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Spending diaries: a weekend in Porto

Porto spending diary banner with images of food, drink and activities

In our Spending Diaries series, we break down how our writers spend, save and splurge on weekend city breaks.

What to eat, drink, see and do in 48 hours in Porto © Austin Bush/Lonely Planet

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.

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Aerial view of Porto
You can dine well in Porto at reasonable prices © Austin Bush/Lonely Planet

Train tickets: €50.50 for round-trip tickets from Lisbon

Accommodation: €110.46 for two nights at the classic, centrally located Hotel Aliados

Total: €160.96

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. 

Wine, coffee, lunch and dessert in Porto
(L-R) A glass of wine at Genuíno; a salt cod dish with wine at Casa Expresso; eclair and coffee at Leitaria da Quinta do Paço; lunch (soup and sandwich) at Casa dos Presuntos “Xico” © Austin Bush/Lonely Planet

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

Centro Portugues de Fotografia.jpg
Centro Português de Fotografia is a photography museum with free entry © Austin Bush / LonelyPlanet

7:30pm: My mini spurge of the day is a glass of natural…

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