Gay Porto Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Porto Portugal 2019
Vibrant, historical, bubbly, beautiful and utterly infectious – Gay Porto is quickly becoming one of the most popular under-the-radar gay tourist destinations in Europe.
While the UNESCO Listed Old Town and centuries of history are appealing, we love Porto for the sheer amount of entertainment available by night and day, the burgeoning arts scene, all the delicious food, its laid-back lifestyle and yes – the legendary Porto gay nightlife. It’s almost as good as Lisbon. Almost.
LGBT acceptance in Porto is pretty high – even by Western European standards – and Portugal has some of the most progressive gay rights with gay marriage, same-sex adoption, a simplified process of legal gender identification and even a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation enshrined in its Constitution.
All this means you will find plenty of gay couples wandering the streets of Porto, posing for photos next to colorful doorways, getting cozy in any one of delightful cafés and just generally enjoying life.
If you want a bit more than the diverse gay nightlife on offer, Porto’s gay scene also serves up a variety of cultural events. The biggest of these is the annual Porto Pride in July, and there is also the Porto International Queer Film Festival in October. Plenty of smaller events throughout the year you often can only find out about by asking around after you arrive.
Throw into the mix all those gorgeous Portuguese bodies, boutique museums and art galleries, plenty of sunshine and various day-trips to vineyards/beaches and you begin to understand why so many gays are flocking to Porto.
While Porto might still be a little conservative compared to Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, and the likes, gay travelers can feel entirely at ease in this liberal society and are unlikely to have any problems whether you visit for a night, a week or to live full-time.
Gay Porto Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Porto Portugal 2019
Naturally being gay does not define which attraction most of us will want to see when traveling and – generally speaking – queer travelers will simply want to check out the top things to see in Porto during the day! Porto is a very safe city, but still, all travelers should take caution in crowded areas or at night in bars with valuables.
While we love, love, love Porto – you really can’t visit this beautiful part of the world and spend your entire time inside the city limits. You need to hire a car or book an affordable tour but trust us; it is worth it!
Our #1 day trip from Porto has to be to the fabulous Douro Valley where you can sip wine, wander through rolling vineyards, take in all the picturesque views on a river cruise and taste traditional food of the region! After the Douro Valley, if you have extra time, we also loved visiting Guimarães and Braga, the cradle of Portugal with strong medieval vibes and a majestic castle.
Or head to the quaint towns of Aveiro & Coimbra – Aveiro being the ‘Venice of Portugal’ and Coimbra a charming historic university town. There is honestly so much to explore in this area of Portugal … but with such great nightlife and restaurants in Porto, you will find it hard to drag yourself away to do anything else!
There is so much to do here – but we found our favorite memories were just sitting, drinking wine in a gorgeous street-side cafe or getting lost only to find beauty in the strangest of places. Still – it helps to have some kind of idea what is going on, so here are our must-see attractions in Porto that you should not miss!
Dom Luís I Bridge – The iconic bridge of Porto you couldn’t miss if you tried. Be sure to take a few minutes to admire its arched steel design dating back to 1880.
Porto Bridge Climb – When it was built in 1963, the Arrabida Bridge was the biggest concrete arch in the world and while might not be that anymore, but it is the only bridge in Europe that allows visitors to step into a harness and climb 262 steps to get to the top. From here, enjoy the breath-taking views out to the Atlantic Ocean or over to the jumble of tiled rooftops in the old city. Going up late in the day means you might catch the sunset over the water; a truly unforgettable experience.
Rafting in Arouca – Ready for a rafting adventure on one of the most beautiful rivers in Portugal? What’s not to love! You will meet a rafting guide at the beautiful Lusorafting location on Espiunca beach. The guide will provide you with all of the equipment, a rundown of what the day will look like, and of course, the required safety measures you will take. You can choose from either a Class III or IV ride, both lasting a duration of about 3 hours. Once you are finished with the wild ride you will return to Espiunca beach at the departure location. Do not miss out on this opportunity to take a wild ride down the Paiva River!
Surfing – Hire a car or take a tour to surf the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. If you know what your doing there are some great brakes for advanced surf fanatics or there are some sweet spots for beginners. Nothing is hotter than a hunky surfer right?
Mini-Bar Restaurant – A theatre-inspired restaurant from famed chef José Avillez that specializes in ‘mini-doses’/ At Mini Bar you can indulge in reasonably-priced tasting menus alongside delicious cocktails though the ‘surprise menu’ is a real treat, perfectly fitting the restaurant’s concept of ‘nothing is what it seems’ without being pretentious.
