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Insider Guides

An Insider Guide To Porto With Marta Marques

One half of the creative duo behind Marques’Almeida, Marta Marques shares her insider guide to Porto.

Spotlighting the best places to dine and bed down in the city, the Porto-based designer with a penchant for beach-days and basil martinis shows us around town.

Essential items to pack?

Flat shoes and a comfortable outfit. Regardless of the season, the best way to see Porto is walking – especially from the riverside to Foz, where the river meets the sea. Stop for a drink, a meal, or a museum tour on the way and keep walking ’til you hit the sea.

The best time to visit Porto is…

Spring. The summer can be too hot for walking around and in autumn or winter you run the chance of unexpected foggy or rainy days.

Our first pitstop should be…

Go straight downtown to where the action is at Rua do Almada or Avenida dos Aliados and find the local Oak Berry Açai. Ask for an amazing açai bowl and find a place to sit, enjoy, recover energy, and people watch.

Your favourite hotel to check-in at is…

Duas Portas, which is small, family run and incredibly designed hotel in a super amazing location in front of the river. Slightly detached from the downtown’s fast-paced vibes, and not fully on the beach-side of town, the middle placing offers the best of both worlds.

For an early morning workout head to…

Go for a run near the riverside or seaside and if the weather allows (and it’s open), run along the pier that separates the river from the sea until you get to the lighthouse. Going there you see the vastness of the sea in front of you and then, when you turn back, you see the whole city stretching up the hill.

Where should we go for breakfast?

Jardim Botânico has a little café inside it called Maria Dentada where you can have delicious bread, cake, eggs, and coffee in beautiful ceramic cups while you stare at the garden. If you have children, let them roam around and find the local cat.

How about for a long, lazy lunch?

Da Terra, they have a few of them spread across the city. Our favourite is the riverside one. I recommend a full vegetarian, delicious, all you can eat buffet. Take your time and try everything including the banoffee pie!

Your favourite restaurant in town?

Casa D’Oro, which is situated in a beautiful modernist concrete building. Sit at the top balcony if there is a group of you – if it’s a quiet dinner for two, go for the wraparound tiny balcony. On the night of your booking, pray they have the fig and Parma ham special pizza – it’s delicious.

And for dinner with friends?

Ser Esencia Restaurant is lovely for dinners – its cosy ambience and diversity of flavours offered by the native Mayan land makes for a memorable meal.

Where should we head post-dinner?

Passos Manuel, which is right in the heart of downtown. It’s a modernist bar with some cool booths facing a cinema room located next to it.

The drink to order at the bar…

The basil martini at Casa D’Oro or some white port anywhere. And for non- alcoholic drinks, try the amazing Aquela Kombucha, locally made in their factory downtown and spread around many places in the city.

The best place for people watching…

Edifício Transparente in Matosinhos for the beautiful beach landscape and people watching – everyone comes here on their walks and for bike rides. It’s especially fun watching all the surfers from the surf schools. Sit in one of the cafés having a beer and a toastie or a yogurt bowl.

The culture spot to rave about…

The area around Rua Miguel Bombarda which has a lot of small, but also established galleries, so roam around and go in where you find a good spot. The local shops are worth a visit too, with incredible books, ceramics, and more.

The best place to treat yourself is… 

Stop and go to the beach. Porto is like that, at least for me. It’s got culture and restaurants and buzzing life, but also invites you to stop and enjoy nature and live a slightly slower pace of life from time to time. All the Foz beaches are straight from a paradise destination, so take a break from city travelling and sit at the beach and relax – if possible, go for a swim.

One place only locals know about…

Mercado da Foz. It’s a super local market in the Foz area which has a mix of upscale and local restaurants. This means you can find the most delicious new artisanal bakery, an açai shop, and a pizza place, but also the flower shop, fish mongers, butchers, and grocery shops which were there from the start. It has a mega community feel too where everyone knows everyone.

For a change of pace try…

Head to the Bonfim area. You’ll get away from the touristy, sightseeing areas, and go into an area where it’s still mostly locals and young families settling in. Roam around the streets – you can always find a nice little café or a cool, unassuming shop.

In a word, Porto is…


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