Getting Around Porto

Figuring new things out is a slow process for us and the cheap cab fares in Porto certainly didn’t help push us to finding out about public transport options. We used cabs for the first 10 days in Porto while we tried to figure out the hows and wheres of public transport in our new home town. 

What is the Andante card?

Research told us that we needed to get the monthly transport passes known as the Andante card. The cost of this was Euro 30 or Euro 40 per month depending on the number of zones we needed to travel. Daily cards are also available. A closer inspection of the zonal map of Porto and Gaia showed us that we would need to travel more than 2 adjacent zones if we were to get from home in Gaia to the centre of Porto. The Euro 30 pass is good for travel between only 2 adjacent zones, so we would have to go for the Euro 40 passes. My Sindhi heart hurt!

Since there was no Metro stop close by, we decided to make it our day out and traipsed all the way to Sao Bento station in Porto. Sao Bento station is a trippy place, stunningly gorgeous from inside. The walls and ceilings are covered with mosaics in Azulejos tiles and you can get lost staring up at the artwork. A few minutes later I was reminded of the purpose of our visit which was to get our Andante cards. Luckily the queue wasn’t too long. The whole process took about 15 – 20 minutes for our three cards which were personalised with our picture (very unflattering) and name. You do need to carry proof of residence and have your NIF number with you as well. The total cost per person was Euro 40 + Eu 5 for the card. Not bad, when you consider the fact that all metros, trams and STCP buses in Porto and Gaia were now ours for the riding!

Seen here are the three popular travel passes if you are a tourist. The monthly pass comes with your photo on it and needs to be recharged every month

Figuring out the routes

Figuring out the bus and metro routes took us a few days but it is very simple. You have to validate your card at the beginning of each trip and that is it. The metro stops don’t have turnstiles, just the ticket validating boxes near the platform entrance. Trusting folks, these tripeiros, as the locals are called. But beware, you can come across the occasional ticket checker on the metro. For the buses, the ticket validating boxes are at the front entrance and the driver keeps a beady little eye to make sure you have a ticket.

Most bus stops have the routes on posters like this but you also find QR codes to scan that give you updated schedules of passing buses

So now that we had the cards, we were a lot freer with our gallivanting. No need to check cab prices and calculate how much of our monthly budget was left. Just hop on to the bus and go. Of course, getting the bus entailed a 15 – 20 minute walk, but my doctor would approve. For Euro 40 a month, you get unlimited travel access all across Porto and Gaia and get your daily exercise thrown in as a bonus. Sweet!

There are times when we still use cabs. From experience, we avoid the regular cabs (green and black taxis) which are the most expensive ride options. Our go-to ride-hailing app is Bolt, which we have found to be very reasonable. Most of our rides with Bolt are in the range of Euro 3 to Euro 11, pretty reasonable.

Travelling by bus has really helped us begin to feel like locals. The rides are very pleasant, most of the time we have seating and the views can be spectacular. People watching can also be very entertaining. Getting from Gaia to Porto can take about an hour on the bus, shorter than the bus journey from Bandra to Churchgate, but so much more enjoyable!

Swipe your card when you get on and don’t forget to press the Stop button in advance or the bus won’t halt at your bus stop

Stay tuned for more! 



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