Discover Great Wine and Design in Porto

1. Where to Stay

The Yeatman offers private balconies overlooking the Douro River.Photo: Courtesy of the Yeatman

Indulge your oenophile side at the Yeatman (from $292), a wine-themed property unveiled in September 2010 in the port-producing suburb of Vila Nova de Gaia. At this five-star faux palace, all 70 rooms and twelve suites open up to private terraces that have access to an outdoor decanter-shaped infinity pool, and the spa uses grape seeds in treatments like the Merlot wrap and crushed Cabernet scrub ($88 each).

Spot the bright blue door marked 97, the only identifying feature of 6Only (from $88), a cozy guesthouse slightly off the beaten path in the city center. Stylishly converted by local architect Tiago Lousan in 2009 and lovingly run by a pair of live-in owners, this 100-year-old townhouse contains six design-conscious doubles, each complete with colorful furniture, a small balcony, and elaborate flower-motif moldings, plus a light-filled common space where complimentary breakfasts are served.

Feel the drama at Hotel Teatro (from $154), a low-lit hideaway that stands on the site of the former Teatro Baquet. Inside, 74 swank units showcase designer Nini Andrade e Silva’s theater-themed interiors: heavy curtains, mirrors, and shades of bronze and gold. For added luxury, splurge on the sixth-floor suite (from $340), which comes with its own private terrace and a bathtub next to the bed.

2. Where to Eat

DOP, which means "Taste and Dare in Porto," features chef Rui Paula’s inventive dishes.Photo: Courtesy of DOP

Gaze at the Atlantic while grazing on Asian-Mediterranean fusion fare at Buhle, housed in architect Miguel Ribeiro de Sousa’s dramatic glass structure in the seaside suburb of Foz. Start with the fruity, spicy Carlito’s Way cocktail ($11), made with tequila and balsamic vinegar, and then move on to black cod with edamame purée and shitake mushrooms ($33) or short ribs with saffron risotto and vegetable linguine ($27).

Choose from more than 650 wines at DOP, housed inside the high-ceilinged 14th-century Palacio das Artes. Celebrated chef Rui Paula prepares “ethno-emotional” cuisine, with innovative variations on regional dishes prepared with top-quality local ingredients like codfish and suckling pig that are best experienced on the elaborate five-course tasting menu (from $90).

Eat outdoors on Ourigo Beach at Shis, where the all-white interior was created by Porto’s design darling Paulo Lobo. The Japanese-inflected menu offers standouts including rockbass carpaccio with truffle vinaigrette ($16) and codfish with turnips, mushrooms, and Serra cheese sauce ($25).

3. What to Do

The Serralves Villa, originally commissioned as a private residence in the Art Deco style, now houses temporary exhibitions at the Serralves Foundation. Photo: Courtesy of the Serralves Foundation

Marvel at Rem Koolhaas’s Casa da Música (guided tours in English at 4 p.m. daily; $4), a music venue featuring the architect’s signature dramatic angles. Stop in to catch the resident orchestra’s free rehearsals (every other Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m) or watch the sun set through the Sala Suggia’s floor-to-ceiling windows. Check the calendar for the monthly Clubbing party ($13.50), which features an all-night soundtrack of electronic music.

Taste the best of Portuguese wines at Wine o’Clock (closed Sunday and Monday), a smart wine shop north of the city in Matosinhos, where more than half of the 2,500-strong spectrum of varietals and spirits are Portuguese. Stop by for a free wine tasting (every other Saturday at noon), or call ahead to book a tapas-paired wine session (four-person minimum; $3.40 to $17 plus wine), a gastronomic dinner (from $68), or a crash course in wine tasting (from $136).

Explore the Art Deco delights of the Serralves Villa on the grounds of the massive Serralves Foundation before stopping into the on-site Museum of Contemporary Art ($9.50 for access to museum and park), designed by Portugal’s own Pritzker Prize–winning architect Alvaro Siza. Explore the 3,300-piece collection, including works by Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, and Sol LeWitt, and then roam the 44-acre landscaped park, dotted with rose gardens, woodlands, sculptures, and art installations by the likes of Richard Serra and Claes Oldenburg.

4. Insider’s Tip

The cellar at Croft houses casks of port that have been made in the region for hundreds of years.Photo: Courtesy of Croft Port

No visit to Porto would be complete without popping into a port wine cellar across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia. All along the riverside, touts will try to rope you into paying money for their cellars. Put your wallet away and instead make a beeline for beautiful Croft (open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), where the free visit includes a tasting of two ports (a white version and a reserve) as well as a tour of the cellar, which traces its origins to 1588.

5. Oddball Day

The Palacio de Cristal was designed by English architect Thomas Jones Dillen and modeled after London's Crystal Palace.Photo: Courtesy of Porto Lazer

Sleep late and then spend the day walking around the Miguel Bombarda district, home to contemporary art galleries, alternative shops, and art studios. (The area doesn’t get going before 11 a.m. and stays shut most Sundays and Mondays.) Fuel up with a sandwich of smoked tofu, arugula, and sprouts ($4.30) and a shot of wheatgrass ($2.70) at Quintal Bioshop, an organic grocery store-cum-café. Then browse through the 35 shops of Centro Comercial Bombarda, an alternative shopping center where you’ll find stucco art, hemp products, organic toiletries, bonsai trees, and more. For a look at what’s hot in the art scene, head to Fernando Santos, a three-space emporium displaying work by emerging and established Portuguese artists; and ArtHobler, where up-and-coming artists show their oeuvre in video, photography, painting, sculpture, and performance. Afterward, fill up with the daily three-course menu ($13.50) or afternoon tea with scones and cakes ($5.50) at Rota do Chá, a little-known tea house where 300 varieties are sold. Next, rummage through the eclectic offerings at Artes em Partes, a funky vintage boutique with clothing, furniture, and records. Descend into its art gallery in a former underground garage that now displays paintings and installations. Move on to Muuda, a concept store featuring fashion, food, and art creations by local designers as well as a regular assortment of workshops like deejaying and sushi-making. Wind down with a stroll through the gardens of Palacio de Cristal, a verdant hideaway with roaming peacocks and dazzling views over the Douro before sitting down to a spread of petiscos (Portuguese snacks) at 110, a boho restaurant with rotating exhibits of work by local artists. Post-dinner, head to Lobby, a bar-café that features a wide spectrum of live-music performances most nights.

6. Links

Read O Porto Cool’s reviews of shops, restaurants, and more, written by Porto’s clued-in residents and organized by theme and neighborhood.

Go Porto, penned by a pair of Porto enthusiasts, gives insight into the city’s attractions, restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels.

Collect practical tips at Porto Turismo, the official website of the city’s tourism board.

Portugal Confidential proclaims itself as a guide to “Everything Cool in Portugal” and includes up-to-the-minute listings for Porto and Lisbon.

Discover Great Wine and Design in Porto