Gentle haggling is common in markets; in all other instances you’re expected to pay the stated price.
Dangers & Annoyances
Porto is generally a very safe city with a low crime rate.
- Keep an eye on your valuables on the city’s trams and metro, where pickpockets and bag-snatchers occasionally operate, especially in rush-hour crowds, as well as at other tourist hubs such as Rua das Flores and Cais da Ribeira.
- Be wary of your surroundings at night in the dark alleys of Ribeira district as well as in the area between the cathedral and São Bento train station.
If you intend to do a lot of sightseeing, the Porto Card (1-/2-/3-/4-day card €13/20/25/33) may save you money. It allows holders free or discounted admission to city museums, free travel on public transport, and discounts on cruises, tours and cultural events, as well as discounts at some restaurants and shops. The card is sold at turismos (tourist offices) throughout Porto and some other authorised places. There's also a walker's version, without public transport, which costs €6 for one day.
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Police, Fire & Ambulance||112|
- 'Free' appetizers Whatever you eat, you must pay for, whether or not you ordered it. It's common practice for restaurants to bring bread, butter, cheese and other goodies to the table, but these are never free and will be added to your bill at the end. If you don't want them, a polite 'no, thank you' will see them returned to the kitchen.
- Greetings When greeting females or mixed company, an air kiss on both cheeks is common courtesy. Men give each other a handshake.
- Visiting churches It is considered disrespectful to visit churches as a tourist during Mass. Taking photos at such a time is definitely inappropriate.
- Language Give it a go – even trying a little Portuguese will win you points with the locals.
Gay & Lesbian Travellers
Porto’s gays and lesbians keep it discreet in the streets, but let their hair down in Porto’s numerous gay-friendly night spots. Most venues are clustered around Jardim da Cordoaria. Gay Pride festivities take place in the first or second weekend in July. Consult www.portugalgay.pt for listings, events and other information.
Gay & Lesbian Venues
Note that while there are no exclusive women’s bars or clubs, all the places listed here are at least somewhat mixed.
Zoom Located in an old warehouse, this is the gay dance hall of the moment, with some of the best electronic dance music in town and an often mixed crowd.
Pride Bar Another favourite, with live music, drag shows and go-go boys. Open very late.
Café Lusitano In a handsomely designed throwback to 1950s Paris, this intimate space hosts a mixed gay-straight crowd. Live music on Wednesday nights.
- Don’t leave home without a travel-insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems. You should get insurance for the worst-case scenario; for example, an accident or illness requiring hospitalisation and a flight home.
- Check the small print as some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’ such as scuba diving, motorcycling or even trekking. If these activities are in your sights, either find another policy or ask about an amendment (usually available for an extra premium) that includes them.
- Make sure you keep all documentation for any claims later on. Some policies ask you to call back (reverse charges) to a centre in your home country, where an immediate assessment of your problem is made.
- Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Checking insurance quotes…
The vast majority of cafes, bars and restaurants in Porto offer customers free wi-fi, and there's also a free public network (no password required) in the centre of town – it tends to work best in Ribeira and Aliados. Public library Biblioteca Municipal Almeida Garrett also offers free internet access.
- Newspapers Popular Porto-based dailies include Jornal de Notícias (www.jn.pt). The Portugal News (www.theportugalnews.com) is an English-language daily.
Multibanco ATMs are widespread (look for the MB logo). Not all small, family-run shops, restaurants and guesthouses accept credit cards – if in doubt, ask.
Portugal uses the euro, along with most other European nations. There is a currency exchange, open from 7am to 8pm, as well as several 24-hour ATMs, in the airport arrivals hall.
Unicâmbio Currency exchange, Western Union services and phone booths for international calls.
- Bars Not expected unless table service is provided, then loose change will suffice.
- Hotels One euro per bag is standard; gratuity for cleaning staff is at your discretion.
- Restaurants For decent service 10%, though many Portuguese round up to the nearest Euro or two if paying by cash.
- Snack bars It's courteous to leave a bit of spare change.
- Taxis Not expected, but it's polite to round up to the nearest euro.
Opening hours vary throughout the year. We provide high-season opening hours; hours will generally decrease in the shoulder and low seasons.
Banks 8.30am–3pm Monday to Friday
Nightclubs 11pm–6am Thursday to Saturday
Post Offices 9am–6pm Monday to Friday
Restaurants noon–3pm & 7pm–10pm
Shops 10am–7pm Monday to Saturday
Many shops close on Sundays and some shut early on Saturdays; small boutiques may also close for lunch (1pm to 3pm). Monday is the day of rest for most museums – check the opening hours we give in specific reviews.
Banks, offices, department stores and some shops close on the public holidays listed. On New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Labour Day and Christmas Day, even turismos close.
