Porto "breathes" life at various levels. In addition to its architectural riches, its magnificent monuments, the secrets you can discover in the alleys and its gastronomic richness, "Invicta" has much more to offer all year round. Here are some suggestions.
Throughout the school year in Porto, three major celebrations invade the city streets: New Year's Eve, Academic Week and the Festas de São João.
On New Year's Eve, the people of Porto gather on Avenida dos Aliados to attend the usual end of year concert and count down until midnight. If you prefer to dance the night away, there are several discos, bars and other spaces where you can celebrate the beginning of a new year.
The Academic Week, in May, is a student event linked to centenary traditions. In Porto, it is known as Queima das Fitas, and the concert nights at Queimódromo are one of the most eagerly awaited by students.
At the end of June, the festivities of São João, with unique characteristics in the world, are the apotheosis of the celebrations in Porto and one of the most important popular Portuguese cultural expressions. On the night of 23 June, everyone takes to the streets to watch the fireworks over the Douro River. You won't escape the St. John's hammer and the leeks, so we suggest you prepare your retribution. Another tradition worth seeing are the Cascatas de São João, which you'll find scattered around the city. The launching of hot air balloons is another highlight of the São João festivities.
Throughout the year, Porto hosts countless cultural festivals, related to music, theatre and cinema. Among these are FITEI (International Festival of Theatre of Iberian Expression), DDD - Days of Dance Festival, Serralves em Festa, Porto / Post / Doc: Film & Media Festival, NOS Primavera Sound, Porto Photo Fest, FIMP - International Festival of Puppets of Porto or Fantasporto, the largest film festival in Portugal.
If there is one thing that characterises Porto it is the number of restaurants, snack houses, bars, discos or other entertainment venues, open on every street corner, especially in the old part and in the most typical neighbourhoods. Moreover, the creation of new spaces and the remodeling of existing ones is continuous, so that life and entertainment in the city centre will never be lacking.
Over the last few years, Porto has also been witnessing the revival of the downtown nightlife areas. Don't miss out on Porto's nights out, enjoying the city's bohemian, eclectic and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Fun is guaranteed!
Porto is a gastronomic city: the typical food is delicious and the offer is enormous, which pleases all tastes and wallets.
Don't miss the famous Porto dishes, such as Tripas à Moda do Porto or Francesinha, in one of the many restaurants you can choose from (every Porto inhabitant has their favourite). When you want to try something different, one of the advantages of living in a cosmopolitan and multicultural city like Porto is the wide range of places dedicated to the gastronomy of different countries and cultures.
At times when you need to control your budget, the city's cafés and snack bars are a great alternative for light meals and snacks. Some stay open until 02h00 or even 04h00, to serve the students who like to live Porto after-hours.
We also suggest you try the famous Port wine, a unique taste celebrated in national and international literature and cinema.
Exhibitions, Concerts and Shows
When it comes to music, Porto has been hosting an increasing number of rock and alternative music shows, as well as several festivals. Besides open spaces (such as the gardens of the Crystal Palace), the Coliseu do Porto, the Hard Club, the Sá da Bandeira Theatre and the Passos Manuel club are privileged places for this purpose.
But Porto's musical itinerary is not complete without a stop at the iconic Casa da Música, where it is possible to find a regular and very heterogeneous programme of concerts: from classical music to electronic music, contemporary music, world music and pop-rock.
It is also frequent the organisation of craft fairs and the presentation of popular music and dances (folklore), popular festivals (mainly between June and August) and the organisation of theatre, music and cinema festivals. In May it is also usual to hold the Porto Book Fair, where U.Porto Press is usually present.
Cinema and Theatre
Porto has a wide range of cinematographic programming, from theatres where films from the commercial circuit are shown (normally in cinema theatres in shopping centres) to theatres where films of a more independent and alternative nature are shown. The Cineclube do Porto and the Cineclube do Norte present special sessions, often at the Rivoli Theatre or at Casa das Artes, which also serve as the stage for some of the Fantasporto sessions. Open to the public, right in the "heart" of the city, is also the Trindade Cinema, with sessions for all tastes, especially for lovers of author and independent cinema.
Regarding the performing arts, Porto has, among others, the Rivoli Theatre, the São João National Theatre, the Carlos Alberto Theatre, the Mosteiro de São Bento da Vitória, the ACE Bolhão Theatre and the Coliseu do Porto, the largest performance hall in the northern region of the country. In addition, there are small venues where the city's different theatre companies perform, such as Seiva Trupe, mala voadora or Palmilha Dentada, and many musical and recreational groups.