Calém Port Wine Cellar – Yes honey, this is our kind of outing! Rich and sweet, Port is the original after-dinner drink and in Porto, it’s basically obligatory to sample it at least once. And where better to start than one of the traditional port wine cellars around the city, Calém. A unique wine cellar experience – this is not simply a tour, a tasting and a goodbye. Here the focus is on interactivity, with features like a 3D map, a 5D movie and a ‘guess the aroma’ game. This engaging experience means that even wine novices feel involved in the cellar tour and it also adds an extra layer to the port testing, as you’ve got a much deeper understanding of the production process by the time you get to that stage.
Clérigos Church – A symbol of the city, the Clérigos Church is a Baroque masterpiece with a beautiful marble altar and a 75-meter tall bell-tower visible from much of the town. It’s one of the most iconic landmarks in the city and boasts some absolutely epic views.
Museu Serralves – Spending time at this beautiful cultural complex is definitely one of the best things to do in Porto. Two complimentary museums sit within 18-hectare gardens complete with lily ponds, fountains, landscaped paths, and elegant rose gardens. It’s the perfect place to spend a summer’s day if you need to escape from the city streets. It’s about 6km out of the city center, so it’s not a quick trip, but we’d definitely recommend it if you’re in Porto for more than a weekend.
Livraria Lello– Bibliophiles, prepare yourselves for your new favourite place in the world. This neo-Gothic bookshop has been delighting lovers of the written word since the beginning of the 20th century with enormous stained-glass skylight and intricate wooden walls. The façade is every bit as lavish as the interior, with carvings representing ‘Art’ and ‘Science’ and intricate carving. The centerpiece at Lello Bookstore is the twisting art nouveau staircase leading up to the second floor, said to be the inspiration for the stairs in Hogwarts. JK Rowling taught in Porto for a couple of years and apparently frequented Lello. Whether this is true or not hardly matters, as nothing takes away from the magnificence of this bookshop….
Espaço Porto Cruz Restaurant – A stunning complex housed in a renovated 18th-century riverside building. It’s a celebration of all things port, with two floors of exhibition space, a shop for the tastings, a gorgeous roof terrace bar, and an incredible restaurant. This last feature, the famous De Castro restaurant, is a must-visit for any foodies in Porto. With a streamlined and sleek interior design providing the perfect minimalist backdrop to their creative menu. It might look super-sophisticated but Espaço Porto Cruz Restaurant offers great value for money and food you won’t forget in a hurry.
Os Lusiadas – The perfect place for a memorable meal with a partner or friends. The freshest fish and seafood awaits you just mere minutes from where the land meets the ocean in Matosinhos. From the live lobsters in a tank at the entrance to the range of shellfish on ice outside the kitchen, the team here is proud of their offerings and for three generations the owners here have been choosing and preparing unique dishes out of the bounty of the ocean. Probably our favorite meal in all of Portugal and a special space with quality service that we would return to time and time again.
Casa da Música – This cultural venue is one of those contemporary buildings that are so staggeringly bold in their design that they hardly seem real. The ‘House of Music’ is a slightly off-kilter cuboid of concrete and glass, designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, that houses the Porto National Orchestra. It won the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2007 for its “intriguing” and “dynamic” composition and for what an effective space it is for its purpose, the performance of music. Conceived as part of Porto’s European Capital of Culture project, Casa da Música has become part of the city’s cultural heart, hosting a huge variety of concerts, from fado to jazz, international productions to experimental shows. There are two concert halls, eight rehearsal rooms, educational facilities, and a shop. Guided tours give you more information and might even give you a glimpse of the view from the roof terrace – though tickets are very affordable if booked in advance.
Soares dos Reis National Museum – Art in an 18th-century palace? Ticks two boxes in one. Plenty of Flemish and Portuguese artworks and divine sculptures to marvel at.
My Porto Tours – Run by a much-loved member of the Porto LGBT community, this company wants to take you beyond the touristic locations so you can experience the real Portugal lifestyle. If you want to know how people in Porto live, eat and party, this is the right place for you. As a result of the tours they provide, you will meet genuine people, indulge in delicious food and wine, surrounded by the most beautiful scenery! Join them for a night of LGBT bar hopping, to the Duoro Valley or for an incredible trip to the Chapelle of Senhor da Pedra. Even better, they offer private tours for almost the same price as bigger group tour companies.
As a world leader in LGBT tourism, pretty much every hotel and hostel in Porto can be considered gay-friendly – after all, being gay-friendly is not all about upscale luxury, but about providing friendly service and welcoming guests without prejudice!
