How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

Porto is served by Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (IATA code OPO), which is located 11 kilometers (approximately 7 miles) northwest of Porto city center.

Line E of the Porto Metro connects the airport with the local football stadium, the Estádio do Dragão. The major Metro station servicing the city center is Trindade, which can be reached from the airport station (Aeroporto) in 20-25 minutes. To ride the Porto Metro, one must purchase an `Andante card` and load it with the fare for the journey before riding. A one-way trip from Aeroporto station to the city center costs €2.45. Andante kiosks are located in all Porto Metro stations and the reusable cards can be reloaded there as well.

STCP (Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos do Porto) buses travel from the airport to Porto city center at least once an hour from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. each day, including Sundays and public holidays. Look out for route 601 (Aeroporto to Cordoaria), which will take you to the center of Porto in just 30 minutes. One-way tickets cost €1.95; if you have money loaded on an Andante card (which can be done at Porto Metro stations or at select newsagents), you will find that most buses in Porto also accept those.

Porto taxis are typically late-model sedans and they can be found queuing outside the arrivals area at the airport. Expect to pay in the neighborhood of €25 for a taxi from the airport to Porto city center in the daytime and early evening on weekdays. Between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends and public holidays, fares will increase by 25%.

Also, consider using the Goin` Porto shuttle, which runs every hour from the airport to Porto proper, with stops at the Boavista Roundabout and at the Praça da Liberdade. The shuttle takes 25 minutes one-way and costs €5 (€9 for a drop-off and a pick-up on the day you leave for the airport). To reserve a spot on the shuttle, visit the Goin` Porto website.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

Out-of-town trains will arrive at Campanhã station, which is connected not just to local train lines but also to the Porto Metro. The fastest route is the local Urbano train (4 minutes to São Bento station near the city center, €1.40 one-way), which runs every five minutes from 5:30 a.m. to midnight. Line B of the Porto Metro, which takes a few minutes longer but also runs frequently, travels from Campanhã station to a number of important stations in and around the city center, including Trindade.

How do I get around using the Porto Metro?

The Porto Metro consists of six different lines, covering nearly every section of the city of Porto and stretching out to environs as far north as Póvoa de Varzim and as far south as Ponte de Lima (Santo Ovidio station).

Fares range from €1.20 to €2.75 one-way, and travel times are very fast (the longest route is a trip of one hour). A sample trip from Trindade station to Estádio do Dragão station would cost €1.20 and travel time is under 10 minutes.

The purchase of an `Andante card` is required to use the Porto Metro. Special cards such as `Andante Azul`, `Andante Gold` and `Andante 24` accommodate travelers who will be using the service for longer than a few days. Money must be loaded onto the `Andante card` and this can be done via kiosks and in person at all Porto Metro stations, as well as at participating newsagents.

How much does it cost to ride the classic tram cars of Porto and the funicular system?

The `Andante card`, used to ride the Porto Metro and STCP buses, can also be used to ride the historic trams and the funicular system (called the Funicular dos Guindais). It can be refilled with fare money at any STCP/Porto Metro kiosk and at participating newsagents.

The first tram line in Porto was inaugurated with much fanfare in 1895. In 1996, the final tram line was retired and converted into a `heritage service`, using classic tram cars from the 1920s and 1930s. These cars now run on three tram lines primarily for the benefit of tourists and are accompanied with a guided tour. Tickets cost €3 for one trip and €10 for a two-day pass. These tickets and passes can be purchased on the trams themselves, at the Electric Tramcar Museum (on Rua Alameda Basilio Teles), at select hotels, and at STCP/Porto Metro kiosks. An English-speaking tour guide is available on request; in this case, buy your tickets from a hotel and make your request known in advance.

The Funicular dos Guindais links Ribeira, adjacent to the River Douro, with Batalha, 200 feet above. The trip is just three minutes long, but it affords passengers breathtaking views of the River Douro, port wine warehouses along the riverside, and the Dom Luis I Bridge. A one-way trip costs €2.50. Operating hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with extended hours to 10 p.m. on weekdays in the summertime, and to midnight on summer weekends and during special events.

How do I call/hail a taxi?

It is very easy to hail a taxi in Porto. All you need to do is wave your hand in the air at the taxi about to pass by, and if the taxi is vacant, the driver will stop and pick you up. Taxis in Porto are metered, so there is no need to negotiate a price beforehand (make sure the meter is running before you start your journey). Taxis are late-model sedans, typically colored white, beige, black, or black and green. Most taxis have GPS so it will be helpful for the driver if you have your destination written on a piece of paper.

