One of the most effecient ways of getting around Porto is taking the metro.
This is also the best way of getting to and from the airport by public transport.
The metro is new and clean and the prices are very resonable.
The metro runs partly under ground and partly over ground.
In some cities the metro can be a bit of a dodgy place, but in Porto it's not like that and it's generally very clean and safe.
We were surprised by the efficiency of the metro here in Porto, not too many cities that we have visited have a good system, but this was excellent (at least from the standpoint of a tourist).
The stations were sparkling clean as you can see from the photo and even the trip over the bridge between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia gave you a birds eye view of the river and waterfronts on both sides of the river.
You should know that Porto is built on a HILL, seems everything is either UP or DOWN..so we chose to walk DOWN and then take the Metro UP. We would take the metro to a station ABOVE our hotel and walk down, much easier this way since these are some serious steep hills. (reminded me of Lombard Street in San Francisco).
If you plan to get the metro to the airport, be aware that there are only three trains an hour. I was a bit nervous yesterday as I thought I had left plenty of time (I had been told 40 minutes at the transport office at Sao Bento train station) to get to the airport. Unfortunately, I had to wait nearly twenty minutes for the metro, making my trip take close to one hour.
Time for the metro to the airport were on the hour, then 20 minutes and 40 minutes past the hour.
Transportation in Porto is somewhat well organized. Almost every public transports inside Porto metropolitan area work with the same ticket - the Andante. This includes the metro, bus, suburban train (only in certain stations), tram (the "eléctrico") and Guindais funicular railway.
Brief description of each transport:
The metro was recently introduced in Porto, so everything is still looking new and functioning properly. The buses (STCP) cover all the metropolitan area and are generally comfortable, but avoid them in rush hours because they usually get overcrowded. Delay in bus schedule is quite frequent, so plan your trips carefully. Local people generally don't use the tram (eléctrico); it was restored and now functions mainly as an attraction for tourists. The suburban train can take you from S. Bento station at the city centre to Campanhã station (it's the main station), where you can catch a train to visit other places in Portugal (but you can also take the metro to Campanha station). The Funicular dos Guindais takes you in a short ride downhill from near the "Sé Catedral" to the D. Luís I bridge; it's a nice ride.
The metro covers part of the city, but unfortunately doesn't cover all of the tourist spots yet, so you may have to take the bus (or a taxi) to go to some places.
First of all: ALWAYS validate your ticket. You have to validate before initiating a trip and when you change vehicles (changing metro line, changing from metro to bus, etc). When you end your trip you don't have to validate. There are validating spots in the metro stations and inside the buses.
There are tickets specially thought for tourists - the Andante Tour. There are 2 modalities: Andante Tour 1 (5,00€, valid for 24h, all zones) and Andante Tour 3 (11,00€, valid for 72h, all zones). During the 24h/72h period after the first validation, you can use it to travel without zone restrictions in all Porto Metropolitan Area.
The Gold Andante is for monthly passes, you probably won't need them except if you intend to stay in Porto longer than a month. It costs 5,00€ (only the card) plus the monthly pass cost.
The Blue Andante is for single trips or Andante24 (valid for 24h and a certain number of zones) purchases. The card itself costs 0,50€ and you can buy it in the machines placed in metro stations, andante stores, train stations and quiosks. Don't forget: 2 or more persons can't use the same ticket at the same time! 1 person = 1 ticket! Counting the right number of zones can be very tricky sometimes and there are heavy fines for people caught with the wrong ticket. You'll probably need only Z2 tickets for the tourist zones but be careful anyway. See this website for detailed explanation of how the transportation network and tickets works: http://sigarra.up.pt/up_uk/WEB_BASE.GERA_PAGINA?p_pagina=122287#t (it's from the University of Porto and explains very well)
From the airport to the city centre:
Porto Metro system has a very useful line (E, the purple one) that goes directly from the Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport to the centre of Porto. Buy a Z4 ticket.
The itinerarium.net website has information about metro and buses time schedule, zones and stops/stations. You can plan your trips there. Available in english version.
The metrodoporto.pt website has information about the metro, including tickets.
This information is from April 2010.
We firts thought,that the metro is quite expensive.After couplle of times we noticed people reloading their tickets at machines.We tried,and it was easy-and much cheaper than buy a new one every time.
Metro is clean and modern,nice and easy to use.
We didn´t first understan either that,that we can´t use same ticket.In Finland I can pay my husband with my card-if it´s not a"month-card"witch is personal,and used how many times you want at same month.Here we needed to have own cards.They are paper anyway.We got one broken because of that-and lost the money on it.
If you want to use public transportation in Porto, the easy way is to buy an "Andante" card. You can buy it at the vending machines (with instructions in English) located at the subway stations.
The card is valid in the subway and also on the buses. Once you have the card, you can charge it with as many trips as you like.
But, whenever possible, I would recommend walking, since the center of Porto is small, and this way you can get a glimpse of the local atmosphere, which is very unique.
If you are thinking about travel to Porto, don’t think about any other way to go to the places you want, metro is the best choice and you can even used to go from the airport to the hotel, there's a line starting in the airport and going right to the city center, which can be quite cheaper than going by taxi.
I"m writing this so you don't have to make the mistakes we did. Metro wasn't that hard but there are things you should know. There is a sign at the airport that points to the metro. YOu go down the escalator and there is no sign that points to the metro. You end up in the parking lot. We went back up and walked farther thru the airport. There we went down the esc. again and there it was. If you take the end esc. then you have to walk thru the parking lot and the metro is inside the glass. It just is not marked very well. It's 1.60 to the city center and is a Z4, 4 zones. The machine can be changed to English. It takes bills but I did not see another machine that took the bills, only coins. GET COINs before taking the metro just in case. The subway comes very regularly and is new and is very nice. Wonderful system. YOu also have to validate the ticket in the little yellow boxes before you leave.
Having suffered for many years from an inadequate public transport system Porto has now got its own light railway system. It was finished 4 months early and it covers 12.5 miles of track. It is incredibly quiet and extremely efficient.
The newly-built metro is slick and clean. You may purchase tickets by putting coins into the machines located at each station; however, they don't accept bills. A ride about E1.25, depending on the distance you plan to travel.
Well, I didn´t take it, but I saw it several times. It goes almost all the time not underground, just in some places it goes beneath the soil. Watch out when taking it because there are different "zones" and when crossing these zones U must pay again when going out.
you should know that in the tube (metro) system if you need to stop over, then you need to validate your ticket again.Otherwise you get a fine