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.
At Brasão, the menu includes papas de sarrabulho (made with corn flour and blood), codfish with capers and mustard, minced beef with pickles, and, of course, the francesinha, Porto’s famed multi-layered sandwich. And as any good cervejaria, it also has beers from all over Europe.
One of the most pleasant venues in the city, not least because of the large shared table in the centre. It gives it a nice rustic ambience. The wraps, toasts and salads are amongst the specialities. The soup of the day is a nice bet and the carrot cake (not always available) is the best in town.
Incredible pizzas await in an old house overlooking the river, where this offshoot of Lisbon’s renowned Casanova restaurant is based. It was from this very building that the engineer Edgar Cardoso oversaw the construction of the nearby Arrábida road bridge.
The Japanese cuisine trend was big in Porto and Shiko in particular made the city go wild. The restaurant is small and it’s really difficult to get a table (especially on weekends) to taste their small portions. Sushiman Ruy Leão offers, besides sushi, a menu full of other interesting choices.
It’s one of those restaurants good for any occasion, whether a romantic dinner, a family lunch or just to snack with friends. For shellfish, you could hardly do better than heading for Marisqueira de Matosinhos. Don’t forget to try the lavagante (lobster), the top house speciality.
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
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.
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.
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.
The Miradouro Ignez started last year and quickly became part of the routine of many locals, thanks to the view of the river and the old town. The terrace overlooking the city is good for photosynthesis and for lazy early evenings gazing at the boats sliding by down on the Douro river.
The Rua Galeria de Paris has lots of bars. Café au Lait, one of them, has usually nice music selected by good DJs - some of them talented local producers. You might stumble upon an electronic festival or one featuring hip hop or funk. You could very well start and end your night here.
On another key street in Porto’s nightlife scene, Rua Cândido dos Reis, there’s a city institution – as well as a club great for Instagram snaps. It has three proper rooms and various intermediate ones, each with its own decoration. There’s even a statue with a fountain on the ground floor.
Maus hábitos is one of the city’s best bars, in a very special building. It has monthly programme featuring various parties that come highly recommended (Hard AssSessions, GrooveBall, Arena, CandyWaves), concerts, film screenings, tango nights and exhibitions by independent local artists.
Tendinha is one of Porto’s legendary clubs – and the one where a lot of people end up when they want the night to last until dawn (so don’t be surprised if you come across a few drunks on the way). The main driving force here is the danceable rock.
You have to enter this former factory and seek out the artists’ interventions, but the effort is well worth your while to find a gallery lined with works by Portuguese ‘writers’ HBSR, Hium, Klit, Mars, Vhils, Youth One, Caos, Oker and Mr. Dheo and, over from London, Best&Ever.
There are plenty of works by Hazul around town, as well as from many others that have disappeared. One of the most iconic pieces is right in Rua Miguel Bombarda, with many art galleries. Take also a look at the mural by Tina Siuda on the Hotel Mercador and, further along, the D. Quixote.
Rua Miguel Bombarda
Vhils is Portugal’s best known exponent of urban art, and already well known internationally. This is one of just two works of his in Porto and it is easily found. It features his signature style, with a giant face sculpted out of a building’s façade.
Rua da Atafona/ Rua da Ancira, 6-8 (Miragaia)
Frederico Draw, a famous Portuguese artist, chose this wall for strategic reasons: it is next to Ponte Dom Luís I (Dom Luís I bridge), so that the figure he painted welcomes all those who arrive in Porto from Vila Nova de Gaia. Wasn’t it a great idea?
Avenida de Vimara Peres
This work is made up of 3,000 ceramic tiles contributed by dozens of participants, each of whom had four tiles to answer the question “Who are you, Porto?”. The idea came from ±maismenos±, one of Portugal’s most socially and political active artists.
Rua da Madeira
For those who don’t know, Soares dos Reis Museum was the country’s first public museum. Founded in 1833 (back then it had another name and address) it was one of liberalism’s biggest conquests. It has a varied and vast collection of Portuguese artists (especially those from Porto).
The Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art is always worth a visit. Designed by architect Álvaro Siza Vieira, its collection has around 4000 works, mostly from the late 20th and 21st centuries. Many of them belong to the Serralves Foundation itself. There are always temporary exhibitions.
The history of Porto’s Santa Casa da Misericórdia – a royal-backed Catholic foundation to help the needy – is told here, at the museum created for this purpose. It harbours the precious Fons Vitae, painted in the 16th century by a Flemish master and contemporary work by sculptor Rui Chaves.
Renovated in 2012, it now has a cafeteria, a bookshop, a museum and a garden full of sculptures and, most importantly, a great modern art collection, which has works of art from artists such as Amadeo Souza-Cardoso, Almada Negreiros, Sarah Afonso and, of course, from Teixeira Lopes himself
It recreates 19th century life, linking it with the romantic movement and Porto. It has a billiards room, a ballroom and a dining hall. This late 18th century building is located in the Quinta de Sacramento or Macieiras, and aims to preserve the feel of a bourgeois house of this era.
The National Press Museum takes visitors to get to know the history of the print media from various aspects, including machinery and documents. There are some rare specimens here, such as an 18th-century printing press and a manual guillotine from 1900.
The Museum of Transport and Communications comprises several exhibitions, from the history of the building itself – once a busy customs house – to the theme of communication, to a display of official vehicles of Portugal’s presidents from the declaration of the Republic into the present day.
Pharmacies seen from a historical perspective, with valuable pieces from years of history. Among the many surprises there are two old pharmacies that were literally transported to this space: Porto’s own Farmácia Estácio and na Islamic pharmacy from a palace in Damascus.
Aguda Beach, Vila Nova de Gaia (17km away)
By car: 20 min // By bus: 32 min
Spot traditional fishermen along the way, with their colourful boats and nets. On your way back, take advantage of the wooden boardwalk over the dunes and stop at Chez Maurice to enjoy a panini with an ocean view.
São Pedro da Maceda Beach (35km away)
By car: 32 min // By bus: 46 min
If you've got wheels and want a leisurely day out, head for the Praia de São Pedro da Maceda, in Ovar. It’s good for surfing and windsurfing, and there are stretches used by nudists. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Canide Sul Beach, Vila Nova de Gaia (8km away)
By car: 16 min // By bus: 58 min
Vila Nova de Gaia’s beaches are considered to be Northern Portugal’s best, and Canide Sul beach is a perfect example. It’s easy to get to, there’s loads of space and it has lifeguards. Watch out for watersports fans: in the summer it’s stiff with ’em.
Moreiró Beach, Vila do Conde (19km away)
By car: 30 min // By bus: 1h 15 min
Probably the quietest beach on this list – it doesn’t even feature any massive building sites! Moreiró Beach is a typical family destination, for people after a fuss-free sunny day out. If you’re some kind of unreconstructed sophisticate, there’s a bar here too.
Leça Beach, Matosinhos (13km away)
By car: 16 min// By bus: 15 min
The Leça da Palmeira beach is Matosinhos’s most crowded – and the easiest to find, thanks to its iconic giant advertising sign, giving it the popular nickname ‘Nivea Ball Beach’: snappy! It’s a hangout place for a younger crowd, but don’t worry – there’s plenty of room for everybody.