In certain tourist-centric areas, such as the airport, train stations, and Avenida dos Aliados, you will see queues of taxicabs at taxi stands (praça de taxis in Portuguese). Simply walk to a taxi stand and take the first cab in line.

The base fare for taxis is €2.50 for the first three-tenths of a mile. Fares are marked up 25% from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the week, and all day on weekends and public holidays. The taxi driver will not charge a fee for smaller bags (21.5 inches tall by 15.7 inches wide maximum), wheelchairs or strollers. Bags larger than the dimensions outlined may incur a handling charge of €1.80 per bag.

Should I rent a car in Porto?

If you are staying close to Porto proper, there is no need to rent a car. Only consider a car if you want to plan a side trip exploring the north of Portugal.

Cars are available for rent at a number of locations in Porto, including the airport, Campanhã train station, and Avenida da Boavista. Major rental car companies are represented, such as Avis, Budget, Hertz, Sixt and Europcar, and rental rates are competitive at around €20 per day.

Porto was built long before the advent of the automobile, and as a result traffic jams occur at peak driving times and parking spaces are at a premium. Approximately four dozen public parking lots are situated within a 15-minute walk from Porto city center, ranging from €0.90 to €4 to park for two hours. The further away from the center, the cheaper the price will be.

To explore Porto, it is recommended that you park your car at the Estádio do Dragão park and ride (€1.20 per hour, 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily) and then use public transport.

Is Porto a walking city?

Many sights in Porto are located within walking distance from the city center. You will find that most sights in the city are within a one-mile radius, although some may be further afield. Our recommendation is to lose yourself in the winding streets of old Porto, and to utilize the Porto Metro and other modes of public transportation when venturing further out.

Is Porto a dangerous city? Are there any areas I should avoid?

Porto is a very safe city by European standards. Porto even has a lower crime rate than Lisbon, another relatively safe city for tourists.

Common sense precautions still need to be taken in a safe city such as Porto. For example, if you are coming back from a port wine tasting in Vila Nova de Gaia, keep your wits about you and take a taxi back to your hotel, so you don't make yourself a target for robbery. Other precautions one should take into account include not flashing around expensive items, such as a computer or a camera; not leaving expensive items in a rental car when exploring the city; and only using ATMs during the daytime. Also, in some tourist areas you may be approached by hustlers selling `sunglasses.` If you continue to speak with them, the `sunglass` pretense will drop and the hustler will try to sell you drugs. Ignore any of these requests and move on.

Porto is safe to walk about at night, but stick to well-lit and well-populated routes, keep your wits about you, and always look like you know where you are going, even when you may not, so there is no possibility for petty thieves to take advantage of you. Be sure to keep your valuables on your person at all times, and never keep all of your money in one place; split up your cash into various pockets in your clothes.

Which areas are the best for shopping?

Porto is a great place to shop for most anything, ranging from retail goods that will be familiar to European and North American tourists to uniquely Portuguese memorabilia, crafts and souvenirs.

The largest department store in the area is a franchise location of the Spanish retailer El Corte Inglés. The 13-story department store is located in Vila Nova de Gaia, across the River Douro from the Porto city center. Other well-known retailers like Zara are located in Porto proper, along the Rua de Santa Catarina. That street, along with the Rua de Cedofeita, boasts numerous luxury retailers and shopping malls. If you are interested in art, visit the Rua Galeria da Paris, and book lovers should head to the Rua da Fabrica.

One place you should visit while walking down the Galeria da Paris is A Vida Portuguesa, the Porto version of the popular Lisbon home goods store, where tourists can buy authentic Portuguese souvenirs ranging from jewelry and handicrafts to Claus Porto soaps (once named to the Favorite Things list as chosen by Oprah Winfrey). Livraria Lello, on the corner of Rua das Carmelitas and Rua Galeria de Paris, is one of the oldest bookstores in the country and features a sizable English-language selection and an iconic curvaceous red staircase, built in the art nouveau style.

No shopping trip in Porto is complete without a stroll down Rua de Miguel Bombarda, considered one of the biggest cultural hubs in the entire country. Here you will find a little bit of everything: art galleries, bookstores, restaurants, furniture showrooms, music stores and other shops.

What are the customs for tipping in Portugal? Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of Portugal is the Euro and US dollars are not accepted for payment. Portugal as a society is not accustomed to tipping, and you will not receive negative reactions if you do not tip people who would normally expect one in North America (taxi drivers, waiters, etc.). In tourist areas such as Lisbon and the Algarve, tipping has become more commonplace, but this practice has not reached Porto on a wide scale.

