When you meet an average Porto inhabitant, they are most likely to be as passionate about food as they are about football. And they have good reasons for their devotion! One of the world’s best football clubs - the FC Porto - is part of the local culture as much as a range of outstanding chefs who have shaped the culinary landscape.
Porto people are very proud of their heritage and love sharing this passion with guests and visitors alike. Today we will take you to 5 locations and speak about 5 concepts related to football, history, coffee, cocktails, wine and food that you should definitely integrate into the experience when planning an event in Porto. And we will share the stories of the people behind them.
FC Porto was born in 1893 and got the best classification among Portuguese clubs in the ranking of the best clubs in the World in 2020 by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS). Today, the club is a reference in terms of sports and culture in the city and region. And its stadium - Estádio do Dragão, inaugurated in 2003 - has become one of the most visited sights in Porto.
Since the club’s 120th anniversary in 2013, the Dragon Stadium has also been hosting the FC Porto Museum, with 27 thematic areas and a strong interactive and technological component. Conceived and constructed by Sibina Partners (Barcelona) and MUSE (London), the museum showcases the club's historical events, matches, titles, managers and players, as well as trophies, documents, medals, clothing/textiles and works of art.
The European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA) nominee is also the first museum that is an affiliate member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization. This, and the over 1 million visitors from all over the world, speaks to the international relevance of the institution. On the other hand, in partnership with other institutional stakeholders in tourism and education, it offers extensive programming of cultural events to the local community.
An FC Porto follower herself since she was a little girl, the Museum’s director of Operations, Mafalda Magalhães, has been an important driver of the project’s success and expansion over the last 7 years. In line with the values of the club – Passion, Ambition, Competence and Rigor – she and her team have designed a unique space that not only tells the story of the club but also the history of the city, the region and its people.
The technological concept of the museum coexists with elements of strong historical and mythological connotations, such as the figure of the dragon that has been part of the city’s coat of arms and was integrated into the club’s badge in 1922. The blue star at the entrance and in the museum’s logo stands for Alpha Draconis, one of the major stars of the Draco constellation that appeared as the North Star during the construction of the earliest Egyptian pyramids. In the interview with our International Promotion Director, João Ramos, Mafalda reveals her passion for astronomy and explains why this important constellation represents the perfect metaphor: “The star of the museum greets you at the entrance and guides you to our own astonishing collection of trophies, our own Draco constellation”.
Covid19 has had a tremendous impact on the museum’s growth and numbers, forcing the operations to stop during the pandemic. After reopening, guaranteeing the visitors’ safety was a priority and the FC Porto Museum obtained the main national and international certifications: Clean & Safe awarded by Tourism of Portugal and Safe Travels by WTTC. “Other improvements that we made in our museum were changing courses of our tours and also (reducing) the number of people in each tour”, said Mafalda.
The museum’s team also used the pandemic to work on and introduce additional features at the museum. One of them is an exclusive and recently inaugurated Escape Room (Porto Exit Games),an impressive addition to the existing offer of team building activities and combined experiences of stadium and museum. “The sky's the limit”, of course, when you have over 7.000m2 of versatile multi-purpose space - from auditoriums and temporary exhibition rooms to the pitch - available for conventions, product launches and meetings of all sizes. And with a stadium that is perfectly prepared for broadcasting, your next hybrid event will be in expert hands at this venue!
One of Porto’s lifestyle essentials is coffee, the favourite social beverage of true Portuenses that is best enjoyed in company and at one of the city’s many traditional cafes. André Apolinário invited us to meet him at Cafe Ateneia, a recently refurbished place that opened in 1932 while keeping the old tea-rooms’ tradition alive. The ambience and the beautiful Art Deco style are the same as in old times - the perfect setting to chat with Taste Porto’s Co-Founder and CEO about his company’s Food Tours and the latest evolution of their project.
André was born and raised in Porto and is - of course - a proud lover of Porto’s food and football team. For him, each Food Tour is an opportunity to show people all the beauty of Porto, which he does through a combination of facts, memories, and personal, everyday experiences, spreading his infectious love for the city’s cuisine.
Taste Porto’s Food Tours are not only considered one of the world’s best, according to The Guardian. They also serve a deeper purpose of showing Porto’s history, architecture and culture through gastronomy. “For us, food is a form of cultural expression. So, taking you to the places, showing you the gastronomical traditions and the things that we eat will allow you to get closer to our heritage”, says André while ordering a Cimbalino (what we call an espresso in Porto) and Pasteis de Nata.
Moreover, by organizing a fully customizable or themed Food Tour as part of your incentive or convention, your attendees will get to know the families behind the different eateries and at the same time contribute with donations to a local NGO that supports homeless people.
Using the downtime during the pandemic to innovate and further develop their concept, Taste Porto created an online application that works like a self-guided tour. Unlocking amazing food and beverages at a selection of establishments that can be explored at your group’s own pace, this passport is a perfect alternative to traditional food tours.
