Porto Holidays 2023/2024
Cheap Porto Holidays
Porto Holidays Guide
Set on the Douro River and the Atlantic Ocean coast, Porto holidays are a great alternative to the usual city break destinations we've come to know and love. The second largest city in Portugal offers relaxed city breaks, with plenty to see and do, ideal for enjoying the local cuisine and taking in some of this pretty destination.
Popular hotels in Porto
Getting to, from and around Porto
Roughly two and a half hours flight time from London, there are a limited number of flights to Porto unlike its bigger sister, Lisbon. It's likely to be Ryanair or easyJet flying you there from larger UK cities like Manchester and Edinburgh.
Once you've arrived, the easiest way to get from Porto airport to the city centre is via the Metro which runs regularly and costs just a few Euros for the 30 minute journey into the city centre. A taxi is possible but will cost between €25-30 each way so the Metro is a much cheaper way to travel.
When you get to the city, depending on where you're staying you'll need to travel by foot, metro or bus to your hotel. It's worth noting that there are some steep hills in the city, so walking with luggage might not be an easy option. If you're staying in Vila Nova de Gaia on the south side of the river, the Metro travels to certain parts but you might want to think about a taxi.
If you're able, one of the best ways to get around the city is walking, and you'll certainly burn off some calories doing so. Many streets have steep slopes. Alternatively, the Metro and bus have day pass and multi-day tickets, and no trip to Porto is ever complete without a trip on the historic tram.
Things to do in Porto
Porto truly is a foodie city and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants you'll want to explore. The popular Cais da Ribeira on the north side of the river near the Ponte Luis I bridge is a cute riverside street with a variety of restaurants. Try the Bacchus Vini bar for a wine and cheese tasting experience with a local flavour.
You'll want to make sure you're getting in a little exercise to burn off all those delicious calories and exploring the city by foot is a great way to do so. Porto is a little spread out so if you’re here for a few days, you might want to invest in a metro card.
Vila Nova de Gaia
South of the river is the area of Vila Nova de Gaia, which is a great place to explore if you've been to Porto before. Being at the Douro River outlet, this is the place to come if you love your wine, as traditionally wine would have been transported down the river from the Douro Valley (and to an extent still is), before being shipping off to foreign lands. Here you'll find great restaurants, tapas bars and seafood eateries just waiting to be discovered. After all, this place is known for its Port wine.
Whether you love trekking through the modern shopping malls for the latest bargains, or you'd rather take to the cobble streets in search of something a little more unique at one of the local stores, Porto is great for shopping.
Although Porto isn't known for its beaches, it does have some pretty ones on the outskirts. Praia do Carneiro and Ingleses Beach are two of the nearest beaches to Porto city centre. The bus can take you there, however, if you've got plenty of time, love a walk and it's a nice day, you can walk all along the riverfront which will take about 75 minutes from Dom Luís I Bridge, or 40 minutes from Ponte Arrabida bridge. In the south, the Cabedelo do Douro is a popular spot for its sandy shores.
Being famous for Port wine, a wine tour can be a great option to learn about the local industry, why it's famous, why it's so good and, of course, try some yourself. Some wine and food tours may also take you to traditional restaurants and wine cellars around the city to sample some of the local dishes too. You can book these tours in advance to avoid disappointment (as some may not operate on certain days), or your hotel may also be able to help you book one once you've arrived in Portugal.
Boat Trips & Day Trips
If you're visiting for a longer period, or you've already been to Porto before, taking a boat trip or day trip can be the ideal way to see more of the region. Heading down the Douro Valley to see the vineyards can the perfect day trip in summer, especially if you're on a river cruise, gently sailing down the river and enjoying the lush green scenery. Alternatively, you might prefer to head out to sea on a sail boat and enjoy a few snacks and glass of bubbles at sunset.
Where to stay in Porto
Ribeira is the real historical heart of Porto and is an ideal area to stay if you're on holiday for a few days, but it can mean hotel prices are slightly higher than other parts of the city.
Campanha is the main station with most metro lines passing through here so it's well connected. The area of Foz Do Douro is one of the coastal areas of Porto and perfect if you plan to spend your holiday with a mix of exploring the old city and enjoying the beach and it's many beachfront restaurants. Foz Do Douro doesn't have a metro stop here so you'll be needing to take the bus into the city centre to explore.
The Old Town
Porto Old Town is one of the best places to stay if you've never been before and you love to be in the heart of the action. Hotel prices can be more expensive here because of their location but there are still some budget friendly accommodation options available. Take a look at places like ALIBI by YoursPorto, Flores Boutique Hotel & Spa and the Exe Almada Porto, all of which offer cheaper accommodation but at a very good standard and with good reviews too.
Vila Nova de Gaia
Staying south of the river and outside of the main city centre can bring savings in the form of cheaper hotels. Being in a less premium location can mean hotel rates are significantly less than other parts of Porto, but that does mean you'll likely need to spend extra money on travel to get into and out of the city, so it's worth weighing up the options here. Good options can be around the Jardim do Morro (which means less distance to travel), with hotels like the Caleway Hotel, Hilton Porto Gaia and 296 Heritage Apartments.
Who To Book With
As it's not your typical holiday destination, you might be unsure as to who you should book your break to Porto with. You should ideally book with a reputable and financially protected company like On The Beach, lastminute.com or Expedia, who have ABTA and/or ATOL protection, but you might be inclined to book it all separately yourself, especially if you're flying low cost with Ryanair or easyJet.
In this case, make sure you take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover the different elements of your trip, even moreso if you're booking a self catering apartment or home through Airbnb or similar.