Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal

Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Vila Nova de Gaia is THE place to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal. Vila Nova de Gaia is actually a separate city to Porto and is known as ‘Gaia’ to locals. It lies just over the river from Porto and much like other ‘sister’ cities separated by a river (see: Newcastle/Gateshead, Buda/Pest, San Francisco/Oakland), it can be overshadowed by its bigger neighbour. But Gaia is well worth a visit. Not only does it have beautiful views of Porto and the bridge, but it’s where all the port making (and drinking) happens.

Here’s how to spend a day there…

Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Take in the best views of Porto

Gaia offers the most spectacular views of Porto, has a myriad of beautiful cobbled streets and is home to a vast array of old port warehouses. Their cellars stretch deep into the hillside. Most of the warehouses are open for tours and tastings.

Just be careful on those cobbles after several glasses.

Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Find 3+ Arte: a cooporative

Our first port of call (pun very much intended), was 3+ Arte, an artistic and cultural cooperative, specialising in lovely local handicrafts and Niepoort port. The owner was really friendly and happy to share his knowledge of port and what to eat with it, but not in an overbearing way.

Inside a warehouse, 3+ Arte is full of quirky things, like an old bath for amusing photos and a little vintage caravan decorated with typical blue and white Porto tiles. Naturally, one of us was dressed for the occasion.

Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Sample three types of port wine at 3+ Arte and get some food

We sampled three types of port wine – white, tawny and ruby.

Having only ever ‘appreciated’ port wine as part of a Cheeky Vimto before, the range of flavours was quite impressive. We’ve never even seen the white version in the UK, but that was our favourite.

Obviously, we had to have something to eat with it, especially given how good the food is in Porto. We had some local breads (including a delicious corn bread), cheese and chorizo to help the port go down.

The chorizo merits its own photo…

Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Visit Taylor’s port lodge for your second round

Stumbling back out into the light, we needed to sample some more port, so headed up the hill to Taylor’s.

This was a more traditional port lodge, and while it didn’t have the friendly, down-to-earth atmosphere of 3+ Arte, it did have a beautiful garden so we could sit in the shade and enjoy another round of port.

Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Enjoy the walk up to Graham’s port lodge

After leaving Taylor’s, we decided we hadn’t done quite enough climbing up steep cobbled streets on a warm summer’s day… So we headed up to Graham’s port lodge, via some stunning views. And a shop for water.

Like Porto, Gaia had lots of winding side streets. The houses were lower, but still featured the brightly coloured tiles. Going further up, it felt more village-like: local shops, classic Portuguese café bars, and locals going about their daily business.

Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Get your third round of port wine at Graham’s terrace

Graham’s was a real oasis on a warm day. It had a stunning interior and equally stunning views from its vine-shaded terrace. We’d had to move on from neat port at this point (for everyone’s safety) so we had a glass of Douro white wine and a white port tonic.

Like the rest of Gaia, and Porto, it felt upmarket but didn’t have the price tag to match. Everything was very affordable.

Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Vila Nova de Gaia: where to go port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

To stop ourselves drinking even more port, we caught the bus back to Porto for a bite to eat. It was a scenic journey as the sun started to go down and both cities started to light up for the evening.

All in all,  Gaia is the perfect place to while away an afternoon. Especially if you want an early evening hangover.

Vila Nova de Gaia – wine tasting in Porto, Portugal: useful information

How to get there

The easiest way to get to Vila Nova de Gaia is to walk over the Dom Luis I bridge, but you can also get the tram. It only takes a few minutes unless you spend an hour taking photos like we did.

Where to stay

We just went to Vila Nova de Gaia for the day, from Porto, which was an excellent base for this and other day trips like Guimaraes.

How to get around

Everything is walkable. As long as you like climbing hilly roads while drunk.

When to go

We visited in August and the weather was beautiful – not too hot, but warm enough to walk around in summer clothes.

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