By Plane -- Porto stretches along the last 5km (3 miles) of the river Douro and is the hub of northern Portugal's communication network. TAP (www.flytap.com), the Portuguese airline, provides connections between Lisbon and Porto, and there are daily flights year-round. The airline also runs direct flights twice a week from Newark Airport to Porto's Aeroporto Francisco de Sá Carneiro. The trip takes about 8hrs. Canada's Air Transat (www.airtransat.com) also runs weekly flights from both Toronto and Montreal. Porto is connected to over 60 European destinations, from Amsterdam to Valencia, mostly by low-cost airlines, with Ireland's Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) offering most choice. There are 3–5 daily flights from London and 2–3 to Paris. Among airlines operating between Lisbon and Porto, TAP offers 18 daily shuttle flights from 24€ each-way.
It's easy to get from the airport into town. The clean, efficient subway system, the Metro, covers the 11kms (7 miles) to Bolhão station in the center in less than 30 minutes. Take the E line with the violet color code. You can buy an Andante ticket from machines at the airport for 2.45€. Keep it and charge it up for subsequent trips around town for 1.20€ per trip. You have to validate the ticket by swiping it at the machines at approaches to platforms. Buses 601, 602, or the 3M night bus, run from the arrivals lounge into town. You can buy tickets onboard for 1.85€. Taxis normally cost 20€ to 30€ from the airport to the city center.
By Train---Coming from Lisbon, the train is a quick, comfortable alternative to flying. The journey on the fastest Alfa Pendular express trains takes 2hrs 35minutes from Lisbon Oriente station to Porto's Campanhã station and costs 30.30€ for a second-class one-way ticket. If you choose to take the 4-minute shuttle train from Companhã into the more central São Bento station, the price is included in the ticket. You can also take the metro from Companhã. The CP railway company (www.cp.pt, tel. 707 210 220) runs a dozen Alfa Pendular trains daily from Lisbon to Porto, stopping at Coimbra and Aveiro. There are also slower Intercity (IC) trains.
By Bus---The Rede Expressos bus company (www.rede-expressos.pt, tel. 707 22 33 44) runs around 20 trips at day from Lisbon to Porto. The trip takes around 3 1/2 hrs and costs 20€ one-way. The bus station is central, at Rua Alexandre Herculano, 366. If you're coming from outside Portugal, the Eurolines bus company operates routes to Porto from a number of destinations. From Madrid the trip takes just over 9hrs and costs around 40€.
By Car---The trip up the A1 toll highway from Lisbon takes around 3hrs. If you are driving from elsewhere in Europe, it is just over 7 hours from the Spanish-French border crossing at Irun. Take the E80/AP-1 highway to Burgos, then the A-231 to León. From there, turn south on the A-66 to Benavente, then west on A-52 to Verín before crossing into Portugal at Chaves and driving into Porto on the A27 and A7.
By Train -- There are two main rail stations in Porto. The Estação de São Bento, Praça Almeida Garrett (tel. 808/208-208), is in the city center, only a block from Praça de Liberdade. Trains from here serve the Douro Valley and destinations in the north, including Viana do Castelo and Braga. East of the center, but connected to São Bento by rail, is the busier and more modern Estação de Campanhã, Largo da Estação de Campanhã (tel. 808/208-208). It serves the south, including Lisbon, as well as international routes. For any other rail information, go to www.cp.pt.
Getting AroundPorto’s historic center is compact and walking around the winding alleys of Ribeira or bustling thoroughfares of the Baixa is one on the city's great pleasures. Be warned, however, that the steepness of the streets leading up from the riverside can be hard on the calves. An alternative is the Guindais funicular dating back to 1891 that hauls passengers from Ribeira to the uptown Batalha district in two minutes, offering great views of the Dom Luís I bridge along the way. It runs daily from 8am to 8pm, later during the summer. Tickets can be bought on site for 2.50€. Offering even better views is the Teleférico de Gaia, (www.gaiacablecar.com, [tel] 223 741 440) a cable car linking the port wine lodges of Vila Nova de Gaia to the clifftop upper deck of the Dom Luís I bridge. Opened in 2011, it's become a major attraction in its own right (as well as a way to save on shoe leather). It runs from 10am to 6pm, although that's extended to 8pm in the high season from late April to late September. One-way tickets 5€ adults, half price for children.
For traveling further afield, Porto's subway system, the Metro is quick, clean and efficient. There are five lines designated by letter and color. For example, line E is the purple line, running from the Airport to the Estádio do Dragão, soccer stadium, home of two-time European champion FC Porto. As well as serving the city center, lines run up the coast to the seaport of Matosinhos and as far as the beaches at Vila do Conde and Póvoa de Varzim. To get the most from a short stay, buy an Andante Tour ticket which allows unlimited travel on all metro lines, city buses and and suburban trains. A 24-hour ticket costs 7€, 72 hours 15€. Alternatively, you can buy an Andante Azul ticket which costs 60 cents, but then needs to be charged up with the number of rides you want to make. The zoning system controlling the prices is rather complicated. A Z2 trip in the center costs 1.25€ but if you charge 10 to your ticket you get one free. You'll need to charge 1.85€ to your ticket for a Z4 trip out of the central zone to the airport. The metro operates from 6–1am.
