Porto, Portugal

Porto History

Like so many of the world’s great cities, Porto owes its prominence to its location. Situated where the Douro River, and the Atlantic Ocean meet, the seas provided a source of fresh fish, while the soil was rich, and perfect for farming. Settlers had been there since pre-Roman times but the original town was founded in 417. Over the years it was under the control of various factions including the Goths and Moors, who added their own architecture and culture.

Porto came into prominence in the 15th century, thanks to an increase in maritime trading and the importance of seaports. It was during this time that one of Portugal’s most famous son’s made his mark on the world stage. Henry the Navigator foresaw the need for a major navy, and convinced the Portuguese Crown to invest heavily in shipbuilding. Soon Porto’s shipyards were a hive of activity. The race was on to be the first country to find a route to India. Portugal one of the first countries sending ships round Africa, searching for the best passage.

It was during this time that British merchants arrived in Porto, and began setting up small businesses. Their presence can be seen today in the famous port-wine brands such as Graham’s, Taylors, and Sandeman. Indeed the British were so successful in the Port industry that at one time the British had a near-monopoly. Fortunately the government took steps to ensure local growers were protected as well.

Porto’s relationship with Britain continued through the centuries, notably when the British, and the locals, defeated Napoleon’s invading army, after a brief period of French occupation. Using the boats which were usually used for transporting wine, they drove back the French forces and liberated the city.

Today, Porto is known for its cobbled streets, colorful buildings, and UNESCO World Heritage sites. Porto has been put on the map to tourists and expats, thanks to numerous awards for tourism, infrastructure, and expat living.

Things To Do

Clérigos Church

One of Porto’s most popular tourist attractions, the campanile offers some of the best views of the city. After ascending the 225 tower steps, you are greeted with a panoramic view of Porto, which can be enjoyed through the day, until 11pm. The tower is home to 49 bells, try to make sure you’re not standing near the edge when they start ringing.

The church was built by Nicolau Nasoni, an Italian, who began construction in 1732. It was built for Brotherhood of Clerics and was one Portugal’s first buildings in the Baroque style.

As well as a trip up the tower, there’s a museum which provides a tour of the spaces where the clerics once lived and worked. The museum also contains various artworks collected by the church throughout the years.

Douro River Cruise

While many choose to take day-long, or even week-long cruises on the Douro River, you can have a great experience on a short one or two-hour river cruise. Unlike the big, slightly bland, cruise ships, the short tours are held aboard traditional rabelo boats.

The best tours start in the Pinhão region, in the Douro Valley. Conveniently this is where most of Porto’s best port vineyards are located and combining the cruise with a wine tasting is a popular option. This part of the river is also home to some of Porto’s most beautiful countryside.

Visit Places That Inspired Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling was living in Porto while she wrote many of the Harry Potter books. Fans will recognize the stairs in Lello bookstore, which has become one of the most famous bookstores in the world.

The Majestic Café, is where Rowling jotted down her first tentative ideas and plotlines for Harry Potter. While (probably) nursing one of their exceptionally coffees she would apparently make notes on the napkins. Situated in one of the busiest streets in Porto, Santa Catarina, you can file this under impressive, but expensive. Be sure to check the prices on the menu before you order anything.

The Gardens of Palácio de Cristal are said to be the inspiration behind the Forests in the Harry Potter books. Whether that is true or not, it is certain that Rowling used to enjoy visiting the gardens, and also wrote some chapters for the book here. The Gardens are a pleasant place to visit, at any time of year.

 

Where To Live

Expats tend to base themselves in one of four areas in Porto.

Campanhã is popular with families, benefiting from a low cost of living, and plenty of parks and green spaces. It doesn’t have as much to do as other areas in terms of nightlife, but down town is easily reachable via public transport. Close to the ring road so you also have easy access by car.

Ramalde is an up-and-coming area which has recently benefited from an influx of property investment. The area is popular with students, meaning plenty of opportunity to rent your property when it’s not in use.

Foz do Douro, known locally as Foz, is probably the most expensive area to buy property in Porto. Situated in the western zone, Foz is built where the Douro River meets the ocean. An area of great natural beauty, it Foz has some of the best architecture in Porto and a number of heritage sites.

