Minecraft guide: How to build a nether portal quickly and easily

Minecraft Nether Portal
Minecraft Nether Portal (Image credit: Windows Central)

The road to completing a nether portal in Minecraft is long and potentially arduous. When playing survival mode, it's not as easy as whipping out obsidian blocks and igniting them. It sometimes requires hours of preparation. Finishing that nether portal means gaining access to the hellish Nether, a place filled with hostile mobs, intimidating environments and imposing nether fortresses. It's also the only place to find a wide variety of unique materials and crafting items, making it a valuable location to have access to.

There are two viable methods of getting to the Nether, so you're not out of luck yet. Read on to find out how.

Related: Everything we know about 'the Nether Update' so far

What do you need to know about nether portals in Minecraft?

Minecraft Nether Portal

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Before we get into the two ways one might build a nether portal, let us cover what precisely a nether portal looks like. A nether portal is constructed out of a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 14 blocks of obsidian. When fully built, it should look like a large doorway, with a two-block by three-block gap making up the center.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Full nether portal: As you can see from the image above, a nether portal is a four-sided rectangle: two sides of 4 blocks making the top and bottom, and two sides of 3 blocks making the left and right. Think of it as two pillars standing on a foundation and holding up a roof. This takes 14 blocks of obsidian.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Partial nether portal: However, as you can see from the image above, the corners are optional. A nether portal is still fully functional even without the corners, saving you some obsidian in the process. This is also a way for someone to spruce up their nether portal with some decorative corners if they wanted to. This takes ten blocks of obsidian.

There are a few more things to keep in mind regarding nether portals and how traveling through them works:

  • Distance in the Nether works differently. Every block you traverse in the Nether is actually the equivalent of eight blocks in the Overworld. This means that using the Nether can be an effective means of traveling huge distances quickly.
  • Nether portals aren't all connected. In a similar vein to the last point, nether portals aren't all connected to one another. When a player travels through the nether portal, that portal will take them to the same relative location in the Nether. If there isn't a nether portal already there, one will be generated automatically.
  • You can build multiple nether portals. This means that a player can build multiple nether portals in multiple locations, with the understanding that those portals will always transport you to the same relative location in the other dimension. Thus, traveling long distances in the Nether and then building another nether portal to return isn't a bad idea.

How do you build a nether portal without diamonds in Minecraft?

Minecraft Nether Portal

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to construct a functional nether portal without harvesting those elusive diamonds. While it's true that obsidian, the primary ingredient in building a nether portal, cannot be broken or mined by the player with anything but a diamond pickaxe, there are ways around that if you want a little shortcut. Bear in mind, there are some limitations to this method.

To get started, you'll need:

  • A lava source: This one is a little harder to come by. You'll have to find a natural reservoir of lava to draw from, and you can't rely on having an infinite source. You can import that lava from faraway places if you have a plethora of iron buckets, but you'll want to have at least ten buckets of lava. Fortunately, lava is relatively common in Minecraft, both above and below ground.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • A water source: Obsidian is formed when water comes in contact with a lava source block. That means you'll need a replenishable source of water to complete this. You can build an infinite well by digging a four block by four block hole in the ground and emptying a bucket of water into three of the corners. You'll notice the final corner automatically fills up. As long as you only extract water from one corner at a time, you now have an ever-full well!
  • Extra building blocks. This can really be anything you want, but I recommend cobblestone. It doesn't burn, it's easily accessible, and it isn't affected by gravity (like sand or gravel.)

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Iron buckets: Buckets are handy for transporting liquid from one place to another. In this case, from wherever you're getting the liquid to your nether portal construction project. You can craft iron buckets with 3 iron ingots (smelted from iron ore.)

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Flint and steel: A fire starter is a necessity for lighting a nether portal once it's built, so you'll need to have flint and steel handy. It's extremely easy to craft, however, just requiring one piece of flint (found from gravel) and one iron ingot to get the job done.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • A pickaxe. Assuming you chose cobblestone as your material of choice, you'll need a pickaxe to mine it when you're done. Iron or diamond is preferred.

Building your nether portal in Minecraft

Once you've rounded up all your materials, it's time to get started. First off, make sure you're familiar with the basic build of a nether portal by referring to the section above. Once you have that out of the way, follow the steps below, and you'll have a perfect portal in no time. The secret to building a nether portal without diamonds is relatively simple: obsidian is formed when water hits a lava source block. Just make a mold to make sure the obsidian happens to be created in the exact shape needed for a nether portal.