Whatever type of ticket you buy, you'll need to validate it each time you travel by swiping it against one of the electronic machines on the way to the platforms. For more information, Metro de Porto has an well explained English-language website: http://en.metrodoporto.pt.
Andante tickets are valid on the extensive bus network. You can also buy individual tickets on buses for 1.85€. Since 2014, Porto's buses offer free onboard WiFi. There are also three historic street car (eléctrico) lines. Line 1 runs along the north bank of the Douro from Praça São Francisco, in the heart of the old city, to the Passeio Alegre in the seaside suburb of Foz; Line 18 runs from the riverside Museu do Carro Eléctrico to the azulejo-covered Carmo church; and Line 22 takes a circular route around the city center connecting with the funicular stop in Batalha. Tickets can be bought from the street car drivers for 2.50€. The STCP bus company also has an informative English website www.stcp.pt.
Another transport option is to buy a Porto Card from one of the city tourist offices or online (www.visitporto.travel). It offers free access to 11 museums and discounts on a number of others, plus restaurants, wine cellars, stores, etc. You can get one with free public transport included, or in a pedestrian version. Those offering free transport range from 13€ for 24 hours to 33€ for four days.
Taxis are available 24 hours a day, are plentiful and relatively cheap. It's usually easy to hail one in the street or from stands around the city. You can also phone or book online from centrals such as Táxis Invicta (www.taxisinvicta.com, tel. 225 076 400) or Radiotáxis (www.radiotaxis.pt, [tel] 225 073 900). The around 5km (3 mile) trip from Campanhã station to Praça da Batalha should cost less than 6€. As of late 2016, Portugal's taxi drivers have been engaged in a campaign of protests demanding a ban on new app-based transport services such as Uber (http://uberportugal.pt) and Cabify (https://cabify.com), but both were continuing to operate in Porto. Tuk tuks are a southeast Asian import that have taken off recently in the narrow streets of Portuguese cities. They can be hired in the street or through companies such as Tuktour Porto (www.tuktourporto.com, tel. 917 232 661) which offers a number of tour options.
With its steep hills and cobbled streets, Porto is challenging for cyclists. But there a number of bike paths, notably the 5km (3mile) ride along the river and Atlantic coast at Foz. There are a number of companies where you can rent bikes and get info on routes, such as Porto Rent a Bike (www.portorentabike.com, [tel] 222 022 375) whose prices start at 6€ for two hours.
Regardless of your method of transport, you'll need to acquaint yourself with the geography of this complicated city. It's probably best to start with the city's justly famous bridges. Connecting the right bank to the port-wine center of Vila Nova de Gaia and the lands south is the Ponte de Dona Maria Pia, an architectural feat of Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame). Another bridge spanning the Douro is the Ponte de Dom Luís I. An iron bridge of two roadways, it was completed in 1886 by Teófilo Seyrig, a Belgian engineer inspired by Eiffel. Another bridge, Edgar Cardoso's Ponte de Arrábida, which opened in 1963, is bright and contemporary. Totally Portuguese in concept and execution, it's one of the largest single-span reinforced-concrete arches in Europe.
The heart of Porto is Avenida dos Aliados, with its parklike center, where families sometimes go for a stroll. It's bounded on the south by Praça General Humberto Delgado. Two major shopping streets lie on either side of Praça de Liberdade: Rua dos Clérigos and Rua 31 de Janeiro. Rua Clérigos leads to the landmark Torre dos Clérigos, which some consider the symbol of Porto.
Foz do Douro, set about 5km (3 miles) to the northwest of Porto, stands adjacent to where the River Douro empties into the sea. Foz is scenic, calm, and mostly residential, a verdant, middle- and upper-class suburb whose income level is in distinct contrast to the grinding poverty of some neighborhoods in downtown Porto. Foz (that's the way its name is shortened by most residents of North Portugal) is known as a "green lung" for Porto, with a rather high percentage of nightclubs and restaurants.
Presently, the most obvious means of public transport between downtown Porto and the oceanfront of "downtown" Foz do Douro is via tram no. 1E, and that is the time-tested traditional means that everyone uses. But in the making are two additional routes. Both are in their infancy, and both might be completed late in 2010. They include a metro line that will run immediately parallel to Avenida da Boavista, presently the "motorists' favorite route," between historic Porto and Foz. The other metro line will be an extension of the "yellow line," a metro line which presently stops in Gaia, across the river from Porto.
Matosinhos is set about 11km (7 miles) to the northwest of Porto, beyond Foz. It is metallic, industrial, intensely commercial, and dominated by the heavy machinery that's in place to unload some of the biggest transport ships in the world. Much of it is devoted to vast warehouses, unloading docks, and cranes.
Vila Nova de Gaia -- For more than a century, the "other" bank of the Douro has sheltered representatives of the port-wine industry, many of which maintain a sales outlet and, in most cases, warehouses. It lies just across the river from Porto, within a very short walk from the Praça de Ribeira, but spiritually, it's a long way away. Poverty is a little more obvious on this side of the river, and the buildings are a bit less well maintained. Hotels are extremely limited here, and only a few of the restaurants are oriented to the tourist trade. The port-wine lodges are by far the most visible entities here. Despite occasional flashes of bravura from the local tourist board, the mostly residential district has far fewer monuments and attractions than Porto. To reach it from Porto, take bus no. 57 or 91.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.