Due to its location and to being a daily destination for low cost companies, Porto is increasingly becoming a destination for those travelling with a reduced budget. It is possible to enjoy the best of this city even without spending a lot of money.
The city currently has connections to more than 15 European cities operated by low cost airlines, there is no lack of affordable accommodation, it's possible to enjoy its cuisine without spending a lot and to visit is main cultural institutions for free. For the U.S. travelers, Porto is in the Top 5 Travel Trends, not only for for the Baroque and Beaux-Arts architecture, but also for the wine and parties in summertime.
Besides being able to stroll around the historic centre of the city and the Ribeira area with its typical venues which will make you fall for the unvanquished city from the first moment on, there are also parks and free museums to visit:
Strolls in parks and gardens
Created in 1951, Porto's Botanical Garden belongs to the University of Porto and its link to the community. The Botanical Garden currently comprises the historical garden, a greenhouse area with tropical, subtropical, orchids and succulent plants, a lake area with aquatic plants and much more. Around 4 acres in size, this botanical garden is perfect for a stroll.
The City Park is the biggest urban park in the country, with an area of 83 acres that stretches up to the Atlantic Ocean and has almost 10 km of bike lanes and walking paths. The project was designed by the landscape architect Sidónio Pardal, opened to the public in 1993 (1st phase) and finished in 2002. In 2000, it was selected by the Portuguese Society of Engineers as one of the 100 most notable works built in the twentieth century in Portugal'.
The Serralves Park, from the first half of the twentieth century, was the first national private garden built based on a landscape architecture project. Both for its historic and artistic features and for its size (18 acres) as well as for its landscape diversity and state of conservation, the Serralves Park is considered one of a kind, both nationally and internationally. It consists of the remains of a nineteenth century garden, the Quinta do Mata-Sete, the Serralves House and the Serralves Contemporary Art Museum, whose gardens were designed to blend harmoniously with the surrounding landscape and the building structure. The entry is free on Sundays from 10h to 13h (otherwise, the cost is 3€).
Over 4 acres in size, this park was purchased from the Calém family by the city of Porto in 1979, opened to the public that same year and restored at the beginning of 1990. The gardens present very popular elements of the past century, such as minarets, fountains, etc. A set of sculptural pieces was installed by the city of Porto and a chapel was reconstructed, which used to be in the Largo Actor Dias, as well as the Buxus sempervirens. It retains the features of a romantic garden.
The Pasteleira is a key element of the green structure of the city and also a social recreational centre for sport and leisure. With a total area of 7 acres, it is divided into two parts connected by three piers. The pine and cork trees constitute the last large portion of natural vegetation within the city limits. This natural heritage is conserved in the landscape of the park, a project by the architect Marisa Lavrador. In 2009, a bike route of almost 2km in length was created, connecting Pasteleira Park to the City Park.
The romantic gardens of the Crystal Palace occupy 8 acres in the centre of Porto. Here it is possible to admire the great panoramic views over the river and the city offered by strategically placed view points. These gardens host the Environmental Education Centre, taking advantage of their botanical heritage and their recreational and cultural dynamic.
Other gardens and centres where you can benefit from Porto Card discounts.
In his will the engineer António de Almeida established a foundation bearing his name with artistic, educational and charitable purposes. The museum brings together several pieces collected by its founder: furniture, jewellery, textile, porcelain, paintings, watches and coins.
During the excavations for the construction of a building at a depth of more than 3 meters, twenty archaeological layers were found, constituting architectural ruins and objects from the 5th to 3rd centuries BC to our day. This was where the remains of the protohistoric fort that was in the origins of the urban centre as well as the Roman and the alto-medieval occupations that followed were first identified. It can be visited by appointment at the Guerra Junqueiro Museum House.
The museum is divided in 4 distinct areas related to natural and cultural heritage: Zoology room, Palaeontology room, Mineralogy room and Archaeology and Ethnography room. Currently, only the Mineralogy room is open to the public. Appointment required, only for schools.
Next to the Santo António Hospital, it is the country's first public museum and the entry is free on Sundays and bank holidays until 2pm. In this museum, don't miss out on the collection of sculpture and painting pieces from the nineteenth century and from the first half of the twentieth century. It also presents collections of pottery, sculpture, engraving, jewellery, furniture, paintings, textile and glasses, especially featuring the Exile, masterpiece of the patron of the museum, the sculptor António Soares dos Reis.
Other museums where you can benefit from the Porto Card discounts.
Shopping: from alternative to sophisticated to the traditional shops in Porto
In addition to all these shops that you can visit in Porto, at the Avenida Miguel Bombarda and neighbouring streets, every two months there are simultaneous openings. An event that brings many people to the “arts block” is an opportunity to see paintings, installations, sculptures and other plastic arts for free in the many art galleries of the neighbourhood, apart from finding many small shops with a wide variety of more alternative and sophisticated products.
Also enjoy discounts from the Porto Card in Porto's main traditional shops. Curious? See more here.
Having lunch in Porto...
At lunch time, there are many places to eat with discounts for the Porto Card. Just follow the businessmen and other people from Porto at lunch time or ask for restaurants with a “meal of the day”. At dinner time, and although the service is mostly à la carte, it's not difficult to find places to eat for 15 EUR per person, find out more here. Wine, even in restaurants, is not expensive and without spending much you can sample a good wine from the Douro region with your meal or a Vinho Verde and some Port wine as an aperitif or after your meal.
Even if you have a reduced budget, be sure to visit Porto. Before your next visit don't forget to buy your Porto Card or contact us and we will be happy to help you choose the best places to visit and how to make the most of what Porto Card has to offer.