The Complete Guide
Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal after Lisbon and one of the major urban areas of the Iberian Peninsula. The city proper has a population of 287,591 and the metropolitan area of Porto, which extends beyond the administrative limits of the city, has a population of 2.3 million (2011) in an area of 2,395 km2 (925 sq mi), making it the second-largest urban area in Portugal. It is recognized as a Gamma-level global city by the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) Study Group, the only Portuguese city besides Lisbon to be recognized as a global city.
Port wine, one of Portugal’s most famous exports, is named after Porto, since the metropolitan area, and in particular, the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia, were responsible for the packaging, transport, and export of fortified wine. In 2014 and 2017, Porto was elected The Best European Destination by the Best European Destinations Agency. Porto is on the Portuguese Way path of the Camino de Santiago. Many renowned Portuguese music artists and cult bands such as GNR, Rui Veloso, Sérgio Godinho, Clã, Pluto, Azeitonas and Ornatos Violeta are from the city or its metropolitan area. Porto has several museums, concert halls, theaters, cinemas, art galleries, libraries, and bookshops. The best-known museums of Porto are the National Museum Soares dos Reis (Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis), which is dedicated especially to the Portuguese artistic movements from the 16th to the 20th century, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Serralves Foundation (Museu de Arte Contemporânea).
The city has got a decent streaks of best clubs, bars and restaurants which serve best and exotic items to deliver the ultimate premium experience of the nightlife, which we are going to discuss in this article.
Rich history, nice location on the seashore and the Douro River estuary, Port wine and fun nightlife – this is Porto! With more than 287,000 inhabitants it is the second largest city in Portugal but still pleasant and attractive with semi-Mediterranean climate and medieval as well as modern living side by side. What to do in Porto on a Budget? Here you go – here we have come up with some of the best and finest locations/activities that could be enjoyed in the nightlife, available in the city so you don’t find yourself in the hassle of looking for:
Do not leave Porto without going out! Porto has a busy, super fun nightlife that you should not miss. Start your night at Piolho, a square next to the building of the University of Porto. Piolho has many small bars with cheap drinks, and it gets very crowded at night. Rua da Galeria de Paris with lots of clubs with different types of music is your ideal next stop. It is just stepping away from Piolho and many clubs have no entrance fees.
You don’t have to go far from the city center to find the hottest places for a night out on the town. The streets near the Clérigos Church are virtually empty during the day but they bustle with people, good food and music from late afternoon till the early hours of the morning. There are cafés, restaurants, bars, and clubs aplenty, with locals and visitors alike streaming in and out of their doors.
The riverfront district of Ribeira was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An absolute must-see! The area has a very unique character and nice atmosphere. The buildings are old and worn but very charming. If you are in Porto on Monday, you should go to Ribeira at night. There is not much going on other days, but Mondays are different. A couple of bars have special offers, so lots of people come to grab a drink and enjoy it outside with all the pretty lights.
What is Porto most famous for? Port wine of course! There are many cellars that offer guided tours and wine tasting, some do it for free. You definitely have to try! Taylor’s offers very detailed tours through their cellar explaining how Port wine is made. You also get a glass of white and red Port for free; enjoy it on their terrace with an amazing view of Ribeira. Croft is another cellar that offers free tours and wine samples too, they even have pink Port. In a general opinion – Taylor’s has better tours and a nicer venue, but Croft has nicer wine. Recommended to try both and making your own opinion.
The Torre dos Clérigos (Clérigos Tower) is the most iconic feature of Porto’s skyline and provides fantastic views of the city. The tower is part of Clérigos Church, a Baroque building from the eighteenth century, located at one of the highest points of the town. After hiking 75 meters up 240 narrow steps, you are rewarded with a spread of tall orange roofs fighting for space all the way down to the river. Schedule your visit for a mid-to-late afternoon: the sunset light on the rooftops is really unforgettable.
Next door to Bolsa Palace lies one of the more spiritual and significantly older Porto attractions – the Church of São Francisco. Built in the Gothic style in the 12 and 1300s, Baroque-style interior details were added later, giving the inside a sumptuous, golden glow that has to be seen to be believed.
Porto is simply perfect for a party weekend: it is affordable, it has great food, lively nightlife and the weather is amazing compared to other European countries. At first glance, Porto’s appeal may be in its old-school character, but interspersed between the city’s timeworn buildings is a scattering of hip and happening bars. These watering holes serve everything from Porto’s namesake drinks, port, to specialty beer and cocktails, and makes the ideal spot to chill after a day on the town. Hence, in order to kill your drink desire, we have gathered a list of Porto City’s best bars which are absolutely good enough to satisfy your drinking needs:
Casa do Livro is definitely one of the best bars in Porto. Its name – casa do livro means the book house – relates to the fact that it used to be a bookshop. Some of the books are still there, giving this bar an intellectual atmosphere as if it’s taking you back to some old movie of Sherlock Holmes. The music is chosen with attention and with good taste, usually more into jazz or blues, but also passing through others styles. It is a place you should not miss if you want to start the night with a good digestive drink, together with a fabulous environment which will put you in a good mood for a lot of hours.