However, everybody likes to be surrounded by people with common interests and as such there are a few hotels in Porto favored by the gay jet-set. Most are located around Jardim da Cordoaria – close to all the attractions of Porto by day and night – and offer something unique and unforgettable.
The following gay-friendly hotels in Porto are only the most popular with gay, but there are hundreds of other hotels in Porto if you don’t find quite what you are looking for.
Whether you want a fun and social hostel, a cheap place to crash after a night of partying or a chic designer option to sip cocktails and surround yourself with fabulous people – Gay Porto has something for everyone!
Yeatman Hotel☆☆☆☆☆– A luxurious – get this!! – wine spa hotel! What exactly does that mean? Precisely what you’re thinking actually… A world-class spa, delightful bar well stocked with all the best wines and a prime position opposite the old town. Every room in the Yeatman has panoramic views with private terraces to enjoy them from yet this fabulous retreat is only a short drive or walk to anywhere you need to be. Probably the best hotel in Porto, this is one stay you will never forget.
InterContinental Porto Palacio das Cardosas ☆☆☆☆☆ – The most gay-popular hotel in Porto, and it’s easy to see why. Set in a former 18th-century palace you can truly be the queen you were always meant to be, surrounded by luxurious interiors and extravagant details like marble bathtubs and high ceilings. Oh, and the on-site spa is pretty amazing too. Everything you need is only a short walkway, and you’re more than likely to bump into other gay tourists over breakfast or a cocktail at the bar.
Hotel Infante Sagres ☆☆☆☆☆ – A historic hotel in the heart of the city. Get transported back in time from the second you walk through the front doors of Hotel Infante Sagres – meet with a glass of port on arrival of course! Recently renovated and kept in immaculate details, if you’re a fan of period design, this is the hotel in Porto for you.
Vila Foz Hotel & Spa ☆☆☆☆☆– Set on the edge of the Atlantic, this opulent accommodation is as majestic as it is unique providing a unique oasis for beauty and moderation. You can opt for a stay here for the ultimate indulgence, but otherwise, there is you might simply consider planning a spa day here in their peaceful sanctuary created from elegant and contemporary décor, inspired by nature. There is also Vila Foz and Flor de Lis, two on-site restaurants with elevated décor and food – and a very modish bar. The completely refurbished palatial building is a homage to the bourgeoisie heights of Porto’s past and has been exquisitely restored, maintain all the original traces of the luxurious architectural details of the 19th century, but now proving rooms and spaces fit for 21st-century purposes. Recently opened, this Vila Foz Hotel & Spa has won a host of awards, and we expect more are on the way. So, why not pay them a visit…
NH Collection Porto Batalha ☆☆☆☆ – A gorgeous hotel built in an 18th-century palace located in the center of Porto with great views of the Batalha Square. Wonderfully priced and located close to everything including the Porto gay bars. We also enjoyed the balcony rooms and daily breakfast spread which helped immensly with our hangovers…
Hotel Teatro ☆☆☆☆ – A refined and actively gay-friendly hotel – the Teatro Hotel Porto is another gay-popular choice known for it’s modern and funky design, enviable location and cozy rooms, many of which have quaint city views. Completed with strong bohemian vibes, a well-stocked bar, and a beautiful inner courtyard to relax in.
Palacio Fenizia ☆☆☆ – A gay-popular romantic retreat in Porto housed in a fabulous bourgeois residence dated to the early 1900s. Palacio Fenizia is one guest-house we are completely living for! Expect stellar interior design elements, large suites and a boutique hotel in Porto which is full of heart-and-soul.
Maison Nos B&B ☆☆☆ – A cute gay-friendly B&B in the historic zone of Porto with absolutely rave reviews, a modern yet respectful interior design and a delightful breakfast. An excellent money-for-value option and will have you feeling like a local in no time!
Selina Porto ☆☆☆ – A modern co-working hostel with private rooms located just a short walk from Riberia- the city’s waterside district. Choose from cultural hotspots or chill to the sounds of live music at a nearby square. Stay productive with their comfortable coworking spaces, sip on a glass of local port, relax in the sunny courtyard or dance to the beats of their resident DJs.
Gallery Hostel ☆☆ – A hip LGBT friendly hostel in the happening Miguel Bombarda arts quarter. Housed in a 1906 building with whimsical design, artist-inspired private rooms, and popular dorms – all topped offer with regular art exhibitions, library, a rooftop terrace, and bar. If you’re on a budget or want to meet up with other travelers before heading to the bars Gallery Hostel in Porto is your best bet!
