As we stepped onto the terrace, I fished for sunglasses in my handbag. It was February, but a warming sun bathed Porto, Portugal in glorious light. The restaurant’s handy throws for warding off a winter chill would not be needed today. It was a discovery that has rewarded my husband and me time and again when considering where to head for a drink or a meal in our new hometown. The outdoor dining venues in Porto provide camera-ready vistas for wining and dining, year round!

With spring in full bloom and summer on the way, now is the perfect time to enjoy a meal or a drink in the trendy Ribeira neighborhood, across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia, or in nearby Foz do Douro. Here are nine suggestions for sampling excellent food and unbeatable views in a magical city. All are popular with locals, as well.

Dine in Ribeira

Dozens of restaurants and bars dot Ribeira, one of Porto’s oldest neighborhoods. For a memorable experience, wander the narrow lanes that clamber up from the Douro to the city center. When you tire, stop to rest and fortify while taking in a view over the river toward the port lodges of Gaia.

Wine Quay Bar is popular for its central location and phenomenal people watching. It offers a lovingly curated selection of Portuguese wines (and only wine!). In good weather, grab a quayside chair on a terrace with a full-frontal view of the Douro, the Dom Luis I Bridge, and the famed port lodges. At other times, choose a table inside. Outdoor seats come with squirt guns to ward off seagulls(!). Portuguese charcuterie, cheeses, and sweets make a meal as the evening light plays over the river.

Restaurante Torreão sits high above the Douro River at the end of a tree-lined, cobblestoned street. It is a marvelous venue for an elegant lunch or dinner featuring local ingredients, and has an excellent wine selection. The rooftop terrace overlooks the cathedral, Ribeira, and Gaia. The sunset views toward the Arrábida Bridge are among the most camera worthy in town.

Directly below Torreão, Intrigo cantilevers out from one of the steepest staircased streets in the city. An amazing view comes with great food: contemporary Portuguese plates artfully presented with a selection of wines, beers, and cocktails. Attentive service supports a busy kitchen that is open to the dining room.

Sunset view from Intrigo, Porto, Portugal

Sunset at Intrigo in Porto, Portugal © Tom Fakler.

Explore Foz do Douro

The river promenade, the electrico, and city bus 500 all chase the Douro to the sea, at the former fishing village and now Porto suburb of Foz do Douro. It’s a scenic walk or ride, and a lovely way to see Porto in a new light.

The outdoor tables at Casa de pasto da Palmeiro provide a view of the Douro estuary with small fishing boats bobbing colorfully in the tiny harbor. Laid-back ambiance, friendly service, and imaginative tapas make this a great stop on a walk along the river. A bonus is the ding of the tram as it passes by just a meter from the restaurant.

The cakes and sandwiches at Tavi would be worth traveling for, even without a view. Diners at the best tables can soak up sun out of the wind while enjoying brunch, lunch or afternoon tea overlooking an everchanging surf. This is a place for a lazy breakfast, a long lunch, or time alone with a cup of coffee and a book.

Atlantic tides mesmerize as they pound the rocky beaches that parallel Avenida Brasileira in Foz do Douro. Head for Praia da Luz, a bar and restaurant overlooking the beach of the same name, and forget the world. Hidden from view of the avenue above, the wooden deck and outdoor tables are crowded in summer. In winter, indoor seats face the changing colors of the sunset. Enjoy salads, sandwiches, and seafood here or simply while away an afternoon over drinks with friends.

Praia da Luz, Foz do Douro, Portugal

Portuguese small plates at Praia da Luz in Foz do Douro, Portugal © Tom Fakler.

Discover the Food and Wine of Vila Nova de Gaia

One of my favorite wine festivals, Port Wine Day, is sponsored by port wine producers. Their lodges are based in Vila Nova de Gaia, directly across from historic Porto. Eating or drinking at one of the lodges overlooking the river affords a ringside seat, whether there is a festival on or not. Gaia offers the best views of historic Porto, hands down.

Enjoy a unique perspective upriver to the Dom Luis I Bridge while dining on classic continental fare or tapas at Vinum Restaurant & Wine Bar, at Graham’s 1890 Port Lodge. A glass screen separates the classy restaurant from the working lodge inside and every seat in the atrium enjoys a magnificent view of the medieval landmarks in Porto and Gaia. The tapas menu tempts small appetites, and in fine weather, guests can enjoy their small plates outdoors.

Under the direction of Executive Chef Ricardo Costa, The Yeatman’s Restaurant was awarded its second Michelin Star in 2017 and its tasting menu is a memorable way to celebrate a  special occasion. At Taylor’s Port, just down the hill, take your port tasting outdoors into the walled garden, and for a meal, book a table at Taylor’s Barão Fladgate (Baron Fladgate). The food is Portuguese with a contemporary flair, and in summer, is served on the al fresco terrace with a panoramic view of Old Porto.

View of Ribeira, from The Yeatman Hotel, Vila Nova de Gaia

Historic Porto from The Yeatman Hotel, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal © Tom Fakler.

Is Porto, Portugal your next destination?

With its rich cultural heritage and food scene, Europe’s top destination offers many traditional and contemporary dining options, at all budget levels. As a bonus, many come with killer views of river or sea. To my way of thinking, every traveler should have a great culinary experience-with-a-view at least once while in Porto, Portugal!

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Lunch at Graham's 1890 Lodge, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

Port wine with a view at Graham’s 1890 Lodge, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal © Tom Fakler.