Porto’s nostalgic atmosphere, terraced gardens, elegant bridges, historic landmarks and inescapable seduction of Port wine are just a few of the reasons why Portugal’s second-largest city has been inspiring romantic souls for centuries.
It has a thousand and one nooks inviting you to date, while you immerse yourselves in a rich culture. It’s dimly-lit cobblestone streets are narrow and winding and offer dark corners that invite stolen kisses.
Its streets, filled to the brim with history, will leave you with a warming, mysterious memory. And since Porto sits upon hills, it offers an abundance of beautiful lookout points where you can admire its dreamy and inspiring sunsets over the charming Douro River.
Can you think of a better place to get lost in, especially when arm in arm with your sweetheart, slowing down your pace to a gentle stroll on some view-filled walks? This city provides an ideal setting to nourish a recent passion or lifelong love.
Where to stay
The reality of love is finding yourself at a higher level, far above the daily grind of life, and seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses. When you are celebrating a time in your life that is centred around love, it needs to be celebrated thoroughly in every aspect possible – from your time together all the way through to the atmosphere you find yourself in.
Whether you find yourself wanting to celebrate your honeymoon, anniversary, or would just like to have a quick getaway to keep the romance alive, Porto is the city for you.
Whilst there are so many different kinds of accommodation on offer that caters for almost every budget, we have selected our top five hotels that we know for sure speak abundantly of romance.
1. Torel Avantgarde
In the centre of Porto, you will find The Torel Avantgarde, a 5-star boutique hotel. Art is the central theme here and the design of the hotel has been inspired by the Avantgarde years. It has the elegance of the 1930s and 40s, and at the same time celebrates contemporary Portuguese art, design and craftsmanship.
All of the 47 boutique-style bedrooms are unique in their designs, differing from one to the next. The hotel also has an Avant-Garden and Balsamea Spa where you and your partner can unwind after a long day exploring Porto.
The Torel Avantgarde’s in-house Digby Restaurant serves contemporary Portuguese dishes that are, in addition to the hotel decor, a creation of art. Fine wines, honouring the history of the region, are elaborately on display in the dining hall. These make a great addition to your gastronomic experience. If it is a warm day, be sure to request an outdoor table where you can appreciate both your meal and the incredible views of the city.
2. Vila Foz Hotel & Spa
If you prefer an accommodation type that offers a nice infusion of nature and luxury at its finest then the Vila Foz Hotel and Spa is just for you. The hotel is located along Porto’s coastline where the Douro River meets the Atlantic Ocean.
The hotel resembles that of a majestic palace with classic architecture reminiscent of the 19th Century. There are 68 rooms and suites, each a peaceful sanctuary with beautiful, elegant and contemporary décor that has been inspired by nature.
The hotel also has its own spa that offers guests authentic and holistic treatments that will inspire them to follow a healthier lifestyle.
Other facilities include an indoor pool, sauna, fitness centre, bar, garden and two restaurants that offer fine dishes that will elevate all your senses.
3. Infante Sagres – Luxury Historic Hotel
The Infante Sagres has a long-standing reputation as being one of Porto’s most prestigious city centre luxury hotels. This 5-star hotel, although having retained its unique historical charm, has a timeless elegance and contemporary sophistication to it.
In fact, it is for this reason that it has been a favourite amongst International celebrities for more than six decades. Couples love it too, for its stylish ambience and hands-on personalised service.
There are six different soundproof rooms types that boast classical neo-baroque decor and custom-made furnishings. The rooms also offer spectacular views over the historical city of Porto.
Other facilities include their newly-opened Vogue Cafe as well as a sundeck with a plunge pool to round off your experience.
4. Pestana Palácio do Freixo
The 5-star Palácio Do Freixo is a calming space boasting serene elegance. It is located in an impressive 18th-century mill building that in 1910 was declared a national monument.
The building has a unique Baroque architectural style and was built by one of the most important architects in Porto – Nicolau Nasoni. It was this particular building that assisted Porto in receiving World Heritage status.
Here you will find some of the most romantic room types in all of Porto. Both the colour palette of the hotel and its contemporary decor have been influenced by the colours of the nearby vineyards and all the shades of wine.
The hotel also has an infinity pool that boasts panoramic views over the Douro River as well as ten thousand square metres of green spaces.
5. Hotel Teatro
How does spending a romantic night in a theatre-inspired, gold- and bronze-trimmed hotel sound?
Built in the same place where, in 1859, the Teatro Baquet was inaugurated, Hotel Teatro recreates the unique, exquisite and bohemian environment of the traditional theatre. Everyone here has a role to fill.
At the door, you and your partner will be greeted with a poem by a great romantic poet from Porto – Almeida Garrett. What’s more, is that you can expect a box office in place of a reception desk and tickets instead of room keys.
This hotel is larger than may be expected from a boutique-style hotel, with 74 rooms and suites available.
Where to eat
To say that food is a big part of Portuguese life would be an understatement. The Portuguese love to eat, and they especially love to eat out. And for good reason! They have some of the most impressive mouth-watering food in the world.
