- Low-rise, high style
- City life
- Arts and caffs
With its notoriously creative approach to town planning, its masses of individual boutiques and galleries and the soulful music scene, Portland is no cookie-cutter city.
Nicknamed 'Stumptown', because of its lack of skyscrapers, Portland has always kept its secrets close the ground and only recently made it onto the tourist radar. But while other US cities have been losing their character to commercialism, Oregon’s largest urban hub has quietly nurtured innovation and independence in all forms of art, producing world-class musicians such as Elliott Smith and pioneering artists such as Mark Rothko. The weather may dress the city in grey for many months of the year, but the neon-lit bridges, tree-lined streets and eccentric characters add colour whatever the season.
Akin to Amsterdam or Copenhagen in terms of committed cyclists, Portland is a pedal perfect city. Bike paths, rental-shops and parking spaces are liberally scattered across the city. Start following BikePortland on Twitter (www.twitter.com/BikePortland) for the latest news and most scenic routes.
- When downtown you can often flag taxis down in the street, otherwise they’re available 24 hours a day by phone. Green Cab (+1 503 234 1414) is the eco-friendly option and is based on East Burnside.
- Tipping culture
- As in the rest of the US, 20 per cent is standard on more or less everything.
- Packing tips
- Despite the high chance of rain, leave your umbrella at home if you want to blend in with the locals. Portlanders pride themselves on weathering the storm and anoraks are common attire in most restaurants.
- Recommended reads
- Blue Moon Over Thurman Street by Ursula Le Guin is a beautiful mixture of photos, poetry, quotes and narratives following the road than runs through many different Portland neighbourhoods. Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love is fast becoming a cult classic, and tells the story of a family formed into ready-made freaks by the strange drugs the parents took when conceiving. Fugitives and Refugees offers an idiosyncratic look at Portland by Fight Club author, Chuck Palahniuk.
- Portland is paradise for those who like their food farm-fresh and fuss-free. The rain that you may curse on the street, you’ll praise in the restaurants, as almost all get a daily delivery of just-dug produce from the surrounding farms. It is also renowned as the most vegetarian-friendly city in America, and there are plenty of meat-free options available. Portland loves to breakfast, and many locals enjoy going out to their local diner for a pile of pancakes and bottomless Stumptown coffee to fuel them for the day.
- US dollar ($).
- Time zone
- GMT -8 hours.
- Dialling codes
- Country code for the US: + 1. Area codes 503 and 971 connect you to Portland.
- Do go/don't go
- The winter is unfortunately rainy, chilly and grey, but if you are prepared to wrap up then there is always a local café or bar on hand to take off the chill. The summer – dry, bright and glorious – is definitely the best time to visit.
Don't go home without...
...sampling Portland's famed coffee at Stumptown Coffee Roasters – there are several branches in the city.