The Hipster Guide to Porto

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Written by: | Last updated on December 21, 2023 | Est. Reading Time: 7 minutes
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Everyone goes to Lisbon. It’s the capital, it’s bigger, and that’s where the majority of the flights go to. Well, not everyone. Hipsters, of course, go to Portugal’s second city: Porto.

Porto is an equally, if not more, beautiful city with plenty of things to see and do. Everywhere you turn in Porto, there’s something that you feel you can’t pass by without taking a photo of. It’s just that kind of city.

It’s home to several small but interesting attractions like the Torre dos Clérigos and the Church of São Francisco as well as several unique culinary creations, in particular the francesinha.

Then there’s the Port Wine. A lot of people don’t think they like Port, at least when they arrive in Porto, but most people leave the city loving it. Take some time to visit the different Port houses along the Douro river, and you’ll soon find yourself growing a taste for it as well.

Although Lisbon has a solid lead, Porto is also becoming a popular destination for digital nomads and startups, and there are plenty of co-working spaces throughout the city.

(If you’re visiting Lisbon, be sure to check out our Hipster Guide to Lisbon. We list some of the best bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and hotels to experience while you’re in the Portuguese capital. We also have a Hipster guide to the Algarve as well.)

Accommodation ideas in Porto

  • House of Sandeman – Located in Vila Nova de Gaia, this is one of the most boutique hostels in the whole of Portugal. Themed around Port and Port barrels, the rooms are stylish and modern and have fantastic views of the Douro river.
  • Gallery Hostel – This is one of Portugal’s best boutique hostels. It combines all the luxury of a boutique hotel with the amenities of a hostel (like a shared kitchen and lounge).

Interesting Tours of Porto

  • Craft Beer Tour – A 3.5-hour tour that takes you to three of Porto’s most popular craft beer locations, including two breweries.
  • Porto Segway Tour – Explore Porto by Segway in this 3-hour tour that takes you to Porto’s top landmarks including the Clérigos Tower, Dom Luís I Bridge, and Porto’s Cathedral.
  • Street Art Tour of Porto – Discover Porto’s best street art in half day tour of Porto’s urban art scene.
  • The Storyteller Porto Walking Tour – Listen to the legends and stories that define Porto in this unique city walking tour.
  • Food Tour – Sample the city’s best dishes (including pastéis de nata, Portuguese cheese, Bolinhos de Bacalhau, and Port) in this culinary walking tour of Porto.

Coffee shops to visit in Porto

The Portuguese love their coffee, and drink it like water. You can walk into any Portuguese café and order a cimbalino (espresso), and expect a beautiful, rich and chocolatey espresso. The milky coffees can sometimes be a bit hit-and-miss, but they’re generally good. Overall, Portugal makes great coffee.

Some people prefer the third wave hipster coffee instead, and that applies to both visitors and the Portuguese. Be sure to try both, but for those that prefer the hipster coffees here are some places to visit.

  • The Coffee Room – A small coffee shop, that’s part of a clothes shop, The Coffee Room has a relaxed vibe and is a great place to whittle away a few hours.
  • Combi Coffee – A coffee truck and now a fixed venue as well, Combi Coffee is one of the most popular third wave coffee joints in Porto.
  • Zenith – Known primarily for their brunch and cocktails, this is a popular place to get a coffee on a weekend morning.
  • Mesa325 – A great place to get your Chemex, pour overs, V60, or cold brew coffee in Porto, along with healthy food like salads, granola, and overnight oats. This is also one of the few places in Porto to serve Vietnamese coffee.
  • BOP – A café that serves local Vernazza coffee and American food like burgers, nachos, and bagels. It’s a great place for music lovers: you can pick a song to listen to while you drink your coffee (all on vinyl, of course).
  • Pão de Dó – A bakery and coffeeshop that uses Vernazza coffee. Menu items include pancakes, bagels, and delicious cakes.
  • Rota do Chá – If you get tired of (or too wired) from drinking coffee, check out Rota do Chá which has more than 300 different teas from all over the world.
  • Moustache – With a name like Moustache, you know there’ll be flat whites, chai lattes, and charcoal lattes on the menu.
  • Zenith – Like its sister café in Lisbon, Zenith offers everything from superfood lattes (beetroot lattes, for example), kombucha, and a wide range of cocktails.
  • Garden Porto – Pumpkin pancakes, avocado on toast, and açaí bowls all make an appearance on this café’s menu.

The Harry Potter guide to Porto

Did you know that J.K. Rowling not only got a lot of the inspiration for Harry Potter in Porto, but actually wrote the first few chapters here as well.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, be sure to visit Majestic Café where she wrote some early notes on the book as well as the Livraria Lello bookshop which inspired a lot of the imagery in the book.

We’ve written a more in-depth article on Harry Potter and Porto, which lists all of the Harry Potter locations around Porto.

Porto’s craft beer scene

Porto has a thriving craft beer scene, which is surprising because, although there are some small Portuguese craft beer producers, Portugal is not really known for craft beer. Most people in Portugal drink either Super Bock or Sagres and, traditionally only Super Bock in Porto.

That aside, the Portuguese craft beer scene is thriving in Porto. Porto was actually the first Portuguese city to set up a craft beer brewery, Sovina, which produces several amber, helles, IPA, stout, and wheat beers. As well as Sovina, you’ll find several local breweries, bars, and shops where you can sample Porto’s craft beer scene.

  • Armazém da Cerveja – A craft beer bar and shop that stocks an excellent selection of Portuguese and international craft beers.
  • Bonaparte Baixa – A hipster pub that stocks a decent selection of craft beers, mostly from Germany and Belgium.
  • Letraria Craft Beer Garden – A small, trendy pub that stocks over 50 different craft beers, including Letraria’s own.
  • Catraio – Craft Beer Shop – One of the most popular pubs for Porto craft beer lovers, Catraio stocks more than 100 different beers. You can enjoy them there, or take them away to enjoy them at home.
  • Cervejaria do Carmo – A small craft beer bar with a hipster vibe. It stocks both Portuguese and international beers.
  • A Fábrica da Picaria – A small craft beer bar that brews its own beers on-site. It has a much smaller selection than most of the other venues, but still worth the visit.

Have you been to Porto? Did you discover anywhere that was perfect for hipsters and lovers of all things hip? Share you thoughts, comments, and reviews by leaving a comment below. 

Written by

James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.