Porto: Transportation Part 1 – Airport

Let’s talk getting from Point A to Point B in Porto, Portugal, so you can get the most out of your visit!

Here are the main forms of transportation you can find in the city:

Probably one of the first transportation questions you’ll have is: What’s the cheapest/fastest way to get from the airport to my lodging?

You have a few options here.

  1. Taxi/Uber: takes around 20-40 minutes from the airport to Trindade metro station, depending on traffic (which is no joke in Porto during rush hour), and can cost anywhere from 20-25€ for 2 people with bags (a note on tipping: tipping is largely symbolic in Portugal, but it is nice to leave the driver with a little something extra, maybe 1€ per bag/person. It is bad form to tip with the brown 0.01€ and 0.02€ coins). You should always grab a taxi from a marked taxi stand.
  2. Rental car: Pricing obviously depends on your ability to score a good deal. Be aware that many of the low-cost companies block a large (often several 1000€) deposit on your credit card if you decline the daily insurance, and that it’s not unusual to encounter long lines and wait times, especially during peak travel seasons. One thing they will ask you about at the rental counter is whether you want to rent a “Via Verde” device — SAY YES. It is typically less than 2€/day and capped at around 15€ for the rental period. Porto has many electronic tolls on its expressways that can only be paid for through a Via Verde device or at a local post office. If you do not pay them, the fine is 10 times the value of the tolls, or a minimum of 25€. Save yourself the headache of the post office, it’s just as irksome as it is in your country of origin. Your tolls will be charged to your credit card at the end of the rental period.
  3. Metro: This is the most efficient and economical way to get to the city center. From Aeroporto to Trindade metro station, the cost per person is 2€ plus a one-time fee of 0.60€ for the rechargeable metro card. You will need to make sure you purchase a ticket for the correct zone (the airport is Z4, while downtown is Z2). There will be a handy map posted near the ticket machine for you to find the correct zone for your destination. Many of the machines have slots for paying with debit card and euro notes, but I have found these to be out of order more than once, so the most reliable way to pay for your ticket will be with coins. The trip itself takes 27 minutes from Aeroporto, and service begins around 6am and ends around 1am with around 30 minutes between departures. Be sure to check the timetables on the website, and be aware that they are different for summer and winter.
  4. Bus: I would only consider this option if you need to get to the airport by public transportation at a time when the metro is not running, between 12:30am-5am. The trip on the 3M bus line leaves from Avenida dos Aliados and takes around 28 minutes to the airport. Tickets are 1.95€ per person.

Once you are happily settled in your hotel or holiday apartment, you might want to know how you should plan on getting around to see the sights of the Cidade Invicta.

To be continued in Part 2!


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Fado de Coimbra

Fado is a Portuguese music style, the most internationally famous type being that sung in and  around Lisbon, the type sung by the late Amália Rodrigues and today’s Mariza.  There are other styles of fado, however, including that from the city of Coimbra, which is home to Portugal’s oldest university, the Universidade de Coimbra. The following video is an example of fado from Coimbra performed by university students, and it is really fun! I hope that you like it.

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The Half-Marathon of Porto

The half-marathon (meia maratona) of Porto is coming up on the 10th of October, and I have decided at the last minute to run it.

Crazy, I know.

I’m having a hard time running 10 km, so I’m not sure how I’ll do 21 km by then, or if it’s even a good idea to try, but I’m stubborn. I know.

I have about two weeks to get up to about, oh 16 or 18 km. If I can run that distance straight then I will feel confident that I’ll be able to finish. This will be my third half-marathon (and my second time running this particular one), so I know that I have it in me somewhere deep (deep) down. We’ll see if it comes out on race day!

Also, I wanted to say that running here is truly an adventure. It’s not like running around the quiet ‘burbs of Davis or Berkeley… Porto is a big city, with lots of hills, and lots of pedestrians. I’m almost always mowing down an old lady, or getting stuck behind a slowly moving one… I tell myself that it will make me a better runner, but sometimes it’s just really annoying.  I’m an American, I guess I just intrinsically crave space. It can’t be helped!

