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Portugal is a very special country, kind of stuck in the past in some places, with great sun&light, excellent food, really nice people. Located in the North of the country, Porto is a great city to visit with children. Pirouette gives you a guided tour…

Porto is the second important city in Portugal. It has a very different aspect and feel from the capital Lisbon, a different light, different colours as well. It is a much smaller town, but it has it own very personal charm.

There are four main interesting areas to visit in Porto: the old city center (Unesco World Heritage Center), Cais de Gaia on the other side of the Douro river (where all the Port wine cellars are), the art galleria district/ Boavista and Foz, by the sea.

Where To Stay

Historic centre

(also called hysteric center when it’s high tourists season -ahah):

  • Palaciofenizia – Brand new (2017), well decorated with tiles, elegant colour touches and old architectural details – in the Santa Caterina/Mercato do Bolhão district.

 

where to stay in Porto

 

In the art galleries/ vintage stores district

 

  • Rosa et Al  Charming + stylish  + great brunch
  • ****Pensão a Favorita Nice design, cool garden, good restaurant…this is precious address. Best value in town if you like style and quaint places.
  • A nice 3 bedroom apartment on Airbnb, good views – in the Art Galleries district.

 

Also, not very far (Boavista/Casa da Musica area)

  • Casa Do Condo Superb architecture, friendly staff, near Casa Da Musica.


  • NEW (2018) : Torel Avantgarde. Beautiful views, swimming pool – from 95€ to 225€.

  • Hotel Da Musica – Brand new, I haven’t visited nor heard feedback yet…

In Foz Velha (old area, near the sea)

  • 4 Roomsdesigned by architect Eduardo Souto de Moura.

What To Do

Visit the old city centre, starting at the church Clerigos which is high and will become your landmark. Don’t miss:

  • Lello. It’s a bookstore. Adults and kids will love the wooden carved stairs and shelves that looks out of a Harry Potter movie.
  • A vida Portuguesa. A selection of the best Portuguese products, displayed in a delicious way.
  • Sao Bento Station, Its interior is covered with decorated tiles (Azulejos) relating the history of Portugal.
  • Mercado Bolhao, A very authentic and typical food market. Best day is Saturday, when it gets really animated. [closed from 2018 till 2020).
  • Walk on bridge Dom Luis, above the river Douro. Designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel. It goes from Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia, by the other side of the river.
  • Visit the museums – our favourites are Casa da Musica, a building by Rem Koolhas. Great concerts and children’s activities; check the program – Museu de Serralves Contemporary art and beautiful garden with arts on display. The building is by famous Portuguese architech Álvaro Siza.

 

  • Take an old tram to go from Ribeira (famous tourist spot by the river) to Foz. You will travel along the Douro till Foz where the sea starts.
  • Visit old Foz and the beach. Get lost in the little streets around Hotel Boavista. Very narrow cobble stones streets, little houses with lots of different azulejos. There is a boardwalk that goes from Foz to Matosinhos, the adjencent town. You will see a gorgeous sunset, and you will also meet old people playing cards and joking. Arrived in Matosinhos you will feel in surf land! Total disconnection… For drinks in front of the sunset, make a stop at Praia da Luz.
  • Take a walk on Cais de Gaia to see Porto from the opposite side of the Douro river. Especially stunning in summer with the sunset. I highly recommend some Port coktails on the terrace of Porto Cruz, overlooking the whole city and river (best cocktail is the one with rosemary). Visit the Port Wine cellars. If you have time for 1 only, visit Graham’s, or if with kids, Sandeman. 3 to 5 € for the visit + Port wine testing. 10€ pack for a boat tour + visit of 5 cellars.
  • Take a walk in Parque da Cidade. The trees are wonderful and the eucalyptus smell enchanting. Adjacent to Matosinhos beach.

Where To Eat

In the centre :

  • Epoca (breakfast and lunch only). My favourite place with the best Matcha Latte in town, wonderful green eggs. Organic, creative, made with love.

  • Largo Sao Domingo
  • Cantinho do Avillez by Lisbon Michelin Star Chef Jose Avillez
  • Da Terra. Buffet vegetarian & vegan. Quality, creativity and variety. They also have restaurants in Passeo Alegre, Bom Successo, Matosinhos and Centro Commercial Arrabida.
  • Boa Bao Asian food, fun animated place
  • O carniceiro, for meat lovers

By the ocean (Foz/Matosinhos)

  • Praia da Luz (right on the beach)
  • Casa Vasco (creative tapas)
  • Cafeina

In Vila Nova de Gaia (walking distance from the old centre of Porto)

  • Vinum. Beautiful space in the Graham Wine cellars. Amazing view of Porto. There is a restaurant as well as a tapas bar, all in the same space.

In Leça da Palmeira 20 minutes North)

  • Fava Tonka, vegan cuisine, kambucha bar, beautiful decor

Where to Shop

In the old center

  • A Vida Portuguesa – Rua Galeria de Paris, 20 – (+351) 220 022 105 – Classic Portuguese products packaged in a retro-modern way. Worth a visit for the store itself, a former fabric shop all in wood with very high ceiling and industrial feel.
  • Lobo Taste Largo de S. Domingos, 20 – (+351) 222 017 102 – Contemporary crafts selected by designer Paulo Lobo.
  • Casa Almada – Rua do Almada, 544 – (+351) 222 010 089 – Vintage pieces for the home.
  • Cats and Hats. Gorgeous store with a selection of ethnico-modern home products.

In the art galleries/vintage stores district :

  • Rua do Rosario. The whole street is full of nice little stores (clothing&accessories, design, vintage clothing and furniture), and it is perpendicular to the Miguel Bombarda area (art galleries).

In Foz

  • Museu Fondação Serralves. For a selection of products by local designers.
  • Babyboom. A very sweet baby/children’s boutique in old Foz (they sell Tocoto Vintage, Aden and Anais, Bobochoses, Egmont, Rose Theo…). Rua da Luz.
  • Piupiuchick. Another cute children’s store selling their own clothing label but also a selection of decor objects by Lapin and Me, Corby Tindersticks and more. Rua de Diu.
  • VINTAGE/FURNITURE : Casa Almada  Rua do Almada 544 (Baixa), Arquivo Praça da Republica 38, Mercado do Vintage R. dos Vanzeleres 271 (Near Casa da Musica), Mundano Objectos Rua de Santos Pousada, 668.

For Summertime

Leça da Palmeira

  • L’Kodac. Nice bar on top of Aterro’s beach, where you can enjoy the best sangria feet in the sand! Avenida Coronel Hélder Ribeiro, Praia do Aterro, Leça.
  • Piscinas Álvaro Siza Leça. A pool built between the rocks and the sea by architect Álvaro Siza. This pool has been classified has Nacional Monument. Good for a visit on a grey day, as too crowed and not ideal on a beach day! Leça da Palmeira.

Foz

  • Praia da Luz. A quiet little beach to go with family during the day, and between adults for drinks in the evening. Praia da Luz, Foz do Douro.

Matosinhos

  • Praia de Matosinhos. Popular and crowded beach ideal for teenagers. Brazilian caipirinhas and samba music groups.

Post about Pirouette living in Porto posted by Nonchalant Mom – here.

article originally published Sep 2015 updated October 2019

Porto with kids