We say goodbye to André and take a short walk to our next location, enjoying the beautiful scenery of Porto’s old town on the way: Leaving Avenida dos Aliados behind us on Praça da Liberdade, we can spot one of the city’s landmarks, Igreja dos Clérigos with its iconic bell tower. Just behind the university’s building and facing the Natural History and Science Museum, the impressive lion statues greet us from their Roman-style fountain at Praça de Gomes Teixeira. After taking in the tiled facade of the twinned baroque church Igreja do Carmen, we follow the tramway track towards Jardim de João Chagas - a park that surprises visitors with sculptures such as the “Laughing men” - and find ourselves in front of The Golden Oldie.
This Cocktail Bar, inspired by the Roaring Twenties, provides an intimate setting with art nouveau details, charleston, foxtrot & jazz music. Signature cocktails and mocktails with a French touch stand out on the menu among wines, sangrías and beers, while the food, created by chef Carla Silva, also reveals a French influence.
Golden Oldie’s owner Cristiano Losa, who started this project 2 years ago, loves to share this Paris-inspired concept with individuals and corporates alike, opening the bar for private tastings, meetings with team building activities and cocktail masterclasses.
The bartenders at Golden Oldie do not only serve mixed drinks, they also create new cocktail recipes with a forward-thinking culinary approach. For our visit, Cristiano has invited Portugal’s Brand Ambassador and “Barman of the Year 2017”, Daniel Carvalho.
Daniel, who has been a finalist and winner of several competitions throughout the years, began his professional career as a bartender in the surroundings of Porto, Ermesinde, and later in bars such as Classe Bar in Vila Nova de Famalicão, Forte S. João in Vila do Conde, The Gin House in Porto and finally in The Royal Cocktail Club, also in Porto. Since 2019, he has been the Brand Ambassador in Portugal for Global Premium Brands, in addition to leading nation-wide training, masterclasses and bar consultancy.
Taking up Cristiano’s challenge of creating a new classic that represents the region of Porto & North of Portugal for Daniel, he mixes an innovative cocktail for us. Inspired by the “Port Tonic”, his personal version of the classic is a light, well-balanced blend including Gin Mare, wine-based spirit and homemade Cherry Cordial with cherries from Resende (Northern Portugal), slightly fizzy, with an artistic touch and a fresh cherry on top. Cheers to Porto Lifestyle!
Hungry - for food and more lifestyle experiences - Cristiano accompanies us on an Electric Tuk Tuk ride to Vila Nova de Gaia, where wine cellars are lining up on the other side of river Douro.
Sandra Figueiredo, Enotourism and Event Manager at Espaço Porto Cruz, greets us at the entrance of this multi-level space dedicated to Port wine culture.
Port is produced in the Douro region - the third oldest official appellation after Chianti and Tokaj, all of them stemming from the 18th century - where the microclimate is ideal for cultivating grapes. After the fortification process that provides Port with its distinctive touch, it is stored and aged in wineries such as the ones on the Gaia riverside.
Espaço Porto Cruz offers a discovery of Port wines through a range of sensory activities and interactive experiences, including a virtual tour to the Douro valley and the local wine cellars. The history of the Porto Cruz brand icon - Mulher en Negro - is revealed to the visitors as well as the secrets behind the three brands of Port represented there: Dalva, Porto Cruz and Quinta do Ventozelo.
Espaço Porto Cruz also offers an inspiring environment for exhibitions and many contemporary Portuguese artists have used this opportunity to make themselves and their work - from photography, painting and sculptures to fashion or jewellery - known to the public.
This space (the “Douro Room”), as well as a small auditorium on the third floor, can be rented for private events or meetings that are best combined with an exclusive wine tasting in the dedicated professional tasting room, dinner at Restaurante DeCastro Gaia and/or a drink on Porto Cruz’s terrace lounge 360º while enjoying the sunset over river Douro.
While Port is still most commonly known as a rich and sweet dessert wine - especially in English-speaking countries - the port wine culture is much more abundant, with white and tawny ports often being served as an apéritif in Portugal and across Europe.
In order to live Porto and Douro wines on yet another level, you have to let Chef José Guedes seduce you with his creations at DeCastro Gaia, a formidable restaurant that is also located within Espaço Porto Cruz. Under the guidance of renowned Chef Miguel Castro Silva, with whom he has also opened the Casario Restaurant on Porto’s riverside, his cuisine invokes a harmony of wine and regional specialities with a touch of modernity.
The gastronomic concept is based on enjoying several - smaller - dishes instead of one main course which allows you to try a variety of different foods during one meal. Port wines are brought to the kitchen and the customer in unexpected ways, such as the Creme Brulé with White Port or the Black Pudding with Dalva Dry White Reserve.
Are you ready to have your taste buds challenged and enjoy Porto in small portions?