Gay Bars and Gay Clubs in Porto
Porto is fast becoming one of the most popular gay travel destinations in Europe, in no small part due to the vibrant gay nightlife scene in Porto and plethora of intriguing LGBT-friendly venues! Anyone who knows anything about the Portuguese knows they love a good festa, and while Porto might be laid back and chilled by day, it’s nightlife is anything but!
New gay bars and club events are popping up consistently, so it pays to ask around when you arrive, but at the moment these are the most popular nightlife spots, gay bars, and gay clubs in Porto. Things will get crazy – but just go with it!
Invictus – The place for splendid drag in Porto, a night at Invictus never fails to disappoint with sweet cocktails, a slightly more mature crowd, and fun shows. Decor could probably do with a bit of an update but still a very welcoming atmosphere. An institution of the gay scene in Porto.
Pride Coffee – A gay cafe by day and a chilled social hangout by night – Pride Coffee is perfect for meeting other queer travelers. With regularly scheduled events and guest DJs late into the evening, Pride Coffee Porto is always an excellent choice, and gay life here would not be the same without it!
Bar Conceiçâo 35 – Almost too cool for us, this is *the* place to be for gay-hipster realness. Scrumptious food during the day, but it’s at their Happy Hour that things really get going. On the weekends they pull out the tables for a vibing dance floor where sexy things shake their moneymakers til dawn. Plenty of great parties in Porto are regularly held here, so check out the Bar Conceiçâo 35 Facebook page in advance.
Café Lusitano – Gay favorite cafe with plenty of sophisticated cocktails and wine complemented by the gorgeous 1950’s Parisian interior. Things can get wild in the weekend with international Dj’s and plenty of dancing.
Fabrik – Industrial-chic with delicious cocktails, beautiful bartenders, and epic themed parties. Gay-popular, so if cool and trendy is your style you’re going to just love it at Fabrik Bar.
Bar Labirintho – A uber-cool space attracting a mixed crowd, the focus here is being a ‘cultural’ bar where anyone can enjoy music, art, classical music, live jazz and more. Different events are held weekly and draw in very diverse crowds. Unique and welcoming, even if a show is not on, the back garden is perfect for a relaxing cocktail!
Pride Bar NightClub – Oh halleloo!! Hot Portuguese go-go shows (both men and women), plenty of cheap drinks and a celebration of queerness every weekend. What’s not to love! Expect a medley of gay anthems, themed parties, drag show attended by gays and lesbians – and all those who support them. If all else fails, Pride Bar Porto is the place to be!
Zoom – Along with Pride Bar, Zoom is the other main gay club in Porto you need to visit. Found in a very cool rundown warehouse, expect all night gay dance euphoria with electronic dance music and an eclectic bunch of people. Zoom is a lot of things, but never boring!
The famous Porto gay bar Spartakus has now closed permanently sadly.
Gay Saunas in Porto
Had enough of gay cruising in Porto – either in the bars or elsewhere? If you desire a bit more guaranteed action, the gay saunas in Porto will not disappoint you (unlikely all those faceless accounts on Grindr or the other hook up apps…).
In such a foreign-friendly city you should have no issues visiting any Porto gay sauna, though a few words in Portuguese never hurt. But you could always check out our first-time gay sauna guide for some easy hints and tips.
Sauna Thermas 205 – The most popular gay sauna in Porto. A variety of different guys are drawn to this surprisingly big space with dark rooms, glory holes, private cabins, and a cinema. Theme nights at Sauna Thermas 205 Porto are a big hit and probably the best time to go – but you’re unlikely ever to find their Turkish bath or sauna dull!
Sauna Camoes – The oldest gay sauna in Porto which has been running for over 20 years (formerly know as Tipo Sauna Porto). Kitted out with modern facilities, a sauna, shower and both small and large private cabins for when you want some privacy. A good mix of young foreign guys and older locals plus a sociable living rooms with adult movies always on.
1906 Club – Gay Sex Parties in Porto holding 2-3 different events monthly. Members only so make sure to register in advance for the event on their website. Various themes and locations. Discretion is vital, but tourists are always happily welcomed.
Sauna Spartakus in Porto is now permanently closed.
Gay sauna or not, in any sexual encounter, please take adequate precautions. No matter what your intentions are in while traveling, you should bring your own condoms and lube to play it safe. Take home a hot guy or a hot memory, not an STD.
Besides, you never know what other fun surprises your trip might have in store for you...
Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! Now go out, find your global rainbow family and don't forget to share your best gay stories with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...We'd love to hear from you!