Over the years, Lisbon has garnered popularity as Portugal’s most sought-after travel destination, yet all the while, Portugal’s “second city” was being overlooked. Porto started out as a manufacturing hub for most of the 19th and 20th centuries.
It has since grown into the nation’s fashion and design trailblazer. Even designers from Lisbon flock to Porto as thus is where the industry comes alive. Now it is gaining traction as a shopping mecca, filled with local designer goods that cannot be found anywhere else. Here is a look at some of the highlights of the up-and-coming shopping haven.
La Paz is one of the top clothing brands to have emerged from Portugal. La Paz is a hip Porto-based menswear label that focuses on modernising traditional Portuguese fishermen’s garb. Try on the brand’s entire inventory of chunky cotton sweaters, seahorse-print button-front shirts and hooded anoraks at the storefront located in the Ribeira neighbourhood.
Wrong Weather, located in Boavista, is the place to be for high-end designer menswear. The inventory consists of silk jackets by JW Anderson, Marni leather sneakers and a collection of cut-and-sew shirts, graphic tees and perforated leather belts designed by the owners themselves.
Saville Row-trained tailor Ayres Gonçalo is the man to schedule an appointment with for all your black-tie needs. Whether it is a sharply cut suit or a tuxedo, a bespoke pair of suede loafers or double monkstrap shoes, Ayres Gonçalo’s atelier is the place to be.
Meanwhile, award-winning designer Luis Buchinho’s flagship in the city centre is the best spot for womenswear. Despite being one of Porto’s earliest pioneers, Buchinho’s latest collection easily proves that he’s still on the pulse of what’s covetable: leather jackets with origami details and mix-pattern shift dresses.
Daily Day is a new shop that carries mostly Portuguese brands. It’s the place to go for men’s clothing, from La Paz, to Weekend Barber’s shearling covered loafers, and folio-style clutches from Noise Goods – a leatherware producer from nearby Leiria.
Located amid the galleries of the Porto Art District, Scar ID is a treasure trove for Porto-based designs and exclusive items, as it is often the only retail outpost for a lot of the product lines it carries. Asides from wide variety of accessories, fashion, skincare and home décor are also available.
The TelmaDA collection is made up of the coolest architectural jewellery in town. From modular necklaces, geometric earrings, handmade tortoise shell sunglasses, to unique leather lace-up boots with contrasting neoprene backs, TelmaDA has it all.
In addition, Ideal & Co. provides much more than just an excellent shopping experience. Get to learn more about Portuguese craftsmanship here and enjoy a complimentary glass of port, and hang out with the designers all at Ideal & Co.’s downtown office.
A Vida Portuguesa
A Vida Portuguesa, near the iconic Clerigos Tower, is a chain of well-known concept stores with branches in Lisbon and Porto. Its stock of Portuguese handicrafts makes for clever souvenirs, such as vintage-looking toothpaste and exquisitely wrapped homemade soaps. The home décor items are equally delightful, with wall hangings, aluminium water jugs and wooden cheese platters.
Casa Almada is the downtown destination for larger home décor items. The brand focuses on mid-century furniture from all over Europe. Whether you are looking for vintage brass sconces, reframed Erik Kirkegaard arm chairs, or limited-run goods, then be sure to head to Casa Almada.
While Porto does not have very many big-name hotels, a lot of the smaller properties offer a boutique, plugged-in vibe. The new Flores Village Hotel and Spa is a renovated townhouse with pool and spa, a rarity for downtown accomodations.
Located on the picturesque banks of the Douro River, the Pestana Vintage Porto offers a view of the city’s famous port cellars. The hotel restaurant, Rib, offers mouth-watering steaks and a finely curated menu of Portuguese wines. Porto’s romantic hilly countryside is a great alternative without being too far from the heart of town.
The municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia is home to one of the area’s most luxurious stays: the Yeatman. It is spacious, with British-inspired rooms and a Caudalie spa, along with a Michelin-starred restaurant and breathtaking views of downtown Porto.
Cantina 32, located on the pedestrian-only Rua das Flores, is currently the most sought-after restaurant in Porto. A mix of traditional and internationally inspired dishes and decadent desserts makes this establishment a compulsory stop for any trip to Porto. Just be sure to make a reservation ahead of the trip.
Celebrity chef Rui Paula’s newest outpost, Boa Nova, is yet another must-visit dining destination. Chef Paula upgrades classic Portuguese fare to fine-dining dishes. The building is designed by Pritzker-winning architect Álvaro Siza Vieira, located right next to the Atlantic Ocean in the fishing village of Matosinhos. Sumptuous fresh seafood by the ocean? It doesn’t get any better than this.
(All images courtesy of respective establishments)