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Shop Sustainable Designs at this Women-Owned Business

Coração Alecrim

Courtesy of Coração alecrim's Facebook page

Courtesy of Coração alecrim's Facebook page

Swing by women-owned Coração Alecrim for a shopping experience that’s as rare as the sustainable, locally designed merchandise on offer. Owners Filipa and Rita are mission-driven entrepreneurs, striving to benefit both the local economy and the planet with this boutique business venture. The second you step inside Coração Alecrim with its earthy interior design, sloped ceiling and artfully displayed clothing and gifts, you’ll be content to stay a while. Savor coming and going too, because this photogenic shop’s most Instagrammed feature is its stately front door.

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See the Bridge Named After an Ill-Fated Queen

Maria Pia Bridge

Maria Pia Bridge in Porto | © Concierge.2C/Wikimedia

Maria Pia Bridge in Porto | © Concierge.2C/Wikimedia

Porto’s iconic 1886 Dom Luís I pedestrian bridge connects the city with its southern neighbor Vila Nova de Gaia over the River Douro, and is an essential part of a Porto walking tour. But don’t neglect its downriver predecessor. Built almost a decade earlier and designed by Gustav Eiffel (yep, that Eiffel), the Maria Pia bridge was the result of an ambitious railway project and once ranked as the world’s longest single-arch bridge. Its latticework design even resembles that of the Eiffel Tower. Catch a scenic glimpse of the Maria Pia—named for Portugal’s Dona Maria Pia of Savoy, who died in exile after a coup ousted the royal family in 1910—from the Ribeira district.

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Porto’s Only Feminist Bookshop

Livraria Confraria Vermelha

Courtesy of Confraria Vermelha Livraria de Mulheres‎

Courtesy of Confraria Vermelha Livraria de Mulheres‎

In her seminal essay “A Room of One’s Own,” Virginia Woolf wrote, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Livraraia Confraria Vermelha de Mulheres, literally translated as Red Brotherhood Women’s Bookstore, attempts to create that room for women readers, writers and creatives of Porto. It’s the city’s only feminist bookshop, carrying exclusively female-authored titles. Designed to resemble a bedroom, the Livaraia’s setup includes delicately arranged sofas, teacups and hammocks, emphasizing that the space is so much more than a shop. It’s a gathering place intended to celebrate women contributions to literature and strengthen community among Porto’s literary femmes.

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Support the Women Preserving Porto’s Tile Art

Os Azulejos do Porto

Os Azulejos do Porto | © schnurzipurz/Pixabay

Os Azulejos do Porto | © schnurzipurz/Pixabay

Porto’s signature azulejos adorn buildings throughout the city. From the São Bento railway station to the Igreja do Carmo church, these blue glazed tiles depicting complex patterns and historical scenes appear to be everywhere, but that could change. Os Azulejos do Porto (Tiles of Porto) is a women-led initiative committed to celebrating and preserving Porto’s azulejos. Founders Alba Plaza and Marisa Ferreira are in the process of digitally archiving as many of the city’s azulejos as possible, both to document noteworthy design traits and to better educate the public about their historical significance. The duo also makes and sells hand-painted tiles in the style of the azulejos to support the project. Create a self-guided tour of Porto’s singular azulejos by referring to the map on their website.

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Visit the Woman-Run Quintas of Douro

Quinta de la Rosa

Courtesy of Quinta de la Rosa in Porto

Courtesy of Quinta de la Rosa in Porto

Nestled in Douro’s Cima region, the Quinta de la Rosa is a five-minute drive or cab ride from Pinhão’s train station. It’s run full-time by Sophia Bergqvist, whose grandmother Claire received the quinta as a christening present in 1906. The winery produces 200,000 liters of wine and 80,000 liters of Port wine annually. Go for the port wine tastings, vineyard tours, upscale lodging and most scenic outdoor swimming pool in the valley. You don’t have to stay overnight to enjoy yourself, but you might get FOMO if you don’t.

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Sip on Port Wine

Poças Júnior

Courtesy of Poças Junior's Facebook, an image of Poças Vinhos

Courtesy of Poças Júnior's Facebook, an image of Poças Vinhos

If you rent a car, consider visiting one of the three quintas of century-old port producer Poças Júnior, each in a different subregion of the Douro Valley. Agricultural engineer Maria Manuel Maia, a fourth-generation descendant of the company’s founder, manages the viticulture of all three estates. Poças Júnior initially specialized in port, but expanded its portfolio in 1990 to include table wines, like the Coroa d'Ouro, a full-bodied, fruity red. At the Quinta das Quartas near Régua, where the Poças port is aged, there’s a small museum with 150-year-old granite wine tanks on full display.

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Try this Famous Porto Dish

Café Santiago

Courtesy of Café Santiago in Porto

Courtesy of Café Santiago in Porto

Polite Portuguese society used to discourage women from indulging in the franceshina, Porto’s culinary delight. So you should eat one. Try them on the cheap at Cafe Santiago, a 60-year-old, family-run restaurant that’s just as much of an institution as the cheesy, three-meat behemoth they’re famous for. Developed in the 1950s, the Franceshina—which translates to “little French girl” or “Frenchie”—is sometimes referred to by locals as a gut-bomb or a heart attack on a plate. Proceed with caution after ordering. Vegetarians may prefer to shell out for a herbivorous iteration of the sandwich elsewhere.

