There are no set menus: brunch is pretty much what each customer wants to make of it. And there’s no shortage of options: Brazilian-style tapioca pancakes, smoothie bowls, granola, toasted sandwiches for all tastes, various coffee drinks and a cocktails menu that will be hard to say no to.
Forget the timetable. Holidays are holidays. At Casinha Boutique Café you can order brunch at any hour. It includes a drink, a croissant or scone, soup or Greek yoghurt with raspberries, a sandwich or scrambled eggs with cured ham, and also a slice of cheesecake, apple pie or chocolate cake.
Healthy options like oatmeal pancakes or quinoa with sautéed mushrooms, brewed coffee from Brazil and Colombia and a beautiful garden in the back to spend the day. That’s what you’ll find at Noshi Coffee, one of the new hot spots at Porto’s Baixa.
You can spend the whole day at this tea house at Foz. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served, besides great snacks like the apple pie and an incredible chocolate cake. Group dinners are also organized. It’s located by the sea and with birds everywhere.
Located at one of Porto's busiest streets, the Majestic Café, with its Belle Époque decor, is one of the city's ex-libris. Try the cheesecake and, while waiting, take the opportunity to photograph the room decorated with mirrors and crafted ceilings.
The city lacked a mozzarella bar and Luís Américo, one of Porto’s best chefs, filled that gap by opening Puro 4050. His mozzarellas from Caserta are the stars of the show. There you’ll have pasta dishes, risottos and, for dessert, Italian classics reinvented – such as tiramisu made with Port wine.
Ribeira is a mandatory part of visiting Porto. But before, you’ll need a proper meal. At the Adega São Nicolau the menu is filled with traditional dishes, such as Braga style codfish, Lagareiro roasted octopus or Arouquesa veal steak. Don’t ignore the homemade desserts or the wine list.
After years in existence, it’s fair to say that Cafeína has earned a place in the city’s gastronomical pantheon. Try the cod au gratin with aioli sauce, the duck magret with sweet and sour sauce or the beef Wellington. The venue is also famous for its steaks and various egg dishes.
This interesting restaurant in the city’s northeastern suburbs has been going for decades. But the new management that came in a few years ago has really spread its fame far and wide. The kitchen now turns out updated versions of traditional dishes: from grilled octopus to a tender Arouquesa veal.
Pedro Lemos, with a Michelin Star, is located in the Foz district, where the eponymous chef leads the kitchen and turns every meal into an experiment. Check it out yourself. Whether you try it à la carte or you go for the set menu, it’s well worth a visit.
Artisanal ice cream daily produced on site, with or without milk. Flavours vary according to the fruit of the season and their special creations include Madeira bananas and white chocolate. It also serves crepes, waffles and pancakes with or without ice cream and hot chocolate on top.
Admittedly the usual idea in Porto is to stuff yourself with francesinhas, tripe stew and other traditional dishes. But there are things that you can’t resist, such as the hamburgers at Peebz. The brioche buns are lightly toasted, the meat is super-tasty and the relishes are a dream.
In this restaurant you can taste food with influences from various parts of the world, such as beetroot carpaccio with horseradish yogurt, Vietnamese octopus salad, fish kebabs with tomato sauce and sliced toasted bread, and Thai fish cakes. To go with it, order one of the house cocktails.
This traditional and affordable restaurant in the Bolhão area is so popular that it can even afford to close on Saturday evenings. A meal at the Buraco has to start with hake rissoles; then try the veal pie, the breaded sardines with rice and beans, the fried hake or its legendary duck rice.
Though close to Baixa (downton), Casa Nanda is in a quieter area. It serves a good skinless alheira de caça (traditional game sausage), rancho (a stew with chickpeas, pasta and meat) and mílharas de pescada frita (fried hake eggs). The aletria (a creamy, egg custard with noodles) is good and runny.
Dishes you have to try
Prepare to wait in the queue for a seat at Santiago. Is it worth it? Yes. When it’s a matter of eating Porto’s best francesinha, with a delicious sauce; mortadela with green pepper; nice and spicy linguiça sausage; a thin steak with little fat; lots of cheese melted over it; and an egg on top.
Imagine the following: a thin toasted bun with a filling of sausage and melted cheese, sprinkled with butter and a spicy sauce and then cut up into little pieces. That’s what you’ll find when you sit at the counter at the Cervejaria Gazela, in the Batalha neighbourhood.
What makes the éclairs here stand out from all others is the filling - homemade sweetened whipped cream rather than industrial custard cream. But the lightness of the pastry and the icings, such as milk chocolate, coffee or lemon also help. You can order them in the normal miniature size.
The queues out the door make clear that something good is happening inside Casa Guedes. That something is a delicious pork-leg sandwich with or without queijo da Serra (a traditional cheese from Serra da Estrela). The pork is swimming in sauce, the cheese is creamy and the bread lightly toasted.
Even if you’re not really a fan of chocolate cake, you may find it hard to resist the one at Apetites. While the outside is well cooked, the centre is almost a mousse. As well as the regular version there’s another made with chocolate with 70% cocoa.
