Until recently, the word “cool” would never have been used to describe the city of Porto, located a few hours north of Lisbon.
Times have changed. After years of financial struggle, Portugal’s economic resurgence is impacting tourism and vice versa, as dozens of new shops and hotels welcome visitors from the Iberian Peninsula and beyond. In Porto, there’s an unmistakeable buzz in the air. Here are just three of many reasons to visit Lisbon’s under-appreciated cousin:
An exceptional architectural gem in Porto, Duas Portas blends Scandinavian design with true Portuense warmth and hospitality. Luísa Souto de Moura, your kind and generous host, comes from a family of architects. Her father, Eduardo Souto de Moura, while not involved in this project, is a 2011 Pritzker Prize Laureate and the architect behind the beloved São Lourenço do Barrocal in Portugal’s Alentejo region. Her mother, also named Luísa (Penha), was the architect on this project. And Luisa herself is also an architect. With so much creativity among them, it’s no surprise that this family pulled off such a beautiful project. Housed in a 19th-century townhouse, Duas Portas (meaning “two doors”) is an 8-bedroom guest house that sits just across from the mouth of the Douro river in Porto’s Foz neighborhood. One door leads into the guesthouse, and the other will soon serve as the entrance into a locally-sourced, produce-driven restaurant. Duas Portas is a delightful place to call home for a few nights.
The Feeting Room started off largely as a shoe collective (thus, the name), but has since morphed into a broader, more collaborative space that primarily showcases up-and-coming designers. Though there’s an outpost in Lisbon, the flagship in Porto is undeniably the cooler of the two. Set inside a stunning old building in the centre of town, the store has an open, industrial aesthetic, and its white-washed walls evoke a gallery space wherein The Feeting Room displays a beautifully curated selection of art in the form of shoes, clothes, and accessories. You’ll find Lisbon-based leather footwear label JAK and the stunning jewelry of Inês Telles among the collection. Upstairs, the pièce de résistance is an in-house coffee shop run by Royal Rawness. They make a mean flat white, enjoyed best while chatting with the friendly baristas around a big communal table.
A real-deal local hangout, the Guindalense Futebol Clube is a humble bar in Porto’s Sé district that offers up some of the best views in the city. Looking out over the river and the Dom Luis bridge, the terrace here is perfect for kicking back with a few very cold—and equally cheap—beers and simple bar snacks. You won’t find any fancy cocktails or organic wines here. What you will find when you arrive, though, is a true local vibe, no-frills drinks and snacks, and a game on TV. And with a bit of luck, you’ll have a few local friends in tow by the time you leave.