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Travelling in America can get expensive but you can do it on a budget! This blog post lists things to do in Portland on a budget, a suggestion for a cheap place to stay and how to get around Portland inexpensively.
Accommodation and transportation for 2 nights can only cost you under $100 US if you take my suggestions below. Everything on my list of things to do in Portland on a budget is FREE except for the underground tour but the price is reasonable and I highly recommend you do it!
Hostels are the best place to stay for budget travel and also if you’re travelling alone. Hostels are a great place to meet new people!
HI Portland is the 3rd best midsize hostel in the world! It’s clean, well-organized, and close to public transit. It is also within walking distance to many attractions.
For a 2 night’s stay in this hostel, it only costs around $64 US. Your night stay will include free lockers, Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, and breakfast.
There is a fully equipped kitchen and an outdoor courtyard you can use.
The staff are really friendly and always happy to help with navigating around Portland. The hostel offers free walking tours, live music, and community dinners. You can ask them what activities or events are happening while you are there.
The public transit system is easy to use and the cheapest way to get around Portland. Their transit system includes buses, light rail, and commuter rail.
You can buy tickets at machines located in MAX stations or at the TriMet office at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
Tickets are $2.50 US for adults and you can use this ticket for 2.5 hours of travel on any public transportation. I think the better option is to buy the all-day pass which costs only $5 US!
The best way to get to Portland from Vancouver is by bus. It is the cheapest and easiest way to get to Portland. The bus ride is around 7 hours including the time to cross the US border.
If you haven’t been to Seattle then this is a great opportunity to visit. Seattle is in between Vancouver and Portland and is a great way to break up the travel time. From Seattle to Portland it’s only 3 hours!
Washington Park is a great park to visit! Since it’s a public park there is no entry fee so no spending money here. Washington Park features walking trails, a rose garden, a Japanese garden, and a zoo just to name a few. The park is 410 acres so you can spend some time here.
The park is located on the west side of downtown Portland. If you are staying at the Hostel then it’s just a short walk from there.
Powell’s City of Books at Burnside is the LARGEST book store in the world, covering an entire city block! The store holds one million new and used books!
Even if you’re not into books or reading it’s still really interesting to check out. The book shop also sells some unique gift items! It is so easy to spend hours here.
Powell’s City of Books is extremely popular and does get quite busy! You can easily get lost in the store and actually not care because everywhere you look there is something that catches your eye!
The store has its own map, that’s how big it is! You can pick up a map at the information desk in the green room.
Powell’s City of Books is located in Downtown Portland and the main entrance is on the corner of 10th and Burnside.
Voodoo Doughnut is a well-known small corner shop in Portland that sells delicious fresh coated doughnuts. There are 2 Voodoo Doughnut shops in Portland but the most popular one is located at 22 SW 3rd Avenue.
Since it’s a tiny shop and it is a popular tourist attraction there is usually a line out the door. The shop is open 24 hours per day 7 days a week!
Voodoo Doughnut has a variety of different flavoured doughnuts that range in price anywhere from $1.25 to $3.75 US per doughnut.
You will be entertained by some of the names they have for their doughnuts. What kind of name is “Old Dirty Bastard” for a doughnut? It doesn’t sound appetizing to me!
Right across the street from Voodoo Doughnut is the famous “Keep Portland Weird” sign.
The slogan “Keep Portland Weird” is a popular slogan throughout Portland. It originated from the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan intended to promote small local businesses.
Pioneer Courthouse Square is the place for some cheap lunch! There are a few food trucks in Pioneer Courthouse Square that sell delicious food for a cheap price!
At the Franz food truck, they were advertising free soup and a grilled sandwich and since my friend and I were doing Portland on a budget we thought we really scored here!
Pioneer Courthouse Square is in the heart of Downtown Portland and close to the main shopping district.
The Portland Underground Tour was my favourite thing we did in Portland! This is the most expensive thing to do in Portland that I have listed in this blog post. The tour will cost you $23 US but it will be money well spent!
Book in advance on the Portland Walking Tours Website. The tour starts at their office in Old Town/Chinatown and goes for approximately 90 minutes.
I learned so much about the history of Portland! Most of the tour is above ground but you do get the chance to see the underground tunnels where “Shanghaiing” happened.
Shanghaiing was a term for when men were kidnapped for service aboard a sailing ship. They were kidnapped by getting their drinks spiked and then taken through the underground tunnels.
You will also learn about Nancy’s Floating Palace of Sin. It was a brothel on a boat in the middle of the river in Portland between the East and the West side of the city. Nancy got away with not paying any taxes and avoiding the police by moving her boat between the two cities! Smart woman!
The Portland Underground Tour will give you insight into the immoral, terrible and scandalous things of this city’s past!
Portland is an awesome city for a weekend getaway or as part of a Seattle trip since they are close. Seattle and Portland although close are very different from each other. The history of Portland is what makes it so interesting whereas Seattle has amazing nightlife and culture.
I hope you find the above things to do in Portland on a budget useful for your trip there. In fact, the best things to do in Portland are free!