The Ultimate Backpacking Guide to Porto on a Budget

Backpacking Guide to Porto on a Budget

Welcome to Porto, a city known for its iconic tiles, world-renowned Port wine, and stunning riverside promenade. This Backpacking Porto travel guide is your key to unlocking a journey that’s as rich in culture as it is in affordability.

Porto is a welcoming city for backpackers, including those traveling solo. With its friendly locals, safe streets, and effervescent hostel scene, it’s the perfect destination for anyone looking to venture on their own. For personalized tips and advice on solo travel in Porto, don’t miss our comprehensive Solo Travel Guide for Porto.

Travel Costs: Detailed Breakdown

Suggested Budget per Person

  • Low: €30 – €60
  • Middle: €80 – €120
  • High: €150+

Detailed Costs


  • Low: Hostel dorm: €15 – €30
  • Middle: Mid-range hotels or B&Bs: €60 – €100
  • High: Luxury hotels or upscale apartments: €120+

Public Transportation

  • Metro ticket cost: Single ride €1.50
  • Daily pass: €6
  • 3-Day tourist pass: €15

Museum Entrance Fees / Activities

  • Low: Many churches and some museums offer free entry.
  • Middle: Combined tickets for various attractions: €10 – €18
  • High: Special exhibitions or guided tours: €20+


  • Low: Street food, francesinhas (Porto’s signature sandwich), or budget eateries: €5 – €10
  • Middle: Mid-range restaurants: €15 – €30
  • High: High-end restaurants: €35+

Cheap Food

  • Low: Takeaway sandwiches like bifanas (pork sandwiches): €2 – €4
  • Middle: Casual dining spots: €5 – €10
  • High: Artisanal treats in trendy areas: €10+


  • Low: Espresso at a local café: €0.70 – €1
  • Middle: Cappuccino or latte in a café seated: €1 – €2
  • High: Specialty coffees in touristy areas: €2.50+

Beer & Wine

  • Low: At a local bar or pub: €1 – €2.50 (Ask for the house wine or a fino/super bock)
  • Middle: In a mid-range restaurant or trendy bar: €3 – €5
  • High: Craft beer or special vintage wine: €6+

Explore Porto: Things to Do

Exploring Porto is a journey through a city steeped in history, culture, and vibrant life.

Must Do

Visit the Livraria Lello: Often regarded as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, its stunning interior inspired parts of the Harry Potter series. It’s a must-visit for book lovers and architecture enthusiasts alike. Buy your ticket in the official website.

Taste Porto’s famous Port Wine: A trip to Porto would not be complete without sampling its namesake wine. Visit one of the many port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia for tastings and tours.

Cruise on the Douro River: Take a boat tour to experience the breathtaking landscapes of the Douro Valley and the six bridges of Porto from a unique perspective.

Make your trip unforgettable with activities listed in our Fun Things to Do in Porto article. I also summed up a few things to avoid in Porto.

Free Things to Do

Ribeira: Wander along the picturesque riverside, explore the colorful houses, and soak up the lively atmosphere of this historic district.

Porto Cathedral: This Romanesque and Gothic cathedral stands as a testament to Porto’s rich history. Don’t miss the panoramic views of the city from its terrace.

Palacio de Cristal: Offering some of the best views over the Douro River and the city, these gardens are a perfect spot for a stroll or a picnic.

Museums / Activities

Serralves Museum and Park: A leading contemporary art museum set within a magnificent park. The art exhibitions alongside the architectural beauty of the museum itself are captivating.

Casa da Música: Take a guided tour of this iconic building dedicated to music and performance arts, known for its distinctive modern architecture.

Tickets You Have to Pre-Book

During my earlier trips to Porto, pre-booking tickets wasn’t necessary. However, on my last visit, I was unable to enter the Lello Bookshop because it was sold out—even two days in advance. Therefore, if your time in Porto is limited, I strongly recommend booking the following activities in advance:

Livraria Lello: Often regarded as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, its stunning interior inspired parts of the Harry Potter series. It’s a must-visit for book lovers and architecture enthusiasts alike. Also for Harry Potter fans.

