Though Lisbon is the nation’s capital and largest city, the northern Portuguese city of Porto is rightly a major tourism and travel destination in its own right. Here, we take a look at 10 of the best spots to take in the local nightlife.
Kirill Neiezhmakov – Catch a glimpse of Porto from day to night! / 4:32
One of Porto’s more laid-back bars is the Baixa Bar, which opens in the late afternoon but stays open into the small hours for the benefit of clubbers. It’s a flexible establishment which allows for either dancing or chatting, with a dance space and a separate terrace area for use on hot summer’s nights. The music is mainly rock and pop – much of which, as frequent visitors to the Iberian Peninsula will have come to expect, will be British or American. A safe bet for a mixed group of hard-core and less committed partiers.
Hard Club is located in a renovated former marketplace, and the makeover has left it with a striking, classic-meets-modern exterior and an inside decor which likewise toes an engaging line between the building’s pre-existing structure and a newer decorative scheme. While it serves in the daytime as a chilled-out bar and light cafe, the club’s spacious interior allows for extensive dance spaces and for the hosting of frequent events and live music concerts after night sets in. It has a closing time of 4am.
Integrated into the classy Sheraton Hotel and overlooking the hotel’s luscious gardens, the New Yorker Bar is an upscale venue where guests can look forward to a calm, intimate atmosphere. It also has a fine selection of wines and spirits, including, of course, the port wine for which the region is so renowned. Fitted out in a highly modern fashion, this is a swanky and refined ambiance for a meeting of any kind, business or social.
Café au Lait straddles a range of functions – in the daytime, it’s a light and refreshing cafe, perfect for anything from a cup of coffee to a light meal, while at night it becomes a spacious and entertaining bar and music venue. Set in a revamped textile warehouse, the bar puts on an energetic and varied spread of different artists for live performances, foregrounding Portuguese artists of varied genres including rock and punk. Situated on the buzzing Galeria de Paris, Café au Lait is the perfect place to kick off an evening out among the city’s varied bars and clubs.
Quartered in a former theater, Passos Manuel has greater complexities than may be visible at first sight. Up there with the best Porto clubs in terms of DJs and bands (and the crowds that go with them), the club also puts on a program of alternative events. This includes theater performances and film screenings which pull in a range of crowds and interests. Having combined modern decor with elements of its grand original trappings, this is a pleasant off-kilter venue in the busy center of the nightlife area.
A seriously music-focussed venue, Hot Five is the place to catch performances from the hottest acts from around the city and beyond. Generally orientated around jazz and blues, the bar also branches out into hosting rock, funk and other genres, making it the perfect destination for those wanting to take in an honest and general view of the local music scene. Offering snacks as well as drinks and operating mid-week as well as weekends, this is a relaxed alternative to the more intense clubbing scene.
Plano B (“Plan B”) is a classy venue that has become an institution in Porto nightlife over the course of several years. A recognized name, it can pull in hot acts from across Portugal and beyond, with a rotating schedule heavy on electro and house music as well as occasional indie performances. A multi-layered venue in every sense, Plano B’s first floor works as a lounge-bar and art gallery, while a large basement space is made available for dancing later on in the evening. With a vintage decor and an established reputation, this is an excellent bet at any stage in an evening’s revelry.
Off the beaten track, Labirintho is a cultural option which satisfies the general demands of those out on the town while also working as a gallery and a playhouse-theater. It has a cool interior informed by a synthesis of cultural developments of the last several decades. The soundtrack is similarly a blend of modern and 1980s, 1990s and noughties sounds. A revived and revitalized townhouse, Labirintho is the laid-back option for an evening out in Porto and manages to be fun and mellow.
The last thing you’d expect to find in Porto would be a real Irish pub, but that’s exactly what visitors can enjoy at Bonaparte, on the lovely waterfront of Avenida do Brasil. Furnished and decorated in a traditional British and Irish style, and one of a few Portuguese bars where you can expect to find Guinness on tap, this is a real novelty and a fixture in the area since the 1970s. Showing sporting highlights live on TV and providing a great range of beers, spirits and wines, Bonaparte’s is a lovable establishment in a picturesque location.
Another establishment straddling various functions, Triplex is a fairly classy venue on the broad central Avenida da Boavista. Functioning most of the time as a restaurant, it converts in the final hours of the night and the first of the morning into a trendy bar and laid-back club which often hosts themed events and evenings. All set in a 19th-century villa that has been remodelled with in a fashionable contemporary style, this is a somewhat hidden option which will satisfy attendees far into the small hours.