Porto exudes life in so many ways. Aside from its architectural riches, its magnificent monuments, its secrets – discoverable by exploring the city’s alleyways and its culinary delights – Porto has so much more to offer throughout the year. Here are just some suggestions.
During the academic year, three important celebrations take over the city's streets: New Year, Academic Week and São João festivities.
On New Year's Eve, people get together in the Avenida dos Aliados for the yearly concert and countdown to midnight. If you’d rather dance the night away, there are several nightclubs, bars and other similar places where you can party into the New Year.
The Academic Week, in May, is a student event associated with century-old traditions. In Porto it is known as Queima das Fitas, one of the students’ most eagerly anticipated events, with a series of concert nights held at the Queimódromo.
At the end of June, Porto’s unique traditional São João festivities are a high point of the city's celebrations and one of the most notable Portuguese cultural events. On the night of 23 June, everyone goes out to watch the fireworks display over the Douro River. You will not escape being bopped on the head by a São João plastic hammer or overgrown leek, so we suggest that you prepare your counterattack. Another tradition worth seeing is the Cascatas de São João, a representation of the celebration using clay figures, which you can find scattered around the city. Another must-see during the São João celebrations is when sky lanterns are released into the night sky.
There are countless cultural events held in Porto throughout the year, including music, theatre and cinema festivals. Among them are the FITEI (International Theatre Festival of Iberian Expression), the DDD - Dance Days Festival, Serralves em Festa, the Porto / Post / Doc: Film & Media Festival, NOS Primavera Sound, the Porto Photo Fest, FIMP - International Marionettes Festival of Porto, and Fantasporto, Portugal’s biggest film festival.
If there was one thing that made Porto stand out it would be all the restaurants, petisco (light meals) bars, nightclubs, bars, and other entertainment venues, found on every corner, especially in the old town and in the traditional districts. At the same time, new places pop up all the time while others undergo renovations, which means that the city centre is always full of life and entertainment.
Over the last few years, Porto has seen the revival of its nightlife in the city centre. Don’t miss out on a night out in Porto, where you can enjoy the city’s bohemian, eclectic and cosmopolitan spirit. You’re guaranteed a good time!
Porto’s gastronomy offers an extensive array of delicious traditional food to suit all budgets and tastes.
Be sure to sample some of Porto’s famous dishes, such as Tripas à Moda do Porto or a Francesinha in a restaurant of your choice (everyone in Porto has a favourite spot). When you feel like trying something different, one of the advantages of living in a cosmopolitan and multicultural city is the great variety of places dedicated to the cuisine of different countries and cultures.
When your budget is tight, the city's cafés and snack bars are a good option for finger foods and light meals. Some are open until 2 a.m. or even 4 a.m. for students who like to enjoy the city after hours.
We also recommend that you try some of the famous Port wine, which boasts a unique taste celebrated in national and international literature and cinema.
Exhibitions, Concerts and Shows
When it comes to music, Porto has welcomed an increasing number of rock and alternative music shows, as well as various festivals. In addition to open spaces (like the Palácio de Cristal Gardens), you can attend events at the Porto Coliseum, Hard Club, the Sá da Bandeira Theatre and the Passos Manuel club.
But Porto’s musical tour would not be complete without a visit to the iconic Casa da Música, with regular and very diverse music concerts: from classical music to electronic, including contemporary music, world music and pop rock.
There are also frequent crafts fairs, as well as music and traditional (folk) dance shows, traditional celebrations (mainly between June and August) and theatre, music or film festivals. The Porto Book Fair, in which the U.Porto Press participates, usually takes place in May.
Film and Theatre
Film in Porto is vibrant and varied, from mainstream releases (usually screened in cinemas found in shopping centres) to films of a more independent and alternative nature. The Cineclube do Porto (Porto’s film club) and the Cineclube do Norte (the film club of the North of Portugal) organise special screenings, often at the Rivoli Theatre or at Casa das Artes, where some of the Fantasporto sessions are also held. At the heart of Porto lies the Cinema Trindade, with screenings across all genres, especially suited to lovers of films d’auteur and independent cinema.
For theatre-lovers, Porto is home to the Rivoli Theatre, the São João National Theatre, the Carlos Alberto Theatre, the São Bento da Vitória Monastery, the Bolhão ACE Theatre and the Porto Coliseum, the largest theatre space in the north of the country. There are also smaller spaces which stage performances from the city’s various theatre companies, such as the Seiva Trupe, mala voadora, and Palmilha Dentada, as well as other music and entertainment groups.