOP: http://wildoutporto.com/about/
- To see all the trips Student Travellers offers from Portugal: https://www.s-travellers.com/archives/category/portugal
- To check for train tickets: https://www.cp.pt/passageiros/en/