At first glance, Porto’s appeal may be in its old-school character, but interspersed between the city’s timeworn buildings is a scattering of hip and happening bars. These watering holes serve everything from Porto’s namesake drink, port, to speciality beer and cocktails, and make the ideal spot to chill after a day on the town.
If you were to pick a place in Porto to kick back with a beer and sigh 'ahhh, this is the life', Miradouro Ignez (facebook.com/miradouroignez) would be it. Tucked behind the Jardim do Palácio de Cristal on a deck overlooking Porto’s red-tiled rooftops, this casual bar lets you turn your chair towards the sunlit city as the day’s final rays beam down the Douro River.
Venture off the bustling Cedofeita shopping strip down a cobbled backstreet to find a 19th-century chapel converted into the trendy Capela Incomum (facebook.com/capelaincomum) wine bar. On the ground floor, small tables surround an engraved wooden altar set against blush pink walls, while a cosy upstairs area features additional seating. Pair one of the 70-odd wines on offer with a platter of Portuguese cheeses and cured meats.
True to its name, BOP (bop.pt) is the place to bop along to your favourite tunes while enjoying a wine, single-origin pour-over coffee or BOP’s own tap beer. The bar is lined with a collection of more than 2500 records and patrons are invited to spin a vinyl on one of the communal record players with a set of headphones. The intimate space tends to attract a laidback crowd of laptop-wielding hipsters by day and small groups by night. Select a burger or bagel from the bar menu if you get the munchies.
360º Terrace Lounge
On a technicality, Espaço Porto Cruz’s 360º Terrace Lounge is in Porto’s neighbouring city of Gaia, but the short walk over the Dom Luís I bridge is hands-down worth it for the view. Upon entering the modern tiled building (which glows a funky blue at night), zip up the elevator to the rooftop and admire Porto’s stacked cityscape of red, orange and yellow from the comfort of an outdoor lounge. As a bar attached to one of Portugal’s famous port wine cellars, the drinks menu is laden with port cocktails, and a bar menu is offered during the summer months.
Colourful chairs stuck to the exterior of this old wine storage warehouse make Armazém easy to pinpoint. From the road, a concrete ramp leads into a huge space decked out with all manner of vintage products, such as ceramics, jewellery, glassware and furniture. The jumbled collection is kooky and fun, and wraps around a cosy bar where you can sip a warming tawny on a chilly day. Then, when the weather heats up you can enjoy wine and tapas on the relaxing outdoor terrace.
While Portugal may not immediately spring to mind when you think of craft beer, the country’s artisan beer movement is gaining momentum and Catraio jumped on the trend in 2015 as the city’s first dedicated craft beer bar. The space, which includes a mix of alfresco tables and indoor seating, has more than 100 varieties on offer including a rotating selection of tap beers. Catraio primarily supports domestic producers but also serves a range of international brews.
The walls of this dark and quirky pub are adorned with paraphernalia including worn briefcases and old machinery parts, while dolls locked in birdcages hang from the high ceiling. Big groups can convene in the smoky haze of Bonaparte Downtown's spacious rear section, while smaller groups can enjoy pints of Guinness from studded leather booth seats near the entrance.
Porto’s historical architecture dramatically contrasts with the geometric design of the Passeio dos Clérigos urban park, where you’ll find one of the city’s coolest open-air bars. At Base (baseporto.com) you can sip beer from a cushioned bench seat or stretch out under an olive tree on the manicured lawn, complete with a front row view of Porto’s iconic Clérigos Tower.
Unassuming from the street, Pausa Bar (facebook.com/pausabar82) opens up into a creative jungle of knick-knacks, such as clocks, figurines and musical instruments, warmly illuminated by a series of lamps. The drinks menu includes around 50 international beers plus wine, spirits and cocktails, so if you’re overwhelmed by choice, let the expert staff recommend a tipple to suit your taste.
The Gin House
Gin aficionados will delight in the range of 150+ gins on offer at Porto’s aptly named bar The Gin House. Rows of backlit spirit bottles glow on shelves behind the bar, where staff mix and muddle heady concoctions twisted with herbs, fruit and spices. The bar is located in the midst of Porto’s nightlife district, so grab an early evening drink before hopping onward to the many other surrounding bars.
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