Clérigos Tower: For stunning views of Porto, climb the 225 steps of this baroque tower. Pre-booking your ticket can save you time waiting in line.

Explore the city beyond the usual tourist spots with our 11 Hidden Gems in Porto.

Where to stay on a Budget

Porto offers several neighborhoods that cater to the budget-conscious traveler. Here’s a look at the best areas to stay in Porto on a budget.


With its picturesque riverside setting, Ribeira is not only a UNESCO World Heritage site but also a hotspot for nightlife. As the sun sets, the area transforms, with numerous bars and restaurants coming to life. The narrow, cobbled streets echo with music, and the terraces fill up with locals and travelers alike, creating a festive atmosphere. Ribeira is perfect for those who enjoy a more laid-back evening, sipping Porto wine or cocktails while enjoying stunning views of the Douro River and the Dom Luís I Bridge.

Vila Nova de Gaia

While technically a separate city, Vila Nova de Gaia lies just across the Douro River from Porto and offers stunning views of the Porto skyline. Accommodation here tends to be more affordable, with a range of hostels and budget-friendly hotels.

It’s the perfect spot for wine enthusiasts, as many of the famous Port wine cellars are located here.

A quick trip across the Dom Luís I Bridge brings you right back into the heart of Porto, combining the best of both worlds—affordability and accessibility. A good hostel in this neighborhood is The House of Sandeman.


The Aliados area, centered around the grand Avenida dos Aliados, is Porto’s bustling downtown and a great option for travelers who want to be in the middle of everything. Being the bustling downtown area of Porto, it generally offers a broader selection of hostels. Its central location, close to major attractions and transport links, makes it an attractive hub for backpackers and budget travelers.

This area boasts a variety of hostels, from cozy, boutique options to larger, more social hostels, providing ample choice for those looking to stay in the center of the city.  A cheap hostel in Aliados neighborhood is Gallery Hostel.

Looking for the best place to stay without breaking the bank? Check out our detailed guide on the Best Hostels in Porto.

Galerias de Paris

Just a short walk from the Aliados area, Galerias de Paris is the heart of Porto’s nightlife. This lively street and its surroundings are bustling with energy, particularly on weekends. It’s known for its eclectic mix of bars, clubs, and open-air cafes, where you can find everything from live music and DJ sets to casual drinks and dancing until the early hours. The vibe here is youthful and energetic, making it a favorite among both locals and visitors looking to party.

If you’re here to mingle and enjoy the nightlife, don’t miss our list of the top Party Hostels in Porto.

Eating and Drinking

Porto is really a good gastronomic place, and it is cheap and affordable. Perfect for backpackers who enjoy food.

Water: Tap water in Porto is safe to drink, and you’ll find public fountains scattered around the city, making it easy to refill your bottle.

Restaurants: Cozy family-run taverns known as “tascas,” offer traditional dishes are offered at very reasonable prices. Also, many restaruants offer “prato do dia” (dish of the day) deal. Consider making lunch your main meal to save money on food.

Avoid: Tourist-heavy areas like Ribeira and along the Douro River tend to feature restaurants with inflated prices. While the views might be tempting, venturing a few streets away can lead to more authentic and affordable dining experiences.

Affordable Eats:

Eat at Open-Air Markets: Mercado do Bolhão, though currently under renovation, and its temporary location at Mercado Temporário do Bolhão offer a lively atmosphere where you can sample local specialties at modest prices.

Street Food: Don’t miss trying a “francesinha,” Porto’s iconic sandwich, that will fill out your stomach for many hours. Other affordable option include “bifanas” (sandwiches).

Discounted Food: Look out for bakeries or “padarias” towards the end of the day, as they often sell pastries and bread at reduced prices. Some restaurants also offer “menu do dia” (menu of the day) deals, providing a full meal at a fraction of the à la carte price.

Porto offers delicious meals that won’t empty your wallet. Discover where to eat with our guide on cheap eats in Porto.