Ribeira is a bustling neighborhood, full of small cafés, restaurants, and some of Porto’s most distinctive housing architecture. Ribeira sits on the River Douro and has a long walkway where you can enjoy a drink watching fishing boats. Ribeira retains its authentic feel with lots of traditional food stores.

Cost of Living in Porto, Portugal

Apartment Or House Ownership Budget (For A Couple)

Item Cost Notes
Mortgage Not included here, as too variable.
HOA Fees € 100 Condominium costs typically range between €20 and €150
Property Taxes € 320 Annual property taxes in Portugal vary from 0.30% to 0.45% of the property’s VPT (the tax assessment value) per year, depending on the municipality.

Porto taxes at a rate of 0.32%.

*So if you own a property with a tax-appraised value of, say, €100,000, you’d pay €320 per year.

Transportation
(bus, taxi, etc.)
€ 150 For a monthly bus pass, plus taxis and Ubers on
occasion.
Monthly bus pass: €31.15 to €97.85 (depending on
the zone).
Taxi (normal tariff): €3.25. On weekends,
holidays, and every night between 9 p.m. and 6
a.m. rates increase by 20%.
Gas
(cooking/heating)
€ 50
Electricity € 60
Water € 30
Garbage collection € 15 Depends on the property zone.
Telephone € 29.99 Bundled with internet and cable; basic package is €29.99.
Internet NA Bundled with phone and cable; basic package is €29.99.
Cable TV NA Bundled with phone and internet; basic package is €29.99.
Entertainment € 526 This includes the couples’ cost for eating out twice a week (€37.50 per meal) drinks twice a week (€6.25 per drink) movie theater trip twice a month (€5 to €8 per ticket).
Groceries € 325 Basic items for a couple.
Gym membership € 35
Medical appointment € 10 A public hospital visit will range from €7.75 for a
specialty appointment to €20.20 for an emergency
visit.
TOTAL € 1,635.99

Apartment Or House Rental Budget (For A Couple)

Item Cost Notes
Rent € 700 This is about the lowest rental pricing you will find in the city center, with prices going from €650 or so.
Transportation
(bus, taxi, etc.)
€ 150 For a monthly bus pass, plus taxis and Ubers on
occasion.
Monthly bus pass: €31.15 to €97.85 (depending on
the zone).
Taxi (normal tariff): €3.25. On weekends,
holidays, and every night between 9 p.m. and 6
a.m. rates increase by 20%.
Gas
(cooking/heating)
€ 50
Electricity € 60
Water € 30
Garbage collection € 15 Depends on the property zone.
Telephone € 29.99 Bundled with internet and cable; basic package is €29.99.
Internet NA Bundled with phone and cable; basic package is €29.99.
Cable TV NA Bundled with phone and internet; basic package is €29.99.
Entertainment € 526 This includes the couples’ cost for eating out twice a week (€37.50 per meal) drinks twice a week (€6.25 per drink) movie theater trip twice a month (€5 to €8 per ticket).
Groceries € 325 Basic items for a couple.
Gym membership € 35
Medical appointment € 10 A public hospital visit will range from €7.75 for a
specialty appointment to €20.20 for an emergency
visit.
TOTAL € 1,930.99

Penny-Pincher’s Budget (For A Couple. Bare Minimum Costs For All)

 

Item Cost Notes
Rent € 500 If you look hard, you can find small apartments starting from €450 or €500… but they’re rare.
Transportation
(bus, taxi, etc.)
€ 97.85 For a monthly bus pass.
Gas
(cooking/heating)
€ 35
Electricity € 45
Water € 20
Garbage collection € 15 Depends on the property zone.
Telephone € 29.99 Bundled with internet and cable; basic package is €29.99.
Internet NA Bundled with phone and cable; basic package is €29.99.
Cable TV NA Bundled with phone and internet; basic package is €29.99.
Entertainment € 112 Eating out minimally and at locally priced places once a week(€15 to €20 per meal); drinking local wines and beers once a week (€4 per drink); going to the movies on discount days once a month (€5 per ticket).
Groceries € 175 Basic items for a couple, but shopping around for best prices, using local brands, and shopping the produce markets more than super.
TOTAL € 1,029.84

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