Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by travel experts who love Portland

Aerial view of Downtown Portland during sunset and Mount Hood from afar
Portland’s highest mountain, Mount Hood, can be seen from everywhere in Downtown Portland on a clear day

Why We Love Portland: Portland is one of the main travel destinations in the Pacific Northwest. Once home to copious Native American populations, American fur traders, and pioneers, present-day “Stumptown” has traded in its frontier history for skyscrapers and trendy eateries. Gloomy days have nothing on the beauty of the surrounding Cascade Mountains or fun city activities. With so many things to do in Portland, the best way to experience the big city is with an open itinerary.

Best of Portland

Things to Do

View at the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon
Portland’s Japanese Garden

The number of activities in Portland ranges from forest hikes to art museums, top eateries, and so much more!

  • Portland Japanese Garden – One of Portland’s main attractions invites visitors to channel their inner zen.
  • Multnomah Falls – Oregon’s biggest waterfall is photogenic from every angle, whether standing on flat land or from a high viewpoint.
  • Portland Art Museum – Get a taste of local Portland culture with a trip to this art museum in the heart of town.
  • Voodoo Doughnuts – Portland’s most popular desert stop has whimsical donut flavors no one can resist.
  • Washington Park – Most fun Portland attractions are an extension of this massive, entertainment-filled park.

👉 Explore all things to do in Portland

🗺️ Where to Stay

Where to stay in Portland depends on what you want to do. Here are the top recommended areas to stay: 

  • Downtown Portland – Stay close to the action and never miss a beat in the most concentrated area of Portland.
  • Northwest Portland – A tree-lined residential Portland area with plenty of house rental options.
  • The Pearl District – Most restaurants and bars are found in Portland’s Pearl District, a top reason to stay here.

👉 Read the complete guide to where to stay in Portland.

Aerial view of Portland and the Fremont Bridge
The Fremont Bridge

🛎️ Best Hotels

The McMenamins Crystal Hotel from the outside in Portland
(photo: TFoxFoto / Shutterstock)

There’s something for everyone’s unique pocketbook in Portland, including luxury hotels and shared hostels. Here are our top picks: 

  • Hotel Grand Stark – A modern, 4-stay accommodation in the quiet part of town near OMSI and the Oregon Convention Center.
  • Kex Hotel – One of the best places for remote workers to stay for a while and catch up on the week’s projects.
  • McMenamins Kennedy School – This old school-turned-hotel is the perfect option for families visiting with children.

🍽️ Restaurants

Thai dishes served in Thai Peacock restaurant
The pad Thai and a Thai iced tea from the Thai Peacock restaurant

As one of the top culinary cities on the west coast, you’ll want to eat out almost every day in Portland. Try these top Portland restaurants for your money’s worth. 

  • Tin Shed Garden Cafe – An Alberta Arts District American eatery that has a mom-and-pop-style feel.
  • Mother’s Bistro & Bar – Eat your heart out at this homey cafe that specializes in soul food.
  • Pizza Jerk – You can’t go wrong when it comes to pizza, especially from this top Portland joint!
  • Thai Peacock – This Thai food hits the spot after walking around Downtown Portland all day sightseeing.
  • Le Pigeon – The French-inspired dishes at this fancy restaurant are some of the highest-rated in town.

🚗 Day Trips

Mount Hood covered with snow during sunset
Mount Hood is less than two hours outside of Portland
  • Mount Hood – Take a 1 ½ hour drive outside of downtown to Oregon’s highest mountain.
  • Vancouver – Cross the northern Columbia River bridge to arrive in Oregon’s neighboring state, Washington.
  • Cannon Beach – A coastal paradise, a road trip to Cannon Beach is one of the top things to do in Oregon. (LINK)
  • Astoria – No trip to Oregon is complete without visiting one of its many adorable sleepy fishing towns like Astoria.
  • Columbia River Gorge – Escape the chaos of the big city with a retreat to the hiking trails of the Columbia River Gorge.

🏘️ Neighborhoods

Clear blue sky over the welcome sign in Old Town Portland
This vintage light-up sign welcomes visitors to Old Town Portland
  • Central Eastside – A quiet residential town that allows Oregon travelers to get a full night’s rest.
  • Alberta Arts District – Never run out of fun things to do in this art district, including a weekly art walk.
  • Old Town – Portland’s oldest neighborhood is also home to Chinatown, one of the most culturally-rich areas in town.
  • Nob Hill – An affluent residential neighborhood with plenty of house rental options.
  • Lloyd District – In the ideal location for visitors who want to catch a live concert or sports game.

🍸 Bars

View of people having fun inside the McMenamins Tavern & Pool
McMenamins Tavern & Pool is a Travel Lemming nightlife favorite
  • Teardrop Lounge – Classic cocktails are served with class at this elegant Old Town Portland bar.
  • Bible Club PDX – A speakeasy-style bar filled with antiques and a timeless ambiance.
  • Crush Bar – A hip, LGBTQ+ friendly bar in east Portland that serves American food and hosts the occasional burlesque show.
  • McMenamins Tavern & Pool – Put your pool skills to the test at this bar/ billiards tavern in Downtown Portland.
  • Multnomah Whiskey Library – This cozy lounge offers more than a thousand spirits, served in a vintage manner.

🥾 Best Hikes

View of the South Falls in Trail of Ten Falls Loop
The South Falls from the Trail of Ten Falls Loop Trail
  • Trail of Ten Falls Loop – Portland certainly has no shortage of waterfall trails, most of which are concentrated on this trail.
  • Mount Tabor – Hike to Portland’s high point and snap a new profile photo in front of the sweeping town views.
  • Lost Lake Trail – Hike around the perimeter of Mount Hood on this moderately-rated scenic trail.
  • Mount Hood – Portland’s highest and perhaps hardest mountain climb also has the most scenic summit views.
  • Lower Macleay to Pittock Mansion – Tour the famous Portland museum from a different perspective after a steep climb.