Type of Food That Is Generally Cheaper:

Traditional Portuguese dishes, especially those based on pork and seafood, tend to be more wallet-friendly. “Petiscos,” the Portuguese version of tapas, are not only inexpensive but also allow you to try a variety of dishes in one meal.

Where You Can Find the Most Affordable Groceries:

The cheapest supermarkets in Porto are:

  • Pingo Doce,
  • Continente, and
  • Minipreço

How to get around

Getting Around Porto City

Porto offers a variety of affordable and efficient transportation options suitable for every type of traveler. Here’s how you can get around Porto, maximizing your adventures while minimizing your expenses.

On Foot

The best way to explore Porto’s narrow, winding streets and discover its architectural marvels is undoubtedly on foot. Many of Porto’s most iconic sights, including the Ribeira district, Luís I Bridge, and Clérigos Tower, are within walking distance of each other. Walking not only gives you an up-close view of the city’s rich history and culture but also saves you money on transportation.


Porto’s metro system is modern, clean, and extends to most parts of the city, including the airport. It’s a quick and cost-effective way to cover longer distances.

STCP Buses

The extensive network of STCP buses complements the metro, reaching areas that the metro does not. Buses are a great way to see more of the city from above ground and are especially useful for reaching sights like the Serralves Museum or Foz do Douro.


Riding one of Porto’s vintage trams offers a nostalgic way to travel. Tram tickets are a bit pricier than the metro or bus, but the experience is unique and offers fantastic views, particularly of the riverfront. I lovethe iconic Line 1 tram that runs along the Douro River from Ribeira to Foz do Douro.

Funicular and Cable Car

The Funicular dos Guindais offers a quick way to ascend from the Ribeira district to Batalha, saving you a steep climb. Similarly, the Teleférico de Gaia provides stunning views as it travels from the riverside of Vila Nova de Gaia to the upper levels near the Port wine cellars. Both are priced higher than other public transport options but offer unique perspectives of the city.


Taxis are the most expensive way to get around Porto. Luckily, rideshare services like Uber are readily available in Porto.

Cheapest Way to Get To and From the Airport

This is easy: the cheapest way to get from Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport to the city center of Porto is by using the metro. Porto’s metro system is not only cost-effective but also convenient, connecting the airport to the heart of the city efficiently. For less than €3 you’ll be in the city center in around 30 minutes. There is no need for a taxi at all.

Best Time to Visit

Here’s a guide to the best time to visit Porto, categorized by high, shoulder, and low seasons, along with notable national holidays and festivals.

  • High season: June to August
  • Shoulder season: April to May and September to October
  • Low season: November to March

My first visit to Porto was on a rainy weekend, and I must say it added a melancholic charm. But if you want to avoid rain, just choose springtime. Spring is the best moment to see Porto if you are looking for sunny days and avoid crowds of people.

National Holidays & Festivals

  • Freedom Day (April 25): Commemorates the 1974 Revolution, with various cultural events and celebrations.
  • Labor Day (May 1): A public holiday with marches and celebrations.
  • Portugal Day (June 10): Celebrates Portuguese history and culture with official ceremonies and cultural events.
  • Assumption of Mary (August 15): A public holiday with religious processions and celebrations in many parts of the city.

Backpacking Essentials & Safety Tips

Safety Tips and Common Scams

Stay Vigilant in Crowded Areas: Like any popular tourist destination, Porto’s crowded spots can attract pickpockets. Keep your belongings secure and be mindful of your surroundings, especially in busy areas like Ribeira and on public transport.

Avoid Unofficial Taxis: Stick to official taxis or reputable rideshare apps. Unofficial taxis may overcharge unsuspecting tourists. If you use taxis, ensure the meter is running or agree on a fare before starting your journey.

Be Cautious with Street Sellers: While many street sellers are legitimate, be wary of those selling counterfeit goods or offering deals that seem too good to be true.