This relatively new bar in Porto, mostly known as “Harley Davidson” is quite a sensation in Porto. The name says it all, but you will be surprised when you get inside and see the space organization and their decor. Harley Davidson has a beautiful mezzanine, offering quite a comfy and different environment. This is one of the best bars in Porto for smaller groups, as it is quite hard to get a lot of chairs or tables free…
For all champagne lovers out there: in Porto, there is a bar dedicated specially for you! They opened its door in 2012 to quickly win hearts over with its carefully selected list of champagnes. It has a sophisticated atmosphere on the inside, but it also has some tables on the outside too, perfect for you to enjoy your champagne during hot summer days. Everyone is welcome as there is no perfect age to enjoy champagne, as Champanheria da Baixa has been teaching during the past years. This is definitely one of the best bars in Porto!
If you are looking for the best bars in Porto dedicated to gin, look no further! The Gin House offers hundreds of types of gins and the staff will mix one of the best cocktails gins you have ever had. Inside, there are leather couches where you can sit down, have a gin and listen to electronic music. There are also outdoor seats available which are perfect for summer nights. Just be aware that, this bar is mainly for drinks as the only foods available are small appetizers like fried corn, nuts, cheese, smoked meats, and bread.
At the Zero Box Lodge hotel, you will experience another best bar of Porto and the most unique one too. The Big Bad Bank Bar has a cool environment, nothing like any bar we have seen in the city before.
There are fake money notes everywhere because this place used to be safe! That’s where the name Big Bad Bank Bar came from – what a genius idea. . . . The cocktails have funny names like The Perfect Heist, Reward, GO Big or Go Home and so on. If you are looking for a good time and good drinks, check out the Big Bad Bank Bar.
Porto’s dining scene revolves mainly around fresh sea produce and succulent local meats, with regional delicacies such as francesinhas and bacalhau, the local salted cod, taking center stage. Therefore, to fulfill your extreme craving for delightful food and awesome booze, we have gathered details of few Porto City’s best bar restaurants from traditional family-run Portuguese restaurants to fine-dining establishments and riverside venues :
Situated within a luxury wine hotel and spa on a hill overlooking Porto, this two Michelin star restaurant is celebrated for its views over the Douro River and historic center of town, as well as for showcasing the best of Porto’s food. The imaginative cuisine combines the traditional flavors of Portuguese food across the nation’s distinct regions, with contemporary cooking techniques and presentation. Diners can choose between the restaurant’s three tasting menus which are designed to take you on a journey through Portugal’s diverse wine regions.
There are plenty of good restaurants in Porto, but as far as experiential restaurants go, Euskalduna Studio is one of its kinds. Euskalduna Studio showcases experimental dishes that play with flavor and texture to provide a unique gastronomic experience. Unlike most conventional restaurants, the kitchen is open for diners to interact with the kitchen team, ensuring each person’s dining experience is personalized. Inspiration for new dishes is taken from around the world, but the product is most often local, seasonal and from small producers.
Galerias de Paris is one of the best Bar Restaurants in Porto. The environment is so variable that it always gives a surprise what you will find there. To begin with, it has amazing breakfasts, perfect to start the day at such an emblematic neighborhood of Porto. Then, at lunchtime, you can find some delicious menus. When the night arrives, Galerias de Paris turns into a dance floor where people from all ages share the vibe of music from the ’80s all night long. If you want to dance like a pro, there are some gatherings on the top floor for dancing lessons such as tango, lindy-hop, salsa or World dances.
Within arm’s reach of the mouth of the Douro River, Restaurante Caffeine is a popular spot with local artists and Porto’s hip young crowd. The Portuguese food here is influenced by Italian and French cuisines, with a menu that changes on a regular basis, but usually revolves around succulent cuts of meat and fresh fish. The smooth & shiny interior is dominated by muted colors, accompanied by a light breeze coming in from the sea when the windows are open in summer.
Named after the salted cod specialty that is fundamental to Portuguese cuisine, it’s unsurprising that Bacalhau the restaurant has a great variety of dishes centered on it. Try the cod accompanied by dried fruits or cod served with spinach and chestnuts for a taste of Portugal with a twist. The restaurant’s peaceful location next to the Douro River and reliably friendly staff really add to the experience too.