Parks and gardens
In the middle of Porto and laid out in the 19th century by the landscape architect Émile David, these gardens are a product of the Romantic era. One of their strong points is the view of the Douro River, but it’s worth checking out their botanical wealth, sculptures, and the Carlos Alberto chapel.
An unusual garden on a series of terraces on a south-facing slope. More of a place to lounge than to stroll, it draws lots of young people, especially at weekends - sometimes, in the summer, for parties that are held here. The view of the river and the city’s old houses are other strong points.
It may be small, but it has some interesting secrets – starting with the decorative elements from various periods, as well as a mini-golfe and a chalet with a terrace to sip a drink. We also recommend a rather unusual visit: to the loos, for their Art Nouveau tiles and antique British fixtures.
A world-class garden, showcasing the best of landscape design from the first 20th century. It’s divided into areas laid out along geometric lines, offering captivating landscapes at every turn. Then there’s the rest: the Art Deco house, the Museum of Contemporary Art and a series of sculptures.
A private property that displays the dedication of several generations of keen botanists, with gardens meticulously laid out according to the taste of various different periods. Visits are guided by a member of the family and may include a Port wine tasting.
Four hectares of carefully tended vegetation surround a beautiful late-19th-century house, on different levels. There’s a bit of everything, with formal gardens, rare trees and other plants, greenhouses and two lakes. It’s a great place to get away from crowds and mandatory for plant lovers.
The best place to bring the little ones. On skates, waveboards or bicycles, let them roam around the 83 hectares of the country’s largest city park. You can also take some rackets, a football and a bag of bread crumbs to feed to the ducks. To feed you, there’s Soundwich, a good sandwich kiosk.
A terrain with 35 hectares and hundreds of species of animals and plants to discover. There is also a small zoo with native animals, a nature reserve with birds, amphibians and mammals – including some protected species –, and an ecomuseum where children can see a watermill, among other cool things.
City lifers will tell you that everyone in Porto should watch the sunrise at the Morro garden at least once. We think the garden is great at any time. Its view is, anyway. You can get there by subway but crossing the upper deck of the Luiz I Bridge by foot makes the experience even more gratifying.
Things to do
Besides being one of the most important monuments in Porto, it also has one of the best panoramic views over the city – if you feel like taking all the 240 steps to the top of tower, of course.
If you cross the bridge to Gaia, you’ll get the chance to know how Port wine cellars are on the inside. Caves Ferreira is one of the eldest in the city and if its historic relevance is of no importance to you then just go for the Port wine.
It’s time to leave Foz and there’s no better way to do so than to take the tram. Buy the ticket directly from the driver and enjoy the trip all the way to Ribeira. There are only three of these in town, the number 1 (which offers the best views), 18 and the 22, and all of them cover different routes.
The oldest brand, born in 1914, is called Avianense and its top product is the Imperador bonbons; another classic is Imperial, which sells Regina umbrellas and Jubileu almonds; at Arcádia you’ll have to try their “línguas de gato” cookies.
This way you’ll have a meal of grilled fish in one of the good restaurants of Afurada, a town of fishermen. You’ll catch a boat named Flor do Gás — departures are every 15 minutes; it’s almost like a taxi ride. Once you get there, enjoy a magnificent view of Porto.
Some say J.K. Rowling took inspiration from it for her Harry Potter books; international media call it one of the world’s most beautiful; we say it’s worth it to buy a ticket and wait in line to enter the Lello & Irmão bookstore.
The expertise in building traditional rabelos boats in miniature has been in Sr. Fernando’s (Náná) family for generations. At the Oficina do Náná you can watch the master sculpting the models that people love to photograph, but not everyone remembers to buy.
Don’t be surprised to see local kids at Ribeira jumping into the river from the lower deck of the Luiz I bridge. As well as being a great way to cool off on hot days, they aim to win a few coins with their bold acrobatics.
Otherwise known as the Ascensor da Ribeira (Ribeira lift), this whisks you up from the Rua da Lada to Barredo, further uphill in the Ribeira neighbourhood, in a trip of less than a minute. It’s free and it’ll give you a different view of the town.
There’s a chance that by the time you’re grabbing this map the famous old Bolhão market has already moved to a temporary home due to restoration works on the original market hall. If that didn’t happen yet, go there as soon as you can.
Portuguese footwear is selling well and deserves to. If you don’t believe it drop into The Feeting Room, a shop that stocks various Portuguese brands, and try it for yourself. There are shoes for all feet (that’s to say, for men, women and children) as well as accessories and clothes.
One of the most popular places in Baixa. At Almada 13 you'll find clothing, illustrations, footwear, accessories and much more from three Portuguese brands: Águas Furtadas, Rota do Chá and The Yellow Boat. The team is complemented by Miss Pavlova, that serves the city’s best pavlovas.
Behind one of Porto’s most photographed doors (painted by a design student), there’s one of the city’s prettiest stores — Coração Alecrim. It describes itself as “green, vintage, indie” and you'll understand why. The handmade products stress ecological sustainability and are really worth a look.
