Portugal’s beaches may be the carefree face it shows to the world but there is more to the Iberian nation than just sun and sea. Monocle’s take on the country focuses on its often-overlooked strenghts, from its impeccable service culture to the scrummy regional fare and hearty hospitality. This guide charts a course beyond the nation’s gilded beach-lined frame and inside find a country with character and charm.
— Matosinhos Market
Located 10 minutes’ drive west of Central Porto, Matosinhos is a key seaport. Near its fish auction, stressts are a chock-a-block with seafood restaurants where, during the summer months, outdoor grills appear.
— Vinum at Graham’s (Vilanova de Gaia)
Set on a hill on the Douro’s south bank, Vinum’s dining room whish includes a tapas bar, is part of the 19th century cellar in wichh producer Graham’s ports are aged in oak casks. Patrons get great views of downtown Porto while they tusk into grilled alheira sausage.
— Confeitaria Cunha (Porto)
Comfort food in Porto comes in the form of the Francesinha, a super-calorific croque-monsieur sandwich of liguiça (cured pork sausage), ham and other meats served in a tomato-and-beer sauce. Recipes vary but the dish is best sampled when sitting in one of the city’s many diners, such as Cunha.
— Chocolataría Ecuador (Porto)
In 2009, graphic designer Celestino Fonseca and sculptor Teresa Almeida decided it was time to channel their creative energy into starting a confectionery company making mouthwatering artisanal truffles, bonbons and chocolate bars.
Sold in 1940’s-style wrappers, their products are for sale in their two Porto shops in Rua Sá da Bandeira and Rua das FLores. Tehir dark chocolate Torrié flavour made with a blend of Arabica coffee beans is not to be missed.
— La Paz Clothing (Porto)
Locals André Bastos Teixeira and José Miguel Abreu set up clothing label La Paz in 2011. Inspired by the sea – their new shop in Ribeira is a former pharmacy used by sailors – the duo do nautical-themed knitwear in Shetland wool, casual shirts and coats, all made in the north of Portugal.
— Favorita Inn (Porto)
The Favorita Inn has rooms bathed in natural light, new and vintage furnishings and a homely vibe. Complimentary port is offered in the lounge and a downstairs dining room with a garden patio serves hearty fish and meat dishes, tasty soups and a delicious apple torte.
— Rosa et al Townhouse (Porto)
In 2012 sibligns Emanuel and Patricia de Sousa turned a 19th-century townhouse in the city’s Cedofeita area into a smart six-suite hotel.
Refurbished wooden floors, furniture from Eames, Prouvé and Wegner and clawfoot bathtubs share space with comfy bedding and modern amenities (each room has a Revo Heritage radio). There are in-room shiatsu massages to flight jetlag and a garden to soak up the sun while enjoying a leisurely breakfast.
— Champanheria da Baixa (Porto)
A chic new bistro and after-hours bar that caters to connoisseurs of bubbly who like a club sandwich on the side. Set in the 1950’s-era Palácio do Comércio, its low half-moon mezzanine makes it a stylish setting to sip sparkling wine from one of Portugal’s top cellars.
— Quinta do Ameal (Ponte de Lima)
On this 18th-century estate in the Lima Valley, winery owner Pedro Araújo has converted farmhouses into idyllic cottages with modern touches. In the vineyard he farms for lower yields to make te higher quality Vinho Verde from a single varietal – the aromatic Loureiro grape- instead of doing a traditional blend. He also makes delicious passito (sweet dessert wine) with the grape.
— Vidago Palace
Staying at the Vidago Palace is like experiencing a journey back in time to the splendid architecture of the belle epoque with the understated elegance of a chic spa all set in the heart of a forest and at the source of a hot water spring.
— Pedras Salgadas
This area is the source of a popular mineral water that is rich in iron and aids respiratory and digestive ailments. The 19th-century resort was renovated in 2012 offering wood-and-slate guest cabins built in the parkland and new pools designed by Álvaro Siza.
— Restaurante São Gião (Guimarães)
Fifteen minutes from Guimarães, São Gião sits hidden above a vineyard. Inside, dark hardwood floors and an elegant fireplace greet diners. Try a mixed-egg starter with smokehouse-cured ham and foie gras or braised partridge with Douro wines served in colourful glass goblets.
— Casa da Eira (Moledo)
A trio of stone houses refurbished by architect Álvaro Siza sits next to a pool and orange grove.
At Portugal’s north-western corner, where the Minho river meets the Atlantic and marks the frontier with Spain, Moledo beach offers a picturesque spot for kite and windsurfers.