Today, My Design Agenda will explore Porto! This Invicta is one of the oldest cities in Europe and is now one of the best destinations for design lovers. It was proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and it’s the home of two Pritzker winners (arch. Álvaro Siza Vieira and arch. Eduardo Souto Moura), Oporto is like an open-air museum. The Douro river bathes the shores of the old city and is also the birthplace of the many vineyards where grapes come from to produce the iconic Port wine.
From architecture to arts and music, Porto is a wonderful city where you can marry the busy working life with the joy of its maritime weather, combined with the tasty and traditional food. All of this lead to its nomination as Best European Destination, and that’s why today MyDA brings you the best design lovers guide of the city of Porto, with everything you need to know about Places to Visit, Architecture, Wine Tasting, Where to Sleep, Where to Eat, Where to Drink and, of course, Where to Party!
If you’re a true design lover, you can’t miss this location. Just a few minutes away from the Ribeira, Covet Douro is the ultimate experience of lived-design specially conceived for all design lovers worldwide. The house – an ancient three-floor waterfront mansion – is filled with remarkable architectural details that hold the glory from the noble past and traditions of Portugal. In this timeless scenario, a unique showroom was born and each room was decorated by prestigious design brands like Boca do Lobo, Brabbu, Essential Home andDelightFULL. Enjoy the view, architecture and design while having a wonderful drink at Covet Douro’s Covet Club, an exquisite lounge bar. The visits are by appointment only so don’t miss your chance and schedule now!
After your visit of Covet Douro, head down to the amazing Ribeira. Located right next to the Douro River, the most traditional area of Porto is filled with colorful residential buildings located in narrow streets, where clothes dry outside each window and neighbours still exchange onions and eggs. To reach Foz do Porto, where beaches meet fabulous gardens and avenues, as well as eye-catching houses, just walk along the waterfront of catch the 500 bus. For the curious ones, we recommend the old but beautiful tram.
While you’re at Foz, take a walk to the stunning Serralves Foundation‘s surroundings. It’s composed of the museum, a masterpiece building by architect Álvaro Siza Vieira, the Art Deco Villaand its gardens, scattered with pieces of art.
Santa Catarina Street is one of the favourite places for the people of Porto to update their closets. With lots of shops on every corner, this is a place that offers lots of choices and quality. Here you can visit the shops that you already know or small artisanal boutiques, that settle in magnificent buildings, where the rushed life of Porto does not go unnoticed.
Right next to Santa Catarina Street there’s the Bolhão Market., the most authentic and historical market in Porto. It has beautiful Neo-classicalstyle and it was built in 1850. Here you can find all sorts of fresh products, but also meet the sellers who hold the true spirit of Porto’s locals.
Address: Rua Formosa, 4000-214 Porto
Avenida dos Aliados
This avenue is the main one among all that constitute this city. The buildings that surround it go back to the 18th and 19th Centuries.
Address: Avenida dos Aliados, Porto
Praça dos Leões
The Praça dos Leões, located about 10 minutes away from Avenida dos Aliados, is a warm and hospitable place that hosts the immense students. Here the students meet, either by tradition, for dinner or just for socializing. Full of bars, highlighting the “Café Piolho D’Ouro” Bar, here the bars are filled with flags and cards of students coming from all over the world. Its surroundings are created by the Rectory Building of the University of Porto, the Garden of Cordoaria and also the former Chain of Relation of Oporto, now Portuguese Center of Photography.
Address: Praça de Gomes Teixeira 10, 4050-024 Porto
Palácio de Cristal/ Pavilhão Rosa Mota
The Palácio de Cristal was a building that had existed in our city, later demolished. Nevertheless, it gave rise to the current Pavilhão Rosa Mota that receives diverse shows. But the best part is the beautiful romantic gardens, lakes and animals that surround the building. It is a place full of several avenues, woods and belvederes that contemplate the city of Porto.
Address: Rua de Dom Manuel II 282, 4050-378 Porto
Miguel Bombarda Art Block
It’s a must-see for all the art and design lovers. Very well-known for its art galleries and new commercial trends from bookshops, retro alternative clothes or innovative design. There are always new exhibitions turning the street into a dynamic and attractive place.
