If you’re asking is Porto good for solo travel, then we can only guess that you’re thinking of making a trip over to the enthralling northern city of Portugal. The second largest in the country, it’s risen and risen in the last 10 years or so to become one of the most popular city-break destinations on the continent. What’s more, we’d say it’s a doozy of a spot for would-be lone globetrotters, for a whole host of reasons.
This guide will delve deeper into the ins and outs of the town to paint a picture of why we think Porto is such a darn fine choice for those looking to go it alone. We’ll outline the amazing sights and attractions you can see between the UNESCO center and the beaches. We’ll see how to go about getting to Porto on your own and see where’s best to stay.
On top of all that, our guide also deals with some of the basic practicalities of traveling to this town at the top end of Portugal. It’s got information on how safe Porto really is for travelers on their own and what you can expect to spend if you decide to come here without a travel buddy on the side. So, without further ado…is Porto good for solo travel?
Getting to Porto as a solo traveler
Getting to Porto as a solo traveler is just the same as getting to Porto as a big group, except you’re likely to be a touch quicker going through check-in at the airport! Talking of the airport…the main arrival point from the air here is the Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport. That’s now served by oodles of low-cost carriers that go throughout Europe, including Ryanair to multiple UK airports. There are also even seasonal connections to and from US destinations.
Getting from the airport to the city is a breeze these days. There’s a dedicated metro line – you’re after Line E (the purple one). The ride costs just under $2.50 each and it takes 40 minutes. If you arrive late at night, wait for the hourly 3M bus. It’s a night route that takes you to Aliados, one of the main squares in the center. A taxi will be expensive if you’re traveling alone since you won’t be able to share the fare with anyone. Expect to pay around $25 for the full ride.
Top things to do as a solo traveler in Porto
Porto is very well primed for solo travelers. There are oodles and oodles of activities in the town that we think are just about perfect for wanderlusters going it alone. From UNESCO-tagged history sites to buzzy bars in student districts, there’s something for all. What’s more, there are many things to do in Porto that can help you make travel pals as you go along. Check out our five suggestions below:
- The Porto free walking tour – 100% gratis for all participants, the original free walking tour of Porto takes you through the World Heritage center and to all the mainstay history sites, like the Porto Cathedral and the Dom Luís Bridge. The best part is that it’s almost always packed with other travelers to keep you company.
- A surf camp – Porto might not be as famous for its surf as southern Portugal and the Algarve, but there are some fantastic beaches nearby for hitting the waves. Surf camps can last whole weeks or just a day, but usually get you on the water with other, likeminded travelers trying something new.
- Wine tasting in the Douro Valley – What better way to make new friends than with an endless supply of fine red wine on the side. Trips to the Douro usually leave by coach and drive west to a few award-winning vineyards. Some even include a boat trip on the water itself.
- Livraria Lello – If you’re traveling alone because you value that “me time” then hit up Livraria Lello. It’s famous as one of the spots that inspired a certain JK Rowling for a scene in Harry Potter. More than that, it’s one of the most enchanting bookshops in the world!
- Party – Porto is a party city in the summer months. The areas of Vitória and the Cais da Ribeira are packed with hipster bars and drinkeries. Our fav for meeting people has to be Espaço 77, which gets wild past 11pm.
Is Porto safe for solo travelers?
Porto is widely considered to be a very safe city to visit, and that’s true whether you’re on your own or traveling as a big group. On a purely anecdotal level, we stayed in the town for a whole month back in 2018 and regularly went out on our own. There was never an issue. In fact, we found the locals to be welcoming and accommodating. The stats seem to bear that out…
Travel stat collator Numbeo lists the level of crime in the city as overall ‘Low’. More specifically, they say there’s a low risk of being attacked, of falling victim to violent crimes like armed robberies, of having things stolen from your place of residence, of being mugged, and of having your vehicle stolen. It’s widely accepted that the largest threat to travelers is pickpocketing and petty theft, which typically happens in the most built-up areas, on the beaches, and on public transport, but only very rarely.
Solo female travelers should naturally be a little more wary of travel in Porto, and of traveling alone pretty much anywhere around the globe for that matter. For the most part, the main tourist areas of the city are thought to be safe, even after dark. However, it’s a good idea not to stray too far from those, not to walk alone down alleys without crowds, or to be alone after dark for too long generally.
Where to stay as a solo traveler in Porto?
As a general rule, we’d say you’re going to want to be close to the main tourist areas of the town. That puts a couple of neighborhoods to the fore. First off, there’s the Ribeira. This is the UNESCO heart of the city and the most bustling tourist hub. We love it, but it can be a touch overwhelming with crowds in the summer months. Alternatives include the hipster nightlife area of Vitória, the shopping and market district of Bolhão, and the riverside areas of Vila Nova de Gaia across the river. Some solo travelers might also like Praia de Matosinhos and Foz do Douro to be nearer to the beach.
Here’s a look at some hotels in the above districts that we think are great picks for solo travelers, plus a couple of budget hostels that are downright awesome if you want to make new pals on the road…
- Being Porto Hostel ($) – A seriously nifty hostel that comes across more like a boutique hotel, this is comfy but also energetic. You’ll meet people if you want to.
- Selina Porto ($-$$) – Selina started out as a hostel-surf camp mashup, but the brand is now a well-known co-work-hostel blend across Europe. Their Porto hub is particularly nice, with sleek lounges and both dorm and double rooms.
- Village Aparthotel By BOA ($$) – Scandi-cool apartment spaces for solo travelers who really value having their own space. Some of the best in the city in our humble opinion.
- The Editory Artist Baixa Porto Hotel ($$$) – Treat yourself with a stay at this deluxe boutique hotel. It’s historic and grand and very well placed for hitting the shopping strips of Bolhão.
How much will you spend as a solo traveler in Porto?
Sadly, traveling solo can be a touch pricier than doing it as a couple. You’ll usually pay a slight premium to book single-occupancy rooms in hotels, won’t be able to share the price of transfers and taxis around town, and can’t get those neat travel cards for two.
The good news is that Porto remains one of the most bargain towns in Europe. Beers still cost $1.50 in these parts, food in local Portuguese taverns hovers around $15 a head, a whole bottle of Douro red wine is just $10 – we could go on. What’s more, many of the most famous sights in the UNESCO center come 100% free. Yep, you literally just stroll in.
Overall, we’d estimate a budget of about €1,500 a week for a solo traveler, though that might go up a little in the peak of the summer months. Of course, you can spend LOADS less than that if you choose to bed down in a hostel, which is something we’d recommend considering anyhow since it makes it a whole load easier to meet new buddies to explore the sights with.
Is Porto good for solo travel – a conclusion
Is Porto good for solo travel? You asked, we answered. And our answer is an unequivocal yes! Because it’s considered relatively safe, is now very easy to reach on both premium and low-cost airlines, is largely walkable, has loads of hostel accommodation, surf camps, and a welcoming local population, Porto is actually up there with the very best of European cities for solo travelers! We really don’t think you’ll regret coming here on your own.