To build a nether portal without diamonds, do the following:

  1. Find a suitable place for your Nether portal. I recommend either building a closed space for it or keeping it separate from everything else since it is possible for Nether mobs to travel through a portal occasionally.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Begin building your mold by placing your building blocks in a three-block by a six-block rectangle on the ground.
  2. Fill your mold with lava. You should have a single line of lava four blocks long. Each block of lava needs to be full, so you'll need a bucket of lava for each spot.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Go to one end of the mold and pour a bucket of water at the end. This will make a bit of a mess, but you can pick the water back up. The water should run over the lava blocks and turn each one into obsidian.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. On either end, build a column with a 1 block opening directly over the obsidian blocks. This is how we build the sides of the nether portal.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Repeat steps 3 and 4. There's only the one way to make obsidian, so you'll be doing a lot of that.
  2. Repeat step 5 and 6 on both sides two more times. Each side of the nether portal needs to be five obsidian blocks from top to bottom.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Now the top! Build a little bridge one block down from the top of your obsidian pillars.
  2. Give the bridge railing. The railing should be even with the top of your obsidian pillars. No reason to let lava spill everywhere.
  3. Repeat steps 3 and 4 one more time. Once the water is cleared away, you should have a fully functional nether portal!

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. At least, under all that scaffolding. Clear away all your excess building materials to reveal your nether portal. Check to make sure your measurements are correct. If something's not right, you may need to repeat these steps in a different location.
  2. Finally, take your flint and steel and light one of the bottom corners of the nether portal. If everything is correct, the nether portal should be filled with an ominous purple glow. That's your cue to walk into it.

Keep in mind, there's one major flaw with this approach. While you theoretically gain access quicker than other players, you are unable to build another nether portal in the Nether. If you get lost and can't find your way back to the original portal, you're basically out of luck. Without diamonds, you can't stockpile obsidian, only make it as you need it. And that doesn't work in the Nether. While you can find obsidian in the Nether by looting chests, you shouldn't rely on this. Make sure you mark where your portal is when you arrive.

How do you build a nether portal with diamonds in Minecraft?

Minecraft Nether Portal

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

If you've already found diamonds in Minecraft, and have all the necessary ingredients to craft a diamond pickaxe, building a nether portal is far easier for you. Whether you make your obsidian or find it while exploring, you can simply mine it with your diamond pickaxe and take it with you. Obsidian takes forever to mine, so you'll be waiting for quite a while, but as long as your pickaxe is made of diamond, it'll soon join your inventory.

Once you have 10 to 14 blocks of obsidian stockpiled, you can build your nether portal wherever you want by using the portal schematics above. This takes the guesswork out of it, and it means you can keep extra obsidian on hand in case you need to quickly build a portal to escape the Nether. Unless you have a reason for wanting to get to the Nether a little earlier (like potion brewing, or to explore the new biomes as part of 'the Nether Update,'), it's probably best to do things like this.

Wrapping up

Now that you know how to build a nether portal, you can move back and forth as much as you want. Once you've mastered the Nether itself, nothing will be able to stop you! Except creepers. Those are still a threat. You're also fully prepared to conquer the Nether when the Nether Update is released.

Related: When will the Nether Update release for Minecraft?

Do you have any other tricks for getting to the Nether? What about unique ways of adding a nether portal to your Minecraft world? Let us know in the comments below!

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Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.

