My Travel Money Diary #1 – Weekend in Porto

Welcome to my travel money diary! Inspired by The Luxe Strategist and Refinery 29, I’ve decided to start a travel money diaries series for my adventures in various European countries and American cities. I figured it would be neat to be transparent about the budgets of the monthly trips  I take as an English language assistant in Spain. 

When I travel, I have a goal for each trip and allow myself a 50 -100 euro safety net, depending on the length of the trip, in case I have any “omg, I just loved this and had to have it ” things come up. I don’t like to spend trips stressing over nickels and dimes. So my trip to Porto, Portugal with my dear friend Ruth was no different. 

Porto is a city I visit quite often has it is the home of the closest major airport to me, but this weekend trip was the first time I’ve spent more than 24 hours there. Porto is a city with a cult following and it isn’t hard to figure out why. 

How to spend a weekend in Porto


As someone who has not kicked all of her procrastinator habits, I found myself packing at 7 am. Though in my defense the weather in on the western side of Spain and Portugal and be finicky so I didn’t want to pack too soon. Said procrastination worked in my favor because in the three days the forecast went from bright and sunny to rainy and cold. Sadly, one I finished reimagining my weekend wardrobe, I was 25 minutes behind schedule and in dare in missing my bus from Ourense to Vigo. 

I had two options, take an $8 taxi to catch my $6.20 bus or find a BlaBlaCar that would get to Vigo in enough time to catch the 11 AM bus that only cost me $6.70. I opted for the BlaBlaCar.18

After booking at $6.70 BlaBlaCar and proceeded to walk to the pickup point, I stopped at one of my favorite local bakeries to gave a croissant for $2.18. 

After I arrived to Porto, I walked over to the Airbnb, gave the place a walkthrough, made myself a cup of tea,  and watched some episodes of Sabrina on Netflix.

Once Ruth arrived and we got to catch up a bit, we headed over to a brunch spot she found called Zenith. Much to our surprise, it was literally around the corner. On a sunny day, it would’ve been perfect to sit outside but this Atlantic coast rain would not get off our necks.

Zenith was lively and welcoming with a menu made for tourist and hipsters. I opted for a mimosa, french toast, bacon and sweet potato “toast” which was just sweet potatoes with avocado. See, I told you it was hipster.  Altogether, I paid $17.33 brunch. 

Afterwards, we roamed around a bit, took cute pics in front of a Steak n Shake. Of all the American chains to be abroad, I never expected Steak n Shake to be one of them. 

Since Spain loves to dub movies over, Ruth and I had both been waiting to see the thriller US in English. Luckily for us, Portugal prides itself in not being like its northern cousins and believes in subtitles only during motion pictures. So we decided to head to the mall and get tickets.  I bought both tickets for $ 12.90. You just have to love a student discount. 

We got stuck in a taxi or 25 minutes as we left the movies just as an FC Porto game, which they won, there was a sea of people who were all in the streets and traffic was stand still. We split the $7.84(so $3.92 for me)  taxi fair and proceeded to walk the rest of the way to our dinner spot. 

Until their northern cousins, dinner time isn’t 9:30 – 10 o’clock for the Portuguese so finding dinner spot was tough.  We hit up bbGourmet ANTAS which is known for breakfast and late night food. I can’t say I wowed by the meal but it didn’t disappoint. The spinach puree and rice were great and paired well with the beef I chose.  The only downside was being cash only so I covered the bill, bringing my dinner expense to 33.54  (solo13.97). 

Since we were in the land of tourism and technology, Uber was available to us. So we copped a $5.50 Uber back to our AirBnb. We then spent the remainder of the night chit chatting about Blackness in Spain and getting laughs from Twitter. 

Friday Money Diary Total: 82.07


Our weekend in Porto was all about relaxation and slow travel. We simply wanted to appreciate being in a city where we didn’t need cash for everything and hanging out with a fellow Black woman. So we got our day off to a late start and moseyed our way down the street to an infamous Porto brunch spot, O Diplomata. 

Explore Porto, Portugal for a weekend and use this money diary to be craft a realistic travel budget

Striking two for two when it came to brunch in Porto, O Diplomata lived up to the type we saw online. The bacon was popping, the pancakes were the right kind of fluffy , nicely seasoned eggs, mimosa, and they served king cup sized black tea. What more could a girl ask for?  They gave American sized portions so color me surprised when I learnt I would only be dropping $16 on this meal.  Ya girl was more than happy about that

Continuing our relaxation, we made our way to Taylor Winery for a wine tour and tasting. I  had a great time going through the winery and learning the history of this particular Port wine house. Ruth picked up those tickets so that was $17 that I saved right there. 

After having a mini photo shoot, of which I lost all the photos, we decided to go to a cereal bar , Cereal World Porto, for a quick snack to tide us over until dinner. It had the cutest little set up with so many different cereal options. My one complaint was the extra cost for non-dairy/lactose-free milk. 

Cereal bar in Porto Portugal during a weekend trip to northern Portugal's most loved city

To finish out our last night in Porto, we went to Bulha for dinner. That was by far the best Portuguese food I’ve had. Very rich with many pork and seafood options. I opted for the costela assada (pork ribs) with rice and potatoes ,but  ended up with shrimp as well because Ruth was too lazy to de-shell them. Of course, I had a nice glass of sangria to go with it bringing my dinner total to $16.64.

We had one final joint Uber ride that hailed for $6.58. With our bellies full we spent a peaceful girls’ night in chatting about country music and summer plans. 

Saturday Money Diary Total: 39.22


Sunday was a rather chill day. The rain had gone from playing hide and seek to being a clingy ex who refused to stop crying about hurt feelings. Since most brunch spots had a long wait or late open time, Ruth and I returned to the beginning by sharing our last meal at Zenith. 

Being a creature of habit I ordered French Toast for $7.30, Matcha Latte $4.50, and Bacon $2 bringing my brunch total to $13. 80.

My bus back to Vigo was $9.54 and my from Vigo to Ourense was $6.20. During my ride back to rainy Galicia, I finished the second half of Sabrina on Netflix and loved every juicy moment of it.

If  I thought the rain in Porto was a mess, I hadn’t seen nothing yet until I got back home. The rain was relentless. Normally I would walk home or take a $0.95 bus that drops me right in front of my apartment building, but the rain and I only had $0.45 on me, so I had to suck it up and pay for a $9 taxi. So in total, I spent $24.65 on transportation for the entire day. 

Sunday Money Diary Total:38.45

As you can see, the majority of my spending went towards food. Galicia has cute little Spanish breakfast spots with a tostada and fresh juice, but nothing beats rich french toast and proper tea. That is what Porto served. The food alone is reason enough to go back. It is an affordable port city that certainly has my heart. 

Weekend Money Diary Total: 158.74

I gave myself $55 daily budget, without the $50 cushion,  and I managed to stay under that when you look at that weekend total. One things that pushed me closer to the budget was Uber fair. I’m normally a tram/metro/walk it person. Porto is such a walkable city. Ruth is not that person, so we compromised. While I don’t believe all travel compromises are worth it, this one was certainly was. 

Have you been to Porto? if so , what were some of your favorite things to do there? How do you budget while traveling? Leave a comment below!

Until Next Time, 

Aitza B