48 Hours in Portland

Posted on 29 March 2016

Thinking of booking a hostel in Portland? We don’t blame you. It’s one of the US’s coolest cities, and incredibly backpacker-friendly. Laura Harker, assistant editor at Slow Berlin, has just been – we asked her for some quick tips for a fun-filled weekend…

Portland, Oregon’s largest city, is known as a haven for liberal thinkers, hipsters and independent breweries. The hostel-packed downtown area is very compact and extremely walkable, and the city also boasts one of America’s best public transport systems, meaning you’ll be able to get around as much as possible in just two days.

Day one

Morning: Start the day off with a sugar rush at the iconic Voodoo Doughnuts in Old Town. This 24-hour bakery often has queues out the door, even in the early hours of the morning. The eclectic decor is as sickly-sweet as all the sugared doughnuts on display, which range from the simple buttermilk bar doughnuts to far-out options topped with breakfast cereal.

Hostels - Voodoo Doughnut
© Copyrights: Kenny Louie

During the day: To walk off the calories, head down to the banks of the Willamette River. Located in the riverside Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland Saturday Market runs all weekend and showcases artisan pieces from some of the Pacific Northwest’s best craftsmen. Street entertainers captivate the crowds, and food carts plate up cheap light bites. Afterwards, see the sights and sounds of the city by strolling the Willamette River—crossing at the Hawthorne and Steel Bridges is a leisurely three-mile loop.

Hostels - Hawthorne Bridge
© Copyrights: Stuart Seeger

Evening: Pok Pok is one of Portland’s hottest options for dinner. Its restaurant in the South East District has a ramshackle feel that perfectly complements the Thai street food. If you forget to book, expect a long wait, but you can always spend it sampling the surprisingly tasty drinking vinegar in the restaurant's Whisky Soda Lounge.

Day two

Morning: Start your second day off with a full-bodied roast in the hip surroundings of Downtown’s Case Study Coffee Roasters and then, after a caffeine fix, head up to the world-famous Powell’s City of Books. The largest independent bookshop in the world, Powell’s Books’ main store occupies an entire block between Downtown and The Pearl District. It’s possible to while away the hours by browsing the three floors of tomes, periodicals and zines, especially if you stop by its cafe, which serves coffee from one of Portland’s most popular roasters, World Cup Coffee.

Hostels - Powell’s City of Books
© Copyrights: Peyri Herrera

During the day: Jump on the MAX train and head out to Washington Park. This expansive urban park is home to Oregon Zoo as well as a colourful rose garden, two museums and the very popular Japanese gardens. Hike up to the park's Pittock Mansion for a guided tour around the French Renaissance-style chateau or just to take in the stunning views out across the city to the Cascade Range’s snow-topped mountains.

Hostels - Japanese gardens
© Copyrights: Paul VanDerWerf

Evening: Portland is serious about its locally brewed craft beer – there are 58 breweries in the city alone – so evening drinks in one of the many brewpubs are a must. Punters can usually buy ‘tasting boards’ featuring around six samples for $8-13. South East District’s Ecliptic Brewery is one of the newest additions to the craft beer scene, and serves curious concoctions such as a beer brewed with juice from Pinot Noir grapes.