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Are you thinking about taking a solo trip to Porto? Well, you’ve come to the right place! My Porto solo travel guide contains everything you need to know about planning the perfect trip.
If you’re looking for a city that combines stunning views, mouth-watering cuisine, and a pinch of adventure then the charming streets of Porto are the perfect place for you.
I travelled Portugal solo for 6 weeks and even spent some time volunteering at a surf hostel. It’s a big call but I’d say it’s one of, if not my favourite country in Europe! Not only is Portugal a fantastic country to travel to but it is also a fantastic place to visit if you’re a solo female traveller.
Porto Solo Travel Guide
Nestled along the Douro River, Porto beckons solo travellers with its captivating blend of history, culture, and stunning landscapes. This compact yet vibrant city is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered.
Porto, known for its vibrant culture, historical charm, and Doutra River views, offers a welcoming atmosphere to solo female travellers.
Of course, planning a solo trip can be daunting so I’ve written this Porto solo travel guide to help make things a bit easier!
Is Porto safe for solo female travellers?
When it comes to solo travel, safety is incredibly important. So no doubt the question at the top of your mind is “Is Porto safe for solo female travellers?”. The answer is yes, Porto is very safe!
In fact, Portugal in general is regarded as one of the safest countries in Europe. Throughout my travels never once did I feel unsafe or unwelcome. The country’s low crime rates and friendly locals make it a popular destination for all solo travellers.
The city’s well-lit streets, bustling with both locals and tourists, contribute to a sense of security. While no place is entirely free of risks, basic precautions like avoiding poorly lit areas at night and keeping an eye on your belongings can help ensure a smooth journey.
The locals of Porto are also quick to help if you find yourself in need of assistance or directions and English is widely spoken throughout the country which makes things a bit easier as well.
Tips for Porto solo travel
Solo travel to Porto promises a captivating adventure filled with historic charm and riverside allure. Whether you’re a seasoned solo traveller or venturing into it for the first time, these tips will help you make the most of your experience while exploring this gem of a city.
- Stay connected: Maintain a solid connection while navigating solo by having a functional phone and internet access. Consider procuring a local SIM card or a portable Wi-Fi device. Alternatively, look into e-SIM cards before you even arrive, saving you the hassle of sorting out SIM cards at the airport.
- Get familiar with hostels: Opt for hostels as your accommodation choice. Not only are they budget-friendly, but they also present the opportunity to meet fellow travellers, potentially leading to shared day adventures. Everyone is always open to doing activities together which is great and sometimes the hostels even put on day trips or walking tours.
Whenever I stayed in hostels when I was travelling solo I never felt lonely as I always had people in a similar boat around me which made it pretty easy to make friends. Make sure you handpick a hostel that matches your desired ambience and you’re in for an enjoyable stay.
- Embrace Confidence: Even if it involves a bit of ‘faking it till you make it,’ summon your confidence. Embrace the discomfort that accompanies pushing your boundaries, as it’s through this journey that you’ll grow and evolve. The growth you’ll experience is one of the best things about solo travel IMO!
- Engage with Locals: Tap into your newfound confidence by seeking recommendations from locals. Portuguese people are generally friendly and welcoming, ready to assist tourists. Initiating conversations can lead you to hidden gems and enriching experiences.
Best things to do alone in Porto
In Porto, every corner holds a story, inviting solo travellers to become a part of its narrative. There is certainly no shortage of things to do in this captivating city.
1. Immerse in the local flavour
Begin your journey by relishing Porto’s renowned cuisine. Savour a traditional Francesinha sandwich or delight in sweet Pastél de Natas (an absolute must-try!!) at local bakeries for a true taste of the city.
You can also indulge in Porto’s café culture by sipping a steaming cup of espresso while people-watching in a charming café. Let the moment linger as you absorb the vibe of the city.
2. Enjoy the scenery
Embark on a tranquil boat cruise along the Douro River, where Porto’s iconic bridges and riverside facades come into view. Choose from guided tours or if you’re feeling more adventurous you could even venture out on a rented paddleboard.
