Getting In, Getting Around Portland
Portland's many bridges can make navigating the city via car a bit challenging, but once you understand the off and on ramps, you should be OK. Here's a primer on Portland transportation:
From the Airport
Rental car: Rental cars are found on the ground floor of the parking garage at Portland International Airport, just a walk across the terminal's lower roadway outside the baggage claim area. A few companies have car lots away from the airport but offer shuttle service that leaves from the lower roadway, just outside the baggage claim. Average daily rental cost is about $80 for a mid-sized car.
Freeway access from Portland Airport is easy. To get downtown, approximately 20 to 40 minutes away, follow signs for Portland or Interstate 84 West.
Taxi: Taxis queue up on the roadway outside the baggage claim area. Expect to pay $27 to $32 for a cab to downtown. Taxi rates are a base fee of $2.50 with $2.10 per mile and $1 per person for up to three additional passengers.
Public transportation: The MAX light rail train can be boarded at the east end of the airport terminal on the baggage claim level. Tickets are $1.70 and are available from vending machines inside the terminal and on the platform. The ride to downtown takes 40 minutes.
Rush hour: Afternoon rush hour traffic can be horrendous, starting at about 3:30 pm and lasting until about 6 pm, and can hold up travelers trying to get to the airport. The usual 20- to 40-minute drive may take twice that long or more, so be sure to leave in plenty of time. Coming into Portland, traffic is likely to be bad in the morning, about 7:30 to 8:30 am.
Rules of the road: Portland drivers are generally courteous, allowing other drivers to merge or cut in, but an appreciative wave is expected for such courtesies. Try to familiarize yourself with the downtown bridges so you can make quick decisions about the proper freeway exit.
Public transportation: Portland is blessed with an excellent public transportation system, Tri-Met, complete with online trip planner. Fares are good for buses, MAX light rail, and the Portland Streetcar. With plans to extend it to the eastside, as well as the South Waterfront District, the Streetcar loops from Riverplace Marina in Southwest Portland to the Pearl District in the Northwest.
Tickets can be purchased at the Tri-Met Ticket Office at Pioneer Courthouse Square, at Safeway and Fred Meyer stores, from vending machines at some MAX stops, and onboard the Portland Streetcar.
Adult tickets for one and two zones are $1.70 each; $2 for three zones. An all-day ticket is $4.25. Public transportation is free in Fareless Square, which includes downtown as far north as Northwest Irving Street and as far east as the Lloyd Center.
Taxis, on foot or by bike: Portland is easy and pleasant to get around on foot. Blocks are short, with lots of street-level interest including shops, cafes, and public art. One of the best places for pedestrians is Northwest 23rd Avenue, sometimes known as "Trendy-Third" because of all the hip and happening shops and restaurants located there.
Rent bikes from Fat Tire Farm (2714 NW Thurman St), which is just downhill from a popular biking trail in Forest Park. There are about 2,000 bike racks around the city and more than 150 miles of bike lanes in this bike-friendly city. Contact the Bicycle Transportation Alliance for information about Portland's bicycle boulevards, where cyclists can enjoy a safe and scenic ride.
Taxis are easy to find and cost $2.10 per mile, on top of a base rate of $2.50 for the first passenger and $1 for up to three additional passengers.
Portland has its share of festivals, sporting events, gardens, and museums. See the next section for information about these and other special events and attractions in Portland.