José Neves’ perfect weekend in Porto

The founder of Farfetch, the online style platform, acquired the Browns fashion business in 2015, and has since developed Farfetch Black & White, an e-commerce solutions outfit

José Neves at Casa de Cha da Boa Nova
José Neves at Casa de Cha da Boa Nova | Image: Pedro Guimaraes

I’ve been a Londoner for two decades, but I grew up in Portugal and still have a place in Guimarães, near Porto, 20 minutes from our office. The town is beautiful; it’s a World Heritage Site with a 10th-century castle, and after you’ve been in a city everything about it, from the people to the old walls, makes you feel relaxed. Our apartment is very modern, with an expansive terrace; it is right in the historical town, and I love that contrast.

I’m an early bird. On Saturday, I get up at 6.30am and make porridge for the family: if I am in Portugal I’ll be with my four children from my first marriage and, as a divorced dad, I cherish my time with them. After breakfast, I’ll go out for a run through town and its parks; there are such lovely routes around the old churches, and I often go to Parque da Cidade Desportiva. Sometimes my wife, Daniela, comes with me, but she runs a bit slower. 

We then go to a local market to buy organic produce for lunch. I love cooking for my family – it’s very therapeutic. It’s always classic Mediterranean food: salt-crust, oven-baked fish with vegetables, a fish and potato stew, or fish soup. 

In the afternoon, we’ll go to see my parents, who live on a beautiful farm in Felgueiras. My mother has over 150 fruit trees – peaches, cherries, oranges, kiwis, mandarins, apples – so we go for a walk and pick fruit, then play cards or games or spend time outside, depending on the season. I really try to use weekends here to enjoy family, food and exploring nature, because in London it’s not so easy. We sometimes go for dinner at São Gião, a restaurant close by that has a slow-food ethos and specialises in local dishes. It’s very cosy, with a fire in the middle of the room, and it overlooks a vinho verde vineyard.

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If it’s just Daniela and me, our favourite place to go for dinner in Porto is Casa de Chá da Boa Nova, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Leça da Palmeira. The setting is amazing: it’s in a 1960s building designed by Alvaro Siza – he was born near here, in Matosinhos – and you have the sea crashing into the rocks just below the restaurant. It’s an incredible experience in terms of gastronomy; the menu is seasonal, and they serve everything from oysters and eels to Wagyu beef. There’s also an eight-course meal with wine pairings. We’d need to take a taxi home after that.

On Sunday we’ll go up to Esposende, an old fishing town north of Porto with lovely long beaches and sand dunes. I lived there for a short time in my childhood, and my parents still have a little house by the sea. We run on the beach or take a picnic up into the hills in the Peneda-Gerês National Park and go walking in the stunning landscape

We often go to the amazing Casa da Música, a concert hall in a beautiful modern space – I come here for the fantastic programme that ranges from classical to contemporary music. Or we might look around Serralves [pictured], the arts institute. It has a perfect pink art deco villa and a modern museum, designed by Alvaro Siza, and houses an art foundation with a very eclectic collection of contemporary art. Recently, there was a show of Julie Mehretu’s work; she uses quite diverse painting techniques on impressive, large-scale abstract pieces.

For dinner we really like Terra, which is in an old house near the river in Porto and serves Mediterranean and Japanese food. Mainly, we come for the fish. Chefs around the world import fish from Portugal because it does have a different taste – it’s something to do with the cold water of the Atlantic. 

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On Sunday evening I like to relax with a run, or yoga, and a massage, to re-energise for the week ahead.

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