Bask in the serenity as you float beneath the historical landmarks.
Then make sure you stroll along the winding streets of the Ribeira District, a sensory feast of colours, sounds, and flavours. Find solace in the midst of bustling crowds as you take in the riverside panorama.
3. Marvel at Porto’s history
In the heart of Porto, history comes alive, weaving tales of centuries gone by. Wander through the Ribeira District, where cobblestone streets echo with the footsteps of generations. Pause to admire the ornate façade of the São Bento Train Station, adorned with exquisite azulejos that narrate Portugal’s intricate history.
Venture into the narrow alleys, where ancient architecture stands as a testament to the city’s evolution. The imposing Dom Luís I Bridge, an engineering marvel, connects the present to the past, inviting contemplation on the passage of time.
A visit to the revered Livraria Lello is a pilgrimage for history enthusiasts. It’s Gothic charm and timeless atmosphere harken back to eras when books were treasures guarded in grand libraries.
In Porto, every corner unveils a chapter of history waiting to be explored.
4. Savour a glass of Port
Embrace the pleasure of sipping a glass of local Port wine while watching the sunset paint the city in golden hues from the terraces of the Vila Nova de Gaia wine cellars.
Port wine, a fortified wine infused with brandy, ages to perfection in oak barrels within the city’s cellars, dotting the scenic Vila Nova de Gaia. From the lusciously sweet Ruby to the velvety smooth Tawny, Porto offers a delightful array of port wine options to please every palate.
There are plenty of popular cellars to visit such as Graham’s Port Lodge, Porto Augusto’s and Taylor’s Port.
Best hostels in Porto for solo travellers
Like I mentioned above, when travelling solo in Porto I highly recommend staying in hostels! I find it a lot more comforting than checking into an Airbnb or a guesthouse by myself.
If you are one of those people that really do just need your own space, then consider booking a private room in a hostel for the best of both worlds. That way you get the friendly hostel atmosphere but you can retreat and relax in your own private space when you feel like it.
Here are some of the best hostels in Porto for solo travellers:
- Onefam Ribeira by Hostel One
An award-winning party hostel with extremely good reviews that give this hostel one of the best ratings in Porto! The atmosphere is very social so it’s perfect for meeting fellow travellers plus you get free nightly dinner which is pretty awesome. The hostel also hosts different activities throughout the day so there’s lots of opportunity to get involved.
- The House of Sandeman – Hostel & Suites
Situated on top of the Sandeman wine cellars, this hostel is located in one of Porto’s most iconic buildings. All dorms have their own private bathrooms which is a nice touch and breakfast is included! The rating for this hostel is exceptionally high due to the outstanding reviews.
- Porto Spot Hostel
Another very highly rated hostel in Porto with a homely atmosphere. This hostel is small enough that it gives you the chance to get to know everybody. There is a bar and patio where you can relax after a big day of exploring. There is also a fully equipped kitchen providing space to cook your own meals.
- Porto Wine Hostel
Different rooms are named and decorated according to the different Port wine types which is kinda fun! Plus the reviews for this hostel are fantastic. On arrival, you’ll be welcomed with a glass of Port wine, a good opportunity to try what Porto is famous for! Porto Wine Hostel also has great kitchen facilities and is in a good central location.
How to get around Porto
Getting around Porto is a delightful adventure in itself, where modern infrastructure harmoniously blends with historical splendour. Porto is actually a very walkable city due to its size and being so compact. All you need is a comfortable pair of walking shoes and you’ll be clocking up your 10,000 steps in no time.
Personally, I always prefer to get around a city by walking when I can, it gives you a chance to really immerse yourself and experience things you otherwise wouldn’t if you were in a vehicle. Since Porto has many charming streets and alleyways to explore, on foot would definitely be my choice.
Of course, walking isn’t the only way to get around Porto, the city had a great public transport network which is pretty easy to use as a tourist.
The Porto Metro is a swift and efficient option, connecting major neighbourhoods and landmarks. Its sleek trains effortlessly transport you through the city’s bustling heart and tranquil outskirts.
