Official Tourism Site for the Greater Portland Region of Maine


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Official Tourism Site of Greater Portland Maine
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Explore Portland Under 3 Hours

Have just a few hours in Portland and wondering what to see and do?

If you're wondering how to organize your day in Portland, we have proposed some options below of what you can try to see in those precious few hours.... obviously, if you have more time, you can see everything at a slower pace and enjoy our amazing dining and Old Port shops as well. Picture yourself here in Maine's Vacationland - watch this three minute must see & do video 

Cruise the Casco Bay

For those eager to witness playful seals and nesting osprey, sea tours and cruises created expressly for wildlife viewing are your best option.  Get a glimpse of two of Maine's iconic symbols - lighthouses and lobster boats. Take the popular duck tour which last about 50 minutes, put on some lobster gear and become a lobsterman for an an hour and a half - great for children, or sit back and relax with a 2 hour sightseeing sail or wine cruise.  Cruises & Boat Tours

Food, Beer & Wine Enthusiasts

Those interested in craft beer culture can do so by taking one of the city’s popular "brew” buses where knowledgeable guides provide the stops, and local breweries and distilleries provide the tastings and behind-the-scenes activity. Experience Portland's old world charm while getting a taste of what award-winning chefs and nationally recognized restaurants have to offer - the ultimate culinary adventure for both serious foodies and dabblers in foodie culture. You can find quick brewery and walking tours under an hour or longer more in-depth experiences that typically last 3 hours.  Breweries  /  Food & Wine Tours

City Tours

One of the most entertaining ways to get the inside scoop on the city’s legends and lore is on one of the city’s popular bus or trolley tours, where passengers wind through the Old Port, view the historic buildings and architectural treasures, and get a close-up view of the working waterfront, all while hearing interesting and fun tales of the city. Tours are generally 1 hour for Portland's city tours but you can also take an excursion to Freeport, Kennebunkport, and the scenic Maine coast.  City Tours

Explore on your own

Find a full list of tour schedules,  arts & entertainment, and museum exhibits that fit your schedule. On a budget or looking for something a large group can do and not break the bank... check out these fun free things to do. Do you like to visit a new food and wine festival each year? Plan your visit around one of Maine's annual festivals. It's hard to pick just one so we recommend visiting again!

What to See on a Short Visit to Portland

"I only have a couple of hours! What do I need to see?!” is a question often posed by business travelers or visitors exploring Maine, who find themselves in the urban oasis of Portland for a brief period of time. Whether they had expected a metropolis and found a charming seaside city, or envisioned a sleepy waterfront village only to realize the scope of Maine’s largest city, they are at once inevitably delighted with their discovery and panicked at the brief time left to take in the sites.

What to see has much to do with the interest of the viewer.

Foodies, who may already know that Bon Appétit named Portland "America’s foodiest small town”, will no doubt wish to explore the culinary offerings of one of the city’s renowned eateries, too numerous to list. If time is short or your appetite thin, you could be guided by Maine Foodie Tours to some of the highlights.

Taste your way through town with Maine Foodie Tours.

History buffs will want to visit Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s childhood home and see the room where he penned "Into each life some rain must fall”. Next door, the Maine Historical Society houses permanent collections and changing exhibitions. You’ll also want to tour the West End’s opulent Victoria Mansion and Colonial-era Tate House in the historic Stroudwater district.

Patrons of the arts will want to see the Arts District along Congress Street, anchored by the Portland Museum of Art in Congress Square. The Museum of Art began in the McLellan-Sweat house, currently a museum wing glorifying the architectural grandeur of the Spring Street mansion. The museum entrance was moved to Free Street in 1986 when the Payson Wing opened. Designed by the I. M. Pei firm, architectural genius behind Paris’s Louvre expansion, the contemporary addition brought Joan Whitney Payson’s vision (that helped make New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art a world-class destination) to Portland. Along Congress Street, galleries surround the Maine College of Art that features talented artists of tomorrow and houses the Institute of Contemporary Art displaying the gifted artists of today.

Panoramic views of Portland at the Portland Observatory.

Nautical buffs should head straight to Munjoy Hill to see the Portland Observatory, built in 1807, the last wooden signal tower in North America and one of the only structures to survive the Great Fire of 1866. Head up the hill to Fort Allen Park to soak in the harbor’s many fortifications. Across the harbor in South Portland, Bug Light Park, located on the site of the former World War II shipyard that gave the world Rosie the Riveter, memorializes the Liberty Ships with a monumental bow seemingly ready to launch.

Regardless of personal interests, everyone’s time frame seems to include Portland Head Light and its museum. Commissioned by President George Washington, Portland Harbor’s 1791 sentry is the United States’ first lighthouse and purported to be the most photographed in the world. Surrounded by crashing waves, a picturesque cliff walk meanders along the edge of Fort Williams Park leading to markers of Longfellow’s visits, base history, and famed shipwreck of the Annie C. Maguire. The white tower glows against the sparkling blues of ocean and sky, but experiencing the historic light during inclement weather forces anyone to appreciate the necessity for these elegant icons.

Dive deep into American history with breathtaking views from a fort.

However visitors spend their brief time in Portland, it’s best they don’t see everything…that way the have reasons galore for a return visit to this magical place.

by Bob Stevens

Quick tips when visiting Portland

  • On street parking at meters and free time limit spaces are free after 6pm, on Sundays and major holidays.
  • Bringing your own food, non-alcoholic, and alcoholic beverages for your own consumption is allowed on Casco Bay Lines ferry boats.
  • Local dining and drinking establishments may offer late afternoon/early evening as well as late night Happy Hours.
  • Open Lighthouse Day, in September, allows access to go into over 2 dozen lighthouses in Maine.
  • Walk down and explore Wharf St. named one of "America’s Prettiest Cobblestone Streets” in USA Today.
  • The Portland Observatory is the only remaining historic maritime signal station in the United States.
  • Visit one of Portland’s fantastic bakeries to try the official Maine state treat, the whoopie pie or the official state dessert, blueberry pie.
  • Portland is home to one of the oldest continuously running farmers market in the country, established in 1768. Open late from late April into late autumn on Wednesdays in Monument Square and Saturdays in Deering Oak Park. During winter it moves indoors.


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