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It is highly recommended that travelers make use of the variety of public transportation options available in Porto. Driving is not recommended, as the complex of one-way streets is difficult to navigate, parking is hard to find, and public transportation is both convenient and inexpensive. The system uses a combination of the metro, busses, trams and trains to make it easy for travelers to get to nearly any local destination with ease.
The metro ( www.metrodoporto.pt) operates six different lines which are conveniently marked with different letters (A through F) as well as by different colors. Travelers can use the metro to get around the city as well as to get to neighboring cities. Fares are based on destination zones; information is available on the site at http://www.metrodoporto.pt/pagegen.as... .
The metro system runs below ground in the city centre, but is largely above ground in the suburbs. The equipment used would be called 'light-rail' in North America and trams in the UK. To avoid confusion, this article will call it the metro. The trams referred to below are the antique vehicles used on the few remaining city centre routes, now primarily operated for tourists and visitors.
The metro system is a good means of seeing the city and enjoying some of the major tourist attractions. The tram is also the easiest means of getting from the city to the airport (on, unsurprisingly, the 'Aeroporto' route-- it's 'E'-purple), and the 'Póvoa de Varzim' tram ('B'-red), currently the longest route, will take you all the way north to the beach towns of Vila do Conde and Póvoa de Varzim.
Services on all six lines run seven days a week from about 6am to 1am. Trains run every few minutes on the city centre underground section between Senhora da Hora and Estádio do Dragão. Line D also has frequent service. However, out in the suburbs, trains may run only every 20 - 30 minutes outside of rush hours. Extra trains operate when FC Porto plays home games in the Estádio do Dragão.
Metro do Porto has some service variations intending travellers should be aware of.
Linha A (Senhor de Matosinhos) operates only between Trindad and Senhor de Matosinhos after 2200h weekdays and Saturdays, after 2000h Sundays and Holidays. Passengers to/from stations between Trindad and Estádio do Dragão must therefore transfer to/from other lines at Trindad.
Line B has additional express service between Trindad and Povoa do Varzim on weekdays until 2100 and on Saturdays until 1800. Passengers to/from stations between Trindad and Est do Dragão may therefore find it quicker to take the first train and change lines at Trindad.
Line C is currently operating between Campanha and ISMAI; passengers travelling to from Estádio do Dragão therefore need to change trains.
Line E (Airport) operates only every 30 minutes before about 0700 and after 2200. If you intend to travel to or from the airport during those times, please check the timetable carefully to avoid missed connections - and flights!
Three of the five metro lines initiate their routes at the Estádio do Dragão, Porto's main football (soccer to Americans) stadium, and run along the same route as far as Senhora de Horas, which means that you can take any tram to any downtown stop. The exception is the 'D' (yellow) Line, which runs from Hospital São João (the city's main medical center) to Dom João II in Vila Nova de Gaia, the city across the Douro River from Porto (as the tram crosses the bridge across the river, it provides riders with some of the most amazing views of the cities and riverscape available anywhere!). One of the best places from which to take pictures of Porto and the river is the first Gaia stop, Jardim do Morro. This line intersects with the other four lines at Trindade station.
You must have a valid ticket before boarding a metro train. Ticket machines are available on every platform. Check that you buy a ticket for the correct number of zones. The machines have a list of other metro stations with a note (eg Z2) meaning you can ride on the zone you initiated the trip and all the zones that border the initial one (first ring). With a Z3 you can ride the equivalent of a Z2 plus the zones that border the first ring (second ring). And so on...
Interactive Zone map here (you can click the zone you wish to initiate the trip and check the type of title needed): http://www.linhandante.com/ocasionais...
Visitors will reassured that there is a visible uniformed security presence on every metro station plus CCTV. However there are no platform staff or ticket offices, just machines.
An7km extension of the Metro system out to the adjacent city of Gondomar opened in January 2011. This is designated Line F, orange on the map. Trains nominally operate between Senhora da Hora and Fanzeres,a residential area. However in practice many trains run to and from the airport as continuations of Line E.
A short extension at the southern end of Line D is now under construction from Dom João II to Santo Ovídio.
The metro, city bus and tram systems are all operated by the same organization (STCP: www.stcp.pt ) and ticketing is integrated under the Andante brand name. The system is efficient and well marketed, with maps and timetables displayed at every stop.
The three remaining tram routes in the city centre are now operated mainly for tourists and visitors between about 930 and 730pm. They use reconstructed antique four-wheeled vehicles. Ticketing is integrated with the metro and buses. There is also a city tour tram, with special fares.
The city and suburban bus network is very extensive. There are multiple bus lines covering both Porto and Gaia as well as outlying communities, providing not only inexpensive transportation but the opportunity to see the area as the locals do.
The Andante ticket system is based on zones. Do make sure your ticket is valid for the number of zones you need to complete your journey. If you pay on board a bus or tram that goes through more than one zone, state your destination to the driver.
A word of warning: the trams and buses run on the 'semi-honor system': that is, you are expected to buy your ticket from the machine and 'load' it with the number of rides you expect to take and the number of zones (separate tickets are needed if you are going to take two-zone rides and six-zone rides). You can also buy 24 hour tickets for the various zones in the system. A 24 hour ticket for all six zones costs 9,45 Euros.
The ticket itself costs €0.50, and is reusable. Before you board the tram, you must 'swipe' the ticket over the electric readers that are located at every stop. Chances are you won't be checked... however, there are inspectors making surprise checks on various trams at all hours, and if their machine reader shows that your ticket is expired or wasn't swiped, the fines, called "multas" or "coimas" in Portuguese, can be extremely high-- often starting at 100 times the cost of the ride. If you are sure how to work the ticket machine, ask any passerby-- even if the person doesn't speak English, he or she will usually be happy to help you or find someone who can.
The local train system ( www.cp.pt) is another method of getting around the Porto region. This system is more commonly used for getting to neighboring areas than for travel within Porto itself, although it is more convenient than the tramline if you're going from Campanhã to downtown, as you can take the train directly to São Bento and the Andante pass is accepted on board (make sure you 'swipe it' before boarding). The CP Urbanos do Porto train system goes as far north as Braga or Guimarães, and is quite inexpensive-- a ticket for the 70 minutes journey to Braga or Guimarães costs just €3.10 as of August 2014.
A new line was being opened in stages to serve the port area and suburb of Leixoes. This branched off other the lines at Ermesinde. However, on February 1st the line was closed with CP citing big losses on the operation. The line had not even been completed!
South of the river, the urban train network goes to Vila Nova de Gaia, the seaside resort of Espinho and down as far as Aveiro.
Campanha station is also the starting point for the trains to the Minho and Douro lines of the national rail network.
Minor warning - the Campanha metro station is three or four minutes walk from the main station, so allow sufficient time for any transfer at Campanha to main line trains. Also, the metro station at Sao Bento is outside the main station and across a road. Do visit the São Bento main station to see the fantastic tiled motifs in the entrance hall.
These special tickets for visitors are 7,00 Euros for one day and 15,00 Euros for three days unlimited use on the integrated network. they can be purchased from Andante and STCP kiosks, railway stations within the Andante area and tourist offices. The one day ticket can also be bought on board a bus. These tickets are not rechargeable.