Address: Rua Miguel Bombarda, 4050-522 Porto
São Bento Train Station
The amazing building dates back to 1893. It is majorly famous for the tile panels on the inside, depicting historical scenes. The tiles were installed between 1905 and 1906 by Jorge Colaço, a renowned Portuguese artist.
Address: Praça Almeida Garrett, 4000-069 Porto
One of the most notable examples of Baroque architecture, it was built in the 18th Century. Its façade is covered by a magnificent panel of blue and white tiles, representing the Brown Scapular imposition on Mount Carmel.
Address: Praça de Gomes Teixeira 10, 4050-011 Porto
Torre dos Clérigos
Standing at 75 meters tall, it’s the biggest tower in Portugal. It was built at the beginning of the 18th Century, with a staircase with 240 steps that lead to a balcony with a stunning panoramic view of the city and theDouro river.
Near Torre dos Clérigos, Lello Bookshop has been voted as one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world. Dating from 1906, the building has an Art Nouveau façade and Neo-gothic details. The magic place that inspired J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter saga.
Located at the Infante D. Henrique square, the historical city’s commercial association (Stock Exchange Palace) was built in the 19th Century. You have to buy a ticket to visit and there are guided tours available, that last approximately 45 minutes with several language options (Spanish, French and English besides Portuguese).
Conceived by Gustave Eiffel and finished in 1888, the main bridge of Porto is an easy way to walk to Vila Nova de Gaia and its wineries. All made of iron, the double-decked arch bridge is a popular spot for photographers.
Dressed with the mantle of the Porto’s University students and a wide-brimmed hat, Don (the iconic Sandeman figure) stands out as a dramatic shadowy figure, holding a glass of a ruby coloured Port wine. This is winery is located in a building built in 1797, offering guided tours of Port cellars and tastings, plus a museum and a gift shop.
Taylor’s, now in its fourth century, recently renovated its 300-year-old cellars to incorporate a modern and innovative museum circuit. Prepare to be taken on a vivid tour of the lodge that includes an array of films, images, exhibits, photographs and paintings.
Founded in 1751, the brand’s history is intertwined with the history of the evolution of the Douro region, demarcated only 5 years after, in 1756. Twice widowed, Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira contributed significantly to the consolidation of the brand.
Address: Avenida Ramos Pinto 70, 4400-082 Vila Nova de Gaia
Right on the riverfront, you can visit the rather grand Ramos Pinto and take a look at its historic offices and aging cellars. The basic 40-minute tour includes a visit to the museum plus a generous five-Port tasting.
Address: Avenida de Ramos Pinto 380, 4400-222 Porto
Where To Sleep
Infante Sagres Hotel
Porto’s most prestigious city centre address has been a meeting place for the city’s élite and the residence of choice for discerning travellers and international celebrities for more than six decades. Renowned for its stylish ambience, personalized service and a unique blend of timeless elegance and contemporary sophistication.
In a renovated 18th Century palace, the 5-star Intercontinental Hotel in Porto has spacious rooms with views for Porto’s historic centre. Ample and with details ranging from the designed floor, the majestic lamps and the comfort of the room, this hotel privileges the most monumental and bustling part of the city of Porto.
This is a 5-star hotel near Douro River, located in an 18th Century palace. This luxury hotel will provide you with an unforgettable stay. With decorative and figurative elements that emphasize the country’s nobility, this hotel offers history in all of its corners.
Located in the historic heart of Vila Nova de Gaia, the neighbouring city of Porto, The Yeatman hotel is located on a modern building with a privileged view over some of the most iconic sites of Porto’s River Front and located just a short walk away from the ancient and iconic lodges of Port Wine. Its fantastic location it’s complemented by a stunning service and an incredible range of accommodation, packages and services that include, for instance, an amazing luxury Spa.
Address: Rua do Choupelo, 4400-088 Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto
Where To Eat
Porto is home to many traditional dishes. Starting with the iconic Francesinha, a massive sandwich layered with smoked sausage, bacon and a medium rare steak. It’s then topped with an egg, a thick layer of cheese and covered with a spicy sauce whose recipe is still a secret.
