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I know that for many US cities, a car is either required for all sightseeing, or for most sightseeing beyond the basics. (Covered by questions such as these). However, I hear that Portland, Oregon is a little different to many parts of the USA, and walking + public transport is much more common there.

I'm going to be in Portland for a conference, but I'll hopefully manage to squeeze in a day or two of sightseeing around that. For a few days sightseeing, covering the most common sights / attractions / short walks etc, can you get away without a rental car in Portland? Or should I be looking at trying to snag a cheap rental deal for at least some of the time?

  • I think this question is slightly upside down: if you were to ask "can you sightsee in Portland, OR with a car" I would cautiously answer a no :) – chx Dec 15 '16 at 23:43
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Portland has an excellent public transport system, especially the light rail and buses, that will serve you well for getting around Portland itself. If that's the area that you intent to stay within then you can certainly get by without a car - although you still may find having one to be more convenient depending on exactly where you're planning to go.

However for me personally, no trip to Portland would be complete without a trip along the Columbia River Gorge, and for that you're going to need a car.

If you can manage 2 days in the area I'd suggest that you could easily do without a car for one day, and then rent a car for the day to do the trip along the Gorge.

  • The Columbia River Gorge is just 16 miles east of Portland, Oregon (quote from page you linked), sounds like a day trip by bicycle would work too. – gerrit Feb 22 '13 at 10:22
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    It might start 16 miles from Portland, but it's about 80 miles long. – Doc Feb 22 '13 at 15:38
  • The old road through the gorge would be a stressful bicycle ride. Narrow, twisting, and considerable tourist car traffic. – Andrew Lazarus Sep 27 '17 at 20:16

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