If you needed another reason to (re)visit Portugal’s second city, here it is. DOSE writer Helena discovers The New Cultural District – a wine-centric world which pays homage to Porto’s past…
The WOW factor
The brainchild of CEO, Adrian Bridge, Porto’s World of Wine is the pinnacle of highbrow culture within Europe. What was once a collection of old cellars housing bounteous barrels of Port, has since been renovated to become a whole district dedicated to Porto’s rich heritage, home to a multitude of experiences, eateries, and even a wine school.
More ambitious than Bordeaux’s Cité du Vin, the 9.6-acre development in Vila Nova de Gaia, sits just below the spectacular Yeatman Hotel, boasting awe-inspiring views down to the Douro river and Dom Luís Bridge.
Within WOW, each museum is meticulously constructed to ignite your senses and deepen your appreciation for Portuguese history and the art of winemaking. Unveil the secrets of wine production, from vine to bottle, at The Wine Experience. At the end of your tour enjoy a wine tasting where you can practice your newfound knowledge. Pink Palace is purely dedicated to Rosé wine, and also provides an educational experience, however in a flamboyant and flirtatious setting. Filled with Instagrammable photo opportunities, dive into a hot pink ball pit or take a ride in a blush convertible which puts Barbie’s Corvette to shame.
Head to Planet Cork to discover the enormous potential of cork in the modern world – you’ll be blown away by how versatile this natural product, that’s native to Portugal, is. The Bridge Collection offers a large exhibition of drinking vessels and paraphernalia dating back 9,000 years, collected by Adrian Bridge himself. Expect a hedonist haven filled with sipping cups, horns, bowls, glasses and urns.
Beyond wine, The Chocolate Story is a mouth-watering tour through 4000 years of chocolate. You’ll have the opportunity to taste WOW’s very own Vinte Vinte chocolate brand, which uses remarkable and unusual beans from around the world. Traverse through time at the Porto Region Across The Ages experience, where you’ll discover the culture, history and people who provide the essence of the city of Porto. Finally, the Fashion & Fabric museum is a fascinating exhibition which features historic and current fashion designs, highlighting Portugal’s significant contribution to the textile industry.
Drinking & Dining
Expect an abundance of fresh fish to sink your teeth into at Golden Catch, or, if vegetarian dishes are more your thing, pop next door to Root & Vine, where plant-based pleasure awaits.
1828 provides an elegant dining atmosphere, with a menu that stresses seasonal cuisine, revolving dishes in accordance with the changing seasons. Highlights include superior quality steaks grilled to perfection, sourced from the Minho region and Galicia, in nearby Spain. These prime cuts pair perfectly with the Port wine.
For soul-warming comfort food, treat your tastebuds to T&C, where travellers should try the Francesinha: a traditional, carnivorous delight. This gut-busting sandwich is a force to be reckoned with. Filled with a mixture of meats, including ham, steak, and pork, topped with a fried egg and melted cheese, then finished with its namesake – Francesinha molho – a spicy tomato gravy.
Pip also provides a relaxed ambience and hearty grub, amongst a historical cellar setting. The restaurant makes dining en famille ever so easy. Think burgers, pizza and pasta.
After dark, find your poison – whether that be a Margarita, Manhattan, or Moscow Mule – at Angels Share. Here, the balcony provides an intimate setting for dusk-to-dawn dalliances, framed by the backdrop of the Dom Luís Bridge, illuminated by the constellations of city lights.
Nestled amongst the old port wine warehouses on the south bank of the Douro, sits The Yeatman hotel. This pin-drop-quiet paradise is on the peaceful side of the river, perfect for unwinding after long days of exploring Porto.
Upon entering, travel-weary guests will be greeted by a statue of Bacchus – the ancient Greco-Roman god of wine. A theme that is interwoven throughout, the hotel boasts a 25,000-bottle wine cellar, including those of the hotel’s wine partners. These partner wineries sponsor the individual suites, injecting their DNA into the adornments, ensuring that every room within the hotel is unique.
The luxurious Wine Spa makes a superior pampering sanctuary. Enjoy a soul-soothing circuit of the sauna, Turkish bath, Roman bath, heated stone beds, ice fountain and experiential shower, followed by a sun-soaking session in the Douro-facing infinity pool, fittingly crafted in the shape of a decanter.
Thirsty? Don’t forget to grab a tipple at Dick’s Bar. An idyllic spot that’s shamelessly romantic, fall head over heels for the panoramic views while sipping on the sweet nectar of the Douro valley.
To plan your own grape escape visit: wow.pt
Hettie is the editor and co-founder of DOSE. A keen runner, she’s also partial to a blast of high-intensity and hot yoga. A country girl at heart, she divides her time between London and the lush rolling hills of North Devon. When she’s not jetting off on her next adventure, Hettie can be found in a candle-lit alcove with a laptop, a spaniel and a full bodied Malbec.