Porto has some of the best rests in the whole country. Petiscarias (Portuguese-style tapas bars), gourmet steakhouses, brunch cafes, hallowed port cellars, craft beer bars, food markets – you name it, Porto has it.
With much-lauded chefs like Pedro Lemos, Ricardo Costa, Rui Paula and José Avillez shaking the pans, the city’s culinary experiences continue to be on the increase.
The restaurant, Vasco Coelho Santos, named after its chef, for example, offers highly experimental 10-course gastronomy experiences coupled with wines from the Douro Valley. Similarly, the Palatium Restaurant proposes a terroir culinary concept amidst an unrivalled palatial atmosphere that is decorated with frescoes and paintings that date back to its construction period.
Cafe Majestic is also a favourite. You will love having a meal in this historic cafe for its distinctive Art Nouveau façade of curvaceous stonework and undulating motifs. Inside, its vintage 1920s lavish interior gives it a delightfully bohemian flavour.
Another unique experience can be had at O Pretinho Do Japao. From the outside, it appears to be a traditional grocery store, but keep walking past all the preserves, port wines, coffee and chocolates and you will be delighted with a wonderful hidden garden terrace. This building has been recognized by the city council as one of the city’s historical shops.
Not to be missed
Ribeira is Porto’s biggest heart-stealer. Not only is it the oldest district in the city, but in 1996 UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage site. Its labyrinth of medieval alleys zigzags all the way down to the Douro River, giving it bags full of character.
You should, therefore, begin your visit on its riverbank to fully understand and appreciate the city a little bit better. Its promenade is lined with slender, pastel-hued coloured houses and taverns that offer you front-row views of the spectacular Ponte de Dom Luís.
An abundance of port wine cellars stretches along the other side of the river. From here, you can take an informative tour of the traditional processes of port wine production, followed by some wine tasting.
Porto is also considered as the city of bridges as it is the only city of its kind in Europe. There are six impressive structures that connect Porto’s noble past to its future and adds to its charm.
In addition, the city’s 2,000-year-old history can be seen in its many and varied monuments, from the cathedral whose Romanesque core dates back to the 12th century, to the neoclassical Stock Exchange and the typical Portuguese Manueline-style Church of Santa Clara.
Other notable buildings worth visiting is the São João Theatre, the former prison Cadeia da Relação, the Palácio da Bolsa and the São Bento railway station. This rich and varied architecture eloquently expresses the cultural values of the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, and modern periods.
Surrender to the pampering of your soulmate at one of Porto’s most premium spas and wellness centres. Each of these offer intimacy, a sense of privacy, and sensual surroundings to inspire romance.
One such spa is the Vinothérapie Spa that can be found in The Yeatman Hotel. This is Portugal’s first wine-themed spa and seeing that the whole country was built on the production of port wine, what better place to have an experience like this than right here in Porto – the heart of it all!
Red wine, in moderation, is said to be good for you, so it stands to reason that if wine is good in you, then it should be good on you. That’s the concept behind vinothérapie – spa treatments that use wine grape extracts in their products.
Furthermore, wine is said to have powerful antioxidant properties that contribute to your beauty, wellness and vitality and prevents ageing. Similarly, the pulp is good for exfoliation and grape oil helps to nourish the skin.
Spa treatments here at the Yeatman are evocative of the elemental spirit of wine and include barrel bath immersions, relaxing Vichy shower massages and other signature body and facial treatments.
A Roman bath, hammam, sauna and outdoor swimming pool are a few of the other facilities that can be enjoyed here.
Is there anything more romantic than a stroll along the beach, hand-in-hand, with someone you love?
Since Porto lies within the beautiful Costa Verde coastline, it is surrounded by many outstanding beaches. Each beach is distinctly different from the next and offers dramatic scenery ranging from vast expanses of golden sands to rocky headlands.
Praia de Matosinhos
Only a 15-minute metro journey from the city centre, Praia de Matosinhos is a favourite for its close proximity. It has a wide expanse of golden sands and waves that are fit for a surfer. Nearby you can appreciate the fishing port and the castle of Cheese – Castelo do Queijo.
Praia do Senhor da Pedra
Quite possibly one of the most romantic beaches of the entire region, Praia do Senhor da Pedra has become popular for its isolated Senhor da Pedra Chapel. It is located in Miramar, approximately 14 km south of Porto.
Vila Do Conde
Just 25 km away from Porto’s City centre, you will find the resort town of Vila do Conde. Although often overlooked by foreign visitors, this is a favourite amongst Portuguese couples who are drawn to the areas beautiful golden beaches. More so, it lies on the mouth of the River Ave, which adds to its charm.
Praia Da Luz
You will love the blue flag beach of Praia da Luz. Sunsets here are breathtaking, and you will appreciate the visible horizon line that stretches from the Douro sandbar all the way to Espinho. A lighthouse, fort and a chapel, add to the scene.
Praia de Lavradores
Vila Nova de Gaia is a Portuguese municipality within the Porto District and is home to biggest number of Blue Flag beaches. Stroll along this very picturesque 17-kilometre stretch of the coast. After, stop for a drink at one of the many restaurants and bars that dot this coastline.