Santiago is a restaurant and café from the 60’s, which is best known for the ‘francesinha’. The space is not very big and, due to its reputation, is usually crowded.
Address: Rua de Passos Manuel 226, 4000-382 Porto
Brasão is a success story in Porto because it is one of the few restaurants to compete on quality in snacks, offering hardcore ‘francesinha’ sandwiches (with lighter options available) and rump or sirloin steaks.
Address: Rua de Ramalho Ortigão 28, 4000-035 Porto
After the Francesinha, the most popular dish is Tripas À Moda do Porto. This dish combines guts, meat, beans and a particular sauce accompanied by rice. It’s believed that this dish goes back to the time of Discoveries, in the 14th century. However, if you’re willing to risk, this is a dish to take into account if you want to know the real flavours of Porto.
This is an emblematic restaurant in Porto. It serves Portuguese traditional dishes and the ambience is exquisite. It is definitely one of the best restaurants serving ‘tripas à moda do Porto’ (an extremely typical dish).
Address: Alameda Eça de Queirós 120/130, 4200-272 Porto
Cantinho do Avillez
José Avillez, the young, head-turning chef awarded with 2 Michelin stars, is behind this homey yet modern dining room located just downhill from São Bento railway station. The menu rotates according to what’s in season yet his cooking signature is always contemporary and Portuguese-inspired.
Address: Rua Mouzinho da Silveira, 166, 4050-416 Porto
Museu d’Avó, or “grandma’s museum” is a restaurant with a decoration that brings us back to the beginning of the 20th century, with old objects hanged on the walls and ceiling. The food is served at candlelight and the environment is warm and cosy.
Address: Travessa de Cedofeita 54/56, 4440-452 Porto
Galerias de Paris
This whimsically decorated spot has toys, thermos flasks, old phones and other assorted memorabilia lining the walls, it even has an amazing mid-century chandelier! It’s the ideal restaurant for a light meal during the day or a sophisticated dinner followed by cocktails and draught beer at night.
Address: Rua da Galeria de Paris 67, 4050-284 Porto
Where To Drink
You probably already know Vogue Café from around the world. Now you can enjoy a delicious coffee in a stylish and cosmopolitan space like Vogue Café in Porto. Here you can enjoy a delicious cocktail or a light meal, always in a sophisticated, modern and relaxed atmosphere.
Address: Rua de Avis 10, 4050-075 Porto
The name means “uncommon chapel” and the bar is indeed peculiar since it’s located… in a chapel. This ancient 16th-century chapel was turned into an ideal wine bar for couples or small groups of friends to enjoy a quiet night out. Here you’ll be able to discover and taste a wide range of Portuguese wines.
Address: Travessa do Carregal 77-79-81, 4050-167 Porto
The most luxurious caféin the city. The pinnacle of Art Nouveau with carved wood detailing, antique mirrors and sculptures decorate the dining room. Founded in the 20’s, it was a meeting point for Porto’s artists and intellectuals thought to encompass the Belle Époque era.
Address: Rua de Santa Catarina 112, 4000-442 Porto
Where To Party
It literally means “bad habits” and it is a hip space on the roof of anArt Deco car park. There are regular exhibitions and talks, plus nightly DJ’s playing everything from shoegaze to jazz funk.
The bar has the signature of the interior designer Paulo Lobo, with over 10 tons of books accompanied by the garish and attractive colours of the lighting. Expect a refined space with a wide variety of drinks.
This club is the result of the combined effort of two architects and a plastic artist to make a new space to hold exhibitions and cultural events, as well as a space to enjoy music either hosting concerts or in the form of a nightclub. With two dancing rooms, you can listen to a variety of music that includes jazz, rock, electronics or experimental music.
Focusing on the nightlife, this street is the best place to hang out, drink, dance and meet new people. The streets that make up the block are full of bars, restaurants and people, lively and willing to make every night a new adventure.
Address: Rua das Galerias de Paris, 4050-284 Porto