Portland (Maine)

Skyline of Portland

Portland is located on a peninsula in Casco Bay on the Southern Maine coast approximately 100 miles (161 km) north of Boston, Massachusetts. It has more than 65,000 inhabitants making it the largest city in Maine. Portland is a small seaside city with a high concentration of shops, restaurants, museums, galleries, tours and many things to see and do. Many people commute to Portland to work, and the city's population significantly increases in the summertime.


Get in

By plane



By bus

By train

The Amtrak Downeaster operates between Portland and Boston North Station. Trains run both ways five times each day. The train ride is about 2.5 hours, and a one-way ticket costs only $22. (A same-day round trip ticket is available for only $39.) Kids 15 and under ride for $11. If you want to make a day trip to Boston, you can leave at 8AM and be back in Portland by 8:55PM, and still have from about 10:30AM-6PM to sightsee in Boston.

By car

Interstate 95. Access from the north and south on the Maine Turnpike (I-95). Many drivers coming from the south take Exit 44 to I-295 into downtown Portland. This exit carries a toll. An alternate route to avoid the toll involves continuing approximately half a mile north on I-95 to Exit 45 (marked for the Maine Mall), exiting, then taking the second exit on the right for I-295. The route is less than a mile out of the way and is toll-free, such that many Portland residents refer to Exit 44 as the "Tourist Exit" because local residents know to avoid the toll.

U.S. Highway 1 is the more scenic route, while U.S. Highway 302 provides access from West.

By boat

Get around

Casco Bay Ferry in the Old Port.

Portland, and Maine in general, does not have an extensive public transportation system, so renting a car is generally the best option. While 5 o'clock traffic can get a little congested, driving in Portland is not a daunting task.

The Old Port and Downtown Arts District areas are very walkable and pedestrian friendly.

By bus

By rental car

By Uber

In October 2014 UberX launched in Portland and should be available 24/7. It's slightly cheaper than a taxi and no tipping required. Surge pricing generally happens only on Friday and Saturday nights after 1AM when the bars close. UberX is also available to pick up and drop off at the Portland International Jetport.

By taxi

By boat


Portland Head Light
Deering Oaks Park



The Old Port

The Old Port is nestled against the busy port and home to 19th century streets filled with boutiques, galleries, restaurants, bars and coffee shops. The district sells everything from one-of-a-kind jewelry and designer jeans to best-selling books and surf boards. The Movies is a small independent movie theater on Exchange Street and The Nickelodeon is a larger theater on Temple Street. Fore Street and Wharf Street offer a number of bars and the area fills with partiers on Friday and Saturday nights in the summer. The Casco Bay Ferry to the islands leaves from Commercial Street. The Narrow Gauge Railway and Museum is located off Commercial Street.

The Arts District

The Arts District centers around Congress Street, which runs through the center of the city. The Portland Museum of Art sits in Congress Square across from the Eastland Park Hotel and next to the Children's Museum of Maine. Galleries abound in the Arts District, as do restaurants and watering holes. The Maine College of Art, which houses the Institute of Contemporary Art, and SPACE Gallery are both located on Congress Street. The music venue One Longfellow is located on Congress where it enters the West End and the Portland Stage Company is housed among a cluster of galleries at the top of Forest Avenue, near Congress. Congress street is home to an L.L. Bean outlet store and in Monument Square you can find a permanent farmers' market called the Public Market House. On Wednesdays between May and November other local farmers sell local produce and flowers and in the square.

The Arts District includes more businesses that cater to local residents, but there are also several great used books and music shops:

The East End

The East End includes India Street, Middle Street, Washington Avenue and Congress Street as it heads up Munjoy Hill. This neighborhood contains many restaurants, galleries and small shops. At the top of Munjoy Hill is the Portland Observatory and the St. Lawrence Arts & Community Center.


Portland offers a sophisticated restaurant scene, with chefs focused on locally sourced food. The city offers white tablecloth restaurants serving tasting menus to cheap eats selling burritos. The abundance of lobster, haddock, clams, scallops and other seafood allows restaurants to sell these usually expensive items at reasonable prices. In the Old Port and especially on Commercial Street, there are many seafood restaurants. Portland is the most ethnically and culturally diverse city in Maine. This means the city offers up Vietnamese, Thai, Polish, African, Middle Eastern, Greek, Japanese and Indian restaurants. Most of these places are inexpensive and delicious. Being home to many eco-conscious people, Portland offers a number of dining options for vegetarians and vegans. Portland also has the second highest restaurant per capita in the country, second to Seattle.


Portland, and especially the Old Port, has a reputation for many bars and pubs of varying caliber. From bars for longshoremen and lobster men, to pub serving micro-brews brewed on-site, to night clubs, there's something for everyone.

In addition there are numerous bars and clubs along Wharf Street a cobblestoned alley in the Old Port.





Bed and breakfast

Stay safe

In keeping with Maine's reputation as a relatively crime-free U.S. State, there is no place in Portland a visitor should feel like they shouldn't visit during the day. As in any city, be alert in areas that are not well lit at night or deserted. Act with common sense and you should have no trouble.

Maine state liquor laws require all bars to close promptly at 1AM. The Old Port's numerous bars empty into the street at this time. Some rowdiness is to be expected, but there is always an increased police presence on busy nights.



Go next

Bug Light in South Portland
Routes through Portland

Brunswick Freeport  N  S  Old Orchard Beach Boston
Auburn Falmouth  N  S  South Portland Boston
Augusta Falmouth  N  S  South Portland Scarborough
Brunswick Falmouth  N  S  South Portland Portsmouth
Littleton Westbrook  W  E  END
Meredith Westbrook  W  E  END
END  N  S  South Portland Scarborough

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, February 29, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.