COSTA VERDE FAQ'S
Those interested in visiting the Costa Verde will be entering Portugal via air at Porto`s Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport (IATA code OPO). Porto`s airport is about 20 miles from the southernmost destination on the Costa Verde (Espinho), and about 50 miles from the northernmost destination (Caminha, on the Spanish border). Porto`s airport is 42 miles south-southeast of Viana do Castelo, seven miles north-northwest of Porto and nine miles from Vila Nova de Gaia.
TripMasters recommends that you reserve a rental car during the vacation booking process. Upon arrival in Portugal, consult your reservation information and keep in mind the name of the company from which you have rented. The rental car companies are located just outside of the security checkpoints for departures and arrivals.
Driving directions from Porto Airport: The A28 motorway will take travelers to points northward such as Vila do Conde, Povoa de Varzim, Esposende, Viana do Castelo and Caminha. To reach Vila Nova de Gaia and Espinho, take the A28 south to Porto and get on the A1 motorway. To reach Espinho, take the A1 to the A41.How do I get around using public transportation on the Costa Verde?
The Porto Metro connects the cities of the Costa Verde north to Povoa de Varzim and south to Vila Nova de Gaia. The four largest stations are Senhora da Hora, Trindade, Campanha and Estadio do Dragao; all four are connected on the B line (red) with Vila do Conde and Povoa de Varzim. The D line (gold) can be picked up from Trindade station and will take visitors to Vila Nova de Gaia. The Porto Airport`s Metro stop is called Aeroporto and is on the E line (lavender). The trip from Estadio do Dragao to Povoa de Varzim, the longest line in the Porto Metro system, clocks in at 61 minutes. Andante cards are plastic cards which can be loaded with fare money; they can be bought at the Aeroporto metro station and at other Porto Metro stations. For more information, visit en.metrodoporto.pt.
The Porto bus system is called STCP (www.stcp.pt/en/travel) and the Viana do Castelo bus system is called AVIC (www.avic.pt/home). It is highly unlikely that you will be using bus routes as private transportation will be easier for you to reach destinations in a timely manner. These routes may be helpful to you if you choose to explore the cities of Porto and Viana do Castelo, however. Viana is a city that can be explored on foot, and Porto has not only the buses in its public transportation system, but also the Porto Metro and the Funicular dos Guindais, connecting Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia.How do I call/hail a taxi?
You can call for a taxi from the dispatch office or hail one from the street pretty much anywhere on the Costa Verde. There are also taxi ranks where drivers will wait for tourists; you will find those either around the major plazas or the bus and train stations. Taxis will either be cream-colored or black with green trim on the roof.
The base fare for taxis in Porto, including Vila do Conde, Povoa de Varzim and Vila Nova de Gaia, 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. Initial taxi fare in Viana do Castelo, and in northern cities such as Caminha, begins at €3.50 and a fare increase of roughly €1.25 happens every 0.6 miles. Note that there is a 20% increase in fares between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and on weekends and holidays. If you book via telephone, a fee of €1 is charged.How easy is it to explore the cities on the Costa Verde?
Walking in the cities of the Costa Verde is perhaps easier than in other parts of the country, in large part due to the lower population density (save for Porto and environs) and the relatively flat landscape. Porto and Viana do Castelo will be the largest cities to navigate, but many of the other ones, such as Caminha and Esposende, can be walked within a leisurely day.How safe is the Costa Verde?
The Costa Verde is safe for tourists, and even though there are a few things to note before visiting here, you will most likely have zero problems and a pleasant trip.
The problem areas are confined to small portions of Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia, and Viana do Castelo. In those cities, it isn`t unheard of for tourists to be asked to buy drugs, particularly if you are in high-traffic touristy areas such as Porto`s riverfront and Viana`s Praca da Republica. Just ignore these people and move on. Responding with a `no thank you` may only renew their resolve to try again. Also, we warn tourists not to get too inebriated at bars or at port tastings, because a few have been robbed in their less-than-vigilant states.
We would like to tell travelers to use common sense, just like you would visiting an unfamiliar city in your own country. 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.What is shopping like on the Costa Verde?
In the northern part of the country, there is a well-known specialty shop which sells many handmade souvenirs from Portugal, ranging from wine to tea to soap and handicrafts. It is called Heranca Minhota and it is located on Rua 5 de Outubro in Vila Praia de Ancora. The shopping scene in Viana do Castelo revolves around the three-level American-style shopping mall Estacao Viana Shopping, located on Rua General Humberto Delgado 101. It is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. If there are any souvenirs that may be of interest for you to grab while in Viana, you will notice them around the Praca da Republica in the shops there.
In the southern Costa Verde, shopping is centered around Porto. 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 the Costa Verde is complete without a stroll down Porto`s 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.Are there any Michelin-starred restaurants on the Costa Verde? Do fancy restaurants require reservations in advance?
Out of the 28 Michelin-starred restaurants in Portugal in 2018, three in the Costa Verde received stars: Casa de Cha da Boa Nova (Avenida da Liberdade Leca da Palmeira, Matosinhos, Porto, +351 932 499 444); Pedro Lemos (Rua do Padre Luis Cabral, Foz do Douro, Porto, +351 220 115 986); and The Yeatman (Rua do Choupelo, Vila Nova de Gaia, +351 220 133 100). The former two restaurants have one Michelin star, and The Yeatman received its second this year. These three restaurants, along with many upscale restaurants, will indeed require reservations and it is best to phone at least a few days in advance. Many other restaurants and cafes are first-come, first-served.Can I pay/tip in U.S. dollars?
The currency of Portugal is the Euro (€) and U.S. dollars are not accepted for payment. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks and ATMs can be found at the airport and at many locations throughout the region.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, the airport, or the bus or train station. 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 ingles?`
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.