Although Porto is smaller than Lisbon, you will be surprised by the wide range of activities that you can find here in the north of Portugal. This is the city where the Douro River meets the Atlantic Ocean – and the perfect place to enjoy the sun at the beach or at one of the many parks around the city center. The old town highlights nine centuries of Portuguese history – but don’t think that Porto is only about heritage. The city is a vibrant place to discover cool bars and cafes, concerts and shows, and an emerging dance scene that continues to grow stronger. In this article, Inês Carvalho and Bernardo Queiros of Diagonal Dance share their top Porto dance and travel recommendations.

Bonus tip: A perk of visiting Porto? You can explore the main attractions of Porto by walking! On weekends, you can also find many activities for free including dance classes, live music and yoga sessions.

Porto, Portugal and the river lit up at nighttime
Porto, Portugal is beautifully lit alongside the Douro River.
Photo credit: Associação de Turismo do Porto e Norte, AR

Dance in Porto: Diagonal Dance Suggestions

Dance Class in Porto: Contemporary Dance with Companhia Instável

At Companhia Instável, you can take contemporary dance classes, where you experience what it’s like to be part of a professional company. They also have multiple professional development opportunities! The best part? They are based at one of the main Porto’s theatres (Teatro Campo Alegre). 

Porto Dance Company: Circolando (Contemporary Dance)

Founded in 1999, Circolando is a Porto-based contemporary dance company that has toured both nationally and internationally in many countries across Europe, Africa, South America and Asia.

Its ethos is strongly connected with collaboration – not only with established artists but also with emerging performers and choreographers, who can find at Circolando a chance to learn, explore and create new pieces of work. The company building welcomes more than 20 artistic residencies per year, open to people from all around the world.

Theater in Porto: Rivoli Theatre

Rivoli is the main public theater in Porto, located in the heart of the city center. Since 2014, the Portuguese choreographer Tiago Guedes has served as its Artistic Director, and he has been making efforts to increase the number of dance shows in the city. You can experience bold and diverse programming, from local independent artists to world-famous companies at Rivoli Theatre. This is why it has become one of the best places to watch and discover dance in Portugal, with regular dance shows alongside theatre performances, concerts and cinema screenings.

Exterior of the Teatro Rivoli - Teatro Municipal do Porto
Within the Teatro Rivoli – Teatro Municipal do Porto sits a stage adorned by white figures on a mustard-colored background.
Photo credit: Associação de Turismo do Porto e Norte, AR

Porto Dance Festival: Festival DDD

The DDD (Festival Dias da Dança) is a contemporary dance festival organized by the councils of three cities: Porto, Matosinhos and Gaia. The festival happens every year between April and May, presenting a wide range of shows in traditional venues, but some are also performed in public spaces. DDD is considered the biggest international contemporary dance festival in Portugal. Beyond the performances, you can also take part in workshops, classes for dance professionals, discussions and parties.

Dance attraction in Porto: Jardim da Cordoaria

This is a recent dance attraction for all dance lovers: on Sundays, local dance artists come together at the public Jardim da Cordoaria garden (also known as Jardim de João Chagas), where they perform and teach free classes for all ages. We can guarantee that this is an experience that you will never forget!

Large tree-lined walkway in Jardim do Cordoaria in Porto
Magnificent trees line the Jardim da Cordoaria, or rope-maker’s garden, in Porto.
Photo credit: Associação de Turismo do Porto e Norte, AR

While you’re in Porto, Portugal…

As you can see, there’s plenty of dance, including contemporary dance, in Porto – but the Portuguese city has more to offer. Spend the rest of your trip surfing, taking in the sights or relaxing at an upscale spa in The Yeatman Hotel. To make the most of your trip to Porto, Portugal, follow these additional Porto travel tips by Diagonal Dance.

Porto Yoga Class: OM Porto Yoga

Enjoy a Hatha yoga class at OM Porto Yoga, founded by Brazilian Edna Mendes, one of the city’s first yoga instructors. Although this yoga studio is located in the busy street of Santa Catarina, you’ll completely forget you are in the city center once you enter the room!

Spa in Porto: Caudalie Vinothérapie® Spa at The Yeatman Hotel

 Situated in one of the country’s most luxurious hotels, visiting the Caudalie Vinothérapie® Spa promises the experience of a lifetime. You can relax in the Roman bath or sauna while you look at the Porto’s skyline over the Douro River. They also provide a range of massages.

Spa tub at nghttime overlooking Porto and the Douro River
The barrel bath at The Yeatman Hotel – Caudalie Vinothérapie® Spa has spectacular views of Porto and the Douro River.
Photo credit: The Yeatman Hotel – Caudalie Vinothérapie® Spa

Porto Restaurant: Apuro Vegan Bar

Our favourite restaurant in town is Apuro Vegan Bar. Whether you are a vegan/vegetarian or not, you will love this friendly and cozy athmosphere. Their menu consists of tapas and snacks, salads and ‘burgers’ alongside a selection of craft beer, spirits and wine. Apuro also hosts regular free live music shows.

Porto dining tip: You can’t leave Porto without trying out the two main traditional dishes: Tripas and Francesinha. Also, don’t forget to sample the amazing Porto wine!

Hostel in Porto: Selina Porto

Selina Porto is so well-located that you can enjoy loads of attractions within a short walking distance. The hostel has a library, coworking space, movie room and a nightclub. It’s also a great place if you like to meet new people – both locals and international travelers. You can hang out in the courtyard and meet new friends while dancing to live DJ sets here.

Azulejos and windows in Casa da Musica, Porto
You can see blue and white azulejos within Porto’s Casa da Música concert hall.
Photo credit: Associação de Turismo do Porto e Norte, AR

How to spend a day in Porto, Portugal…  

You can start a day in Porto by taking a surf class at Praia de Matosinhos before strolling around Parque da Cidade – Porto’s largest public park. Also, don’t forget to visit the iconic Casa da Musica (House of Music) and the museums of Serralves and Soares dos Reis. Palacio de Cristal and Jardim das Virtudes are perfect places for a small break; and then you can walk around Ribeira and visit Torre dos Clérigos: an old tower with breath-taking views of Porto. If you want to enjoy a drink at the end of the day, just walk around Galerias de Paris and pick one of the inviting bars!

All information accurate and up to date at time of posting.

Have you been to Porto, Portugal? And what was your favorite suggestion from Ines and Bernardo’s Porto dance guide? Let us know in the comments below!

diagonal is a platform for dance promotion. It aims to create a more engaging relationship between professionals and audiences by rethinking contemporary dance as an accessible language for everyone.

Dance and artistic creation will never be static processes – and that is why their mission is to support the sector in the areas of promotion and participation. Their work is dedicated to designing a range of services that focuses on the specific features of contemporary dance while responding to the individual needs of each professional artist and organization.

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