Porto is not as big or international as Lisbon, but if you want a local, cozy feel then head to northern Portugal. Porto is authentically Portuguese and proud of it. Walk amongst the medieval winding streets, listen to the local old ladies as they shout from their balconies, visit the port wine cellars, and bask in the iconic skyline.
Porto’s growing popularity among digital nomads means that much of the city is visitor friendly and most people speak at least some English. The Portuenses (people of Porto) are incredibly welcoming and will do everything they can to help.
Porto is making a name for itself regarding technology, design, and creativity. Young locals are reviving old ways and adding twists in areas ranging from food to shoes. Add to that the numerous coworking spaces, various technology meetups, and a growing number of tech companies that are moving to the city, and you have an exciting city to be a digital nomad.
From May to October Porto is at its prime; it barely rains, the sun comes out, and the temperatures rise. Outside of these months, the weather can be very different. Annual rainfall in Porto totals 1,150 millimeters (45 inches). The wettest parts of the year are from November to April but don't worry; rain doesn't stop us from surfing!
History & Culture
With evidence of Celtic and later Roman occupation of Porto as early as 300 BC, this city is a must for history-loving digital nomads.
Of course, you will want to start by exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Porto’s riverside, Ribeira, but don’t stop there. From the river make your way to the Gothic monument that is the Church of Saint Francis to enjoy its Baroque interior. From there, head up to the Clérigos church tower, completed in 1750, for the best view of the whole city.
If Jewish history in Portugal is of interest find your way to the Portuguese Center of Photography which marks the sport of the last Jewish neighborhood in Porto. Expelled in the 1500s during the Portuguese Inquisition, there are still signs and memorials to the Portuguese Jews that called Porto home.
For a taste of modern history, Avenida Aliados is the place to be. The grand avenue with City Hall sitting at the top is the most expensive real estate in town. Go there to see which companies are the most important in the city. Surprisingly, it is also home to the “most beautiful” McDonald’s in the world.
For more contemporary culture take in a concert, of almost any genre at Casa da Musica – in the summertime they do a whole free series performed outside. If museums are what you prefer, head to Serralves, the modern art museum of the city. Along with the beautiful gardens, the museum itself designed by the famous, local architect Álvaro Siza.
Overall food in Porto is cheap but good! Lunch with a soup, main, and coffee will cost between €5 and €9 per person, and dinner, with a glass of wine, between €10 and €15 per person. Even digital nomads on a budget will still be able to enjoy Porto’s food scene.
The residents of Porto are known as the Tripeiros, tripe eaters. Not as bad as the lettuce eaters in the south, but some people don't have the stomach for tripe… no pun intended. If you are feeling up to it tripas à moda do Porto is a must. Tripe with various types of meats, white beans, carrots and seasoning, this meal will fill you from lunch until the next morning.
That said, the city has plenty to offer beyond tripe. One of its most famous food items is the francesinha, a stacked, meat sandwich covered in a slightly spicy beer and tomato sauce topped with melted cheese and a fried egg. This sandwich is eaten with a knife and fork (it is that big!) and is not for the faint of heart.
Another classic Porto dish is sarrabulho à Porto, a thick blood stew made with various parts of the pig and best eaten on a cold day. It may not sound appetizing from the description, but the people of Porto have perfected the art of using all of the pig and knowing how to make it taste good.
More of a fish eater? Try the grilled octopus, polvo assado na brasa. As simple as it comes, grill the octopus then cover it with a mix of chopped onion garlic, and parsley in olive oil. Served with cooked potatoes and you have a quintessential Porto meal. Best though to head to the neighborhoods of either Matosinhos or Afurada for the best fresh fish.
If you are now looking for what to eat when arriving at a pastry shop, ask for a jesuíta, translated to refer to a Jesuit priest. A simple, flaky pastry of flour and butter in the shape of a triangle topped with an egg, sugar, and cinnamon glaze. If you can get it warm, you may think you went to heaven.
Porto may be known for its Port wine; however, this wine is only brought to Porto from the Douro Valley for storage, selling, and shipping. And though you would be remiss not to enjoy Port wine while you are in Porto, there are also other types of wines for you to try. Specifically, you should try the green wines or vinho verde, with the green only referring to the maturity of the wines.
Some wines to try while in Porto, include:
- Wines from the Douro Valley, such as Port and Douro DOC
- Wines from the Vinho Verde Region such as Vinho Verde DOP, Minho DOP, Alvarinho, Loureiro
Get out of town: Day trips
If side trips are an essential part of your digital nomad experience, then Porto is a great hub.
Douro Valley: Just an hour and a half by car, train, bus, or boat is the Douro Valley, a must for wine-loving nomads. The birthplace of Port wine is made up of rolling hills, vineyards, and stunning views of the Douro river. Some of our favorite wineries to visit include Quinta do Pôpa and Quinta das Carvalhas.
Guimarães: Just an hour by train or car from Porto to the birthplace of Portugal, Guimarães. The city center is a designated World Heritage site by UNESCO, plus the seven-towered Guimarães castle and the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança will be plenty to keep you busy. While you are there make sure to try the local pastry, torta de Guimarães.
Aveiro: Known as the Portuguese Venice, Aveiro just an hour south of Porto. Make sure you check out the fish market, the Eco-museum, and take pictures along the Costa Nova beach in front of the beautifully painted palheiros, little wooden houses. Don’t leave without trying the ovos moles, a local delicacy made from eggs yolks and sugar.
Braga: Known for its devotion and tradition, Braga is the third largest city in Portugal and only an hour from Porto. If you go, make sure you are ready to visit a lot of churches. We recommend Sé de Braga, Bom Jesus do Monte, and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sameiro. And when it comes to food, try the local specialties of bacalhau à Braga and the veal filled pastry frigideira.