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A Day Trip Worth Taking

Braga

Braga, Portugal | © osaka2050/Pixabay

Braga, Portugal | © osaka2050/Pixabay

Even if you only have time for one day trip, make it Braga. Rich with medieval architecture, Braga contains several prized religious structures, most notably the baroque sanctuary Bom Jesus do Monte. If you need a break from other sightseers and the somber tone of the church museums, head to the Bom Jesus public park. Ride the “elevator” train to the top (or climb the towering 650-step staircase), explore the exquisite Gruta do Jardim grotto and take a bargain boat ride on the artificial lake. Then make your way to Braga’s majestic central plaza, where there’s no shortage of cafes and restaurants to leisurely pass the time. Portugal’s sacred city is also home to one of the country’s most successful domestic female soccer teams, S.C. Braga Feminino, winner of this year’s National Women’s Football Championship. The team’s architecturally acclaimed home stadium, Estádio Municipal de Braga, is built right into a quarry. Check the S.C. Braga’s website for a game schedule.

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A Salon for Female Creatives

Ladies, Wine & Design

Courtesy of one of the Ladies Wine & Design Facebook page chapters

Courtesy of the Ladies Wine & Design Frankfurt Chapter | Facebook

Salons were all the rage during Europe’s Age of Enlightenment, when artists, writers and other celebrated intellectual heavyweights convened on the regular for food, drinks and robust conversation. Porto’s Ladies, Wine & Design keeps salon culture alive, and female-focused. NYC-based founder Jessica Walsh started the monthly meetups to cultivate camaraderie and mentorship, instead of competition, among women and non-binary creatives around the world. The Porto chapter hosts monthly events in Portuguese and English, with topics ranging from portfolio review to speed sharing to creating mentally sustainable ways to work. RSVP required.

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Hear Fado Over Dinner By a Celebrated Woman Chef

Casa Da Mariquinhas Porto

Courtesy of Casa Da Mariquinhas Porto

Courtesy of Casa Da Mariquinhas Porto

There are plenty of opportunities to hear Fado, traditional Portugese folk music, in Porto but maybe not like you’ll hear it at the Casa De Marquinhas. The 50-year old restaurant, featuring tapas and steaks by Chef Sandra Santos, sets a mood so intimate, amplification isn’t even allowed. Located in Porto’s historic Se district, minutes away from the Romanesque Porto Cathedral, Casa da Mariquinhas has rightfully secured a spot alongside its more imposing neighbors in Porto history.

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Spin Some Girl Pop at BOP

BOP Cafe

Courtesy of BOP Cafe Facebook Page

Courtesy of BOP Cafe Facebook Page

Need something to do in the evening while you’re waiting for Porto’s nightlife to percolate (it takes a while)? Head to BOP Cafe and lose track of time as you scan the infinite collection of vinyl records behind the mood-lit bar. In addition to coffee, this comfy cafe offers draft beer, wine, cocktails and a full menu, including all-day breakfast. It’s also the perfect place to familiarize yourself with Portugese female recording artists like Doce—one of Europe’s first girl groups—or Tonicha, a 70s-era, Eurovision folk star. Best of luck deciding which of your picks gets a spin on the restaurant turntable.

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A Luxury Hostel Stay for Solo Travelers

Gallery

Courtesy of Gallery Hostel Porto

Courtesy of Gallery Hostel Porto

The sense of community that hostels are famous for fostering isn’t only valued among college kids and budget travelers. In fact, in recent years Porto’s become a hotbed of upscale dormitories, like Gallery. Operations staffer Sofia Mendonça sees a steady stream of solo women travelers and credits the luxury hostel’s approachable, relaxed vibe. Gallery offers private rooms and shared women’s dorms; its stylish main corridor boasts a fully stocked bar and an art gallery featuring new works by local artists. Residents can participate in traditional Portuguese dinners, barbeques, happy hours and game nights. The family-run hostel also generates a monthly calendar of events happening in and around Porto so guests can plan their days.

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A Budget Stay with Good Vibes

Nice Way Porto

Courtesy of Nice Way Porto

Courtesy of Nice Way Porto

Centrally located and minutes from the train station, this multi-floor hostel isn’t exactly luxe. You can, however, nab a budget-friendly single room—most likely with a shared women’s bathroom—and still benefit from the safe, social atmosphere the Nice Way promotes. Every week, the hostel’s knowledgeable staff coordinates recurring events for guests like meet-ups and walking tours. There’s a nightly family-style dinner that takes place in the Nice Way’s vibrant communal area, designed for travelers of all ages to share a meal, exchange anecdotes and perhaps make plans to embark on adventures around the city together.

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Pay Homage to this Feminist Painter

Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis

Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis in Porto | © Wikimedia Commons

Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis in Porto | © Wikimedia Commons

Portuguese artist Aurélia de Sousa famously explored female identity and even parodized Roman Catholic iconography in her paintings. She specialized in landscapes, portraits and everyday scenes. Her famous self-portrait in which she asserted herself as a strong contender among her predominantly male peers, but also as a powerful subject is permanently on display at the Soares dos Reis, Portugal’s oldest museum.

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Party at this Inclusive LGBTQ+ Night Club

Zoom

Courtesy of Zoom's Facebook Page

Courtesy of Zoom's Facebook Page

Want some camp with that cocktail? Then Zoom’s the place for you. This warehouse-turned-disco-replete with retro furniture, black lights and go-go dancers is often credited as the most popular LGBTQ+ club in town. Carve out a spot for yourself on the frenzied dance floor, or just hang back with friends in the lounge area and play pinball. Tasked with creating a fun and inclusive environment, the DJs here specialize in bubblegum and house. Peak hour are at 4 AM.

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