The object of the game is to capture and upgrade portals. However, the first step to this is finding the portals to attack and claim.
Portals are located throughout the world, at places of interest, that are publicly accessible. Many of these portals focus around works of art, namely statues and outdoor murals. They may also appear at post offices, libraries and fire stations. Other locations are special buildings or businesses and locations of historical significance.
The best way to locate these portals is going to be using the intel map. However, it is very time consuming using the intel map to find low level portals as you need to be zoomed in very closely. It is much easier when you know where to look for them. A lot of the starting portals came from The Historic Marker Database so that can be used to help locate portals near you. It may also be worthwhile to download the Field Trip app to see it’s suggestions on locations near you.
What you want to find is a place that has many portal located in close proximity to each other so you can easily walk between them hacking them and linking them together to create fields. This will give you the ability to gain the most amount of experience (action points) as fast as possible. As you will not be able to create long distance links and large control field until you are at a higher level.
If you can’t find portals near you but know of places that qualify you can create your own portal.