Opened in 2020, World of Wine – known as WOW – has become a must-visit attraction for tourists in Porto, the city at the heart of Portugal’s Douro wine region. The new cultural district transformed Vila Nova de Gaia, on the south bank of the Douro river, an area previously occupied by Port lodges.
The idea was conceived by The Fladgate Partnership as early as 1986, when regulations around the export of the Douro’s fortified Port wines changed. Previously all Port had to be shipped from Vila Nova de Gaia. This meant that large Port companies such as Fladgate – which encompasses the labels Taylor’s, Fonseca, Croft and Krohn – owned substantial warehouses in the historic district.
When it was no longer necessary to operate those Port lodges, there was an opportunity for redevelopment. The transformation began in 2010 with the opening of The Yeatman, a luxury hotel for wine tourists.
‘Porto has this incredible history. It’s got amazing architecture. It’s got wonderful people, and it’s got lovely traditions of food. It’s obviously got a wine tradition – it’s one of the few places in the world that has a wine named after it. And yet, it never really had a hotel to do it justice. And that was what The Yeatman was about,’ explains Adrian Bridge, CEO of The Fladgate Partnership since 2000.
But a hotel was just the beginning. ‘The latest reorganisation is to move the company out of the historic centre of Porto over the course of decades – that project started about 2010 – so that we can convert that city centre to content that enriches the entire tourist offer of the city, and northern Portugal and Portugal itself,’ says Bridge, explaining the ethos behind WOW.
More than just a wine museum, WOW is an entire cultural district. Covering 55,000m2 of regenerated Port lodges, the project cost €105m. The site has space for temporary art exhibitions and runs a vibrant selection of cultural and music events throughout the year. It’s worth checking the events schedule to see what’s on during your visit.
Star attraction is The Wine Experience (see below). But the complex also includes interactive attractions Planet Cork and the Pink Palace, exploring rosé wines around the world, and The Bridge Collection of drinking vessels from antiquity to the modern day.
Keen to turn your love of wine into qualifications? There’s also a WSET accredited wine school onsite, where you can study Level 1 in a day-course (€45), or Levels 2 and 3 on residential courses. Other options include a Portuguese Specialist course and a selection of shorter sessions on Demystifying Wine (€35).
Elsewhere The Chocolate Story attraction explores the fascinating history of chocolate production and includes a working chocolate factory – with tasting samples, while Porto Region Across the Ages is a local history museum that uncovers the unique heritage of the city and its people.
Tickets can be purchased individually for each museum, or you have the option to visit two museums (€34 for adults, €15 children), three (€45 for adults, €18 children) or five (€65 for adults, €27 children). Two-museum tickets are valid for a month, three- or five- for three months. Football fans can add in a tour of FC Porto to the two-museum ticket for an additional €5 per person.
The site also boasts nine restaurants and bars. These include 1828 steakhouse, where young, fruity vintage Ports can be paired steak. Meanwhile the Golden Catch fish and seafood restaurant offers dishes such as octopus carpaccio, sole with truffled mash and decadent seafood platters.
The Wine Experience
The first stop at WOW for any wine lover has to be The Wine Experience. Making clever use of AV technology, this highly interactive, immersive exhibition is fun whatever your level of wine knowledge. Individual tickets cost €13 for adults and €5.40 for children, or €45 for a family ticket (two adults and two children).
Displays and activities explore how wine is created from vineyard to glass. Discover which wine style is right for you, test your knowledge of wine regions and sniff out the different aromas in wine. You can even take a tour of Portugal’s main wine regions, visiting a typical house from each area. Tours include a tasting of red, white and Port wines, with expert guidance on how to taste and evaluate wines.
Delightfully kitsch, the Pink Palace is perfect for your Instagram-worthy holiday snaps. Dive into the bright pink ball pool, pose in a vintage Cadillac (pink of course) or pop yourself out of a sparkling rosé bottle. But there’s also plenty to learn at this shrine to rosé wine.
Find out how rosés are made and explore signature styles from around the world, including Provence and pink Port. Your ticket price of €13 includes tastings of five different rosé wines, including Portugal’s iconic Mateus Rosé – whose diverse fan base included Jimi Hendrix and Steve Jobs.
The Bridge Collection
History buffs will be in their element at this archaeological museum of drinking rituals. It’s a private collection that contains over 2,000 drinking vessels and glasses, spanning over 9,000 years of history. The oldest artefact in The Bridge Collection dates back to 7000 BCE.
From rock crystal rhytons to black figure pottery and Venetian glassware, there’s a huge variety of eye-catching exhibits here. The carefully curated selection explores our relationship with drinking through the ages, from religious rituals to fun drinking games, via events of historic and cultural significance. Individual tickets cost €20 for adults and €9 for children.
For more information visit WOW.