Getting Around Porto
The best way to get around Porto is by metro, by bus or on foot. Porto boasts an extensive public transportation system operated by the Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos do Porto (which includes the metro, buses and trams) that helps visitors reach the top attractions in and around the city. The metro lines are identified by different colors and letters, plus many of the lines travel above ground and offer splendid views of the city. Porto's extensive bus system can be a bit confusing, and the metro reaches most major attractions, but the bus is a nice alternative to get to some harder-to-reach places, including Foz, the Serralves Museum and Vila Nova de Gaia. Once you're in the city center, you can explore on your own two feet.
Porto's nearest airport is Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO), which is located on the northwestern edge of the city. (It's often simply referred to as Porto Airport.) You can get from the airport into Porto by taking the E (purple) metro line toward Estádio do Dragão; the Lapa, Trindade and Bolhão stops are nearest the city's center. Various shuttle services also ferry travelers between the airport and the city. Or, you can get a cab to or from the airport, but it'll cost you about 20 to 30 euros ($22 to $33); and on the weekends it may cost you nearly 20% more.
Many of Porto's roads are narrow, cobbled and winding, making them best explored on foot. Organize your schedule ahead of time and plan to see the top attractions that are near one another if you plan to use your own two feet as a means of transportation – there are a few clusters where you can see several of the city's top sites without working your legs too hard.
Porto's metro features six lines that run from around 6 a.m. to about 1 a.m. daily and are marked by letters and colors: the A (blue), B (red), C (green), D (yellow), E (purple) and F (orange) lines. More than 80 metro stations are located around the city and they're marked by signs with a wavy blue "M." The majority of the lines reach Porto's best sights, and traveling via metro is an affordable option when you're visiting the city. Buying a Porto Card allows you unlimited transportation on the metro, buses and funiculars for a set period of time, as well as free access to some museums and discounts on other museums and restaurants. Porto Cards cost 13, 20, 25 or 33 euros (about $13.50, $22, $28 or $37) for one, two, three or four days, respectively.
If you don't purchase a Porto Card, you must buy a rechargeable blue Andante card to use the metro. Cards cost .60 euros (about 70 cents) and one-way fares start at 1.20 euros (about $1.35) and vary depending on how many zones you travel through. You must "validate" your card when you enter a station or when transferring lines by pressing your card to the validator machine and waiting for it to light up green. Hold on to your card for the duration of your stay and continue to recharge it as you go; cards can be recharged at any metro station. Andante Tour Cards are also available for 7 or 15 euros (about $8 or $17) for unlimited travel for 24 hours or 72 hours.
More than 75 STCP bus routes are available throughout Porto and its surrounding regions, including Vila Nova de Gaia and Vila do Conde. Buses run regularly from about 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., with limited service operation from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Porto Cards and Andante passes both work on the buses, with one-way trips starting at 1.20 euros for Andante cardholders and varying in fare price by the number of zones you need to cross. You can also purchase a one-time paper ticket aboard the bus for .60 euros plus the fare needed for your journey.
|Tram and Funicular|
STCP also operates three tram routes in Porto: Line 1, Line 18 and Line 22. Porto's trams (or cable cars) are a historic part of the city, dating back to 1872. Line 1 runs along the west coast and the Douro River from Matosinhos to Lóios. Lines 18 and 22 operate circular routes near the Hospital Geral de Santo António in southern Porto and near the São Bento Railway Station and Avenida dos Aliados in central Porto, respectively. Andante cards are accepted on trams (Porto Cards are not); individual tickets on board cost 3.50 euros (about $4).
The single-track funicular runs up and down the hillside from Porto's Ribeira area to the higher elevated Batalha square. Tickets cost 2.50 euros (about $3) each way and hours vary depending on the season.
Since Porto is small, congested roads are less than ideal to drive on, renting a car is not your best option of getting around the city. Forget the car unless you plan to do extensive traveling to other regions of Portugal or Spain. If you need to rent a vehicle, you can do so at the agencies at the airport or around town, which include Europcar, Avis and Sixt, among others. U.S. visitors can drive with a valid U.S. driver's license for up to six months.
Taxis in Porto are relatively inexpensive compared to other European cities, but they're still not cheap. Rates typically start around 2.50 euros (about $3) and increase for every kilometer (a little more than half a mile) traveled. For the most part, taxi drivers are helpful and speak English, though you may want to write down the address of your destination to avoid any confusion. Uber also operates in Porto.
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