Why is Porto Overtaking Paris for Shopping and Design
Chadner Navarro recently published a fantastic article in Bloomberg highlighting why Porto is surpassing Paris as “the” shopping capital of Europe. There’s a good reason for it. Porto isn’t just an architectural wonder, with its technicolored tiles and vaulting domes, it’s a hotbed of creativity! Just hang out at a party for a few minutes and you’re bound to run into the owner of a swanky new coffee bar, a silk scarf designer and the rep of a shoe company relaunched after 30 years of dormancy. Porto feels as if someone toggled the master power switch after years of economic depression and darkness. It’s exciting, raw and full of promise, which is why everyone and their mother wants to visit Porto.
But if you do come, don’t limit yourself to Bloomberg’s suggestions on where to go. There are heaps of delicious places to shop and eat your way through the city, so let’s get started:
Beyond the La Paz line, there’s a new sexy collection of radiant metallic colors from Nuno Baltazar, a 40-year old Portuguese designer who was awarded the Commendation of the Order of Prince Henry the Navigator in 2015. Located near the Rotunda da Boavista, this unassuming shop has become the envy of Paris, and worth a visit if you’re in need of chic. After a trip to Daily Day in the city center, Manmood should be next on the list for tailored men’s suits and handcrafted footwear. And while you’re at it, make a beeline to Lab61 for a beard trim and sassy cut from Antonio Rodrigues – a highly sought after barber on Miguel Bombarda. Assuming you can’t visit Porto this year (though we trust you will very soon!), take a peek at Portcorner, an online fashion and lifestyle shop featuring 100% Portuguese designers – many of which are based in Porto.
Fly London was created in 1994 in England, and was later acquired by Fortunato O. Frederico, one of the largest footwear companies in Portugal. Located just across from Porto’s heritage site, Torre dos Clerigos, FLY London also features seasonal collections of bags and sunglasses. For a wider range of sunglasses, just walk a few paces to Clerigos In, where you’ll also find various accessories and decor. If you’re hunting for plush leather bag or tote, walk towards the river to Ideal & Co., but for Portuguese “homegrown” cork made bags, check out the Boutique Concept Store. For jewelry, traverse down Rua das Flores for a quick (or very long) meander through Joia da Coroa (The Crown Jewel). Originally built in the 16th century, and later redesigned by the famed architect Francisco Oliveira Ferreira, this luxurious space store also features an exclusive tea shop. Just up the street, you’ll find an homage to the traditional filigree jewelry of Portugal at Ourivesaria das Flores. Finely twisted threads of silver or gold from the Portuguese jeweller Eleuterio can be found in the Intercontinental Hotel at Marcolino.
With the influx of sculptors, painters and welders streaming into Porto, you’d imagine that galleries would abound! They do, but this is only the beginning. The city has several incredible galleries, most of which line the street Rua de Miguel Bombarda. At O!Gallery, you’ll find young, dynamic illustrators showcasing their books, zines and funky illustrations. Galeria Presença promotes contemporary artists from both Portugal and abroad as is Ap’arte Art. Ap’arte Art’s mission is to support emerging artists by representing them at art fairs, biennials, competitions and featuring their work at their permanent exhibition space. And let’s not forget the city itself, artistically rendered by famed graffiti artists!
WHERE TO STAY
With new boutique hotels popping up every day, it’s almost impossible to keep up! But there are a handful of luxurious hotels beyond the Yeatman, Flores Village Hotel & Spa and Pestana Vintage Hotel that are absolutely worth your time. First and foremost, make a reservation at the Rosa Et Al. Located on Rua do Rosário, the six-room Townhouse is owned and managed by two Portuguese-born siblings, Emanuel de Sousa, an architect, and his sister, Patricia de Sousa, a former asset manager. Together, they’ve created a homey, yet modern space that hosts everything from cooking courses to yoga retreats. Another boutique hotel worthy of seeking out is Malmerendas Boutique Lodging. After a full on restoration, this early 2oth century building now features five uniquely designed suites. Finally, the “not so boutique” but incredibly well maintained Eurostars Porto Douro Hotel has recently opened. Located on the Douro River, just east of the Dom Luis bridge, this hotel is perfectly situated for a visit to the Port wine lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia, but also the cozy restaurants along the Ribeira (riverfront).