Misfortune stories: While exploring the area of Ribeira in Porto, you might encounter individuals who approach tourists with a well-rehearsed story of misfortune. They often claim to have lost their passport at the border, encountered a problem with their car, or found themselves stranded in Lisbon and unable to return to Spain. This narrative is designed to elicit sympathy and convince you to offer them money or food.

Cultural Etiquette and Tips

Greet with Two Kisses: It’s customary in Portugal to greet someone with two kisses on the cheeks, starting with the right. This applies to both men and women and is common in social settings.

Respect the Siesta Time: Some shops and businesses may close in the afternoon for a few hours. Plan your day accordingly, and embrace this time to relax or explore less crowded areas.

Things Not to Do

Don’t Skip the Line: Queuing is taken seriously in Portugal. Cutting in line is considered rude and disrespectful.

Avoid Loud and Disruptive Behavior: Portuguese culture values respect and discretion in public spaces. Keep noise levels down, especially at night.

Don’t Ignore Dining Etiquette: When dining out, wait for everyone to be served before starting your meal. It’s polite to say “Bom apetite” (enjoy your meal) to your fellow diners before eating.

Don’t Refuse Hospitality: Portuguese people are known for their hospitality. Refusing an offer of food or drink can sometimes be seen as impolite. If you must decline, do so graciously.

Resources and Planning

Leveraging modern tools and apps, taking advantage of budget-friendly passes, and employing money-saving tips can significantly help you travel longer. Here’s how to make the most of your adventure in Porto.

Tools and Apps

  • Metro do Porto App: Access real-time information on Porto’s metro system, including schedules, lines, and station updates, to help you navigate the city efficiently.
  • Move-Me Porto: A comprehensive public transport app that offers information on buses, trams, and trains in Porto, allowing you to plan your journeys seamlessly.
  • Visit Porto: The official tourism app of Porto, providing detailed information on attractions, tours, restaurants, and events, complete with user reviews and tips.

Budget-Friendly Passes

  • Andante Tour Card: Offers unlimited travel on public transportation (metro, buses, and some trains) for 1 or 3 days. It’s an economical choice for exploring far and wide across Porto.
  • Porto Card: This city pass includes free or discounted access to many museums and attractions, along with unlimited public transport options. Available for 1, 2, 3, or 4 days, it can help you save on both transport and entry fees.

Money Saving Tips

  • Dine Like a Local: Opt for “prato do dia” (dish of the day) at local eateries for a filling and affordable meal.
  • Free Walking Tours: Join one of the many free walking tours to get acquainted with Porto’s history and culture. It’s a great way to see the city guided by knowledgeable locals—just remember to tip your guide at the end of the tour.
  • Take Advantage of Free Attractions: Porto is filled with free experiences, from exploring its beautiful parks and gardens to visiting churches and admiring the city’s iconic tile work buildings.
  • Drink Tap Water: The tap water in Porto is safe to drink, so refill your bottle rather than buy bottled water. This small change can lead to significant savings over time.


It’s clear that Porto beckons backpackers with an irresistible call. This enchanting city, where tradition intertwines with contemporary flair, offers an array of experiences that cater to the adventurous spirit of every traveler.

Ready to enjoy Porto?

We are 100% Independent: Some links on Hostelgeeks are so-called affiliate links. If you decide to book through these links, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support allows us to keep producing high-quality, independent content free of influence from hostels or external advertisers. Learn more here. 🙏

✏️ Read our Editorial Guidelines

Our Favorite Travel Resources 2024

👏 Booking Hostels: Always find better deals for Hostels on They compare prices from Hostelworld and

✈️ Cheap Flights: The first websites we always check are Skyscanner and Google Flights.

🤒 Travel Insurance Simplified: We always go either with Safetywing and Hey Mondo.

🤓 Smart Travel Tools you need to know: Find a list of our favorite travel tools.

Get your Smart Packing List (Free Printable): Knowing what to pack and what not to pack is key. Get our ultimate list of smart items to bring on your trip.

Download your Free PDF Packing List

Best Hostel Packing List