In our Spending Diaries series, we break down how our writers spend, save and splurge on weekend city breaks.
I’m a writer and photographer based in Lisbon, Portugal. I love my new home, but in search a brief escape I decided to head north to Porto for the weekend.
I was keen to save a bit of money – but didn’t want a full-on budget trip. So I took the train (more expensive than a bus), stayed in a hotel (rather than a hostel) and treated myself to a couple of small indulgences.
Even with these outlays, Porto is a great value, especially where it concerns food and drink, and I found that the city also offers some great budget and free activity options. Which means it’s super easy to have a great time on a midrange(ish) budget.
Train tickets: €50.50 for round-trip tickets from Lisbon
Accommodation: €110.46 for two nights at the classic, centrally located Hotel Aliados
On the ground
9:30am: I walk (free) to Lisbon’s Santa Apalónia Station for my morning train to Porto. I take a coffee on the train (€0.90) and watch the view from the dining car.
1pm: Arriving in at Porto’s Campanhã Station, I make the short walk to the rustic Casa dos Presuntos “Xico,” where I have a cheap and tasty lunch of a cured-ham sandwich, soup and and a glass (or bowl, in this case) of vinho verde tinto, a slightly fizzy red wine (€4.30). I take the metro (€1.30) to my hotel to drop off my bags, then it’s a coffee and a mini éclair at the century-old Leitaria da Quinta do Paço (€1.90).
From there, I schlep up the steps at Torre dos Clérigos, Porto’s iconic bell tower. At €8, the entrance fee here is a bit steep – but it’s worth it for the views over the city. I compensate by heading virtually next door to the excellent and free Centro Português de Fotografia.
7:30pm: My mini spurge of the day is a glass of natural…
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