Essential Tips For Expats In Porto, Portugal

The things even Google won’t help you with…

Updated: February, 2019

This is now my second stint living in Porto, Portugal—and I absolutely adore this city! It’s not too big, it’s not too small! It has beautiful unspoiled beaches, it has friendly locals. It’s cheaper than most European countries, and the level of English is pretty darn great. The perfect life for an expat? Basically!

Read: Customise Your Sightseeing: A Local’s Guide to Porto

But one thing that I have noticed since moving here, is the lack of online presence when it comes to finding services and information about the city.

Even Google Maps has admitted that they’re not fully functional in Porto yet, which has got to tell you something!

Porto Girl Gone Portugal 05

So for those of you who are planning a visit or relocating to this magical city, here are a few tips for expats in Porto that I have had to learn the hard way (word of mouth and general exploration, you know—like what we did pre-Internet).

Architecture in Porto Portugal

Banks and Using Money in Porto, Portugal

One of the most annoying things about living here is the fact that many shops will have a card machine…that is only compatible with a Portuguese bank.

And while that isn’t the case for some larger establishments (McDonalds, h&m, big grocery stores such as Pingo Doce), you may find yourself shit out of luck when it comes to visiting that random cute café you had your eye on.

Useful tip: the most beautiful McDonalds in the world is in Porto. I didn’t make that up, it’s actually a thing.

Additionally, places love cold hard cash.

I recently had my hair dyed at a hairdresser near my home, only for them to tell me that they don’t accept cards at all. This was not an isolated occurrence. The same happened when I went for a wax, and when a friend of mine wanted to buy a pack of cigarettes.

Bottom line: always have some walking around money.

Porto Girl Gone Portugal 06

How to Get a Sim Card in Porto, Portugal

This is another one of those things that boggle my mind.

So, I walk into a Vodafone store and persist to buy a SIM card for my iPhone. Sure as heck, I am asked to pay with cash once again.

So, I walk to the ATM (paying a four euro fee each time I withdraw), and pay for the sim card. I am told that with said sim card, I will receive 3GB of data. Perfect!

So, I go along my merry way until the 3GB runs out. I revisit the store, only to find out that it’s actually cheaper to purchase another sim card for 10 euros that comes with the aforementioned 3GB of data.

Had I have just purchased the data, I would have had to pay something like 20 euros for 3GB.

So, my new plan? Get a new phone number each time my data credit runs out.

Bottom line: Buying Internet data in Porto is cray-cray.

Porto Girl Gone Portugal 04

Where to Find Plus-Size Clothing in Porto, Portugal

Usually when I am in a new city, I like to see what my options are in terms of finding plus-size clothes. In Porto, Google proved to be more of a foe than a friend. So, I took it upon myself to go to the mall and scope out the action.

Thus far, I have found that h&m has a plus-size section that isn’t too bad and, after asking random shopping assistants, found out that a shop called Kiabi has a plus-size section, too.

Admittedly, when I had a gander at their choices, I felt as though these designers had created these items with their eyes closed…maybe you will have better luck.

You can also check out C&A for some larger (yet pretty bland) clothes.

Bottom line: plus-size clothes can be found, you’ve just got to do your research.

Lighthouse in Leça da Palmeira, Porto, Portugal

Online Shopping in Porto, Portugal

In all of my travels throughout Asia, UK, and Europe, I have grown accustomed to doing a lot of my shopping online.

In Porto…you can forget about it. Amazon doesn’t work here, Treatwell (my favorite beauty discount app) doesn’t work here, Groupon doesn’t work here.

Sure, maybe some of the sites that you like will work, but for me—I’ve adopted the attitude of going out to find what I need.

Also, if you live in Gaia (which is where I am now), some areas aren’t compatible with Uber Eats or Glovo (my favorite app when I lived in Barcelona).

Bottom line: Porto isn’t very online shopping friendly.

View of clothes drying outside

Food Delivery Services in Porto, Portugal

In terms of food delivery, it was also a bit of a headache researching the popular apps and companies that host a range of restaurants—but, it wasn’t impossible. (surprisingly, you can order all kinds of food, not just pizza), and SendEAT have proven to be quite good thus far.

With you will need to either pay with cash on delivery, or use a Portuguese bank card. SendEAT doesn’t accept cash payment, but you can use any card to pay online.

You can also consider the app Takeaway, or you can check out Pizza Hut or TelePizza.

Bottom line: A limited choice, but make sure to check the payment options available beforehand.

Old Town in Porto Portugal

Transport in Porto, Portugal

As previously mentioned, Google Maps is still a tad behind when it comes to public transport in Porto. For that reason, I strongly suggest using Moovit, as it has all modes of public transport optimized.

Bottom line: Use Moovit for public transport directions

Porto Girl Gone Portugal 0

Extra Tips for Expats in Porto, Portugal

There are a few Facebook groups for expats in Porto, so have a little look-see at these four and see if you fancy joining them:

EcoVillage & Communities with Kids Portugal: A Facebook group for parents in Portugal run by a parent living in this cool country. You can also check out their blogs by clicking the link.

Expats in Porto: A Facebook group for English-speaking expats in Portugal. It’s currently 13,000 plus members strong, so will undoubtedly provide some info for your life in Portugal – if not an opportunity to make new friends.

Porto Expats: Yet another Facebook group. This one focuses on foreigners in Porto and has proven to be pretty useful for me whilst living here.

Pure Portugal: This is a page dedicated to “living the good life” as a foreigner in Portugal, and is a way to encourage people to share their pictures and praise this amazing country.

You can also check out Sara Riobom’s blog called Portoalities that is written in English and gives some amazing tips and tricks about living in Porto.

A church

So, hopefully these tips have helped you as an expat in Porto, and I seriously hope you enjoy this city as much I do. It’s just a chilled, genuine way of life…and I love it!

For those who may want a faster pace of life, Lisbon is a mere three-hour train ride away. I’ve visited on two occasions and it’s pretty amazing!

ADDITIONAL TIP: For those visiting the vibrant city of Porto (or anywhere else for that matter) and looking for accommodation, here are two promo codes to get you going.


Here is a 39 EUR Airbnb promo code


15 EUR off promo code: TJOETS80

5 thoughts on “Essential Tips For Expats In Porto, Portugal

    1. Hello lovely! So sorry for the late reply! I’ve been on-the-go!

      Ha-ha, the weird and wonderful irks of new countries and new cultures!

      I do hope to update the blog soon! I now have some tips on living like a local in Luzern, Switzerland 🙂

      Thank you for reading! x

      Liked by 1 person

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