FOOD & WINE
Both Cantina 32 and Rui Paula’s restaurant, Boa Nova, are phenomenal, and worthy suggestions by Bloomberg; but if there is one thing Porto does exceptionally well, it’s gastronomy! Rui Paula’s other restaurant, DOP is equally exquisite! For wine, Wine Box features over 230 wine references, and 100 by the glass to pair with their vast selection of cheeses and Iberian cold meats. A short distance away, you’ll find PROVA. Owned and managed by Diogo Amado, this cozy, stone lined restaurant not only serves quirky and incredible wines, but also a range of seasonal petiscos (small bites). If you’re keen to try a wine before purchasing an entire bottle, head to Vinoteca Copo & Alma, or if you’re dying for a funky wine tasting, or to bring home wine, make a beeline to Garage Wines. For Port wine lovers, the Private Vintage room in Graham’s Port Lodge features premium and luxury Ports in a plush, leather bound atmosphere – perfect for rainy days.
Assuming you’re going to eat a bite or two during your stay, O’Gaveto is by far our favorite! You can also try one of the many fish restaurants along Rua Herois de França in Matosinhos, but Lusitanos is a must! Beardy and hip, Café Candelabro offers cocktails and wine in a cosy bookstore atmosphere. It’s also in walking distance from Porto’s Aliados Avenue, São Bento train station, Cordoaria gardens, Torre dos Clérigos and Livraria Lello bookshop (hint: we left something very special inside for you to find). For fine dining at casual cost, Traça serves slow food with a special focus on wild game and regional recipes, and just across the street, Taberna do Largo offers some of the best regional cured meats and cheeses in the city. O’Paparico might be hard to find, but your efforts will reward you greatly with some insatiable cuisine. For something uber cozy, visit All in Porto. Wine barrel tables, lanterns and funky Porto murals create a chill space for sampling a stellar selection of Portuguese wine and petiscos. In an old sewing machine warehouse you’ll find Aduela, serving traditional Portuguese wines and nibbles. Bar Tolo is Foz is fabulous for a seaview in a cozy, quaint atmosphere. And let’s not forget Porto’s amazing Francesinhas and other incredible sandwiches in Porto!
FOOD for TRAVEL
It’s one thing to eat, it’s another to bring home a range of flavors to share with friends. Suckling lamb doesn’t travel well, but canned fish, vacuum-packed cured meats and cheeses, olive oils, wines, honey, compotes and a range of other foodstuffs do! If you’re around Mercado do Bolhao (a must visit!) you’ll find four Mercearias (deli / grocery) that are absolutely worth your time: O Pretinho do Japão, Casa Chinesa, Mercearia do Bolhao and Pérola do Bolhão. Other neighborhood grocery shops featuring a wide range of goods perfect for packing in your luggage include: Mercearia das Flores on Rua das Flores, Mercearia & Companhia off Boavista, Loja da Praça and Mercearia do Miguel in Foz, and finally, Dama Pé de Cabra, Loca and Nabos da Púcar in the Baixa. And though this Oliva & Co isn’t technically a mercearia, it is the ideal place to pick up a bottle of Portuguese olive oil.
Clearly, we’re just skimming the surface here! Porto is a fashion mecca, both in food and design, but if you’re needing a little hand-holding during your visit, give us a ring. We’re more than happy to give you a personalized tour of the very best in the city!
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looking for the very best food and wine experiences.
Since 2005, Catavino has been exploring the Iberian Peninsula looking for the very best food and wine experiences.