27 Comments
  • Well the Minecraft article/ guide before this was "how to survive your first night in Minecraft" or something like that and now it's portal guide. Seriously? I thought it will be step by step guide. Don't get me wrong but it'll be helpful if it's step by step. (I recently started playing Minecraft on PC but haven't figured so many basic things)
  • Hi Monil D, thanks for your comment! I understand the frustration with the disconnectedness of these posts, we have multiple people working on these guides at the moment. Thanks for reading!
  • I spent 30 minutes yesterday trying out Minecraft. I still don't see the appeal of the game.
  • What did you do in those 30 minutes? What mode were you in? What was the difficulty level? Was it because you didn't really know what to do or because you didn't enjoy what you knew you needed to do? I know that I watched someone play Minecraft back in 2012 for 20 minutes and thought it looked pretty stupid. Now I consider it the greatest game ever made.
  • I only tried the demo after watching that WCentral stream. No idea in what mode that was but I saw no zombies or spiders or whatever so I'm assuming it was creative. I did the basic stuff. Collecting wood, wool, meat, crafting items, building stuff, killing monks... It just wasn't entertaining. It was as if someone took the boring part of Age of Empires (collecting resources) and turned it into a game. I didn't even use the free 90 minutes of gameplay the demo offers.
  • //it was ss if someone took the boring part of Age Of Empires and turned into a new game //
    I too thought the same always.. :D
    But with lesser number of pixels though.. LOL.. Posted via the Windows Central App for Skynet
  • Survival is definitely the mode to play in (unless you just want to build things, then, of course, Creative is the way to go). But I'd say you would know more than anyone whether the game is for you or not, and it sounds like you at least got a taste of the basic formula and it didn't click with you (although, it sounds like you didn't have to fend off monsters, which is a big part of the game, but which also isn't likely to drastically change your mind about the game). Personally, I enjoyed the basic aspect of the game (those first few nights where you need to secure resoures, find a food source, escape from monsters, and build a shelter), so I knew fairly early on I liked the game. What I didn't expect was how much more I'd come to like the game as I advanced further into it and discovered things like fully automatic Redstone contraptions, the mystery and challenge of the Nether, smelting and potion brewing, the just the overall satisfaction of building unique things in my own unique world, etc. Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it, but at least you gave it a shot!
  • I had always played in the past in creative mode. I would doink around for 20-30 minutes and get bored. I watched the first Beam Cast with Daniel, Zac and Jez and that helped me pick up on the little things in survival mode to get started. If you tried on creative, maybe give survival a try.
    Also, I agree with coip. I spent years not really understanding the appeal and now I am hooked. Just took me having to really watch someone play.
  • Thanks for watching us :)
  • If only could see live cam feeds like Paul does!
  • You can also cast a Nether portal frame directly from water and lava to create the obsidian in a mold. Saves you the chore of mining it.
  • Genius!
  • What is the point of this game? To see how long you can stay alive? This just looks like a time wasting machine, like I'm sure its enjoyable but what is the point of it? When can you put the controller down and say you're done? If It's just endless exploring and such, I don't see how people can spend so much time in this. I understand the creation part. Like if you have an idea in mind, you can create that, but other than that. Where is the fun and where is the satisfaction?
  • You can say that about a lot though. MMOs as another gaming example. But in general people can say that about a lot of hobbies they don't understand. I feel that about Pokémon Go or reading books... (I read a lot, just not books anymore. Though I have been trying to more lately. But typically I just get bored and play a game or come here.) Farming simulator is another semi-pointless game I enjoy. The point is, sometimes things don't need to have a point or end game to have fun. Sometimes it is good to just enjoy something.
  • For MMOs, Pokémon Go, etc., there is a sense of progression and also there is the social aspect, as well as the gloating factor (oh I have eight perfect dragonites and have all non-region specific Pokémons).
  • There is also a sense of progression and large social presence in Minecraft as well. The game seems to be whatever you make of it.
  • people like to use their imaginations to role play and play with friends.
  • There are bosses to kill. Other than that there doesn't really need to be an end. Look at a lot of the city builders, or any sandbox game. The fun is what YOU make of it.
  • There are so many things you can do in Minecraft that I can't list them all, but if you desire a specific goal / linear journey, Minecraft has that too: slay the Ender Dragon and kill the Wither. Getting to those two points requires doing a lot of other things that mostly involve finding resources (i.e. mining) and transforming them into other things that help you advance (i.e. crafting). For example, you can't even find those two bosses until you obtain certain materials, and you'll have no chance of beating them without proper weapons, armor, and buffs (from potions), and getting all of those things is a fun journey in and of itself. I've been playing Minecraft for two straight years now and it's only becoming more interesting the further I advance in the game.
  • please stop with these Minecraft articles... there are like 5 year olds that know all this stuff already.
  • And yet there are also people who don't know about it. It took you longer to write your stupid comment than it does to scroll past it.
  • quality over quantity. making it longer isnt necessary. i made my point.
  • And you either didn't read my comment or you're too dumb to get it.
  • you said it takes longer for me to write my comment than it does to scroll passed it.... i said i dont need to make it longer.... do you get it now ??? 
  • Yup, you've confirmed it, you're too dumb. Thanks for the clarification.
  • Ed1444, no, they won't stop. This is not Ed's personal site where he gets to determine what audience we cater to. -management
  • Maybe you should inform management that this game went public seven years ago and that it has been documented in thousands of guides and articles on the internet. The basic mechanics and crafting recipes are pretty much interchangeable for the original game and the scaled down mobile and console versions. So what's the point then? All this info can be found elsewhere for years and it is not like Google (ads/ seo) will rank you higher with this redundant and irrelevant content.