Is Porto expensive to visit? If you’re asking that then we can only guess that you’re thinking of a trip to Portugal’s vibrant and happening second city. First thing’s first: Great choice. This culture-brimming town boasts a UNESCO core, eye-wateringly wonderful architecture on the sides of the Douro River, some of the finest wines in Europe, and beaches galore on its doorstep. You’re going to love it!
But the joys of Porto do come with a price tag. You’ll need to set aside cash to bed down in one of the chic boutique B&Bs that now tuck into the Ribeira old town. You’ll need dollars to get you onto those must-do port tastings and surf lessons. There’s a cost associated with those homey bacalhau salt-cod pies and rich Douro reds.
This guide will run through everything that we think you can expect to spend in this alluring northern city at the western end of Europe. It will run through the average rate for hotels in the peak season of the summer, what the main activities are likely to set you back, what you’ll spend on travel, food, drink, and a whole load more. Let’s begin…
The average price of a holiday to Porto
We’d guess the cost of an average vacation to the city of Porto to be around $1,420 per person for a week if you’re traveling short haul, and closer to $1,970 if you’re traveling long haul from the USA or Canada. That’s based on stays in three- or four-star hotels near the main sightseeing parts of the town, on eating out every day, and with a couple of activities – Port tasting, wine tours, guided hop-on, hop-off tours – thrown in for good measure.
Let’s take a closer look at all the individual aspects of our average budget estimation…
The cost of travel to Porto
Porto is now a big low-cost destination in Europe. carriers like Ryanair and easyJet have helped to push down the price of jetting over to the city, offering low- and shoulder-season connections that are sometimes as cheap as $20 per person not including bags. They will go up a lot in the summer months, but we’re still talking something around the region of $150 return without bags from major EU and regional cities like London, Bergamo, and Berlin.
It’s also worth knowing that Porto is one of the only two towns in Portugal with transatlantic connections (the other being Lisbon). The likes of AirTransat can take you over to Toronto–Pearson, while TAP Air Portugal have links to Newark and Rio de Janeiro. There are also other medium-to-long-haul links to islands in the Azores and hubs in the Middle East for connections on to Asia. Naturally, these sorts of arrival flights will cost more. For example, we’d estimate a budget of between $600-800 for returns from the USA to Porto.
It will be cheap to get here if you’re already in Spain or Portugal itself. A train up from the capital in Lisbon usually costs just $5 per person, each way. And it’s easy – there are 17 trains per day. Alternatively, there are buses that will cost even less.
The cost of accommodation in Porto
The availability and quality of hotels in Porto has come along leaps and bounds in the last 10 years. We last visited in 2018 and much of the old town area was awash with renovation projects that were converting half-crumbled ruins into sleek new aparthotels. That’s all lead to an abundance of pretty excellent stays and – most notably if you’re watching the cents and dimes – a drop in prices across the board.
The upshot? Very good accommodation close to the main sights shouldn’t cost you quite the same in Porto as it does in other major European cities. Yes, you can fork out $300+ for a proper honeymoon hotel with all the bells and whistles, but there are plenty of bargains to be had that are still super comfy. There are also a number of backpacker hostels that can offer beds in dorms for under $30 a night.
Here’s a look at options from all levels of the spectrum:
- Torel Avantgarde ($$$) – A five-star hotel with a pool that gazes down the Douro River valley, massage services on tap, and incredible interiors that boast living ceilings and whatnot. Stay here if you want something remarkable and don’t care too much about the cost. It’s about $350/night in the off season!
- YOTEL Porto ($$-$$$) – Situated in the modern heart of Porto to the north of the main sights, the YOTEL ticks all the boxes. The suites are clean; the breakfast is filling. Rates are about $200 a night.
- Look At Me – Serviced Lofts & Studios ($-$$) – $120 a night will get you a whole pad to yourself near the shopping streets and markets of lively Bolhao district.
- Being Porto Hostel ($) – Super cool, super stylish, the Being Porto Hostel makes it feel like you’re hardly staying in a hostel at all. You’ll pay around $40-70 a night for a stay here.
In total, we think a budget of around about $100 a night is a good start for Porto. You might need to loosen that up a little for the peak summer season and spend more, but it’s good to go for shoulder months like May and September.
The cost of food and drink in Porto
What you spend on food and drink in Porto will depend a lot on what your individual tastes are. There are cheap eats in local taverns and markets. But there are also some seriously fancy dining spots that do haute cuisine for way more moolah.
As a general guide to midrange eating in the city, we think a three-course meal with wine should set you back around $30-40 in total. That’s the cost for eating close to the center, though. Prices should decrease if you head to outer suburbs, the country, or the nearby beach towns.
At the high end of the scale, you can have meals that cost $100+ a head. They usually come courtesy of bistros like the Muu Steakhouse and Vila Foz. On the flip side, there’s filling local food and uber-cheap beers to get stuck into in the affordable venues like Espaço 77 (think French fries, cheeseburgers, and pasties). International foods can be a lot (we remember paying over $25 a head for an Indian curry take out) or a little (pizzas in Porto are surprisingly cheap, costing something like $6 each).
All that adds up to what we’d estimate is a spend of about $60 per person, per day on food. That’s $420 for a whole seven-day vacation.
The cost of activities in Porto
One of the great things about a break to Porto is that the town is the main attraction, and the town comes 100% gratis. Yep, simply walk around and get lost in the winding, weaving lanes of the Ribeira old core and you’ll happen upon UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Baroque churches, stunning lookout points over the river, ancient port cellars – the list goes on.
Of course, the time might come when you’d like to do something a little more planned. Here’s a look at some example activities in the city and what they’ll set you back:
- A 1.5-hour surf lesson on Matosinhos Beach – Matosinhos Beach is the local surf beach of Porto and a great place to learn the craft. Doing this will cost around about $20-30 per person for a group session, more for a private lesson.
- A wine-tasting and sightseeing tour of the Douro Valley – The Douro Valley is the piece de resistance of northern Portugal. Take a day tour here to taste some of the finest red wines in Europe (at least in our humble opinion) and see rolling hills covered in vineyards extending eastwards to the Spanish border. Expect to fork out about $90 to do it with a river cruise included.
- Hop-on, hop-off bus tour of Porto city – Porto is much more than the Ribeira, you know. There are cool beach districts and areas that sprout tile-fronted churches aplenty. You can explore the lot with ease on a hop-on, hop-off tour. They cost about $30 per person.
Overall a standalone budget for things to do in the region of $150 per person should do it for Porto.
Is Porto expensive to visit? Our conclusion
Is Porto expensive to visit? Not really, at least not when compared to other major western European metropolises like Paris and Madrid. Overall, we’d say that the second city of Portugal is a low- or middle-budget place to see, even in the peak travel months between June and September. There’s now plenty to be saved by using low-cost carriers like Ryanair to take you there, not to mention oodles of budget opportunities if you’re willing to travel outside of the summer, in months like April, May, September, and October. We’d estimate a total spend of just over $1,400 per person for a whole week.