I do not speak Portuguese. Do many people speak English?

It is more common to find English speakers in Portugal than it is in other southern European countries, such as Spain. A recent European Union language survey found that 32% of Portuguese people over the age of 18 can speak English on a conversational level or better.

With that said, you may encounter some difficulty finding an English speaker away from tourist areas such as hotels, museums, and the local airport. It is recommended to brush up on basic Portuguese phrases before arriving, like basic pleasantries and numbers from 1 to 10. To ask someone if they speak English, say `Fala inglês?`

Note: Do not speak in Spanish to a Portuguese person, thinking they will understand you when you do so. Responses will range from stunned silence to outright hostility; the Portuguese people are proud of their culture and heritage, and such an act will cause nearly everyone to take personal offense. On another note, the vocabulary and pronunciation in Portuguese differs from Spanish more than you may realize.

What are the drinking laws in Portugal?

The legal drinking age in Portugal is 18, whether you find yourself in a pub or a nightclub. Asking for proof of age upon ordering an alcoholic beverage or entering a nightclub is becoming more commonplace, especially if you appear younger. Keep your passport with you as it doubles as proof of age and identification.

If you are renting a car, do not drive after consuming alcohol. A blood alcohol content level of 0.05 is considered the legal limit; penalties can range from fines to a jail sentence of up to one year. Save yourself the potential trouble and heartache.

Where can I experience a port wine tasting?

The Douro River Valley, where Porto and its suburbs are situated, has been producing port wine, a sweet, fortified wine often served with dessert, for hundreds of years. Since 1756, it has been officially recognized as the only region in the world that can produce and sell authentic port wine.

Across the River Douro from the Porto city center is the suburb of Vila Nova de Gaia. Over a dozen of the 50 local wineries operate `lodges` here, which are underground tunnels used to store and mature port wine. These wine producers offer tours of their lodges and samples of their port. Keep in mind that port wine packs a punch (twice as strong as many red and white wines), so you may very well get tipsy after visiting a few of these lodges!

The closest Porto Metro station to the lodges of Vila Nova de Gaia is Jardim do Morro, on the D line, three stops after Trindade station and two stops after Aliados station. A ten-minute walk north of Jardim do Morro station will bring you to Burmester, one of the area's leading port producers. Six more lodges, including, but not limited to Sandeman, Kopke, and Calém, are adjacent along Avenida Diogo Leite. A 20-minute walk from Burmester is Graham`s, another notable port wine lodge in the area. Within a mile of the riverfront, there are more inland lodges, including notable local offerings such as Croft, Offley and Taylor`s.

Nearly every lodge offers tours in English. Some are guided (and are conducted with less frequency than the Portuguese-language tours), and some are audio tours which will require the use of a headset. Tours range from €10 to €20 and typically end with a port tasting. For more information, please visit the websites of the lodges before leaving on your trip.

What are some good day trips from Porto?

One day trip we recommend is a visit to the lush forests of Peneda-Gerês National Park, located about 60 miles northeast of Porto via the A3 motorway. The park covers 270 square miles in area and hosts a number of unforgettable landmarks and sights, such as the Peneda sanctuary, featuring fourteen chapels depicting various events in the life of Jesus Christ; the Roman-era stone granaries of Soajo; and the picturesque spa village of Caldas do Gerês.

Another day trip to consider is a journey to the town of Viana do Castelo, approximately two hours away by train from São Bento station. This city on the sea is a dream come true for architecture buffs, who will marvel at the old town hall, the Misericordia Church and Hospice, and the Parish Cathedral, all built in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Santa Luzia Basilica is another sight to see; modeled after the Sacre-Coeur in Paris, this basilica was built in the Neo-Byzantine style, and you will surely be awestruck by the illumination of the beautiful frescoes from the rose-colored windows.

Then there are the towns of Braga and Guimarães, located approximately 80 minutes away from São Bento station. Braga, well-regarded for its Baroque monuments, is home to the oldest cathedral in Portugal, which was built beginning in 1070, as well as the Bom Jesus Sanctuary, three miles from the center of town, which is a Baroque masterpiece and one of the most popular tourist sights in the country. Guimarães was the first capital of Portugal and the birthplace of the country`s first king. Today, the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with most of the buildings in the old town beautifully preserved to their 15th and 16th century zeniths. Tourists from around the world flock to the city`s 10th century castle, originally built to keep the Moors and Normans out of the city.