Here’s what you need to know about the new cultural and gastronomic centre that also offers sunsets and unique views of the Douro. We recommend a tour of all its spaces. Are you coming?
Wow has been a buzzword in Porto for more than two years. And we’re not talking about the exclamation of amazement, which would also describe the enthusiasm for the views of the city and the Douro River, but the acronym for World of Wine (WOW), the new cultural district of the romantic Portuguese city, built where the cellars of the Vila Nova de Gaia used to be. Porto now offers a world of experiences and museums with the common thread of wine and chocolate toppings, tapas, apéritifs and sunsets.
WOW has it all. With its 35,000 square metres, it’s already become a must-see destination in a short space of time. And no wonder. Its interactive experiences in seven museums with a modern and technological approach (The Wine Experience, Porto Region Across The Ages, Planet Cork, The Chocolate Story, The Bridge Collection, Pink Palace and the Porto Fashion & Fabric Museum), a Wine School, exhibition halls, nine restaurants, a shopping area and a spectacular viewpoint overlooking the Douro make it the perfect excuse to spend an extra day in Porto or plan a getaway.
Discovering the seven WOW museums
1. The Wine Experience
Portugal has plenty of reasons to create a museum that is entirely dedicated to discovering everything behind a good wine. The Wine Experience, as WOW calls it, is an interactive, immersive and educational space where both wine lovers and novices will be immersed in an enlightening journey.
Photos: Courtesy of World of Wine
The tour not only takes you to discover the history and production of the wines, but also allows you to discover everything about Portuguese wine in a unique setting, in Vila Nova de Gaia, where the cellars of the famous Port wine used to be. Yes, it’s a great opportunity to venture into this world! And as if it were an amalgam, the experience also allows you to discover how the grapes are cared for, how the different types of wine are made, how to distinguish their aromas and which wine goes best with you, all in a space that simulates wineries in typical Portuguese streets where you can travel through the different regions of the country.
2. Planeta Cork
All the secrets of cork are revealed in this museum. After all, Portugal produces 50% of the world’s cork. Planet Cork or Cork Museum, in fact, is perfect if you’re visiting with children, as there are attractions designed for them, such as the replica of a giant cork oak, which is the entrance to an interactive educational space. No one will leave this unique planet without learning why cork is used to seal wine bottles, how cork is processed and what its other applications, for example, in furniture, fashion or, amazingly, as insulation for space rockets. Did you know that it is also used to make footwear? Oh, and you can also find out your weight in corks!
3. The Chocolate Story
Attention, chocolate lovers! There is also a space for you here. After all, it’s the perfect pairing with wine. The Chocolate Story is another one of the museums at WOW and a reminder that the Portuguese, along with the Spanish, brought this symbol of sweetness to Europe. In fact, the visit is designed as a journey through the history of cocoa and the varieties of plantations around the world, allowing you to discover what factors determine the taste of chocolate. The tour also takes a look at the manufacturing process, preparation methods and varieties. The cherry on top comes at the end of the journey, because there’s nothing like entering a chocolate factory, is there? Well, the museum has its own, where they make their own handmade products such as chocolates or truffles with wine… Pure temptation! And there’s always the option of signing up for a tasting workshop where you can taste and learn more with a master chocolatier.
4. Pink Palace
This space is an invitation to enter a pink world and wine is once again the protagonist… of the world of pink wine, of course! A tour around the so-called Pink Palace has Instagram-worthy moments at every turn with themed spaces ideal for taking a photo, selfie or reel, whether in a pool of pink balls, an upside-down room, a giant bottle of champagne, inside a Cadillac, a seesaw with Porto in the background or different mirrors. An extravagant and quirky experience with the incentive of tasting five types of Rosé.
5. The Bridge Collection
We warned you. WOW has it all. For example, The Bridge Collection is the ideal place for collectors, as it exhibits an extensive collection of glasses, vases, bowls and other objects dating as far back as 7,000 BC. The Museum reveals collector Adrian Bridge’s passion, with more than 2,000 pieces from different civilisations. It’s a deep dive into the ritual of drinking, through the pieces that have been used throughout the history of mankind, from Aztec ceremonial vessels to the cup that the Duke of Wellington used to toast his victory over Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. The best! There are some collector’s items for sale.
6. Porto Region Across The Ages
The best way to get to know Porto in depth is to visit Porto Region Across The Ages, where you can take a journey through the history of Portugal’s second-largest city by population. All this in immersive settings that dynamically reflect the character of a region. A cinema, a videomapping show, and a tram are part of the tour that unveils this city known as the “Invicta.
7. Porto Fashion & Fabric Museum
The latest space to be opened by WOW is the Porto Fashion & Fabric Museum where, as its name suggests, the art of dressing is the star of the exhibit halls. The museum tells the story of Portugal’s role in the textile industry, and as expected, true to the style of the other spaces in the district, it does so in a dynamic and interactive way that shows how a piece of clothing is born, from the cotton flower to the thread, weaving, design and the whole manufacturing process, until we see that piece of clothing in the shop window. It even reveals what the future of the industry should be, with a strong emphasis on sustainability. National footwear and the art of filigree, a technique that uses fine gold and silver threads to produce handmade pieces very similar to lace, are also stars of the museum. Give yourself over to the world of fashion.
Other WOW pleasures_ Gastronomy and views of the Douro River!
World of Wine goes beyond museums and wines. It’s also a great meeting and leisure point with fantastic views and specialised bars and restaurants ranging from haute cuisine to traditional. It’s ideal for enjoying a large cup of hot chocolate, very appetising in winter! Or why not sign up for some of the workshops at the Wine School? Even WOW lends itself to simply taking a stroll and admiring the sunset with the best panoramic view of Porto. And the best part? This last experience is totally free!
Restaurants and bars you can find:
- 1828 (steakhouse serving prime steaks and cuts)
- Angel’s Share (a name for the evaporation that occurs when wine ages in barrels – the bar offers sandwiches, cheese boards and a variety of drinks)
- Golden Catch (specialising in fish and seafood)
- Mira Mira (haute cuisine restaurant based on the concept of sharing)
- PiP (serving pizzas, burgers and pastas)
- Root & Vine (with a delicious range of vegetarian dishes)
- T & C (traditional Portuguese cuisine. Its speciality is francesinha with port sauce)
- VP (for a good brunch – weekends only)
- 20|20 Café (to indulge in a range of chocolate products)
→ Opening of the museums:
- Schedule: Every day from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
- Prices: 20 € adult | 9 € children
- Schedule: Sunday-Thursday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm | Friday-Saturday from 10:00 am – 22:00 pm
- Prices: 25 € adult | 9 € children
*There is the option to buy experience packs for 2, 3, or 5 museums
→ Wine School:
- There are specialised wine workshops ranging from €30-€45 and chocolate tasting or chocolate and wine pairing workshops ranging from €14- €50
→ Christmas season at WOW
From 26 November – 8 January, there will be a giant tree, a Christmas market and a series of concerts and events will be held. You can see the schedule here.