A beautiful sunset almost always adds a romantic moment to anyone couples day and since Porto is a hill station, it has no shortage of places to admire the sunset. When basked in a golden glow, the city is reduced to postcard format: a colourful tumbledown dream with soaring bell towers, extravagant Baroque churches and stately beaux-arts buildings.
Locals will argue that out of all the places you can view the sunset at, Jardim Do Morro, offers the most romantic and magnificent views of the city. If you are lucky, maybe you will get a glimpse of a romantic soundtrack, as there are usually musicians playing in the area.
Equally ravishing is Jardins do Palácio de Cristal’s palm-fringed, fountain-speckled gardens.
With the most exciting views over the river, the viewpoint of S. Salvador do Mundo is a place of celebration and love: in the annual pilgrimage, marriageable girls believe they will find a groom if they tie knots on the shrubs along the way.
Lovers to the city also appreciate the views from Dom Luis Bridge, because it changes drastically from daytime to nighttime. From this point, you can admire both Vila Nova De Gaia and Porto.
Romance along the Douro
A popular activity for couples is a sunset boat cruise along the scenic and calm Douro River on a rabelo. These flat-bottomed boats, now popular emblems of Porto, were not initially meant for river cruising. Instead, they played a vital role in the transporting of port wine production from the Douro valley region to the cellars of Via Nova de Gaia.
Today, they play a big role in adding romance to the city. Why not relish on a glass of port wine while taking in the luxuriant beauty of different hues afforded by the sunset, and let the last sunbeams warm you and your sweetheart’s heart and soul?
When the sun sets, enjoy a romantic dinner for two onboard, to round up this unforgettable experience.
Festa de São João
Plan your trip to Porto around the São João Festival and witness one of Portugal’s biggest fireworks displays. This celebration has been taking place for six centuries and has been coined as one of Europe’s liveliest street festivals.
On the night of 23 June, thousands of people take to the streets in celebration of Saint John the Baptist. Interesting traditions take place here during this time, like hitting others on the head with a huge, but not painful, plastic hammer and waving garlic flowers in front of people’s faces.
Various street concerts and dancing take place throughout the night and at midnight, locals and tourists alike, gather around the Luis I Bridge to witness the highly sophisticated and breathtaking firework spectacle. To make this even more romantic, why not consider booking you and your partner on a night onboard a tourist boat? Witnessing these fireworks from the Douro River is even more incredible.
Porto Exit Games
For couples that love a good challenge, Porto Exit Games is the perfect place for you.
You and your partner will have to co-operatively play ‘detective’ by discovering clues, solving puzzles, and accomplish tasks whilst being trapped in a room. In other words, in order to escape, you and your partner would have to work together in solving these mysteries.
Not only are these challenges fantastic at building your relationship and developing how well you work as a team, but will also help you embrace each others’ strengths and fill in for each others’ weaknesses.
There are three different escape room challenges that you can choose from. These vary in both theme and difficulty level.
1) Port Wine – The End? | Fear Factor 60% | Difficulty 60%
The easiest of all three challenges, “Port Wine” takes you on a journey to the Douro Vineyards, where you and your partner will have to crack the case of a mysterious insect plague that is threatening all port wine production. You and your partner take on the roles as private investigators who need to find concrete evidence to prove that Jake Carrapato (JC), a famous wine investor, is behind all of this.
2) Porto 2147 – Lost Memories | Fear Factor 40% | Difficulty 100%
Can you and your partner unveil Porto’s dark secrets? This is one escape room challenge that will put your relationship through the ultimate test.
Porto has some dark secrets and the government has a long-standing history of controlling the internet and preventing physical contact and all leisure and cultural activities between all human beings. Can you and your partner stop the government by breaking into their secret hub you both have just discovered?
3) The Sacrifice | Fear Factor 90% | Difficulty 80%
Probably the scariest of all challenges with a fear factor of 90%, “The Sacrifice” is coined by the following byline – “One must die so the other can escape…”
You and your partner feel obliged to help a little girl in despair, trapped in a building in Porto. If you fail to do so in less than 60 minutes, her mother will kill you both. Which of the two of you has to be sacrificed in order for her to live?
Brought to you by the same owners of Porto Exit Games, Banzai is a new concept of entertainment that is taking the world by storm.
It is an ultimate sensory adventure that you can do with your partner and is immensely entertaining and hilariously funny. And the best part – all that is required to take part is a lot of energy, creativity and a good sense of humour.
There are five missions to be completed within a 2-hour period and will put both of you through a series of physical and mental challenges. This is one of those unique experiences that best be experienced rather than described.
Another experience you can have at Banzai is the Banzai bomb challenge. Couples are put under pressure to successfully disarm a treacherous bomb, having to follow a series of instructions before time runs out. It will not only test you and your partner’s communication skills but will also develop it.
Whether it’s romantic cruises along the Douro, luxurious spa treatments and hotel stays, world-class tasting menus, or adventurous escape rooms – Porto is filled with romance.
Ready to start planning your romantic getaway?
Did we miss any of your favourite romantic activities? Share them with us in the comment below.
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