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Citânia de Sanfins

Just outside of the city of Porto, in the municipality of Paços de Ferreira, there is an awesome, 2000+ year old castro, which is a “pre-Roman Iron Age Celtic village”, that sits at the top of a large hill. The Citânia de Sanfins is a big castro, so that’s why it is called a citânia. It is believed to have been later occupied by Romans. They have a nice website for the place, but it’s in Portuguese. It was free to walk around the site, unless we just got lucky on the evening that we went. To go inside the re-created house, you might have to pay, but we couldn’t find anyone around to let us in.
Anyway! Here are some photos…

This guy, “the statue of the warrior”, was unearthed at the site, and he has become a sort of “mascot” for the citania. He is displayed at the museum, which is located off-site in the heart of the small town of Sanfins. A reconstruction of the soldier was placed at the site of the citânia, where it is thought that he stood long, long ago.

The Citânia de Sanfins at dusk.

Today’s guardians of the Citânia de Sanfins.

A reconstruction of a large house in the citânia.

The main outer wall of the citânia.

A castrejo bath house outside of the main wall of the citânia.

The bath house still gets water!

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Ponte de Lima

Ponte de Lima, founded in 1125, is known as Portugal’s “oldest town”, but it wins that distinction on somewhat of a technicality… it is the oldest town because it has not grown enough to be a city! Plenty of old cities were older towns than Ponte de Lima when they were in fact old towns. But it doesn’t really matter; Ponte de Lima is still, in its own right, one of the most beautiful little spots in Portugal. It has a fantastic bridge spanning the Lima river (hence its name: Ponte (bridge) de Lima), and a beautiful church on the opposite bank that really makes for a great view from a little cafe in the waterfront plaza.

According to Wikipedia, Ponte de Lima has a population of only 2,800, although the municipality of Ponte de Lima has more than 44,000 inhabitants. It is located far in the north of Portugal, towards the west, and close to the northern border with Spain.

A view of the town of Ponte de Lima as I walked back across the bridge after visiting the church.

In the main plaza in Ponte de Lima.

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Guimarães: o Monte da Penha in winter

Guimarães is, in my opinion, one of Portugal’s most beautiful cities, but today I am going to post pictures not of Guimarães, but of the Penha mountain that overlooks it. These pictures were taken around January of 2010, when there was an unusual amount of snow on the mountain top (it had even snowed in Oporto that month!).

O Monte da Penha, towering over the city of Guimaraes. You can already see the snow on top!

Hotel at the Monte da Penha

The hotel that sits at the top of the Penha mountain is on the right. It has stunning views of the city below!

The church that sits atop the Monte da Penha.

It was far colder than what I was used to!

A small chapel on top of the Monte da Penha, tucked away behind the large boulders that define the mountaintop landscape.

A view of Guimaraes from behind the church at the top of the Monte da Penha.

Some of the large boulders that cover the Monte da Penha.

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Vila Nova de Gaia, home of the Port wine cellars

The famous Port wine is in fact not bottled in Oporto but in the town that sits just opposite of the big city, on the other bank of the Douro river, Vila Nova de Gaia. However, Vila Nova de Gaia still falls within the Porto municipality (there are 20 total municipalities in Portugal; 18 in the mainland, one that covers the whole of the Azores archipelago and another that encompasses the Madeira archipelago).
These are a few pictures from an afternoon visit in March of 2010.
A view of old Oporto, the Douro River and the Dom Luis bridge from Vila Nova de Gaia.

A view of old Oporto, the Douro River and the Dom Luis bridge from Vila Nova de Gaia.

Port wine bottling companies

Signs for the Port wine bottling companies in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Sandeman Port wine

Sandeman, one of the most famous bottlers of Port wine. In the summer, the patio is filled with outdoor seating, umbrellas and, of course, happy tourists and Portuguese enjoying the view and the wine!

Back alleys

In the back alleys of the Port wine cellars.

Sandeman facilities

One of Sandeman's facilities.

Church Vila Nova de Gaia

A chuch behind the Port wine cellars, with a typical tile mural.

Convent Vila Nova de Gaia

An old convent in Vila Nova de Gaia.

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