🥾 See the full list of hikes near Portland.

🎨 Best Museums

One of the arts displayed in Portland Art Museum
A local, indigenous artist on display at the Portland Art Museum
  • Portland Art Museum – Learn more about Portland’s local art culture at this centrally-located art museum.
  • Oregon Museum of Science and Industry – Discover the scientific world around you at OMSI, a science-intensive Portland museum.
  • Portland Chinatown Museum – Learn about the Chinese immigrant experience at this downtown Portland museum.
  • Oregon Historical Society –  Oregon’s fascinating history has been preserved at this historic museum, a bearer of the state’s past.
  • World Forestry Center – This Washington Park establishment educates the public on local Pacific Northwest Flora and sometimes fauna.

Portland Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

The dry summer season is the peak tourist season in the Pacific Northwest city but there are fun things to do year-round in Portland.  

  • 🌞 Summer – The best time to visit Portland for dry weather and rain-free hiking trails. 
  • 🍂 Fall –  The hundreds of hiking trails surrounding Portland transform into beautiful autumn hues during these times.
  • ❄️ Winter –  Visit during the winter for a chance to ski down Mount Hood and sip on hot cocoa afterward next to a ski lodge fire.
  • 🌼 Spring –  The best time to visit Portland for beautiful spring wildflower blooms around the big city hiking trails.

🚌 Getting Around

Portland is one of the best cities on the west coast for public transportation. Whether you plan on taking the bus, tram, or train, Portland’s got you covered.

  • 🚇 Public Transit – Getting around Portland is as easy as 1,2,3 with reliable public transportation.
  • 📲 Ride Share – Rideshares are readily available to pick up and transport Portland visitors anywhere. 
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – Most Portland attractions are within biking distance of each other.
  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – Walking around Portland is one of the best ways to get to know the big city.
  • 🚗 Driving – Rent your own car and easily transport anywhere you want in Portland and its surrounding areas.
  • 🛴 Scooters – Public scooters are available for short-distance rides in the big city with a credit card.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • 🚶‍♀️ – Take a walking tour – Get to know Portland on a personal level with either a self-guided or locally-led walking tour.
  • 🚅 – Use public transportation – Save money on renting a car by taking the widely available public transportation anywhere you need in the big city!
  • 🛣️ – Take a day trip – The surrounding Portland area has so much to offer, like snow-capped peaks and pristine coastal beauty.
  • 🍽️ – Eat out for half of your meals – Portland is one of the top culinary cities on the west coast, eat out to try new delicious meals.
  • 🎟️ – Pay for at least one attraction – It will be worth your while to pay for at least one Portland attraction like the aerial tram or Japanese Garden.

🧳 What to Pack

  • 🧥 – Rain jacket – Portland is notorious for rainy weather year-round. Stay dry during your trip with a trustee rain jacket.
  • 🥾 – Hiking boots – Don’t miss out on the hundreds of fun hiking trails near Portland because you forgot to pack your hiking boots!
  • 🎒 – Daypack – A big enough daypack allows you to be prepared for anything while exploring Portland all day. 
  • 🩴 – Shower sandals – It never hurts to be extra sanitary and bring shower sandals with you during your stay in a Portland hotel.
  • ☂️ – Umbrella – If the late fall or winter downpour is heavy enough, you may need both a rain jacket and umbrella to stay dry.

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Census Population (2020) – 652,503 (city), 2,512,859 (metro area)
  • Time Zone – Pacific Daylight Time (GMT-7)
  • Area Codes – 503, 971
  • Airports – Portland International Airport (PDX)
  • Nickname – Stumptown, Rose City, Bridge City, Rip City
  • Demonynm – Portlander
  • State – Oregon
  • CountryUnited States of America

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • 3 Star Hotel Room – $100-150/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $80-120/night
  • Rental Car – $30/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – ~$2.50-5 ($2.50 to airport from center on the Light Rail)
  • Ride Share from Downtown to Airport – $32
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $25
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $30
  • Draft Beer – $6

FAQs About Visiting Portland

Is Portland safe for tourists?

Most areas of Portland are safe for tourists. Most of the city’s crime occurs outside of the main tourist areas. Avoid walking by yourself at night, especially near West Burnside Street for the safest possible experience.

What’s the best time of year to go to Portland Oregon?

Summer is the best time of year to go to Portland Oregon. The city is the driest at this time, with re-opened mountain roads and non-muddy hiking trails. Daytime temperatures are also the most pleasant during the summer and you only need a light jacket.

How many days is enough for Portland?

Aim for 2-3 days to see the best Portland has to offer. While more time is always better to get to fully know a new city, 2-3 days allow you to hit the top tourist attractions and dine at the best restaurants in the city.

What is the best way to get around Portland?

Public transportation is the best way to get around Portland. Widely available buses and trains make the big city easy to navigate and public rideshares allow you to get where you need to on time.

Meet Our Oregon Travel Expert

McKenna Mobley

McKenna Mobley is an avid adventurer, traveler, mountaineer, and writer from Southern California. Her goal is to climb some of the world’s highest mountains and visit as many countries as she can. She loves Latin America and has been to almost every Latin country. She also has a thirst for solo adventuring and has hiked 400 consecutive miles by herself through the Arizona desert. You can also find her on her blog.

👉 Read McKenna’s Articles

📰 Oregon Travel Guides

Cool things to do in Oregon aren’t just limited to Portland, despite popular belief. Check out our other articles on the top tips and tricks in Oregon, including where to stay, places to visit, where to hike, and more!

🗺️ Portland Map