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  • Cityscape 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.

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.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes Portland International Airport (PDX) is about a $30 taxi ride from downtown and is connected to nearly all major airports in the US. You can also fly direct from Frankfurt and Amsterdam (Northwest / Delta and Lufthansa respectively).
  • Trains Just north of downtown, Union Station is a 15-minute walk from Pioneer Square. Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) serves Portland from all along the West Coast; there are three trains a day between Portland and Seattle. Coast Starlight (www.coaststarlight.com) runs the length of the Pacific coast from Los Angeles to Seattle.
  • Automobiles Portland is an easy three-hour drive from Seattle down the freeway. Although the city’s public transport system, Tri-Met (www.trimet.org) is seen as an example to the rest of the US, you should consider renting a car (try www.avis.com) if you want to zip off to the surrounding countryside.
  • Taxis 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.