New Year’s Day 1 January
Carnaval Tuesday February/March – the day before Ash Wednesday
Good Friday March/April
Liberty Day 25 April
Labour Day 1 May
Corpus Christi May/June – ninth Thursday after Easter
Portugal Day 10 June – also known as Camões and Communities Day
Feast of the Assumption 15 August
Republic Day 5 October
All Saints’ Day 1 November
Independence Day 1 December
Feast of the Immaculate Conception 8 December
Christmas Day 25 December
- Smoking Smoking is still permitted in some restaurants and bars. Restaurants that allow smoking are supposed to have separate smoking sections, but often inadequate ventilation means nonsmokers will be breathing in the fumes. Meanwhile, many hotels still offer smoking rooms.
Taxes & Refunds
Prices in Portugal almost always include 23% VAT (value-added tax; some services and basic food stuffs carry reduced rates of 13% and 6%, respectively). Non-EU passport holders can claim back the VAT on goods from participating retailers – be sure to ask for the tax-back forms and get them stamped by customs. Refunds are processed at the airport or via post.
Portugal's country code is 351 and its international access code is 00. Porto's area code is 22.
Portugal uses the GSM 900/1800 frequency. European and Australian mobile phones work. US visitors should check with their service provider. Roaming charges were scrapped across the EU in 2017, but check in advance for other countries and consider investing in a local SIM.
- Public toilets in Porto are few and far between, but you'll often find public toilets at train and major metro stations, as well as in department stores and malls.
- Your best bet is to pop into the nearest cafe or bar. If you just want to use the loo, order a cimbalinho (espresso) – one of the cheapest things on the menu.
City Centre Turismo The main city turismo has a detailed city map, a transport map and the Agenda do Porto cultural calendar, among other printed materials.
iPoint Campanhã Seasonal information point run by the turismo at the Campanhã train station
iPoint Ribeira Useful turismo-run information point on Praça da Ribeira, open seasonally.
Turismo (Gaia) Gaia’s turismo dispenses a good town map and a brochure listing all the lodges open for tours.
Turismo (Sé) Handy tourist office right next to the cathedral. Offers a ticket and hotel booking service.
Travel with Children
Exploring Porto with kids in tow can be child's play with a little know-how. What could be more family-friendly, after all, than screeching through the streets on a vintage tram, devising your own Harry Potter trail in the city that once inspired JK Rowling, hitting the beaches in Foz, or finding adventure in the footsteps of great Portuguese navigators?
Museu das Marionetas
Puppets on strings are in the spotlight at Ribeira's Museu das Marionetas.
Check out the activity-driven family weekend workshops at Serralves' Museu de Arte Contemporânea. The expansive gardens are also kid-friendly.
Rua das Flores
Give them a scrapbook and pencils for a self-guided street-art tour.
Foz do Douro
Hop aboard tram 1 to Foz for ice cream, lighthouse snapshots, a paddle in the Atlantic, and marine life encounters at the whopping Sealife Porto.
World of Discoveries
Slip into the shoes of a swashbuckling explorer at the World of Discoveries.
Parque da Cidade
Kids love letting off steam in Porto's biggest park, and it's also perfect picnic territory.
See where JK Rowling got Hogwarts inspiration at Livraria Lello, with its enchanting double staircase.
Need to Know
- Accommodation Hotels are often geared up for families and many will squeeze in a cot for no extra charge.
- Babysitting Hotels and guesthouses should be able to advise on sitters.
- Eating out Nearly all restaurants welcome children, appealing to little appetites with kids' menus or a meia dose (half portion).
- Discounts Museums offer free or discounted entry for under-14s or under-18s, and public transport is free for tots under four.
Travellers with Disabilities
The term deficientes (Portuguese for 'disabled') gives some indication of the limited awareness of disabled needs. Although public offices and agencies are required to provide access and facilities for people with disabilities, private businesses are not.
Porto airport has wheelchair-accessible toilets. Parking spaces are allotted in many places, but are frequently occupied. The EU parking card entitles visitors to the same street-parking concessions given to disabled residents.
Newer and larger hotels tend to have some adapted rooms, though the facilities may not be up to scratch, and some hostels have facilities for people with disabilities.
For more information, download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
Secretaria do Nacional de Reabilitação The national governmental organisation representing people with disabilities supplies information, provides links to useful operations and publishes guides (in Portuguese) that advise on barrier-free accommodation, transport, shops, restaurants and sights.
Online resources such as Global Volunteers (www.globalvolunteers.org/portugal), Go Abroad (www.goabroad.com) and Transitions Abroad (www.transitionsabroad.com) list opportunities for volunteers in Porto – including teaching English and helping out on social projects.