With the fast-approaching summer, many are planning to flock to the balmy climates of Portugal in the coming months. Though not traditionally thought of as fondly as Spain for a holiday destination, the capital city of Lisbon has grown more popular for those who want to journey somewhere different from their colleagues, but not too different. And for those who are thinking of going a half-step further to really stand out from the throng of Brits trekking around Europe, Porto, Portugal is an enticing option. True, the small town two and a half hours north of Lisbon isn’t known for its rowdy nightlife. However, for those travelers looking to explore quintessential European streets, purchase souvenirs made completely of cork, and (yes) imbibe in some high-quality beverages, consider hopping over for some food and drink in Porto.
Fine, We Should Start with Port
Naturally, the city is best known globally for its production of Port wine. In fact, some of the most popular tourist excursions available are tours of the many vineyards and wineries, including the famed Graham’s Port Lodge, that provide the world with the extra-sweet drink… plus, it’s one of our favorite places to drink in Porto. You’ll get a chance to learn the rich history of Port in the region, wander the vast cellars, and sip a few tasters with your group. When you finish, you’ll likely be slightly more educated, a little bit tipsy, and looking to continue your adventure with something, well, drier.
A Casual Place to Sip
As most of the area’s wineries lie across the Douro River in the town of Castelo, your journey back over the Dom Luís I Bridge will give you sweeping vistas of the small yachts and sail boats passing underneath. A sharp left turn once off the bridge will take you to the water’s edge, beginning your leisurely stroll through channel-side vendors, shops, restaurants, and bars. If you’re still in the mood for a more traditional wine, stop off at Bacalhau: it offers a wide variety of refreshing (and reasonably priced) selection of white, red, and rosés paired with simple-but-delicious portions of traditional Portuguese food and a beautiful view of the river. This is an especially picturesque place to drink in Porto. Note: arriving around dusk should give you a lovely view of the setting sun reflecting off the water.
For the vacationer that’s looking for a more upscale bar experience to drink in Porto, backtracking along the river will take you to the RIB Beef & Wine restaurant. The entrance has a peculiar appearance, almost as if you’re about to enter a war bunker, but once inside, your eyes will adjust to the low-light, swanky atmosphere of the venue. With locations in both Porto and Lisbon, RIB offers a gourmet menu with prices to match. If you’re not looking to splurge on cuisine, make a left into the bar area and sidle right up. They often feature guest bartenders and a selection of refreshing mixed drinks that will satisfy you and your friends for around 8 euros each. We highly recommend the Alberto Caeiro: a concoction of Barcardi, pineapple & ginger kombucha, acid coriander juice, and elderflower.
Small Place, Perfect Atmosphere
Those seeking a smaller locale can take a stroll inland to the Clérigos area of Porto and find Linha22, right down the street from the Lello Bookstore (home to the staircase that inspired J. K. Rowling’s description of the steps in Harry Potter). This quirky spot acts as a coffee shop, wine bar, and guest house for tourists. Enter into the café on the ground floor and make your way up the winding staircase to a casual eatery boasting a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the heart of bustling Porto. Oftentimes, you’ll hear a smattering of different languages and accents at the tables that surround you, as this small place is attractive to travelers from all over the world. Place your order and watch as your selections are brought up from the downstairs bar via automated platform, and sip on some of your favorites while taking advantage of their free Wi-Fi. Stay awhile and chat with the baristas downstairs; their friendly and jovial demeanor reflects the warm spirit for which Porto should be world-renowned (along with the wine, of course).