The Worst Tours of Porto

Porto Old Town detail


‘The Worst Tours’ of Porto


Frankly, aren’t we all a bit fed up with everything being packaged oh-so-nicely, everything being painted out as oh-so-wonderful in the tourism industry? Well, maybe not fully, in general it’s still a good approach to life seeing the positive aspects of things, seeing something, well, beautiful and nice. As they sometimes say, without beauty we are lost as humans.

But it’s always refreshing getting a different perspective as well. Looking at the ugly side of things. Just the way they do it in Porto. Even though maybe the problem with this walking tour concept we’re going to tell you about is that the sheer existence of it became a reality out of necessity, and not so much as the result of just another fun idea.

“There is a beauty in the world, though it’s harsher than we expect it to be.”
― Michael Cunningham, The Hours

Porto Old Town

Porto Old Town

Not so long ago three unemployed architects in Portugal’s second city, Porto, came up with the alternative idea of organising walking tours in their city. Upset with the impact of the austerity packages their city was crumbling under, the walking tours got designed to show parts of Porto that visitors – and even locals – normally would avoid. The worst side of town. The dark alleys. The haunted houses. Thus, welcome to The Worst Tours of Porto.

Since recession hit Europe and the austerity measures were dictated out to the countries that “misbehaved”, among them Portugal, only in the city of Porto the number of derelict buildings increased to no less than 70,000 and among others entire shopping centres have had to close. If you complete the picture that the minimum monthly wage in Portugal is under € 500, you can picture that the situation is dire.


The Worst Tour Manifesto


With a lot of charm, testified professionalism and probably some insights that you would likely never even think of, you can be assured that your tour gets unforgettable. You might also find it useful to know that the tour has no price. Well, it’s not like you should consider it free, but ‘The Worst Tours of Porto’ simply trusts that your sense for the market forces is better adjusted than the ones the world at large works after. Basically, you pay what you think it’s worth. Or as they say it:

“We at ‘The Worst Tours’ haven’t yet perfected the technique of not eating and going around barefoot and comfortably naked (it’s kind of cold), so we’ll accept and encourage tipping. If you’re having doubts about how much to tip (10% on nothing is nothing, right?) just throw in the equivalent to a cleaning-person’s earnings in your country, for the equivalent of the time of the tour, and it’ll be ok – especially if you’re Norwegian.”

The tours have been around just over a year, they started them off around the Christmas of 2012 and from most accounts it has been going well. Judging from reviews on Trip Advisor clients are happy and impressed; here’s one of the reviews and on the Worst Tours of Porto on Trip Advisor you can see some more.

“Young architects propose you their own guided tour of the town and reveal the underside of the postcard : hidden treasures, forgotten paths, but also the devastating effect of the economical crisis….”

Clearly, it seems like people like the worst side of Porto. Also to the extent that even the BBC discovered it, resulting in the below clip.

So now you know what you’ll need to do when you visit Porto: you can just go ahead and book by clicking here.


And by the way:

We find Porto totally wonderful, even if we choose to look at it’s pretty side. If you’d like to get an idea of what the city is like, this is our written testimony to it.

Porto - The Douro Riverside

Porto – The Douro Riverside

And by the way 2:

“Free” walking tours is something the two of us here at the Art Weekenders could rave about for a long time. Well, as long they’re done well, but they tend to be – that’s the whole point with a “free” tour, if you dare marketing it as free where your only incentive is the tip you (might) get from your clients, you better know that you can deliver.

We had our first experiences in Chile, one tour in Santiago and another in Valparaíso, and to this day I’m convinced that these two tours made our time in Chile more memorable than it would’ve been otherwise and learned more than any guidebook could’ve taught us. So you bet that the next time we go to Porto our first stop will be to book a tour with Gui, Pedro and Isabel. We feel that we’ll be in good hands. We’ll just see how much we can afford to pay them…


About The Author: Pal Ujvarosi

One half of the team behind Art Weekenders, where we travel, produce and keep developing our concept. For a living I work with management accounting, for dreaming I delve into many other areas of travel, writing and entrepreneurship, which more often than not don't result in money. Yet... I gained life experiences from living in eight different countries. Combined with extensive travelling in some fifty more, it's fair to say that I'm a global citizen with an international perspective - with the corresponding curse of becoming fairly rootless. My happy base now is Amsterdam - a faith I'm totally comfortable with.