From a former chapel in Clérigos pairing wine with cheese, to a sunny craft beer joint on the Rua de Cedofeita, here’s our guide to the best bars in Porto, northwestern Portugal.
Given it’s the home of the fortified wine Port, it’s little wonder this northern Portuguese city, perched on the Atlantic Ocean and carved out by the mighty Douro River, does a good drink – and a good bar, for that matter. But don’t go thinking these are all old-school drinking holes; Porto has something to cater to every kind of traveller, whether your bag is laid-back, beer-soaked local haunts or swish rooftop bars for sipping a fine martini. See for yourself – here’s our pick of the best bars in Porto.
Had it up to your eyeballs with Port? Sip a refreshing glass of craft beer instead at this central brew-focused bar, which mixes casual counter seating with an outdoor terrace for soaking up the Portuguese sunshine. Beer geeks will love the chance to work their way through an array of international and boutiquey local producers alike, ranging from Post Scriptum Brewery to Totenhopfen Brauhaus. Be sure to pick up a couple of bottles to take away as a tasty souvenir.
When you’re looking for sophistication, the Royal Cocktail Club in central Baixa delivers. Set in a former bankers’ union building, furnished with velvety seating and with wood and metallic accents, it’s the perfect place for a date night when you’re trying to impress with top-quality pours. Artful concoctions such as black cask (whiskey, stout, lemon, egg white and chocolate bitters) meet twists on old favourites – how about an old fashioned made with mezcal? Go one level below the bar to the “speakeasy” basement and you’ll get an even more intimate experience.
Set on the south side of the winding Douro River, in Vila Nova de Gaia – home to the city’s many historic Port wine houses – Enoteca 17.56 celebrates vino, but with a modern spin. It’s primarily a restaurant, but arrive at sunset sharpener hour and you can bag a sofa on its terrace, a dreamy place for sinking a glass of punchy Douro red – and, should tummies be rumbling, contemplating a very fine lobster bisque.
There aren’t many bars like this one. From the outside, it’s a 19th-century chapel – head within and among the original altar and ornate carvings, you’ll find one of Porto’s most unique and atmospheric bars. Order up a few wedges of cheese to pair with a selection of lovely wines by the glass, and sit back for one of the regular poetry or fado music performances. It is said to be a transcendent experience.
The views from up here are pretty hard to beat. Perched on the 17th floor of the Hotel Dom Henrique, just north of the main city core, 17˚ Bar offers sweeping scenes across the city’s burnt orange rooftops. But it’s not only about the setting – whether you’re hankering for frozen daiquiris for beating the heat, glasses of Port or any icy beer, this spot dishes up delicious drinks with aplomb, as well as DJ nights on weekends. Dress smart and settle in at one of the terrace tables.
This book-themed bar is a favourite for its laid-back atmosphere – you can actually flick through photography, cinema and music books as you drink – as well as for its bargain glasses of wine. It attracts a bit of a hipster crowd, who come to watch black and white silent films projected above the bar, or while away the afternoons on the terrace. Visit early in the day and you can start by sipping a coffee before moving on to an easy-drinking white Port and tonic.
The name means “bad habits” in Portuguese, which gives you some idea of the debaucherous fun that can be had here. Part bar, part restaurant, part gallery – and also a festival and gig venue – it’s just a few minutes’ walk from the landmark Santo Ildefonso baroque church and in a striking art deco building all of its own. Snag one of the tables with great city views and catch a beer and pizza with mates, anytime from noon brunch hour to midnight.
Keen to learn more about wine? Sommelier Diogo Amado is here to lead you through tastings of Portugal’s finest tipples at Prova, a cosy wine bar and shop by the historic and must-see Mercado Ferreira Borges. Whether your bag is crisp whites (like vinho verde) or rich and plummy (like Douro red wines), Amado is guaranteed to find a wine you’ll like from his impressively stocked racks. Live jazz music adds a whole other level of sophistication to your evening.