As is to be expected from a ‘grill’ restaurant, the menu is dominated by the flavors of the flame, applied to fish and succulent cuts of meat alike. It is indeed a popular destination for locals & foreigners at lunchtime, the Grelhador da Boavista greets visitors with a glass display case of the day’s freshest raw offerings so that you can choose how they are cooked to your own idea of perfection by the restaurant’s skilled chefs.
As the second largest city in the country, throughout the decades there have been some hot stops for partying or just socializing at night but nothing like what’s going on nowadays. As the city is relatively small and compact, the nightlife is largely concentrated in the ‘Downtown’ area (known locally as ‘Baixa’), making it easy to sample a few different venues in one outing. Crossing Porto’s downtown at night, especially during the weekend, can be crazy. Many of Porto’s nightlife establishments can be found inside historical buildings that have been re-imagined into a mix of modern, trendy, and cozy spaces.
Bars and nightclubs with high ceilings, tall windows, and wooden floors are common, providing an appealing atmosphere that is majestic, yet charming. You can enjoy the following options to experience an unforgettable tour with the true experience of Porto City’s culture:
Rua is on our top list of favorite places to dance, so we had to include it here as it’s one of the best bars in Porto. Nothing beats the feeling of listening to talented artists playing live music in one of the most important neighborhoods in Porto. They play music with different genres, but recently it’s more samba rock. This is a very small and intimate bar where the focus is on music and good times. Don’t be surprised if the party gets taken outside, bring a friend, order a beer and dance all the night away at Rua.
One of the best gay bars in Porto is Zoom, which welcomes everyone regardless of their sexual orientation. They have a lot of themed parties with go-go boy dancers and dance music (pop, house, etc ). Some people may think this bar is “over the top”, but they are just unapologetically wild and free. So don’t be surprised if things get a little promiscuous in the late hours. If you are looking for a night full of immense fun, don’t hesitate to head out to Zoom for some drinks and lots of dancing. Indeed, Zoom knows how to throw a party.
Hot Five is Port’s best and oldest live music club which hosts the best jazz, soul, and tribute band music in the city. Professional cocktail artists provide a unique and personalized drink service experience. There’s even a specialty dish: the Club Sandwich, a perfect snack to have while you enjoy the show. This is the perfect option for big groups who are celebrating a birthday party, hen party, stag party, or any other special occasion.
Open weekends from midnight to 6 am. Industrias Club is one of Porto’s oldest clubs, spinning electronic music’s hottest tracks for 27 years now! Well-known international EDM DJs have graced the Industrias Club stage. What makes it stand out? It’s catered to the needs of the DJs and their devoted crowds complete with an impeccable sound system, an incredible dance floor, and a lounge area where partygoers can relax and recharge.
Are you more of a rocker? Then Tendinha dos Clérigos is the place for you. The underground punk and rock scene found here to provide one of the most authentic rock experiences in Porto’s nightlife. Tendinha dos Clérigos has a unique feel to it, with its top-notch DJs and its woody aesthetic.
Get ready to experience “flower power” in a way you have never imagined. This nightclub is made up of three different spaces that are all unique in their own way. The first floor is designed as a cocktail party where guests are encouraged to mingle and prepare for the party that follows. The next two levels are the party rooms where guests can enjoy the best live bands and electronic music. Plus, Pitch Club hosts birthday parties and other celebrations.
Let us conclude the topic here, as we had a brief introduction of Porto City along with touching some of its prominent norms, culture, and nightlife. We also went through different activities and places to enjoy the nightlife of the City, Musical venues, Bars, Restaurants and Nightclubs as well. Such activities provide a great source of entertainment for tourists and locals. Moreover, such activities also help in understanding the true cultural norms of a city.
As already elaborated the city is relatively small and dense, the nightlife is largely concentrated in the ‘Downtown’ area where city’s best bars are located and satisfying the desire of thirsty visitors where you can enjoy your drink with the mesmerizing architectural beauty of the hand-crafted bars and their decors in the old town of the city.
You don’t feel any hunger during your trip that is why we also suggested some of the finest restaurants in the city that offer exotic and delicious food along with your favorite drinks. You can really enjoy the taste of good food along with some great booze.
And lastly, we went through comprehensive options of Nightclubs that offered great music with some delightfully exotic choices for drinks and cocktail that will polish your overall experience at Porto City.
All of the aforementioned experiences will work together to make your trip more memorable. A perfect and balanced blend of the above-identified activities can really boost your experience and make your trip unbelievably unforgettable for you.