Possible 20 hour layover in Porto, Portugal... worth it?
September 5, 2013 10:01 AM   Subscribe

We're headed to Brussels in March, and we're looking at flight prices. We know it's a bit early, but we're trying to spot any deals and grab them. We saw a flight to Brussels with a layover in Porto, Portugal, and the one on way home is 20+ hours (landing around 4pm and taking off at 11:30am the next day). Could we get a good stay in Porto, Portugal out of those 20 hours? What's there to do? Will we get by without knowing the language?

We've been looking at this guide for hotels and we like this hotel. It looks to be a better neighborhood than the hotels closer to the river... but we have no idea! Can you tell us about Porto? What can we do for a late lunch, a few quick exploratory/touristy things, dinner and possibly breakfast? Also, is ~$800 round trip from the US East coast a good price? Absolutely any other advice you have about Porto or this area is welcome. Thank you!
posted by ancient star to Travel & Transportation around Porto, Portugal (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Also, is TAP Portugal a decent airline? The longest flight time would be 8 or so hours.
posted by ancient star at 10:03 AM on September 5, 2013

800 round trip in March to Brussels is not a particularly good price, its not out of the range either - but not cheap enough to justify a hotel room for sure.

That said Porto could be nice and 4PM to 11:30 is about the best 20 hours I could thing of to be stuc somewhere. Grab dinner, walk around, etc, etc.
posted by JPD at 10:06 AM on September 5, 2013

Sorry to threadsit, but does anyone know whether the prices will decrease closer to that time (flight psychics, anyone)? We actually have a place to stay in Brussels so paying a bit more for flights wouldn't kill us. (And since there's a layover it's actually cheaper than going right to Brussels!)
posted by ancient star at 10:10 AM on September 5, 2013

its always hard to say. Certainly now is too early to commit to something non peak season that doesn't jump out as a good price.

BTW - there are already a bunch of less silly layovers for around the same price when I checked on ITA.
posted by JPD at 10:17 AM on September 5, 2013

$800 to Brussels would be great for my location (North Carolina), but maybe not if you're flying out of a large international hub. That said, there is no predicting flight prices. I've been booking flights for myself and people I work for for years. Sometimes it's better to get them months in advance, but not always - I bought tickets for our October trip to Spain three months ago, and they're cheaper today than they were then.

I've not been to Porto but I would absolutely do it. If nothing else you'll get the opportunity to determine whether or not you want to go back to Portugal again someday.
posted by something something at 10:17 AM on September 5, 2013

Porto is a beautiful place. Its a great old-world city. Sample amazing Douro wines, the famous Port, and eat seafood. I'd definitely do it.

TAP is a first-class airline. I fly them regularly from London to Lisbon.
posted by vacapinta at 10:20 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

If Porto is even half as amazing as Lisbon... GO. I loved Lisbon, even five days wasn't enough. 20 hours isn't enough by far, but it is enough to have a great time.
posted by Tamanna at 11:05 AM on September 5, 2013

Just wanted to chime and say that price-wise, it really depends where you're flying out of. Just a couple of years ago, I would have said that $800 was not that good a deal from NYC/PHL/BOS, but prices have jumped quite a lot in the last couple of years. $800 seems ok to me.
posted by ashworth at 12:55 PM on September 5, 2013

This was flying out of Newark. We were using Kayak and searching all airports in that area.

Thanks so far!
posted by ancient star at 2:03 PM on September 5, 2013

Realistically if you are traveling in March this fare will be available for a while. No need to jump at it.
posted by JPD at 2:17 PM on September 5, 2013

You will be totally fine not knowing any Portuguese - English is required in many Portuguese schools and I have never had an issue finding someone who understands me. Also Porto is lovely.
posted by hepta at 2:59 PM on September 5, 2013

Porto is beautiful, and is exactly the kind of city you can just wander around. It's not so big that a layover is daunting but is big enough that there are things to see and do.

I stayed in a hostel, so I can't speak to hotels but I can tell you that it is really easy to catch a train into the city from the airport, and you can get along fine without Portuguese.
posted by scrute at 6:56 PM on September 5, 2013

I would definitely do it! Porto is a great place to wander around, and is full of regional specialties. Your next destination in Brussels is so different, I think it will add a nice contrast to your trip.

Re: an above comment that it isn't worth the price of a hotel room - last time I went to Porto, also in an off-season, I had a nice private room for 2 in a design "hostel" for about $30 just up the hill from São Bento (train station). Super clean, quiet, friendly... For $10 more I could have had a design "hotel" but they were all booked or far from where I wanted to stay.

TAP is nothing to write home about (Emirates) but is certainly not Iberia. I would probably take TAP over an American airline, all things equal. Another good thing facilities-wise: the airport in Porto is connected to the city as a regular metro station. No special tickets, obscure shuttles... show up, buy ticket, go. Much of the ride back to the center is above ground.
posted by whatzit at 10:54 PM on September 5, 2013

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