When In Porto: The Most Exciting Flexible Spaces To Work From

Rafaela Sava

17 minutes read

I grab my coffee from the nearest Starbucks then I plunge into the maze of the hilly streets of the city, looking for some of the most exciting coworking spaces and coffee shops.

I’m thrilled and a bit nervous, to be honest, since this is the first time when I’m chasing an experience such as this one. I’m exploring what Portugal has to offer in terms of flexible workspaces. I’m in Porto.

If by chance the path leads you to Porto, make sure you explore everything that comes along the way. It is a city with very particular features, where pastry shops smell like cinnamon and street artists feel at home. From coworking spaces (such as Selina Navis and Porto I/o – accessible through Pluria) to coffee havens fully equipped for work (7 Grams, Combi Coffee Roasters, or Esquires Coffee just to name a few), from decadent food perfectly matching the world-renowned Port wine to the breathtaking views over the river Douro, there’s a lot to explore, admire and do in this city.

Now, circling back to my story

Porto looks very much asleep in the pale light of the morning, as I cross the streets of the city center in search of what I’m thinking it’s going to be a productive day. There’s little to no roaming on the streets and people are walking at a tempered pace. I notice an exception though: a long line in front of a bookshop which I found out later that is one of the oldest in the city and most definitely one of the most imposing I’ve ever seen. I’m going around this line formed by readers and overly excited tourists ready to take over Livreria Lello and I continue my journey.

While strolling, I see that the streets are tucked with small bars and coffee shops, where people bring their laptops. Whilst sipping on their lattes (which I discovered can take different forms depending on the amount of milk you put in, from meia-de-leite to galão) work schedules unfold. Not in a cubicle, not in an office, but under the warm Iberian sun, with coffee and a little snack (Pasteis de Nata or Pão de Deus) on the side.

Occasionally, I check some of the pins that grab my attention on Google maps and look at the ratings. As I swipe between photos, genuinely interested to catch the vibe of places, I find myself standing in front of an Arabesque-style building. I check the pin. I’m at the Selina Navis coworking space. It is a fine Monday morning and today this is going to be “my office”.

Selina Navis Coworking – A Thriving Community

As I enter the building, there’s the front desk area with two more spaces on the left and a mini-bar on the right. I’m warmly welcomed and I greet the receptionist as well while preparing my Pluria app to show my booking. I’m staring at the neon messages on the walls. In less than three minutes, I’m on the first floor, looking for the perfect place to work, after receiving all the instructions… and the most precious thing to get things going and the engine running: the WiFi code.

The interior gives me cozy vibes: a library feeling with lots of plants between desks creating both volume and privacy, natural light, and unique decor details. It’s a very breathable space, artsy and somewhat sophisticated due to its arcade-shaped windows and the arabesque ceiling. It’s really beautiful. Really.

Selina has plenty of options in terms of hot desks (individual workstations where you can work from), comfortable and colourful velvety couches and chairs, individual compartments for private Zoom meetings or phone calls, meeting rooms, and all the other stuff you can usually find in a regular office. In addition, it has a room for training, meetups, meditation, and yoga classes called The Future Room and a Club that serves as a coffee bar and lounge. But probably what makes Selina Navis unique is its thriving community. There are weekly gatherings and “after-hours” facilitating networking and new collaborations. There’s an entire schedule with “things to do” within the community.

Selina is rather a worldwide movement, with a very interesting philosophy I personally find fascinating: “From the heart of urban cities to the depth of the Amazon Jungle, we put our heart, soul, and wanderlust into providing forever-traveler, break-takers, and staycaters with a new and exciting way to explore the world.”

If this is your vibe, then most probably you’ll just feel part of the tribe. Selina Navis is top and it should be on your list if you decide to work remotely for a while from Porto.

7 Grams – A Go-To Work Haven For Coffee Lovers

It was my second day in Porto and I was very excited because I was planning to explore the city with my laptop under my arms. I was craving a specialty coffee and after checking a few blogs early in the morning, I was heading to the heart of the city, looking for my perfect flat white.

Before I arrived at Ponte Luís I (the iconic bridge and the symbol of Porto), I bumped into a small sign – 7 Grams Specialty Coffee. I didn’t even check it, I literally ran toward it. And this is how I discovered a jewel in Nova de Gaia, quite close to where my accommodation in Porto was. And it became quite fast my go-to place for specialty coffee, brunch, sangria, and whatever else they serve there. Food and coffee are equally delicious, the service is nice and there are plenty of tables equipped for work as well.

If you are a coffee aficionado (like me) and if you happen to like the particular sound of clinking cups (again, like me) while working, in an atmosphere with “cozy-but-modern-but-hip” vibes,  jackpot – this is your place. Don’t miss it!

Almada Bistro-Cowork – A Vintage Hideout

I’m in exploring mode. Up and down and up again on the whimsical streets without looking too much at the phone. I got used to the city, and I’ve adjusted to its rhythm and energy. I’m looking for a cozy place to sit and work.

After checking (unsuccessfully) a few of the popular options, I decided to just go with the flow and walk a little bit more.

And while staring at the mesmerising architecture of historic buildings, I find myself sitting in front of a small bistro that looks rather like the interior of your living room and I see people with their laptops. Without further second thoughts, I walk in and discover an interesting place, exactly the type of place I was looking for, for my work day: bistro (for my appetite) and coworking (for my awaiting tasks).

The ground floor is a bistro where they serve quick bites and all sorts of snacks and cakes. There’s also an interior terrace where you can work as well if you prefer that.

A staircase leads you to the upper area, where there’s a small garden (appropriate rather for relaxing and soaking up in the sun) and the coworking space.

The place is furnished with both vintage and contemporary pieces. This is the type of bistro where you can just open your laptop in 2 seconds after finishing your brunch and start typing full speed. It is unpretentious, a bit eclectic, without too much background noise running through. If you need full focus and fewer to no distractions – try Almada.

Jardins do Palácio de Cristal – The Outdoor Office With A View

Hear me out: for your slower days (we all have them, it’s alright), when you need to spark your creativity, there’s a perfect place “I discovered” that will do the trick.

There are plenty of parks in Porto but this one is really beautiful. What makes it special?! Quite some simple things, if you really think about it. This particular park, called Jardins do Palácio de Cristal overlooks the Douro river from above. You can sit straight on the grass, admire the view, with a friend or your dear one, have lemonade, or even a beer by your side. You open your laptop, you start your work. You take breaks, you enjoy the view, and you recharge. Just try this place and you’ll thank me later.

The remote work lifestyle is not for everybody in the long run (and honestly, it doesn’t even have to be), but it is definitely something that everybody should try at least once in their life.

When I decided to try working from Portugal, remote work was not new to me, as I’d been already working from home for a while. What began as a forced move in the pandemic, unfolded naturally after. However, deciding to embark on a one-month journey, by myself, to experience work and life like a true digital nomad, was something very special. Like most of my journey.

My experience in Porto was a very particular one as it still gives me a lot even after it has ended. I scroll through my phone gallery as I’m writing this ending and I revisit all the places I’ve been to and relive all the moments I’ve spent there.

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