It’s taken me a bloody long time to write up this guide… but better late than never, right? I can’t stop gushing about this city to everyone – I’d go as far as calling it my favourite city in the US, and I’d definitely pack up my bags and leave London for it. Portland’s got everything – from the food and drink, the cool neighbours, and forest hikes right on its doorstep. 48 hours is long enough to scratch the surface of the city but will leave you wanting more.
It’s Oregon’s largest city and is located along the west coast of the United States. It’s named after Portland in Maine after a coin toss back in 1845 when the city was just a settlement, otherwise, the city would have been called Boston.
Much of Downtown Portland is pretty flat, and on clear days, you can see Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens on the horizon.
Best time to visit
Head to Portland in the summer months (June till August) – the days are long and thankfully dry, you might have heard a rumour that it rains a lot in Portland.
I’m definitely planning a visit to head back in July for their Oregon Brewers Festival. But regardless of the weather, there’s always tonnes to do.
Where to stay
Head to the Northwest District – it’s an area full of old craftsman-style houses which are packed tightly together with grand apartment buildings within walking distance from restaurants, bars and shops. It’s got that perfect small village feel within a city.
I stayed at the HI-Portland within ‘Alphabet district,’ which gets its nickname from the streets, which run parallel in alphabetical order. It’s got an amazing location, with decent restaurants and bars on its doorstep, plus all the top sights are within walking distance and it’s such good value for the money.
What to do whilst you’re there
Get lost in a good book at Powell’s City of Books – although I can’t guarantee that you won’t actually get lost in this shop, so make sure you pick up a map on your way in. It’s the size of an entire block and it’s the world’s largest and used bookshop with over 1 million books across 3,500 different sections. I could easily spend all day here nursing a cup of coffee in their cafe.
Lace up your walking boots and escape to Forest Park. Located northwest of Downtown Portland, it’s one of the largest urban parks. It’s no surprise Portland’s got a rep for being green as this 5,000-acre park is just a short distance from a freshly brewed cup of coffee or a microbrewery to quench your thirst. If I had more time in Portland, I would definitely hike the 30-mile Wild Wood Trail which winds through the park.
Browse Portland’s artisanal wares at the Saturday market. Located in Waterfront Park, the market is a pretty popular destination for local handcrafted goods. From food carts, live music, cheese, knitted clothing, paintings and incense – it’s all there and then some, it is home to over 250 small businesses after all.
Where to eat and drink
You really can’t write a guide to Portland without mentioning Voodoo Doughnuts. Head here after browsing the Saturday Market where you can grab some pretty avant-garde creations. Their namesake is the Voodoo Doughnut, shaped like a voodoo doll (of course) which oozes red jelly, whilst their official doughnut for the city is the googly-eyed Portland Creme.
During my visit to Portland, I stayed at close to the hostel as possible when going out for dinner, and because of that, I stumbled upon The Matador. It’s a Mexican restaurant in Northwest Portland but let’s be honest, anywhere that serves complimentary chips and salad is going to be a winner in my eyes.
Portland is known as the Craft Beer Capital of the World and the city has earnt the nickname ‘Beervana’ – and that’s actually one of the main reasons why I choose to visit. The best way to visit these Brewpubs are by bike – there are loads of places around the city where you can simply rent a bike, or book into a tour. Either way, you need to try Black Pedal, 10 Barrel Brewing and Fat Heads.
How much does it cost?
The average price of a meal in a restaurant without alcohol is $15, and a pint can set you back around $6.