Fans of home decor will go crazy at Mercado Loft Store, a homeware and interiors store in Baixa that looks like a magazine photo shoot. Here you can buy pieces for every room in the house – some in classic style, others more daring – from around the world.
Vintage clothing, retro furniture, Portuguese ceramics and original lighting fittings from Artur Mendanha, the mastermind behind the store: that’s just a few examples of what you’ll find at Patch Porto, a concept store in one of the city’s trendiest streets.
Vida Portuguesa opened in Porto in 2009 and has ever since showcased the country’s history through products familiar to generations - such as Paupério biscuits, Viacro pencils, Couto toothpaste, Bordalo Pinheiro's tableware pieces in faiança and Fábrica Coração silver polish.
A former ironware workshop built in the 1930's has given way to a multi-purpose space that serves as a showcase for dozens of brands of clothing and accessories, tableware and plants. At the back of the Workshops Pop Up there’s a kitchen studio that often hosts cooking lessons with great chefs.
When you enter this shop it’s impossible not to notice the stone walls and tree trunks. Look more carefully and you’ll also find hand-painted ceramics, wooden toys, tote bags with screen-printed designs, Danish furniture and bicycles – one of the things that Mercado 48 is famous for.
One of the first arrivals in the Quarteirão das Artes – the ‘Arts Block’ as the area is loosely defined. As well as the coworking space that gives it its name (CRU Cowork), it also houses projects in the fields of illustration, accessories, footwear and clothing.
The Portuguese Claus Porto is one of the most recognized soaps' brands in the world. With 130 years of history, it has recently opened a store at Baixa, which, in addition to selling its products such as soaps, lotions and colognes, also has a barbershop, a small museum and a workshop laboratory.
A, B, C, D, E, F. For the time being, this is where the beer alphabet from Letra ends, a small national brand that opened a bar in Porto. But there are many others to taste, 50 in total. There are two spaces inside to sit and drink, but it's in the huge garden in the back that everyone wants.
Porto is a small city but has a considerable number of bars where you can have a late afternoon post-work drink. The locals love it. Don’t take our word for it, just go to Aduela and see for yourself. It’s a good place to sample Portuguese wines from several regions at affordable prices.
The Italian restaurant of Vasco Mourão, Foz's biggest gastronomic entrepeneur, has wood-fired pizzas, pastas — try the carbonara —, and one of the best terraces in town. Even during the Winter, thanks to the nice fireplace. Just go there, dear visitor.
Base is already better known than lupini beans. But, as incredible as it may seem, it's not as old as that. Whenever the skies are clear in the late afternoon, few are those who resist its wooden terrace, filled with sofas and tables, perfect to sip a drink while chatting with friends.
No, Noémia da Costa Pinto doesn't own this space. It's a fictional character created by the owners João Pinto and Andreia da Costa, who opened a guesthouse recently and gave the world a new terrace. And if there are still secret terraces around this is undoubtedly one of them.
Like no other place in this city, Armazém is a gigantic warehouse (that’s what the name means), with 1500 square meters to be more precise, where antiques are sold, drinks are had, food is shared, art is shown, music is played, workshops are held and people get together.
One of the few veggie-friendly spots in Porto, Essência, in Constituição, is a great bet. They also serve non-green dishes as well – two for lunch, four for dinner. The ever-changing menu is always mouthwatering, with delicacies such as asparagus and fennel risotto or the Thai vegetable curry.
It’s a two-for-one restaurant. Downstairs, they serve the city's best focaccia, made from homemade bread in a relaxed setting with high tables and an Italian style outdoors area. Upstairs there is a steakhouse with some of the best beef cuts in the city, many of them cooked in a Josper oven-grill.
The Bolhão BB Gourmet (there are six of these around the city) is a great choice any time of the day. At the start of the day you can go there for breakfast and bring a take-away meal for lunch. You can have a hot bun (baked in the premises) in the afternoon and then return for a dinner of, let's say, veal with risotto alla parmigiana.
A sunny terrace with alternative electronic music and an amazing view of the Virtudes Garden. Ideal for a memorable sunset, accompanied with a glass of wine. The restaurant serves good traditional Portuguese food and the ambience is clean and relaxed.
If there’s anywhere in town where they really know their stuff it’s Catraio, one of the city’s pioneers in terms of craft beer. Every month they have new tipples to try and they never repeat a barrel, precisely to foster a spirit of discovery.
There are few things in life that feel as good as the sea breeze caressing your face in Matosinhos. But hot summer days demand more than a bit of fresh air; they call for Caipirinhas and Mojitos at Sandhouse. To go with it, order some samosas or chicken thighs as an aperitif.
Sea, sun and nice cold cocktails being turned out at a frenetic pace by the barmen on duty is the perfect combination for any late afternoon. Head out to L’Kodac, a bar/restaurant in Leça da Palmeira, right on the beach, and order a Margarita, a Gin fizz or perhaps a house Mojito.
Here you’ll have the ideal frame to start planning your weekend, as you sit back gazing at the city and stirring up envy on Instagram. Ask for a cold fino (as draft beer is called in Porto) along with a hot dog, a francesinha or just a simple ham-and-cheese.