If you want to travel a little further, say to Averio (which I would highly recommend as a day trip) Porto’s extensive bus network provides access to less touristy areas. There are also taxis dotted around the city but it’s certainly a more expensive way to get around, especially when you’re travelling Porto solo.
To experience the city from the water, embark on a Rabelo boat ride along the Douro River. These traditional vessels provide a unique perspective of Porto’s historic waterfront.
Porto Solo Travel FAQ
What is Porto known for?
One of Porto’s most renowned treasures is, of course, Port wine! The city has gained international acclaim for its illustrious wine legacy, particularly the iconic Port wine produced in the nearby Vila Nova de Gaia wine cellars. With a heritage steeped in winemaking, Porto proudly boasts its famous Port Wine Cellars, where barrels of liquid gold age to perfection.
Then you’ve got the city’s azulejos-adorned historic architecture, notably at the São Bento Train Station, which evokes tales of bygone eras.
Porto’s UNESCO-listed historical core, characterized by cobblestone streets and the captivating Ribeira District along the riverbank, narrates centuries of history and is what helps put Porto on the map. Then who could forget the soaring Dom Luís I Bridge that unites Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia, offering breathtaking views?
What is the best time to visit Porto?
Portugal’s warm climate ensures that it’s a year-round destination. Even during winter, the weather remains mild, providing a welcoming escape from harsher conditions. With charming Christmas markets and a joyful holiday spirit enveloping the city, it’s hard not to love the festive atmosphere.
My visit in July, during the vibrant summer, was an unforgettable experience. The city buzzes with life as festivals, open-air events, and endless al fresco dining opportunities unfold. Basking in the sun’s warmth on Porto’s beaches and enjoying a cold beer by the river became some cherished memories of mine.
Praia de Matosinhos, the largest and most popular beach just a short 8km from the city, offers a perfect blend of relaxation and activity. However, even in the summer, the water can be a bit brisk – a refreshing way to beat the heat!
Spring and autumn each offer their own enchantments. Spring paints Porto in vivid hues as the city comes alive with blossoms. Mild temperatures make for leisurely walks along the Douro River, offering serene moments amid the picturesque setting.
Come autumn, Porto undergoes a breathtaking transformation, adorned with a mesmerising palette of colours. The surrounding wine regions also burst with activity as grapes are harvested, making it an irresistible time for wine enthusiasts.
In the end, choosing the best time to experience Porto truly depends on your personal preferences. Each season brings its own magic to this beautiful city, ensuring a remarkable journey no matter when you decide to explore it.
Is Porto walkable?
Yes, if you stick to the main sights within the city centre, Porto is very walkable. Like other cities in Portugal however, be prepared for some serious hills!
The city’s cobblestone lanes and historic districts make wandering on foot a rewarding experience. Meandering along the Douro River through the enchanting Ribeira District and the soaring Dom Luís I Bridge will keep you busy all day. However, as the terrain transitions to inclines and hills, the title of a fully walkable city faces its challenge.
Exploring the city’s outer reaches, like the coastal Praia de Matosinhos, might require other modes of travel. Fortunately, Porto offers a comprehensive public transport system encompassing metro, buses, and even the iconic Tram 1, ensuring convenient connections between districts.
Thus, while Porto encourages leisurely strolls in its historic heart, a mix of walking and utilizing the city’s well-organized transport network guarantees an immersive and comprehensive exploration.
Conclusion: Porto Solo Travel
So, if you’re looking for the perfect destination that combines charm, culture, and safety all in one package, look no further than Porto! This vibrant city is absolutely worth visiting and has everything a solo female traveller could ask for – from stunning architecture to delicious cuisine and friendly locals.
Whether you’re wandering through the picturesque streets of Ribeira or sipping on a glass of port wine overlooking the Douro River, Porto will captivate your heart and leave you yearning for more. I loved my time travelling Portugal solo and I’m sure you will too!
So pack your bags, put on those comfortable walking shoes, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in this hidden gem of Portugal.